Mass on the Grass

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Father Marty Goetz, above, pastor of Sacred Heart Parish in Newton, distributes Communion during the parish’s Mass on the Grass event June 8. Community members, below, set up folding chairs prior to the outdoor Mass.

By Lindsay Steele
The Catholic Messenger

NEWTON — A man noticed a sign advertising Sacred Heart Parish’s inaugural Mass on the Grass. Although he was not a member of the parish, he decided to stop by and check out the event. He “was interested to see what it was all about,” parishioner Michelle Miller recalled. “He ended up staying for Mass and the potluck.”

Organizers of the June 8 event hoped to bring in about 150 people to enjoy Mass outdoors, listen to music, play bucket golf and corn hole, eat potluck food and make s’mores. Just shy of 200 people participated, Miller said. “There were a lot of laughs and people just enjoying each other, like one big, happy family picnic.”

The parish previously hosted an annual potluck at the pool but turnout for the event was low, Miller said. “I was told that last year they only had about 25-30 people at the potluck.” She thought an outdoor Mass with a memorable name might draw people. Father Marty Goetz, the parish’s pastor, was supportive. She said he thought it was a wonderful idea and that “Mass on the Grass” had a nice ring to it. Church Life Commission members led planning efforts with assistance from other parish groups.

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Mass on the Grass was a parish-wide effort, Miller said. “This is a big event and it takes a lot of volunteers to put it on.” Parishioners signed up online to help with set up and take down or to donate beverages, hot dogs, brats and buns.

During Mass, Father Goetz gave a homily about family and community. Like family, Sacred Heart pulls together through good times and bad times and there is always someone there to lend a hand or to listen, he said. Afterward, participants enjoyed food and fellowship. “The tables were full and the kids running around having fun was wonderful,” Miller said.

Feedback has been overwhelmingly positive, she said, and the parish plans to make “Mass on the Grass” an annual event. “I can’t wait to start planning one for next year.”


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