Stunningly beautiful, St. Anthony’s offers a liturgy that’s high quality. It’s not uncommon for visitors to briefly stop in just to take pictures and videos.
Located on Milwaukee’s near south side the church isn’t situated in the best of city neighborhoods. As an usher at weekly Mass since 1970 my role has often been to be a protective gatekeeper against individuals who don’t walk through the doors to worship reverently.
I’ve just about seen it all.
People passing out.
People having seizures.
Animals somehow getting loose.
Families of all sizes.
Babies that grew into parents who then had babies.
The sad reality is that the St. Anthony’s neighborhood of my childhood is nowhere near what it is today. Crime is common. The area is unsafe. A security guard patrols where cars are parked for Sunday Mass. If not, there’d be break-ins.
In fall and winter transients and the homeless descend upon Sunday Mass. As ushers we allow all to enter. But unfortunately we have to keep eyes focused on some churchgoers more than others.
St. Anthony’s is a perfect spot to celebrate the Eucharist. I recommend to all. People come to take photos and videos. They claim they’ve not seen nor heard anything like it.
But like many churches on Sunday, St. Anthony’s is wide open. Anyone can waltz right in brandishing who knows what.
We’ve had some wild characters show up, shirtless, yelling incoherently, making a scene, stinking of booze. Thankfully no one’s threatened with a weapon. Not at my Sunday morning Mass. There has been shocking violence, however, at my beloved St. Anthony’s.
Sunday March 22, 1998.
My 10:00 a.m. mass that day proceeded without incident. Then came the 7:00 p.m. mass.
During the Holy sacrifice shots rang out. A 15-year old boy named Israel Rodriguez took bullets to the head from drive-by shooters as he stood on the steps of scared St. Anthony’s. With blood streaming into his garments, Father Larry Dulek, the church pastor and a very good man cradled Rodriguez and administered the last rites while the boy lay dying.
That’s why on occasion people question my Sunday ritual. I recall a grumpy curmudgeon once questioning may sanity. “You still go there?” It was futile trying to explain. I refuse to judge his or anyone else’s decision to stay home, even if I choose differently.
On this Sunday today’s read is from Kathy Schiffer, a Catholic blogger. Here’s an excerpt:
I got into a discussion recently with some good Catholic friends about going to church on Sunday. To my surprise, several of them had recently failed to fulfill their Sunday obligation to attend Mass.
I’m pretty sure this is not a unique phenomenon among believers, even among those who consider themselves faithful Catholics.
Sometimes, people will explain away their having missed the Sunday liturgy — they had a headache, or they were out late the night before, or they have company coming, or [eye roll] they can pray just as well on the golf course.
Sometimes, it comes down to something the parish is doing wrong: The homilies are boring, or the church is ugly, or the music is not to your liking, or no one ever talks to you, or the air conditioning isn’t working properly.
Let’s talk about this.
Read the entire column here.