Starting in the first week of my semester, I was in search of a Catholic Church to attend mass every Sunday. As a Catholic who attended mass at home with my family, I wanted to find time to keep the faith. One day, when I walked along the River Liffey, I came across Franciscan Church of the Immaculate Conception. I looked into their mass schedule, and decided to attend their 9pm mass on Sundays. I found this mass to be extremely peaceful and reflective, as I could reflect on my past week and prepare myself for my week ahead. Due to this mass commencing later than most mass times, the crowd is small, which makes the experience more personal. The priests are extremely warm and welcoming, which has made my experience at Franciscan Church memorable, and is something I will remember while studying abroad my freshman year.
After attending mass in Dublin for a few months, I have gathered some clear differences throughout the celebration. The first difference was the extremely fast-paced responses and participation by the crowd. I am used to mass being one hour long, while mass in Dublin is approximately 45 minutes long. My first impression of this was shocking, as I was expecting mass to be at least an hour long due to its immense religious history and the vast amount of churches across the country.
One of my favorite aspects of Franciscan Church of the Immaculate Conception is the canters and instruments used. Franciscan Church has two or three gentlemen, who are about 60 years of age, and play the piano, guitar, and violin. This duo or trio that plays every week reminds me of traditional Irish folk music, in which the use of the violin adds a classical touch. Their voices add a strong asset to the celebration, and are both peaceful and entertaining to watch during mass. Additionally, the people are always participating in song, which has impressed me. About half of the total crowd at my local parish participates in the hymnals, which makes the mass less unified. My involvement in the Catholic Church while in Dublin has been a moving experience.
Lastly, two differences that are obvious during the celebration in Dublin that are not implemented in masses in America are the lines during Holy Communion and applauding for the canters and musicians after mass. During Communion in America, the crowd makes their way towards the altar starting from the front rows and ending in the last row of the church. In Dublin, those who are wishing to receive Communion make their way towards the altar all at once. I was confused the first time I attended mass at Franciscan Church, but now feel comfortable with this routine. When mass ends, and the priest has left the altar, everyone applauds for the musicians and singers. This does not happen in the states, as everyone quietly leaves the church once the closing hymn ends. I feel that the canters should be recognized after mass, and wish America would implement this into their routine.
Overall, I find the Irish Catholic mass to be peaceful and enjoyable, and have had a positive experience at Franciscan Church of the Immaculate Conception. I have not changed churches since I have been in Dublin due to enjoying the late Sunday mass for peace and reflection. I hope to return to Dublin in the future and to find another Catholic church to identify their priests and canters to compare to Franciscan Church. It has been a memorable experience, and adds to my overall unforgettable semester in Ireland. Áiméan! Amen!