While the boys and I were in Louisiana, we attended St. Margaret Mary Parish in Slidell. This is the church I attended as a wee tot and then from mid-4th grade until I left for graduate school. This is also the church where Mr. O and I were married back in 1995.
This church experienced flooding from Katrina back in 2005. In the early days post Katrina when news from the area was spotty and more focused on New Orleans proper, we heard rumors that it was under 9 feet of water. I’m not certain just how high the water got, but they did end up redoing the church interior. It had been completely carpeted in the main sanctuary, so any water meant ripping out carpeting. The pews were also replaced (with some complaints as they went from padded seats to all wood.)
We had been back to Slidell about a year post Katrina. However, we attended Mass at St. Luke’s parish. The boys just prefer their liturgies to the longer ones at SMM. Mr. O was with us that trip and he certainly likes a shorter liturgy without lots of singing (SMM has sung Spirit of the Living God between the Gospel reading and the Homily since the mid-1980s with arms extended for both priest and parish to be prayed over) or the post Communion birthday/anniversary/visiting the parish montage of recognitions.
Hearing my parents talk about how SMM is an aging parish with few families, I was expecting to see almost no families and lots of senior citizens. I did notice that the morning Mass choir was comprised pretty much of the same people who were there when I attended 7th and 8th grade there. But, there were several families. And, I was blown away to see TEN altar servers at that Mass. The next week we went to the Saturday vigil Mass where they had six servers. Mom mentioned that they had just had a class, so maybe it isn’t normal for this parish.
A trend I’ve noticed in many parishes we’ve attended (as parishioners or visitors) was evident at SMM as well. For every male participant in the liturgy (especially altar servers and Extraordinary Ministers of the Eucharist), there were 3 women.
I snapped a few photos on my phone’s camera (so the quality is ho hum.) Along with putting in tile for flooring, they also created a center aisle. While it’s pretty, the small tiles lining the center aisle had me thinking of a runway for some reason. Maybe it’s just showing how our mind can wander at times to strange things. But, I’m going to reason that the tiles (which run from the main exterior doors to the altar) are meant to point the way to the altar.
As you scroll down, imagine that you are standing just inside the interior doors looking to the far left. The pictures were taken from left to right with the first one showing the choir area on the right of the pew section by the stained glass windows.
While there were some things that bothered me some (e.g. projecting lyrics to the songs sung on the white walls on either side of the altar), I was glad to see some changes that made me glad. The biggest change? The Priest purifies the vessels post Communion at the altar rather than leaving the room for several minutes.
As for music at the church, each Mass has it’s own leader and ‘flavor.’ That can sometimes work out well, but this isn’t one of those cases. I struggled for a while to see how anything being sung at the Saturday Vigil Mass fit with the liturgy. Then, I realized that it didn’t fit at all and was just a hodge-podge of contemporary music the group’s leader probably liked. Looking for the positive, I noted that they are singing the psalm now.
If my main computer was working well, I’d scan in pictures from our wedding to share. Add that to the long list of ‘coming soon’ posts!
Finally, I have to share that I saw one couple from my youth at Mass. I babysat for them starting back when their eldest son was a wee babe. He was there with his parents and is now 27 years old! Yikes, I’m getting old!