A day in Catholic Church

It’s been an incredible experience to visit many different churches every Sunday in search of news.

From the come-as-you-are relaxed atmosphere at the Unitarian Universalist Congregation of York to the thunderous gospel sounds of Friendship Baptist Church to the little, white, country church feel at Water’s Edge United Methodist Church in Craley, all the congregations are unique.

Sunday took me to St. Joseph Catholic Church in York and yet another learning experience. I have never been to a Catholic Church, so the tradition and formality was all new. I have widely read the critical thoughts of others who have worshiped as Catholics, George Carlin, for example, and it was interesting to observe customs such as communion with my own eyes.

As a student of history, I was naturally curious about the structure of the service, knowing that many of the traditions date back hundreds of years. In fact, I was there to write this story on the historic change in the translation of Catholic Mass.

A couple of things stood out to me. First off, the church was filled with small children, some of whom assumed roles in the service. This was new.

I wrote last week about the number of young people at Friendship Baptist, but they were teenagers. St. Joseph was filled with babies and toddlers and they made their presence known.

No doubt this is where the strength of the Catholic Church lies — in families who trace their religious roots back many generations.

Secondly, Father Louis Petruha showed a little personality from the pulpit. He began by challenging the crowd, which numbered several hundred parishioners, to note what was different about the church. Being the first day of Advent, new wreaths and candles were in place.

Father Louis prodded and chided them until he got the answers he sought. Then he put himself on the hot seat while discussing the changes to mass: “When I make a mistake, you can raise your hand and tell me.”

The service was quick, thought-provoking and moved along with alacrity. Honestly, I felt most at home at St. Joseph.

It all made me wonder about the negative worldview associated with the Catholic Church. I understand the history of church abuses, but is it a fair judgment?

What is the historic ratio between good and bad when it comes to the church?

With over 68 million members in the United States alone, the Catholic Church is far from a spent force. What is your view of the church?

About John Hilton

I grew up in Susquehanna County, Pa. and graduated Syracuse University with a dual degree in journalism/political science in 1998. After working for nearly three years for a weekly paper in upstate New York, I came to southcentral Pennsylvania. I spent 13 years as a reporter and editor for The Sentinel in Carlisle and joined the York Daily Record as religion reporter in September 2011.
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3 Responses to A day in Catholic Church

  1. Chris says:

    John, thanks for your article and your blog. I am glad you felt welcomed at St. Joe’s – that means we are doing what we are called to do – showing Christ’s love to one another. You are always welcome in our church.

    Christ’s PEACE to you!


  2. Barbara says:

    I left the churches where I spent my life for the Catholic Church. I’ve finally found a spiritual home. And both St. Patrick on Marsh Dr. and St. Patrick Shrine on Pomfret St. ring bells (well, technological imitations) for services and Marsh Dr. has chimes on the quarter hours and a hymn at several hours. You should visit the Shrine sometime. It’s very historic and beautiful!

  3. B. Jacques says:

    St. Joseph is an incredible Parish and we count ourselves very lucky to be part of it. Our children do everything from soccer to Scouts to basketball with other kids from the St. Joe’s school community.

    When it comes to measuring the “good” that comes from the Catholic Church, I invite you to visit Catholic Harvest Food Pantry on E. Market Street in York. We’re supported by St. Joe’s, St. Rose, St. Patrick’s, and St. Mary’s. Both financial support and volunteer support come from all four of these compassionate Parishes, as well as support from area businesses, allow us to feed well over 600 families of any faith every month. It truly is an incredible operation.

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