IC.H.' Reporter /rEN Fr. Michael Frost, of Deptford, a working-clam parish in South London, got an " I'll-see-no-priest" answer at the door of the house he knocked at, he looked the woman between the eyes, and slowly tore up the parish census card before her.
"I've only done my duty in calling," he told her, "but I see you are determined to have nothing to do with God's Church." As hd turned the corner a hundred yards away, the woman overtook him. Tears in her eyes, she begged forgiveness.
In his five years at Deptford, that has been the only rebuff Fr. Frost has received. His people will courteously receive him in their homes, but 2,400 out of his total of 4,000 parishioners just will not come to Mass.
Hearing so often, as I do, the taunt that there are more lapsed among working class Catholics than in other social groups, I asked Fr. Frost for his reactions. " Nonsense," he said.
The baptisms are altogether out of proportion to the Sunday Mass attendance, so are the marriages. so are the funerals. There is something Latin in the attitude to religious observance, and indeed some of his parishioners are of Italian descent: only the three great events in human life are outwardly observed.
"You may not call them 'lapsed'," said Fr. Frost, " just irregular, often suffering from the weakness of the flesh.
" But they live morally by and large, and even where there are irregular unions, they will send their children to the Catholic school. Holy pictures are to he seen in their houses, and they give generously to church outdoor collections."
I wasn't happy; there was the fact that 2.400 people. less those who have valid excuses, don't come to Sunday Mass. Neither, quite naturally, was Fr. Frost. But touched upon an aspect of Mass attendance that may be a reason: boredom of the congregation.
" The nine o'clock Mass." he told me, " is a children's Mass, where one of the priests comments on and explains the Mass. We now find that adults are also conning to this Man. -They like the explanation."
It is the old story of getting people to become " Mass-conscious." The educated Catholic has his missal, and can follow intelligently: he is apt to be regular in his attendance. In working-class parishes the meaning of the Mass is often not so clear.
Fr. Frost is certain that the nine o'clock Mass holds the secret of how to get people to come to church.
Three in harmony
Bishop Craven. speaking at the church of Our Lady of Sorrows. Paddington. London. where he confirmed over 200 children on Sunday last week, paid a warm tribute to the choir for "the lovely singing throughout the ceremony". "You excelled in your rendering of Ex hoc," continued the Bishop. " ... this choir passed the test admirably." He was surprised to hear that the choir consisted of three voices only.
Archbishop Godfrey of WestmInster.-1oday (Maundy Thursday): Sings Mass of the Chrism, Cathedral, 10 a.m.; presides at Pontifical Mass in Cerra Domini, Cathedral, 6 p.m. Tomorrow (Good Friday): Presides at Good Friday Liturgy, Cathedral, 3 pm. Easter Sunday: Sings Terce and Solemn Mass, Cathedral, 10 a.m.; sings Vespers and gives Benediction, Cathedral, 3.30 p.m.: preaches at evening Mass. Cathedral. 7 p.m.
Archbishop GrImshaw of Blrminghum.-Easter Sunday: Preaches at evening service, Cathedral, 6.30 p.m. Easter Monday: Celebrates Mass (Men's Easter Communion), Cathedral. 9 a.m. Easter Wednesday, Present at Mass (silver jubilee of Fr. T. V. Bagnall), St. Mary's, Harvington, Worcs., 11.15 a.m.
Archbishop King, Bishop of Portsmouth.-Saturday. April 5: Sings Mass of Chrism at St. Peter's, Winchester, II p.m. Easter Sunday: Presides at High Mass and imparts Papal Blessing at St. John's Cathedral, Portsmouth. 11 a.m.; Pontifical Benediction at St. Peter's, Winchester, 6.30 p.m. Tuesday; Clothing ceremony at the Convent of the Cross, Boscombe, p.m.
Bishop Ellis of Nottingham.hinter Sunday: Pontificates at High Mass. Cathedral, II a.m.; attends Vespers and Benediction, Cathedral,
6.30 Bishop pm Parker of Northampton.Easter Sunday: Sings Mass and imparts Papal Blessing. Cathedral, 11 a.m.; consecrates Angelus Bell and gives Benediction, Cathedral, 6 p.m. Easter Thurday: Confirmation, St. Anne's, Wendover 6 p.m. Easter Saturday: Blesses and opens St. Joseph's Voluntary Aided Primary School Gerrards Cross, 11 a.m. Low Sunday: Presides and preaches at Catcnian Jubilee High Mass, St. Augustine's, High Wycombe. 12 noon: visitation and Confirmation, Our Lady's, Burnham. 6.30 p.m.
Notfingham.-Mass will be said on Easter Sunday at the Village Hall. Bottesford, at 8 a.m.; at the United Steel Hostel, Buckminster, at 10.30 a.m., and at the Rutland Cinema, Uppingharn, at 5.30 p.m. Fr. Murray, S.C.J., will next week visit RoothbyPagnell, Ancaster and Horbling.
Brentwood.-Mass will be said on Easter Sunday at: "Haldon," opposite the Avenue. Danbury, at 8.30 a.m. and Village Hall, Rettendon, at 10 a.m.: British Legion Club, Ti tree, at 8.15 a.m., and Mrs. H ineeh-xt
n cliff. I.ayer Bleto. at 0.1 5 am. N
week the mission will visit Tollesbury, Felstead and Stebbing.
Nottingham.-Mass on Easter Sunday at Winteringham at 8.30 a.m.; at Owston Ferry at 11 am.; and at Ruskington at 5 p.m. During vihiseit wccelakywForr.
S.C.L. will Westminster.-Ma on Easter
thNiacrheoal.son.ss Sunday at "Woodlands." Potter End, at 8.30 a.m. and at 6 Bradden Lane, Gaddesden Row, at 10 a.m.
Southwark.-Mass on Easter Sunday at Godstonc Court at R a.m. and at Upper Court, Woldingham, at 9.15 a.m.: at Scott's Farm, Hunton, at 8.30 a.m., at the King's Head, Sutton Valence, at 10.30 a.m., and at " Pattenden," Marden, at 6 p.m.
Northampton.-Mass on Easter Sunday at Boardman s, Manor House, Welford, Nonhants at 9 am. and at Standford at 11 a m, mass on Easter Monday at Baillon's, Canal House, Blisworth, at 9 a.m. Next week: Boxford, etc.