National network helps professionals attend First Friday Mass
Friday, June 25, 2010
ARCHDIOCESE — For busy professionals with hectic work schedules and frequent travel requirements that take them away from their home parishes, it can sometimes be a challenge to practice their faith. A new apostolate is helping Catholic businessmen and -women stay focused on their faith amid a struggling economy, unethical business practices, corruption and greed.
Established in the Archdiocese of Cincinnati in 2007, the First Friday Society is a national network of Catholic professionals who have committed themselves to attending First Friday Mass every month in spite of the demands of work and travel. The organization helps them get to Mass by sending electronic reminders and finding locations and times for Masses wherever their work takes them.
“The observance of First Friday Mass has been a practice in the Catholic Church for than 300 years,” said Alex Loehrer, founder of the First Friday Society and owner of an Ohio-based marketing agency. “It’s a small sacrifice — one hour a month — but it’s a powerful one.”
The organization originated with Loehrer and a small group of business acquaintances who attended First Friday Mass at noon at St. Joseph Church in Dayton, committed to ensuring a place for their faith in the context of professional life.
“The first Friday of the month occurs the same day whether you live in Cincinnati, Dayton, New York or Los Angeles. As we realized the spiritual fruits of attending First Friday Mass, we wanted to share our experience with other professionals around the country,” Loehrer explained.
With marketing materials in hand, he initially approached his pastor, Father Ed Gearhart at St. Teresa of the Child Jesus Parish in Springfield. Impressed with the concept, Father Gearhart referred Loehrer to Father Joseph Binzer, chancellor for the Archdiocese of Cincinnati.
“He was tremendously helpful,” Loehrer said.
With archdiocesan approval, the First Friday Society was launched. Membership is simple. Interested professionals register their email addresses at the organization’s website, www.firstfridaysociety.org. The society takes care of the rest, sending electronic reminders in the five days prior to each month’s First Friday Mass and helping registrants find a Mass location wherever their professional travels take them.
The site also sends reminders about holy days of obligation. Although members are asked to make a modest contribution at any First Friday or holy day Mass they attend, the organization is free to join and free to use. The website also features updated Catholic news feeds and access to a national LinkedIn group, giving members the opportunity for professional advice and networking opportunities.
For Doug Stein, president and executive director of the Mount Carmel Foundation, a non-profit organization dedicated to funding the programs and services of a central Ohio health system, the benefit of membership in the First Friday Society is obvious.
“It gets me to Mass,” he said.
“I really like the idea,” he added. “It’s a great reminder for people with busy lives to take time out for our Lord. It’s good to see ways that the Catholic Church can take advantage of technology to reach out in all branches of life and work. It’s inspired me to remind people in my profession of the opportunities to use technology. I think Alex was extremely creative to come up with this.”
Membership in the First Friday Society has reached more than 200 members from across the country and as far away as Australia, Loehrer said. As the organization continues to grow, he envisions the possibility of other chapters evolving.
“It’s so easy for us to forget about what’s important and to get buried in our work,” he said. “The Eucharist is such a beautiful gift from Christ. It’s a great thing to be able to take an hour out of your work and put Christ into a professional context.”
Eileen Connelly, OSU, can be reached at [email protected].