Mass and the Mardi Gras Mambo
By Sarah McDonald
“Oh, it’s Carnival Time, everybody’s having fun!” goes the song, but, first, NOLACatholics – go to Mass!
There is perhaps no weekend in New Orleans that is plagued by spotty attendance than the weekend before Mardi Gras. While some parishes close to the parade route enjoy standing-room-only crowds, it is safe to say attendance at late morning to midday Sunday Masses is a little low across the area.
I admit, we are a family that changes our regular Sunday Mass attendance and attire to accommodate getting to the parade route.
Sometimes we make the sacrifice of getting to an earlier Mass at our own parish. Sometimes we scope out a Mass time (easy to do at https://nolacatholic.org/parishfinder) along or near the parade route.
We also forgo the McDonald Family Mass dress code in lieu of parade route-friendly clothing to avoid unnecessary bags or a changing room. The priority though – get to Mass first.
The Mass schedule is the first thing we decide upon making our Carnival weekend plans. We hope that even though much more time will be spent on the route than in the pews, it makes an impression on our children that God and the practice of our faith must come first.
We love Mardi Gras parades and being with our family and friends in the festive atmosphere Mardi Gras creates, but we know, without making Mass a priority, we would be failing in forming our children in faith.
So, NOLACatholic parents, let’s hear from you. What’s your Mass plan Mardi Gras weekend?
Last year, we were able to make 4pm vigil on Saturday evening at St. Rita on Lowerline after the uptown parades. Fr. Patrick Carr is awesome in his homilies. We were done at 4:40pm. We the. We’re able to walk to the Endymion parade route and see most of the parade. It worked out really well.
Growing up as a child where Mardi Gras meant the world to my father — (he only missed one in his whole life and that was to go to Rome for the ordination of a friend becoming Cardinal) — we too spent our waking (and not waking) hours on the parade routes. But God of course meant more than MG, and our family tradition was to leave the Endymion parade route to attend 4pm Mass – to stop all the craziness for an hour or so to sing praises to our Lord and to recognize the sacrifice Jesus made for us. It made quite the statement to our non-Catholic friends and demonstrated that our faith came first.
We go to 10 AM Mass at St Stephen/Good Shepherd on Napoleon Ave. They have a Jazz band for the music during Mass. It is a beautiful Mass, and the best part of our Mardi Gras weekend. Our grown children join, too. I hope more people will join us this year.