St Elizabeth's, Milton, Massachusetts, USA

St Elizabeth's, Milton, Massachusetts, USA


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Mystery Worshipper:
Church: St Elizabeth's
Location: Milton, Massachusetts, USA
Date of visit: Sunday, 4 April 2010, 11:30am

The building

The church plant is a fairly simple A-frame structure with a large open interior design. Given that the church dates from before the second Vatican Council, it must have been renovated at some point to remove the altar rail; however, it is a very organic renovation.

The church

Typical Catholic parish, with many activities and a mixture of older and younger parishioners. The parish school includes kindergarten through tenth grade. The parish participates in ARISE, a program sponsored by the archdiocese that encourages small groups of people to deepen their faith, develop a closer relationship with Christ, grow in community, and reach out in service to others.

The neighborhood

Milton, named after Milton Abbey, Dorset, England, is a good sized wealthy suburb of Boston with blue collar roots. It features tree-lined streets and lots of open land, giving it a very bucolic air. There are several 19th century country houses and estates as well as examples of early 19th century workers' housing. It is not unusual to see fieldstone walls forming property boundaries, so characteristic of rural New England of days gone by (remember Robert Frost's poem "Mending Wall"?).

The cast

The Revd Aiden J. Walsh, pastor, four altar servers, a cantor, four extraordinary ministers and two lectors. Pretty crowded overall.

What was the name of the service?

Easter Liturgy, Novus Ordo.

How full was the building?

Full to capacity, which I am sure may have included many Easter only Catholics.

Did anyone welcome you personally?

No. I arrived 15 minutes early and the church was mostly empty.

Was your pew comfortable?


How would you describe the pre-service atmosphere?

Folks were chatting, saying hello to people they hadn't seen in awhile.

What were the exact opening words of the service?

"Happy Easter!"

What books did the congregation use during the service?

One of the many paperback missalettes that most Catholic parishes use, put out by Oregon Catholic Press, which calls itself OCP nowadays.

What musical instruments were played?


Did anything distract you?

A person in front of me thought it appropriate to talk through the entire mass. Mrs Adoro Te Devote became quite excited when she spotted Jordan Knight, a singer in the popular boy band New Kids on the Block, in church with his wife.

Was the worship stiff-upper-lip, happy clappy, or what?

Standard novus ordo. The cantor did a nice job but nobody seemed much interested in singing. To be fair, the choir was excellent, so maybe folks just wanted to enjoy.

Exactly how long was the sermon?

12 minutes.

On a scale of 1-10, how good was the preacher?

6 – The pastor sounded a bit like the minister in the 1987 movie Spaceballs, Mel Brooks' hilarious spoof of Star Wars. I would have liked to use one of that character's lines on the chatterbox in front of me: "Don't be sorry, be quiet!"

In a nutshell, what was the sermon about?

Christ has torn the veil of death, leading us to new life. How fitting that Easter occurs in the spring, a time of renewal.

Which part of the service was like being in heaven?

Handel's "Hallelujah Chorus" was sung by the choir. Very nice.

And which part was like being in... er... the other place?

Beside the person in front of me who wouldn't shut up, there was another person who sat through the whole mass (i.e., he didn't kneel). I had all I could to to keep my hands from whacking the back of his head as I knelt.

What happened when you hung around after the service looking lost?

It was Easter so I had family to visit, as did everyone else.

How would you feel about making another visit (where 10 = ecstatic, 0 = terminal)?

7 – Nice parish. I enjoyed the choir so I would happily go back.

Did the service make you feel glad to be a Christian?

Yes. It's nice to see the church full, even if it is only for a day.

What one thing will you remember about all this in seven days' time ?

Mrs Adoro Te Devote getting so excited about seeing Jordan Knight.

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