Due to funding, time constraints and attendance, the tradition of Sunday Catholic Mass has been canceled.
Feb. 10 was the first Sunday there was no Catholic Mass in roughly three years. Time, attendance and cost were major factors in the discontinuation of mass.
For the past year, Father Mike Kuhn conducted mass on Sundays at 2p.m. However, before Kuhn, Father Jim Park conducted mass, and his service was held later on in the evening. When mass was held later in the evening, attendance was actually better.
“The attendance was simply much better at 6p.m. and 6:30p.m. in the evening,” said Vice President of Academic Affairs Dr. Timothy O’Rourke.
Not only did the later time positively affect the attendance at mass, but having live music helped as well.
“We’ve got this significant musical presence,” said O’Rourke.
This musical presence is a group named Refuge. They are from Old Dominion University (ODU) and willingly came to perform during our mass services.
Unfortunately, these factors that caused good attendance went away. Park “was asked to stop coming by the Bishop,” said Chaplain Greg West. Once Park left, the evening service time went with him.
“And when Father Park departed, Refuge made other arrangements with a local parish,” said O’Rourke.
Even though mass went through unfortunate events, West tried hard to improve mass.
“[I] worked with the diocese to find another priest, Mike Kuhn,” said West. “He had to fit it in between his commitments over at ODU, which was his primary location and so he had evening services on Sunday night at ODU,” said West.
Because of the evening services at ODU, Kuhn could not keep Park’s time for mass. According to West, Kuhn’s services “averaged between 4 to 7 people.”
Despite the time change, it was good that another priest was found to conduct services, but it came at a price.
“There was also a $200 a week fee for the priest,” said West.
This was a significant difference in price that the school had to pay for Kuhn compared to the price they paid for Park.
“Father Park was coming for free,” said Dean O’Rourke.
Students were informed through email on Feb. 1 that mass would be discontinued after that weekend.
“I wish it was advertised more,” said freshman Kara Schimek. “One email wasn’t enough. Not many people knew about it.”
Although the entire reason for ending mass was not all fiscal, the participants were given alternative options.
“The first was attending mass at ODU with Mike Kuhn as the priest,” said West. “The second is St. Gregory the Great Catholic church just 10 minutes from here. And the third, Dean O’Rourke offered to drive students to his church on Sundays.”
It is an inconvenience that there is no mass on campus, but it was considerate to present students alternative solutions.
“Not being able to go to mass on campus really affects me because I was born and raised as a Catholic,” said freshman Chloe Logsdon who attended regularly. “I have always gone to mass and always will.”
Logsdon now attends St. Gregory the Great for mass.
Despite being offered alternatives, some students are not attending mass anymore. Schimek did not find any of the options viable.
“I don’t want to drive to ODU or somewhere else,” said Schimek. “The traffic is crazy so I am not trying to drive thirty minutes. I don’t want get angry and frustrated before mass.”
Now with Catholic services gone, there are only nondenominational services for Christians available. Faculty and staff agree that there should be varying services.
“I do feel it’s important to have different religious services.” states West.
Schimek agrees with the need for additional services.
“We go to a Methodist school and I love the it’s religious based,” said Schimek, “but there are so many more religions on campus.”