Prince of Peace Catholic Community is a very large church on the southwest side of Kansas City. Mostly new homes in the area means that parishioners are typically young and beginning their families. The church complex is extensive, featuring a large church, Catholic school, and a gymnasium, with large parking lots on the north and east.
The weekly church bulletin is the biggest I've seen--12 large pages, including three pages of advertisements. The bulletin indicates weekly donations at six weekend Masses exceeds $40k. Prince of Peace maintains an internet site where the altar space and small centered tabernacle can be seen.
Attendance at the 9:00 a.m. Sunday Mass included mostly white people, with a few individuals of oriental and black races. There were lots of little kids in addition to hundreds of adults that generally filled the 1,200-seat church. I thought it humorous that, even with the large parking lots of Prince of Peace, the parishioners needed to be reminded not to park across the street in the parking lot of another church.
As one enters the church, there is a large foyer/reception area with a tall statue of St. Michael the Archangel. Five individuals, including a guitarist and a violinist, led the music for the Mass while standing in front of five microphones on the left side of the church. Two women read the readings from Scripture. Three altar boys in white robes served the priest and were introduced by name at the end of Mass. Three nuns dressed in light blue habits and veils were present in one of the first few pews.
Flags of our church and our country surround the altar on which were placed six gold chalices at the beginning of Mass. The additional priest's chalice appeared to be of wood with gold accent. Simple stations of the cross are mounted on the side and rear wall of the semi-circular church. The right alcove at the front of the church holds a statue of the Virgin Mary with the baby Jesus. A representation of another saint is located in the left alcove. A large statue of the Sacred Heart of Jesus is found at the rear of the church. On each side wall are three large stained glass windows depicting Gospel scenes.
The Mass appeared to be celebrated according to the current rubrics for the Novus Ordo Mass. The homily was built around the Gospel reading and was probably less than 10 min in length. Altar bells were rung at the Consecrations, after which was sung an enthusiastic acclamation of "...Christ is risen, Christ will come again" led by loud guitar music. The priest used a very large host for the Consecration that could be easily seen from the back of the large church.
Communion was distributed by the celebrating priest and ten extraordinary ministers--five women and five men in lay attire. Several of these bowed as they themselves received communion in the hand from the priest. The consecrated hosts were distributed from gold bowls, including one very large bowl carried by the priest.
Most of the people sat down as they awaited their turn to leave their pews to receive communion. Some bowed before receiving. Only a very few people in the church did not receive communion, perhaps including non-Catholic spouses. Most people knelt in thanksgiving for a short time after receiving communion.
I thought I heard the priest say, "Let us kneel..." for the final blessing, but no one did that I saw. At the end of Mass, the priest thanked all those who had provided the music, read the Scriptures, ushered, and distributed communion. Almost everyone quickly left the Church at the end of Mass, but a few stayed to pray, including an attractive young couple with six children. People were invited to meet their fellow Catholics after Mass in a reception area, where donuts were available.
So what irritated me to my very bones? It was the young women and girls who came to Sunday Mass, supposedly to worship God, while wearing skimpy tops and shorts (all exposing most of the thighs). [The church is well air conditioned, so the reason couldn't have been the heat!] The single pew in front of me (containing a total of 18 people) had five girls and young women wearing very short shorts--and they seemed to represent at least three different groups or families.
The bulletin featured announcements for the schedule of P.O.P. R.O.C.K.S., Prince of Peace's Really Outstanding Catholic Kids, the School of Religion Enrollment (ages 3 through eighth grade), and the CORE High School Ministry. [I hope training in modesty becomes part of the curricula of all three programs. More on this subject later.]
The parish sponsors Perpetual Adoration of the Blessed Sacrament. A bulletin announcement noted that "We have over 3,200 families in our parish, yet 23 hours [of 151 hours to cover in a week] remain open. Is Jesus important enough to you to set aside one special hour each week to be with Him? Just one hour is all that He asks. This is a simple matter of putting God first in our lives." Children's Adoration is also set aside for every Sunday afternooon from 2:00 - 2:30 pm in the Adoration Chapel.
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