Parish of St. Vincent Ferrer and St. Catherine of Siena

A Parish of the Archdiocese of New York served by the Dominican Friars

April 23, 2016

Implementing the New Commandment – Pastor’s Reflection (April 24, 2016)

One of the questions prompted by last Sunday’s publication of the new Mass schedule was, “When are you going to do this?” Providing a clear answer was not as easy as one would have wished. We have tried to forestall the booking of Mass intentions in both churches against the day of such changes. It turns out that we have been successful enough for a July start. So we plan to:

  • inaugurate the new Sunday Mass schedule on the weekend of July 2nd and 3rd.
  • inaugurate the new weekday schedule on Tuesday, July 5. So that the last day for the regularly scheduled noon Mass at St. Catherine’s will be on Friday, July 1.

The times for the remaining daily Masses at St. Catherine’s (7 AM and 5:15 PM) will remain the same for the present. Since these two times do not conflict with the schedules of St. Vincent Ferrer or St. John Nepomucene, we can take the time to evaluate the needs of the local community and the Dominican community in their regard.

I cannot say enough how grateful I am for the charitable and patient reception of last week’s announcement. I will keep you posted on developments as they happen. Below I reprint the principles and observations I used in consulting and deciding. They may be helpful to read if you are just now encountering the new Mass schedule for the parish.


Easter Peace!

Fr. Walter


As to the schedule:

  • The Cardinal, as head of the Local Church, has mandated that we become a united faith community. Many dedicated parishioners, and my Dominican Brothers and Sisters, have worked heroically to bring this about. Spiritual and practical benefits have already resulted for those who have chosen to embrace the new Community. The community has grown through new patterns of worship, study, and common life. Consolidation of administration has already yielded substantial cost savings. Addressing the question of music and schedule will be essential to the completion of this task. The Archdiocese will review the viability of our current arrangement in just over a year’s time.
  • The proper pastoral care of this parish demands a schedule of services that is not duplicative, so that the parish clergy can be present to the whole parish on any given Sunday or Feast. (The one complaint people address to me directly is that they do not see me.)
  • In our Parish, the Cardinal has designated St. Vincent Ferrer as the Parish Church. The schedule of services needs to respect this.
  • In addition, particular circumstances of our neighborhood demand that St. Catherine’s schedule of Masses should complement that of St. John Nepomucene, which is now established as a geographical parish for the far east 60’s and lower 70’s.


As to Music:

  • Music plays an essential role in the prayer and formation of our people. It complements the work of preaching in crucial ways, and it sets a distinctive tone for the life and worship of the parish.
  • To fulfill its responsibilities, liturgical music must first serve the prayer of our regular worshippers.
  • A number of our parishioners express a desire to worship without music and we must provide for them.
  • However, the clear mind of the Church is that music at Sunday Mass is a norm, and so the principal Eucharists should have it. At the same time, there should be a variety of tone in the music that is played and sung, so that every temperament may be drawn into worship.
  • Both churches in the parish have a living tradition of hiring first rank organists. This complements the essential place of music in the whole preaching of the parish.
  • The Music Director of our new Parish needs to be a fine artist and performer. He or she will also serve as a major collaborator with the Pastor in promoting the formation of the parishioners, the vibrancy of our common life, and the frugal administration of the parish.
  • Both churches in the parish have a living tradition of hiring professional singers to lead, support, and supplement the singing of the congregation. This is not customary in other parts of the country. However, the transient environment and limited volunteer pool of the city suggests that congregations need the extra support.
  • We have parishioners who feel called to sing chorally in support of parish worship. The Parish needs to give scope to their talents and their generosity.
  • Both churches in the parish have spent more on music than the ordinary income, provided in the offertory, could provide. To maintain and sustain the core musical values of the parish we need to work with a single music director and body of professional singers for the whole parish.
  • The schedule of Masses needs to facilitate this, and to allow the Music Director to be available on Saturday afternoons for weddings, which in our parish are frequent.