By KATIE BORKOWSKI
Father Brent Lingle, rector of Cathedral of the Epiphany, acknowledged changing a Mass schedule can be difficult for parishioners.
“We grow accustomed to our time and place to attend Mass,” he said. “It becomes very much a part of our routine and rhythm of life.”
The Mass times in Sioux City – and other parishes throughout the diocese – have changed due to the number of Masses a priest can celebrate per weekend with the implementation of Ministry 2025, pastoral planning for the Diocese of Sioux City.
“It is a systemic thing throughout the whole diocese,” explained Father David Hemann, pastor at Holy Cross Parish, Sioux City. “We want to make sure we have vibrant liturgies, instead of some you should shoot a cannon through.”
The priest acknowledged numbers aren’t always the number one factor, but the “fact is we have to really consider the health and wear and tear on our priests.”
“It also has the whole factor of gathering people together,” Father Hemann added.
Holy Cross Parish
Holy Cross, the merged parish of St. Michael and Blessed Sacrament, is served by Father Hemann and Father Peter Nguyen, associate pastor, along with Father Don Ries, a retired priest in residence. Father Roger Linnan, a retired priest, also assists with Masses.
There were 4:30 p.m. Masses at both sites on Saturday nights and now Saturday Mass is only offered at 4:30 p.m. at Holy Cross, St. Michael Church.
“Due to better parking and a larger church at St. Michael’s, we decided to have one 4:30 p.m. Mass,” said Father Hemann. “I will never forget that first 4:30 p.m. Mass we had (after the change). It was full of people. When they responded, it was just joyous.”
The priest knows this is a “huge” adjustment for those used to going to 4:30 p.m. at Blessed Sacrament.
“We have to remember the church is not a building, it is the people of God gathered to hear God’s word and share the Eucharist,” said Father Hemann. “I thought that really happened that night and every subsequent 4:30 p.m. Mass has had that wonderful feel. It really allows all of us to focus our energy on fewer Masses, but with more energy and more involvement with the overall community.”
The 6:45 a.m. weekday Mass at Blessed Sacrament has remained the same. The pastor noted this Mass is “marvelously” attended, sometimes up to 80 people.
St. Michael’s now offers a 5:30 p.m. Mass, Monday through Thursday in the St. Anthony Chapel with all three priests celebrating the Mass on a rotating schedule.
“Sometimes people can’t make it to 6:45, 7 or even 8 a.m. Mass, so we wanted to give them an opportunity after work to come and celebrate the holy Eucharist,” said Father Hemann. “It started with about 18 and is now up to about 25 people.”
The sacrament of reconciliation is offered a half hour before each daily Mass at each Holy Cross site. Confession is available for the whole city on the first and third Tuesday of the month from 6 to 7 p.m. at Blessed Sacrament.
“When everything is said and done, in the year 2025, everyone is going to have a place to have their faith formed, to receive the sacraments, to grow in their faith and to grow into saints,” said Father Hemann. “Everyone is going to have a place where they can go to have their full Catholic, spiritual needs met.”
Mater Dei Parish
Mater Dei, the merged parish of Immaculate Conception and Nativity, is served by Father Daniel Rupp and Father Brad Pelzel, associate pastor, and Father Paul Bormann, in residence. With the addition of Father Bormann, Mater Dei is able to offer seven weekend Masses between the two sites.
The main change for Mater Dei Parish is the addition of a 7 p.m. Mass on Sunday at Immaculate Conception.
“This is due to the fact that we have the WIT (Western Iowa Tech Community College) students as well as the Morningside College students,” said Father Rupp. “It’s a good hour for college students. They are coming back from the weekend and tend to like the Sunday night Masses.”
There was good attendance at the first 7 p.m. Mass with a mix of college students, Mater Dei parishioners and parishioners who previously had attended the 5 p.m. Mass at Cathedral, St. Joseph Church.
“Other than that, everything has stayed the same – so far,” said Father Rupp.
Cathedral, the merged parish of Cathedral of the Epiphany, St. Boniface and St. Joseph, is served by Father Lingle and parochial vicars Fathers Mauro Sanchez and Andrew Galles. Father Peter Nguyen and Father Harry McAlpine, a retired priest, also assist with Masses.
Father Lingle pointed out the current schedule for Cathedral was set in August of 2016, so the priests and parishioners have had some time to get used to this timetable.
“We haven’t made any recent changes since our merger took effect,” said the rector. “In the very near future, we are going to have to consider adding an additional Mass in Spanish, as all of our four Masses in Spanish are standing room only.”
When the changes were made a year ago, it was out of “necessity,” Father Lingle clarified.
“It was not possible for us to maintain the Mass schedules that St. Boniface, St. Joseph and the Cathedral had as individual parishes,” he said. “The times overlapped and, in reality, we did not need that many Masses for the number of parishioners and people who attended Mass in each of the places.”
Some parishioners adjusted to a different time in the same location, and others chose to attend at their preferred time in a different location, Father Lingle noted.
“Some people reacted to the change very positively and with ease,” he said. “For others, the adjustment has been more difficult. Some have chosen to attend a different parish all together.”
One change that recently occurred was moving the Sunday evening Mass from 5 p.m. at St. Joseph to 7 p.m. at Mater Dei Parish, Immaculate Conception worship site. Father Lingle explained this Mass was “never a parish Mass but coordinated among the pastors of the city and hosted at the St. Joseph worship site.”
At Sacred Heart in Sioux City, the Mass times haven’t changed, since there were already three Masses offered on weekends. Mercy Medical Center – Sioux City offers Mass at noon in the hospital chapel Sunday through Thursday. A 10:30 a.m. Mass is celebrated every day at Holy Spirit Retirement Home. Briar Cliff University has Mass at 7:15 a.m. on Tuesday and Wednesday, at 9 p.m. on Thursday and 7 p.m. on Sunday.