Some folks think all the hoopla is too much, especially at church. One critic wrote a letter to the editor of a local paper, which was faxed to our office. The writer complained that cancelling Sunday evening Masses on Super Bowl Sunday was a scandal: “… to those who believe that we should place the Mass above any worldly pursuit, like watching a football game, it is an insult,” the person wrote.
Another critic wrote to The Compass: “In the very important area of vocations, is it wise, prudent or Catholic to close a church which usually has a 6:30 p.m. Mass on Sundays for watching a football game?”
While it’s important to keep a proper perspective on the role of sports in society, the church is no different than any other institution when it comes to supporting local organizations. Changing Mass times on Super Bowl Sunday to accommodate the schedule of local Catholics is not a gesture of disrespect on anyone’s part. In fact, is it really prudent for parishes to schedule a service in which attendance would be at an all-time low?
The church certainly needs vocations to the priesthood. It also needs priests who can relate to people in the pews. What message do we give our young men when we tell them that sports and Catholicism are somehow incompatible?
Anyone who attended the Masses celebrated by Bishop Ricken, Fr. Pleier or Fr. Shillcox would tell you that the pews were filled on Sunday morning. Possibly more so than on other Sundays. The excitement of the day seemed to draw people to church, to share not only in the unity of their faith, but in their hometown team.
The bottom line is that the time of Sunday Mass is insignificant. Welcoming people to Mass is the key and the church does so when it joins the community of believers in celebrating special occasions like the Packers’ appearance in the Super Bowl.