Sunday, February 25, 2007

Church #31: Saint Veronica

1. Who attended? Bradley & Erica.

How welcome did you feel at this church?
1: I was so uncomfortable and/or offended that I did not stay to the end of services.
10: This church was welcoming and thought-provoking. I would recommend that others experience this church.

BRADLEY: 5, this was an alright church.

3. Picture(s) of the church
(Just got the one, sorry.)

4. Name/location of the church:
Saint Veronica Parish
4473 Mr. Carmel-Tobasco Road
Cincinnati, OH 45244 (must have the www)

5. Was it recommended to Church Hop?
Nope, although we've had requests to go to a Catholic church.

6. Time/duration of services:

7. What type of religion did the church cater to?
Catholic-- our first.

8. Who did you meet?

9. If applicable, scans of handouts, tracts, etc

10. Church Hopper’s personal experience with the church, additional details:

ERICA: I was the one who'd been putting off Catholic churches for a while, out of apprehension. Bradley didn't seem to care either way, but I was nervous this morning (though still excited).

Unfortunately my apprehensions were realized: I did not, at any point, feel as if I were supposed to be there. (And I'm sure many of my critics will jump on that statement and point out that I really wasn't supposed to be there at all. Still.)

When we first entered the parish, I was immediately taken with how dark it was in the auditorium. Pretty stained glass, a large, open room... but incredibly dark. In fact, a light burnt out during our services. We took a seat to the middle-right, toward the front, and sat quietly because it seemed most people who were already there were praying. No groups of people welcoming one another, catching up from last week, exchanging pleasantries. Before Church Hop started I would have thought this was the norm, but by now I've come to expect a church body to be active, social, buzzing. But not here, so we clasped our hands and waited for services to start.

...And start they did, without missing a beat. No "good morning," no "what a fine Sunday," no church announcements. Nada. The pastor started speaking, the small choir sang a hymn, and services were up and running.

We had no program-- no one did, that I could see. We followed the stand-up sit-down say-this say-that as best as we could (what did Pastor Zorn call that-- liturgy?), but without programs we were unable to join in to the majority of the congregational responses. These are things you learn when you grow up in the church, I guess. This is the reason you go through a process of having a sponsor and learning the faith and rituals before you become an active member of the Catholic church. Please, don't think I'm criticizing, because I'm trying to realize these things about the church and its sects-- it's just that it was clear this was not a church that would embrace being "hopped."

My discomfort continued. No one in the congregation smiled... ever? Not at children, not at one another, not when new members were being accepted into the church. It was all very serious, which goes against my tendency to show love and devotion through energy and enthusiasm. I couldn't understand most of what the pastor said or how the congregation responded-- it was so ingrained in them that it was all mumbled and even the improvisor in me was unable to fake it.

And of course there was communion, which I will probably always struggle with. When we left we were handed the church info that I have scanned and posted, but by then I was thinking of home. Bradley seemed surprised at my discomfort-- this will most likely be a case of varying opinions on the church.

I'd just like to throw out there that I'm sorry to the Catholics that read this, especially my friends. I tried and we will almost certainly visit other parishes to get more opinions, but Catholicism isn't what I'm looking for and I clearly am not what Catholicism is looking for.

Brad: Aside from Church Hop, I've never really had much experience with Catholicism in my life. I'd never been to a Catholic church, attended anything related, or read anything of value on it. This really put Erica and I at a loss when we went in, because of the customs and things they had to do. It was very awkward being the only few people that didn't know the prayers when certain things happened. But, this is why we do Church Hop I guess, to help ease that gap with learning new customs.

When Erica and I walked into the church, it was extremely quite. I mean, there were more than 100 people in here, and you could hear a pin drop. That was another new thing for me, because I usually point out that a church has all its members congregating in the lobby before the service starts. Also, I noticed that some people would bow on one knee before sitting down, if anyone can explain what that symbolizes, please let me know.

The service itself was all very intimidating. I really didn't know what was going to happen next, and since there is no real "guide to service", I was very confused a lot. I was on my feet, and back to sitting down very often, which normally dosen't bother me, but trying to keep up with the people around me proved harder than it looked. Most of it seemed pretty obvious, but it took some getting used to.

The priest was also something I was not used too. I could tell he was extremely familiar with what he had to do, knew where everything was. While it was hard to follow his words, it all seemed to wrap up in a nice package of what the message was. I guess you could say it looses personal touch in such heavy tradition. Normally I like tradition in churches, but this was a little too much for me. That being said, I can see why people would go here, but it's just not for me.