Efforts to return a Minneapolis Catholic church to liturgical standards have prompted dozens of parishioners to protest and leave their parish, the Minneapolis Star Tribune reports.
The church had held prayer services that changed the “Our Father” to begin “Our Father and Mother.”
Around 100 members of St. Stephen’s Catholic Church planned a march on Saturday morning to protest changes made to bring the parish into conformity with liturgical norms and to mark their change of venue to a locale five blocks away from the parish.
"How can it have been OK for 40 years -- even been encouraged because of the work we do -- and not be OK anymore?" asked parishioner Eileen Smith. "They should hold us up as a model of service. Instead, they are giving us the boot."
"It's incredibly sad," said Mary Condon Peters, a former parish council member. "All these years, there was room in the big old Catholic tent for all of us. And now there isn't. And they gave us three weeks' notice."
Nick Coleman, writing in the Star Tribune, summarized the past 9 a.m. English-language Sunday prayer service, believed to have begun in 1968.
“You know the kind of service: with guitars, lay people giving homilies, dancing in the aisles with people who have mental and physical disabilities, gay couples openly participating in worship, along with ex-priests, ex-nuns and sundry other spiritual wanderers,” Coleman wrote.
The Archdiocese of Minnesota has tried to bring the parish into conformity with the standards set out in the GIRM, the General Instruction on the Roman Missal. The parish had made significant changes to some prayers, rewriting the first lines of the Our Father to read “Our Father and Mother, Who Art in heaven.” Women have filled roles in the prayer services reserved for clergy, and the parish did not use chalices of precious metal but instead used ceramic vessels.
Archdiocesan spokesman Dennis McGrath compared the GIRM to a sport playbook.
"They all have to play with the same playbook," said McGrath. "They've had plenty of warnings to get their act together."
The parish, which has only had part-time clergy, will receive a new pastor next month. McGrath said the archdiocese wanted to get things “straightened out” before the new pastor arrives.
Archbishop Harry Flynn had met with parish representatives on February 5, instructing them that the 9 a.m. prayer service must end. About two hundred people attended the final prayer service, held on February 24.
The former parishioners plan to continue their prayer meetings at an address shared with Park House, a historic mansion, which describes itself on its website as “a day health center for people living with HIV/AIDS.”