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2309: Queen of Peace, Millville, Ohio, USA
Queen of Peace, Milville
Mystery Worshipper: ChurchHoss.
The church: Queen of Peace, Millville, Ohio, USA.
Denomination: Roman Catholic, Archdiocese of Cincinnati.
The building: Queen of Peace enjoys a roomy campus over several acres that include a sprawling sanctuary and parish hall, large school (through grade 8), and several parking lots.
The church: The parish was founded in 1941 and seems to be a thriving, contemporary community of faith. Their dozens of ministries and organizations are well detailed on their website. Special mention goes to the blood bank, in existence for and supported by parish members who donate blood throughout the year. There is one weekday mass, a Saturday vigil mass, and two Sunday masses.
The neighborhood: Millville, in the southwest corner of Ohio just north of Cincinnati, was named after a grist mill established on the site in 1805. It is a small rural community, population just under 1000. It boasts a pizza parlor that is generally regarded as serving the best pizza in the Cincinnati area.
The cast: The Revd Jeffrey Bacon, pastor, and others who were not identified. The rota lists Chris Maraschiello as the lector but pleads "volunteers needed" for the servers.
The date & time: December 31, 2011, 4.30pm.

What was the name of the service?
Holy Mass: Vigil of the Octave Day of Christmas: Solemnity of the Blessed Virgin Mary, Mother of God.

How full was the building?
Filled nearly to capacity. When I approached a pew with space in the center, the couple seated on the aisle moved over to let me in. All ages were represented – lots of families. I was impressed by the good behavior of young and old alike, with the single exception of an infant in the rear who squealed loudly a few times.

Did anyone welcome you personally?
A man opened the door to the building as I approached and greeted me with "Good afternoon."

Was your pew comfortable?
The unpadded pew was comfortable enough, as was the padded kneeling bench.

How would you describe the pre-service atmosphere?
Quiet, casual, and pleasantly anticipatory.

What were the exact opening words of the service?
"The Lord said to Moses: 'This is how you are to bless the Israelites: May the Lord bless you and keep you; may the Lord make his face shine upon you and be gracious to you; may the Lord turn his face toward you and give you peace.'"

What books did the congregation use during the service?
The hardbound Roman Catholic Gather hymnal and the paperback Seasonal Missalette.

What musical instruments were played?
Organ plus a small choir (seven or eight voices). The organist seemed to favor the pedals, which I'll have more to say about in a moment.

Did anything distract you?
The congregation were clearly having some trouble adjusting to the wording of the new English liturgy, with some responding with the new "And with your spirit" while others remembered the old "And also with you."

Was the worship stiff-upper-lip, happy clappy, or what?
Stiff upper lip. The congregation were old hands (and feet) at standing, kneeling, sitting, "Amen-ing" and "Thanks be to God-ing."

Exactly how long was the sermon?
4-1/2 minutes.

On a scale of 1-10, how good was the preacher?
4 – The priest had an easy-going style and seemed to be well-regarded by the parishioners. But in terms of connecting with the listeners' needs and doing more than communicating simple truth, it seemed pretty thin gruel – by my standards, at least.

In a nutshell, what was the sermon about?
Not surprisingly, it focused on Mary, the mother of God, and on God as our Father and every Christian as a child of God. The sermon opened with a humorous illustration and conveyed a sense of love and acceptance to the listeners.

Which part of the service was like being in heaven?
The humble devotion and gratitude of many worshipers as they received the host and the wine.

And which part was like being in... er... the other place?
The aforementioned pedals on the organ could have been more artfully used (I thought I sensed more than a few dissonant notes) – or given a break from time to time.

What happened when you hung around after the service looking lost?
The vestibule of the church after the service did not lend itself to easy conversation, and the worshipers filed out like fans at a football stadium. No one approached me or offered to help. But I was given the four-page bulletin for the week as I exited the church.

How would you describe the after-service coffee?
There was no repast in evidence.

How would you feel about making this church your regular (where 10 = ecstatic, 0 = terminal)?
2 – Much of the liturgy is uplifting, and there was a warmth to the service, but the worship seemed a bit too perfunctory for my tastes.

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

What one thing will you remember about all this in seven days' time?
The family atmosphere.
 
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