Young Catholics: Attending Mass

The procession at the annual Diocesan Mass for Life on January 14, 2024, at St. Columba Cathedral.

An interview with junior high school students on the topic of attending Mass

Attending Mass—hearing God’s word and receiving Christ’s body and blood during the sacrament of Holy Communion in a group setting with other believers—is an integral part of the Catholic faith. 

Seventh- and eighth-grade students at St. Christine School in Youngstown could not agree more. They sat down with The Catholic Echo recently to discuss how attending Mass is an important part of their lives—at their local parish, at school and even while away on vacation.

After watching Mass online or on television during the COVID-19 pandemic, each of the students interviewed are now attending weekly Masses in-person with their families.

“I think I get more out of Mass when I am an altar server,” said eighth-grader Jacob Hauser.

The other students agreed that participation in Mass is important, and that in-person Mass has had a more profound effect on them.

For many of the teens interviewed, attending Sunday Mass turns Sunday into a family day. Some go with their families to breakfast beforehand or lunch afterward, while others visit their grandparents for a weekly dinner. They also see the value in bonding with their families spiritually during Mass, regardless what the rest of the day may hold.

Some of the students interviewed have attended Mass with their families overseas, and they have had the benefit of feeling that familial bond as it applies to the global Church when they attend Mass with their families in other countries.

Cybelle Feghali, an eighth-grader, went to Mass in Lebanon when she visited the paternal side of her family. Her classmate Jimmy Leslie also attended Mass abroad while his family was on vacation. “I went to Mass in Mexico. I was only eight years old, so I don’t remember too much. I do remember traveling outside from where we stayed to a specific church,” he said. 

After an hour bus ride to get to the church, Jimmy recalled that he did not understand what was going on in the Mass because of the language barrier. Still, it was a family memory that has lasted for him.

The students noticed that when they attended Mass at a church away from their home parish, the structure is the same, yet they do see differences in other ways.

Eighth-grader Gavin Hauch discussed visiting family on his maternal side and attending Mass in Cincinnati. “It wasn’t that far away, but the church was really huge with photos of Jesus everywhere,” he said. “The Mass was very similar but just being in the cathedral in Cincinnati was really cool. The paintings were hand-painted. The ceiling was super high and the architecture was definitely different than churches we have around here.”

His classmate, Brendan Connolly, also noted the difference in architecture the time he attended Mass with his family in Virginia Beach, but he said that he appreciated that the Mass experience was the same.

Jacob also went to Mass on vacation in the United States. “Every year or two we go to New York City and we go to Mass at St. Patrick’s Cathedral. The music that they play is really nice. It’s a really cool experience,” he said.

Seventh-grader James Stein also reported that he went to Mass while on vacation with his family in Maryland, and Olivia Scott, an eighth-grader, recalled the time her family went to Mass on Easter Sunday while on vacation in Siesta Key, Florida. 

At St. Christine School, the students celebrate Mass at school every other Friday, which helps them bond as a community and build their familiarity with the Mass beyond the regular Sunday Mass.

Whether it is school Mass with their classmates or Sunday Mass with their families—either at their home parishes or abroad—these St. Christine School students see the value of attending Mass and celebrating God’s love and His Son’s sacrifice for us by partaking in his body and blood.

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Nancilynn Gatta

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