"SCAP" and the Great, Big Priest Shortage

I won’t say anything more about this subject to anyone at my parish, but it’s being talked about that we might wind up (probably will wind up, that is) clustering with another parish or two. And in discussing that process, it’s been said that having a “SCAP” would fulfill our Sunday obligation. I mentioned in a small group that I didn’t think that was so (having heard just days before on the Catholic Answers radio program that it was not), and then being answered, “They just said it fulfilled it,” told me that it would be pointless to press the issue. We were then told (as a larger group) that the bishop didn’t like the idea of them using “SCAP,” but that they were just going to work on him about that because they just couldn’t see how else it could be done. Mind you, there are six other parishes within about 30 minutes of my house. But I heard most of the people in our small discussion group complaining that we might not have a Triduum all here (“with our people and our music in our church”), that we might have to “share” our deacons as well as our priest, that we might be inconvenienced. It’s a good thing, many people said, that we can have these SCAP things so we don’t have to go to another parish for Mass.

Whatever. I just want to fulfill my Sunday obligation, people. I want the Mass. I don’t care if I have to drive across town once in a while. I used to consistently drive to a parish that was 20 to 25 minutes away from my house when I lived in Florida. At least I was assured that I’d know ahead of time if there would be a SCAP at our parish.

Anyway, I just looked at the diocesan website and found this, which explains “SCAP” and why the bishop doesn’t want us to use it in our area. (Our metro area is specifically mentioned in the section where His Excellence says it would not suffice for Sunday obligations.)

Q: Is it acceptable in our Diocese to hold a “Sunday Celebrations in the Absence of a Priest” (SCAP) in order to accommodate keeping a community of the faithful together, when it is not possible to assign a priest to cover every week-end liturgy at a site?

A: When there is no Mass (on Saturday evening or Sunday) available in a particular parish the first option should always be for the members of that community to join with their brothers and sisters at neighboring parishes for the celebration of Mass. Not only does this provide for participation in the fullest celebration of the Eucharist but also serves as a reminder that our true identity is not as a member of a particular parish but as members of the one Church, the one Body of Christ. For the most part, in the urban areas of our diocese (e.g. Richmond, Roanoke, Hampton Roads and Tidewater), Masses in neighboring parishes are readily accessible and the schedules should be made available to parishioners.

Only when it is not reasonably possible for the members of a community to travel to a neighboring parish for Mass is Sunday Celebration in the Absence of a Priest to be used. A rule of thumb for determining what constitutes a reasonable travel distance is to examine how far the people in a particular community travel for other daily activities such as work, shopping, movies, etc. In addition, factors such as inclement weather, or short notice regarding the absence of the priest for Mass might render travel to another parish unreasonable or even dangerous.

Where no substitute priest or nearby celebration is available, the bishop gives permission for the implementation of the ritual Sunday Celebrations in the absence of a Priest.” Inconvenience is not enough of a reason to invoke the use of SCAP.

However, I have learned my lesson. I won’t complain to anyone about it. I’ll let them all sort it out, and if I show up and there is no priest, I’ll go to another parish for Mass. But complaining or trying to correct anyone would be just another mistake and would only further harm the causes RLC is working towards.

How wimpy am I that I’m ready to let someone else head up the committee? You can’t fight city hall, you know.

Please browse my eBay items. Thank you.

4 thoughts on “"SCAP" and the Great, Big Priest Shortage

  1. Christine, my parish right now is “merging” with another parish. And we will not have the Easter Vigil this year, etc. etc. etc. It’s painful, but we will all heal. I am trying very hard to keep in mind “It doesn’t matter where I attend Mass, because Jesus is there no matter which building I’m in!”Hang in there. I’m here to listen–it’s happening everywhere. And we were assured that we’d only have a SCAP if the priest suddenly became ill (and that’s understandable).


  2. Thanks, Barb. I think what bothers me is that they are planning to use SCAP, not keeping it in mind as a backup. As in, it will be a part of the schedule. And two people said, with our pastor present, that it fulfills Sunday’s obligation, period. My biggest concern was that they would do it on a regular basis and we wouldn’t know when they were planning it. But they said there would be a schedule, so our family would just attend Mass at another parish those weekends. I just felt very frustrated. Maybe it’s because I’ve only been a part of the parish for 4 years, but I feel like if Father can’t be there one Sunday, then I’ll go to Mass elsewhere. We’re in the middle of an area with six parishes in very close proximity!I’m surprised that central Jersey is having clustering, too, though. It seemed that everyone I knew was Catholic when I was a kid, and our parish was so huge that we had five or six priests and a few nuns in the convent. Of course, the convent is no more, as far a I know. That makes me sad. (But, as you can see from my flurry of late-night posts, I was pretty sad this week anyway.)


  3. Christine, they are only clustering in areas where the money is NOT. Shame on me for saying it, but it’s true. I had a good long look at all the demographics a couple of years ago when they were killing off the schools in this diocese, and I call it as I see it. If you’re middle-class or inner-city, they’re after your parish. All the towns where “dirt is expensive” they are leaving alone.I don’t think your parish is applying SCAP as it should be used.I know that our Bishop has told all the pastors in the merged parishes that even when 2 priests are available, they must come up with a Sunday schedule involving both churches, that ONE priest can handle on his own. So it would have to really get drastic before they could use SCAP. That’s fine with me–though it’s going to be a little rough getting adjusted to worshipping in our alternate site. I know, Jesus is there just as much as He is in our “preferred” church….but….This all hurts sometimes.


  4. Dear Catholics,We provide the SCAP at local nursing homes, in keeping with the Bishops’ view (and I quote Bishop Donald Trautman, head of the USCCB’s Committee on Liturgy) that the rite “is intended to be used when there are no nearby parishes that people can attend, such as rural areas, jails or nursing homes.” It is the first instance that causes the most problems. However, the elderly are greatly served by the SCAP; even in our area where Masses are held frequently and “nearby” most in our urban area, the just aren’t enough priests to visit the elderly.Do any of you provide the SCAP for your elderly Catholics? We find that it is a very appealing ministry for families, who offer the rite together…Blessings, Lynn O. Peterson


What do you have to say?

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s