First Look


 

We invited first time visitors to Mass at St. Bernard's to write a little review to help newcomers know what they might expect when they come to worship here. See if your experience matches their description.

 Saturday 5pm • October 2015

Ages of those contributing to this review: 45, 43, 14, 11, 9
Describe your parking experience: 
Parking there is fine. (We arrived early.) We parked in the back by the school. No problems. You have to hold the little ones' hands.
Describe the exterior of the church: 
Great shape. To be honest, it's never been our aesthetic to have a modern church, but it's beautifully kept and maintained.
Describe the interior of the church: 
Same. I have to say, we really like the fact that you can see most of the congregation. Sitting in a semi-circle, of sorts, you see a lot more people. Very well maintained.
Where did you sit? And how did you choose your seat? (On your own, did someone seat you? etc.) And was the pew comfortable?
From where the priest stands up front, we would be on his right hand side, at about 2 o'clock, about half way back. We just chose the seat. Nobody seated us, but we were there early enough that there were plenty of seats. As the church became more full, the ushers were walking people to open seats.You can sit in a wooden pew for an hour.
How full was the church? And what was the makeup of the congregation?
The church seemed to be at capacity. Age-wise it was mixed, with families with little children, older couples, perhaps some older people on their own.  Demographically, I would say mostly Caucasian.
Did anyone welcome you personally?
Yes, we were welcomed by two nicely-dressed women at the door. They said something nice, as we entered.
How would you describe the pre-Mass atmosphere?
Pre-Mass atmosphere was mostly quiet.
Did anything distract you before or during Mass?
Just a little child behind us, talking. Glad kids are welcome, though, so not really an issue.
What was the mood of the Mass that you experienced?
The priest had a happy face that would make even the most solemn occasion seems less so. Right from the opening song he smiled and gave it a very positive welcoming feel.
What was the mood of the Mass that you experienced?
Up-beat, joyful. Good music. Also, people were participating, so to speak, in response to the priest's questions during his homily.. The church feels alive and healthy and vibrant.
Who smiled?
My kids. My wife. The priest. Congregation members.
Who led the music and how would you describe your experience of the music?
There was a leader of song and the organist who played the organ and piano. Good music, although a bit traditional for our taste. This is not a problem, but it's just not what we typically hear at the Mass at our church. We are used to rock music. But the music here was done very well. The leader of song was awesome, and the piano player was good.
Did you sing or just listen? Just listened. But my wife and daughter and my younger son sang.
Exactly how long was the Mass? One hour.  And how long was the homily? 15 minutes
In a nutshell, what was the homily about?
Caring for others, before yourself. The  priest gave a very funny example of being on a plane with a priest friend of his. He got bumped up to first class for having given his seat to a woman with a baby. The priest was very good. I love watching somebody who knows how to speak in public, appearing to be extemporaneous, but really with perfect structure below. You can't lose on the homily. Not a snooze-fest. You'll hear somebody who cares, and somebody who knows how to communicate. Seriously, don't miss it!
Did this Mass make you feel glad to be Catholic?
Yes. I am always very glad to see a thriving Catholic parish. Too many parishes are either declining in numbers or in other ways. Also, the priest spoke in such a down-to-earth way that it fends off any criticism of the Church as being out of touch.
What happened when you were leaving?
The  priest was there shaking hands. It was just too crowded to get to him, although I would have. Good problem to have.
What's one thing you will remember about all this in seven day's time?
The priest's vibrancy, and how the congregation responded to him.
If you were new to the neighborhood how likely would you be to join this parish based on this experience of Mass? (on a scale of 0-10)
10 - Absolutely. It's alive. I've been to Catholic churches that feel like they're declining, one up-state that I think of. Just doesn't make you feel that you're part of something with a future. Not the case, here.


 

 Sunday 7:30am • November 2015

Age of who contributed to this review: 75
Describe your parking experience: 
There was plenty of parking in the school lot and a short walk to the church.
Briefly describe the exterior of the church.
It is obviously NOT an old church building. It was built, I assume, in the 70's and it looks it.
     (Editor's note: the first St Bernard's church was an airplane hanger; then a wooden church with traditional steeple;
           the current building was constructed in 1982)
Briefly describe the interior of the church.
The interior is a post Vatican II church and it is fine. I found the stain glass windows were much too dark at that hour of the morning and they let in very little light. There is certainly nothing warm and fuzzy about the church but it is functional and  clean, the floors looked like they had recently been polished.
Where did you sit?
Near the front in the main section of the church.
How full was the church? And what was the makeup of the congregation?
It was surprising full -- full of grey-haired, old people.
Did anyone welcome you personally?
Yes, I was greeted warmly by a woman who smiled, said "Welcome and Happy Thanksgiving."
How would you describe the pre-Mass atmosphere?
I watched many people greet each other. They gave the apperance that if I joined, I would be welcomed.
What was the mood of the Mass that you experienced?
It was like a Mass in the '50's, except now we said prayers out loud.
Which part of that Mass was like being in heaven?
The short homily.
|And which part was like being in the "other place"?
The lack of music.
Who smiled?
Anybody with whom I made eye contact.
Who led the music and how would you describe your experience of the music?
Boo hoo - no music and in my family that is a sacrilege. Singing for us is praying twice.
Exactly how long was the homily?
5 minutes
In a nutshell, what was the homily about?
The priest talked about many people who said, "Oh my God" after hearing the news about recent terrorist attacks. He explained that we call on God in times of need and he hears us and comforts us.
Did this Mass make you feel glad to be Catholic?
Yes, but music wouldhave made the experience even better.
What's one thing you will remember about all this in seven day's time?
"Oh my God"
If you were new to the neighborhood how likely would you be to join this parish based on this experience of Mass?
Maybe a "7". If there had been music, it would have been a higher number.
Any other comments?
I like the "visitor" envelopes with the invitation to call the Welcome Ambassador.


 Sunday 9am • November 2015

Ages of those contributing to this review: 40, 39, 7, 5
Describe your parking experience: 
There was ample parking for us in the back by the school.
Describe the exterior of the church: 
The outside is more modern.
Describe the interior of the church: 
The inside of the church is more modern. We prefer a more traditional look to a church. The inside felt small but it was nice to feel like you were very close to the alter so I guess that is a bit of a trade-off.
Where did you sit? And how did you choose your seat? (On your own, did someone seat you? etc.) And was the pew comfortable?
We sat on the right side in the center, facing the alter, right after the pew break. We met family members at the mass so they chose the seats first.
How full was the church? And what was the makeup of the congregation?
The church seemed pretty full. Maybe 80% of the capacity. There were many age ranges, but it was mostly made up of famlies.
Did anyone welcome you personally?
When we walked into church Donna and Joann greeted us with a smile and a good morning. We were very happy to see someone we already knew so that was a nice treat for us.
How would you describe the pre-Mass atmosphere?
There were many families and children talking so it felt welcoming.
Did anything distract you before or during Mass?
There was a crying baby in the pew behind us (not that it was a problem being a "family mass")
What was the mood of the Mass that you experienced?
The mood of the mass felt positive. It is nice to feel welcome and feel as though being Catholic is something positive and not "gloomy"
Which part of the Mass felt like being heaven?
We especially liked when the bells were used during the Eucharistic Prayer many parishes no longer do this. Having 2 young girls we also appreciated that there were female alter servers present.
Who smiled?
Many people were smiling, especially the children
Who led the music and how would you describe your experience of the music?
The folk choir led the music. The choir was alright. I was wondering why there wasn't a children's choir. The children seemed to be a large part of the mass so I though that would be an obvious addition to the children's mass. (Note: There IS a children's choir and they sing one Sunday/month).
Did you sing or just listen: 
We sang, not all songs but "Christ be our light" is one of my favorites
Exactly how long was the Mass? 55 Minutes.  And how long was the homily? 9 minutes
In a nutshell, what was the homily about?
The homily was very enjoyable. The priest talked about his trip into the City and how there are many Santas in the stores and on street corners but there is only one Jesus and that similar to all the santas we the people are really disciples of Jesus and that if everyone did good things the way they are supposed to do, life would be the way it should be and Jesus would be able to come back. But since things are not yet right, Jesus cannot come back just yet.
Did this Mass make you feel glad to be Catholic?
Yes, because the church had a nice sense of community and we liked how the children were included in many aspects of the mass.
What happened when you were leaving? 
My daughter had to use the bathroom (which she said was very clean) so we did not leave right after mass.
What's one thing you will remember about all this in seven day's time?
We will remember to see Jesus in the kindness of others. I also liked the point of trying to look for kindnesses before being critical, this is something that I try to work on.
If you were new to the neighborhood how likely would you be to join this parish based on this experience of Mass? (on a scale of 0-10)
Based on the mass experience 10 because we felt very welcomed and enjoyed the experience.
Any other comments?
I liked during the offertory that the children went up with food or change to put in the food for the poor collection. It was nice to see them being a part of that. I liked the children going up to the altar for the homily. I liked having the community invoved by lighting the candle on the advent wreath.

 


 

 Sunday 10:30am • October 2015

Ages of those contributing to this review: 59, 51, 17
Describe your parking experience: 
Entered from Hempstead Turnpike. Proceeded past the church to parking lot.  Found a spot promptly (we were early)  and made the long walking journey to the church.
Describe the exterior of the church: 
17year old liked landscaping. 59 year old didn't think the church exterior looked like a church.  51 year old thinks none of the buildings look like they go together and also wants to know what the tower is for.
Describe the interior of the church: 
17 year old thought decor was bad 60's 70's outdated modern. 51 year  thought the seating pattern was great, no obstructed views or columns in the way.
Where did you sit? And how did you choose your seat? (On your own, did someone seat you? etc.) And was the pew comfortable?
We seated ourselves. Entered and turned right, sat in the back. Pews were wooden, how is this comfortable? However my mother would insert here: "Jesus was not comfortable on the cross now, was he? You can sit in a wooden pew for an hour."
How full was the church? And what was the makeup of the congregation?
Mass was well attended but still plenty of room. Older crowd. Some families with small kids, some with medium kids.
Did anyone welcome you personally?
A very kind elderly man welcomed everyone that walked in with a greeting and a handshake. Some people were holding a hugfest in the vestibule and disrupting the flow into the church a bit. Hugfest is nice, but we couldn't get in past them easily.
How would you describe the pre-Mass atmosphere?
Pleasant atmosphere. People chatting and greeting one another. Not loud, but nice.
Did anything distract you before or during Mass?
59 year old said motorcycles on Hempstead Turnpike were loud. 51 year old did not hear that and in fact, was wondering if it would be a factor being so close to a main road. No more so than at another parish where sounds from outside are typically heard quite well.
What was the mood of the Mass that you experienced?
The priest had a happy face that would make even the most solemn occasion seems less so. Right from the opening song he smiled and gave it a very positive welcoming feel.
Who smiled?
The priest. The choir. The people who greeted us at the door.
Who led the music and how would you describe your experience of the music?
The choir is made of of men and women. It was adorable. They were clearly joyful and proud of their participation in the Mass. They made me smile. The organ sometimes competed with the really cool guitar and some voices.
Did you sing or just listen: Mostly listened
Exactly how long was the Mass? 59 Minutes.  And how long was the homily? 12 minutes

In a nutshell, what was the homily about?
Started with Baseball: (59 year old perked up and listened.) David Wright: (51 year old  listened more attentively.) Monkey story: (17 year old  had a slight curvature of the lips as if a smile might…maybe) Also I think we are supposed to strive to be better no matter how good we think we are. Let go of that which holds you back and confines you. Add love and your Louisiana crunch cake will be as good as grandma's, or probably everything is better when you add love the the ingredient list.
Did this Mass make you feel glad to be Catholic?
Yes because for that one hour everyone in there was "all about it."
Of course the challenge is:  When you leave is the challenge. How do we carry that out to the real world?  Too many hate filled, exclusionary people fill the world. How do we accept everyone and love everyone when some are not welcomed?  Church needs to evolve and spread outside the confines of a building and have a message of love like Jesus preached.
What happened when you were leaving?
Well, 51year old went exploring for what was in the tower (nothing really).  59 year old  and 17year old  escaped thru side door to the outside, thus not exiting thru the main entrance and shaking hands with the priest. They were dealt with accordingly by the 51 year old.
What's one thing you will remember about all this in seven day's time?
It felt good to be back at church. Want to get the rest of family to come next week.
If you were new to the neighborhood how likely would you be to join this parish based on this experience of Mass? (on a scale of 0-10)
8.5. It is a welcoming place. Warm and cozy? Not so much as an old fashioned building with statues and stained glass. The mass was nice, The priest was engaging, congregation was nice. It is probably convenient for the local neighborhood to attend. If I/we were a younger, new family and had attended this mass I think I would need to scope out a Mass with younger people if it were available. Older crowd was nice, older choir was nice, but young people are what keeps it going. The grounds are strange, really seems like a bunch of building got dropped off from different centuries and left in an odd placement about the property. Can't really fix that but it's weird. Seems like a nice place.

 

Sunday 12noon • November 2015

Ages of those contributing to this review: 48 & 9
Describe your parking experience: 
Parking on the way in was fine. A highlight was that someone stopped their car so that we could walk across!
Describe the exterior of the church: 
Fine. clean. we liked the art and flowers/landscaping (even though it's rough in November you can tell there is thought and life in the garden).
Describe the interior of the church: 
Fine. clean. very orderly. the stain glass windows remind me of buildings and shadows in Jerusalem (which I have never been to but I've seen pictures).
Where did you sit? And how did you choose your seat? (On your own, did someone seat you? etc.) And was the pew comfortable?
We sat ourselves in the center, mid section. Pew was comfortable enough ... I really don't expect comfort, but it wasn't particularly uncomfortable. The kneeler is a little close maybe or perhaps the angle of the back of the pew in front was close - I am not sure, it was just a tad difficult reaching down to put kneeler up and down as it hurts to do it with my foot (and for women if you don't wear a lace up shoe it either hurts the top of your foot or can possibly rips your tights or whatever, etc.) 
How full was the church? And what was the makeup of the congregation?
My pew and probably most of the pews I could see were about 85% full, so I guess the whole place was 85% full. There was a great mix of ages and people of different shades of white-- few people of brown skin. The list of the sick and deceased were mostly Irish and Italian names so one might conclude this is true of the general congregation.
Did anyone welcome you personally?
A few people with nametags smiled hello. One in particular greeted me before I greeted them, Maryann. I think she was leftover from the mass prior to the noon Mass.
How would you describe the pre-Mass atmosphere?
Pre-mass was fantastic. Great buzz. We were early and the mass before included a Baptism so the baby and family was hanging on to take pictures. It was nice. Also, prior to the mass the deacon made the rounds in the church, reaching out to those he knew but also talking and greeting in a general way so that visitors like us felt at ease to engage. He was terrific, it was like he was warming up the crowd in a really good and personable way.
What was the mood of the Mass that you experienced?
Struck a nice balance of casual yet pious enough. Casual/comfortable tone was truly influenced by the priest.
What part of the Mass was like being in heaven?
Music was nice. Trumpet with the organ added a regal atmosphere to the day --it was special for the Feast of Christ the King. I thought it magnificent as did my son.  I love when the celebrant sings what i think is called the final doxology "through him and with him and in him…"  And as the priest and deacon held up the Eucharist their robes were billowing a bit giving them a more heavenly appearance. (Beyonce used that trick on stage with her wind machines, LOL). Obviously there is a fan positioned under the altar.
Who smiled?
A lot of people, most people in fact.
Who led the music and how would you describe your experience of the music?
There was a cantor. She is a professional. What I really admire about her is her ability to sing about her love for Jesus, you can tell that her soul is in love..
Did you sing or just listen: We sang, of course we sang.
Exactly how long was the Mass? It started five minutes late (12:05) and ended at 1pm.  And how long was the homily? 10 minutes.
In a nutshell, what was the homily about?
Are our hearts for Jesus?
Did this Mass make you feel glad to be Catholic?
YES -- though there was one "hiccup" : My son and I and four other people were invited to bring up the gifts of bread and wine. As we reported to the back, the usher woman got a little attitude with us as to "why so many of us were there." I was glad she quickly asked my son to help carry up the collection but it wasn't our fault for being asked.  But boy did we bond with those four other people! from the minute we were all asked in the pew to saying goodbye at the end of mass ... so the positive by far outweighed the negative by leaps and bounds.
What happened when you were leaving? Did anyone interact with you?
Yes, my pew mate to the right (another MaryAnn) and of course my four new friends from bringing up the gifts.
What's one thing you will remember about all this in seven day's time?
The priest mentioned to bless yourself every time you pass a church to remind yourself that you share in Kingship of Jesus. That's really cool. I used to think it was old school, or superstition (or just Irish) to bless yourself as you pass a church.
If you were new to the neighborhood how likely would you be to join this parish based on this experience of Mass? (on a scale of 0-10)
10. Absolutely, because there is really good stuff happening there and those few challenges - well, they are just people who might need a little change - a great opportunity.