|050: St Mary, Ardmore, Oklahoma, USA|
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Mystery Worshipper: Mockingbird.
The church: St Mary, Ardmore, Oklahoma, USA.
Denomination: Roman Catholic.
The building: St Mary's is a simple, pale orange brick building. However, the inside of it is lovely.
The church: This is the only fully-fledged Catholic parish in at least 15 miles in any direction. It has mission responsibilities to the nearby towns of Healdton and Marietta.
The neighbourhood: The church is located in a residential area that is a mix of houses dating from the early 1900s and the 1970s. Next door is an elementary school (not affiliated with the church) that matches the brick exactly.
The cast: Fr. Louis J. Lamb.
What was the name of the service?
Sunday Mass of Obligation.
How full was the building?
The building was mostly full. Of course, like a typical Catholic church, almost everyone sat towards the back.
Did anyone welcome you personally?
We were welcomed by an usher as we walked in the church door. He welcomed us and shook our hands. The couple just in front of us were also visitors.
Was your pew comfortable?
The pew was fairly standard. The kneelers, on the other hand, could have been used as torture devices during the inquisition!
How would you describe the pre-service atmosphere?
What came to mind was "rustling". There was some quiet talking near the door, but the main noise was people moving around, genuflecting, kneeling, settling small children, etc.
What were the exact opening words of the service?
"In the name of the Father, the Son, and of the Holy Spirit..."
What books did the congregation use during the service?
Gather Hymnal, Worship Hymnal/Missal (pretty standard Catholic hymnals).
What musical instruments were played?
Organ, solo voice.
Did anything distract you?
The atmosphere was generally conducive to paying attention. The woman in front of us had two children and the younger one, a boy, kept squirming during mass. At some points he was lying on the pew, which made for a funny moment when his mom almost sat on him!
Was the worship stiff-upper-lip, happy clappy, or what?
The church is in a small city, so it is fairly rural. The worship was no-frills, but not rigid. The mass was short and to the point.
Exactly how long was the sermon?
On a scale of 1-10, how good was the preacher?
6 my husband liked him. I wasn't too thrilled. He tended to long pauses... so long, you wondered if he had just completely lost his train of thought.
In a nutshell, what was the sermon about?
The Gospel reading was the famous "love one another" passage from John 13, so Fr. Lamb talked about God being love and loving others. He also talked about loving your mother (it was Mother's Day). He also thanked the congregation for a party they threw for his 40th anniversary of ordination.
Which part of the service was like being in heaven?
The general atmosphere of the worship service was really involved and reverent. It was good to see so many people from different backgrounds come together for God.
And which part was like being in... er... the other place?
Sloooooooooooooowww Muuuuuuuuuusic. The organist was particularly... interesting. The kneelers were medieval torture implements.
What happened when you hung around after the service looking lost?
We hung around for a while and one of my husband's friends from college came over. We had no idea he had moved to Ardmore. Oddly enough, he also knew my mother. Other than that, no one seemed to notice.
How would you describe the after-service coffee?
I didn't see any refreshments.
How would you feel about making this church your regular (where 10 = ecstatic, 0 = terminal)?
7 I like my regular parish better, but if I lived here all the time, I wouldn't have a problem with it.
Did the service make you feel glad to be a Christian?
Yes, especially because of the atmosphere. It really seemed sincere.
What one thing will you remember about all this in seven days' time?
My husband said he would remember the organist and the inside of the sanctuary (I have to admit it was very beautiful). I would say the atmosphere and the church itself as well.