We continue our journey of churches along the road. On Sunday we attended Mass at Transfiguration Church in Tarrytown, NY, on busy U.S. 9. The church itself has a verdant or sylvan setting, although the continuing cold drizzle that lingered through most of Sunday kept me from leisurely enjoying the property. The church itself, staffed by the Carmelites, I believe, is an attractive post-Vatican II structure which is about three quarters circular, providing good sight lines to the altar, and the pews are slightly elevated to also increase visibility.
We attended the 10 AM Mass, which I assume to be the conventual Mass of the weekend. Attendance was modest; the church was at best half full, but I could not attribute that to any great deficiencies in the liturgy or preaching. There actually is another Catholic Church in the same town, and typically when on the road I try to do the math to assess if a community will be able survive numerically and financially. Tarrytown is in the Archdiocese of New York, which has been consolidating parishes for some years. I should add here that Tarrytown borders Sleepy Hollow, of Ichabod Crane fame.
This morning we attended Mass in a bishop's private chapel along with his Vicar General and Director of Vocations. We are fortunate enough to have a presiding bishop in the Northeast as a close friend, and he invited us to visit yesterday and stay overnight. We met him at the chancery, and he proceeded to give us a tour of the seat of his diocese before we retired to the episcopal residence for a long and leisurely dinner. Two of his priest chancery officials live with him, and the conversation was stimulating and humorous.
What struck me was the absence of "crisis mode" that I am seeing in many quarters of the Catholic press and many blog sites. The bishop and his staff seem very forward looking on new ministries (parish nursing care, for one example) and strengthening ministries that have proven successful in the past, such as Catholic schools. Our host believes in them very strongly. I would have liked to have engaged with him about his diocese's religious education program, but the opportunity did not present. The Vicar General did describe for me over breakfast an adult faith sharing program that appears to be catching on in his diocese, but as I was stabbing Irish butter on homemade rolls, I did not get a chance to write it down.
I will say that given all of the public things they are asked to do, in church and civil settings, there are few cohorts of men anywhere with treasuries of humorous anecdotes than bishops.p