‘It’s about Jesus’ church replies in battle of time vs. tradition

Posted at 9:09 PM, Dec 23, 2013

RICHMOND, Va. (WTVR) - For more than 100 years the Cathedral of the Sacred Heartin Richmond has been a place for Catholic families to meet, pray and share religious tradition.

This Christmas, some parishioners are upset one of those traditions is going away.

"People can't believe it's happening. It's breaking of tradition. And people don't understand why you have to get away from it," longtime church member Myron Kostyk said.

Myron Kostyk

Myron Kostyk questions why Midnight Mass was moved to 10 p.m.

Kostyk said he has been attending the Cathedral's Christmas Eve Midnight Mass for nearly 60 years.

This year however, the traditional Midnight Mass will take place at 10 p.m.

The change surprised Kostyk when he learned about it in the most recent church bulletin.

"There's going to be a lot of people showing up wondering what in the world is going on," Kostyk predicted. "They're going to show up at 10:30 or 11 p.m. and mass is going to be over."

Director of Religious Education Nicholas Stein

Director of Religious Education Nicholas Stein

Director of Religious Education Nicholas Stein said the Cathedral made the move to help elderly parishioners, and those with small children, attend mass.

"A lot of people like to come to mass at night and 10 p.m. is an easier slot," Stein said. "We're just following the trend of a lot of parishes in the region and the Pope himself. He moved his mass to 9:30 this year."

Stein said neither neighborhood safety nor tired presiders factored into moving Midnight Mass to 10 p.m.

"They have more than one mass for other people to go to if they can't make it at midnight," Kostyk said referring to the Cathedral's scheduled 4 p.m. and 6:30 p.m. services. "Change isn't always bad, but this is breaking of tradition and tradition is what it's all about."

Stein said he understood that change can be difficult, but urged parishoners to focus on WHY, not WHEN they come to church.

"All of this is about coming and praising the Lord for what he did in coming to the world on Christmas. It's about Jesus, it's not about the time of mass," Stein said.