Dear Loyola Parishioners and Visitors,
With sadness but confidence it is the right decision now, I write to inform you that we have suspended indefinitely the 12:30 PM Spanish Mass on the 2nd and 4th Sunday of each month. I had hesitated initiating a Spanish Mass unless I had a team of 5 Jesuits who could commit to regularly celebrating a Spanish Mass once a month. With 5 team members, I figured we would have 4 available per month. Fr. Carlos sought to recruit Spanish-speaking Jesuits and try to get commitments; however, many were already committed to other parishes, so that proved difficult and we decided to launch with offering Mass on the 2nd and 4th Sundays. Fr. Carlos and a few others committed to that through the summer. Summer brought reassignment of Jesuits to other cities and it became clear that even 2 Sundays a month were going to be difficult to cover.
In seeking to establish a Spanish Mass, my hope was to meet an unmet need or inadequately met need of Spanish-speakers. Spanish Masses are overflowing at other parishes; and, my personal experience was that those attending one Mass found their pew filled when they returned to their pew after Communion by those getting to Church early for the next Mass. Attendance for the 12:30 PM Mass was not as large as I had expected; and, it did not seem to be significantly drawing in new members to the Church. On the other hand, the liturgical ministers, especially the music ministers, were very good; and, those Loyola parishioners who ordinarily attended other Masses were very loyal and appreciative of the Spanish Mass. Truth be told, the attendance was probably about the same as our Saturday evening or 7:30 AM Sunday Mass attendance in fall 2011.
Finally, there proved to be unmet needs for Baptisms, Reconciliations, Marriages and Quinceañeras in Spanish. It was not enough to offer Spanish Mass. Unless we have a
priest on staff who speaks Spanish and can meet these needs, it seems best to discontinue Spanish Mass. I am confident a future pastor will be Spanish-speaking as many of our young priests are. Changing demographics will impact our parish; but, as many of you know because you already do, people will travel to a parish that meets their needs, that offers them reasons to make the drive. I want Loyola to become that parish even more for the greater glory of God.