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Our Lady of the Valley Catholic Church is launching a drive aimed at bringing more people back to the church and promoting increased involvement by parish families.
Father Christopher Agoha, head pastor of Our Lady of the Valley Catholic Church, appears in a Christmas play with Marian Academy students.NANCY ALLEN photo
“We want to revitalize the parish,’’ said Father Christopher Agoha, head pastor of Our Lady of the Valley.
The number of families in Our Lady of the Valley’s parish has not been growing in recent years, and participation in church activities is falling.One reason may be confusion people have concerning church doctrine. Agoha is inviting anyone with questions about it to meet with him.
“I am ready to enter into dialogue with anybody confused about the the Bible, doctrine and Christian tradition,’’ Agoha said.
Confusion over the place of long-standing traditions in the Catholic Church such as the Tridentine Mass may be another reason for church’s lack of growth. The Roman Catholic Church moved away from the Tridentine Mass, also known as the Latin Mass, following a decision at the Roman Catholic Church’s Vatican II Council in the early 1960s.
The Vatican II Council decided to replace the Tridentine Mass, celebrated in Latin, with one said in the language of the people attending.
Many people who grew up with the Tridentine Mass and younger traditionalists wish for its return. Agoha hopes to accommodate them by offering a Tridentine Mass once a month at Our Lady of the Valley. The Tridentine Mass would be celebrated by one of two priests in the Baker Diocese who are qualified to say it.
Offering a monthly Tridentine Mass would be possible because of a ruling Pope Benedict XVI made in 2007 allowing the Tridentine Mass to be celebrated frequently in all Catholic Churches. Previously there were significant restrictions on when the Tridentine Mass could be celebrated.
Agoha said he is eager to explain Pope Benedict XVI’s decision and why it is making it much easier for the Tridentine Mass to be celebrated again.
Agoha hopes that if a monthly Tridentine Mass is offered at Our Lady, the new people it will attract will become involved in parish activities.
Agoha took a step toward bringing Tridentine masses back to Our Lady about six months ago. A Latin mass was celebrated at the church for the first time in at least three decades.
Another step toward bringing regular Tridentine masses back will be taken April 1 on Holy Thursday, the Thursday before Easter, which commemorates the Last Supper of Jesus with the Apostles. A portion of Holy Thursday mass this year at Our Lady of the Valley will be celebrated in Latin.
Reasons why the church is not growing locally also include what Agoha describes as “secularization of the family.’’ The pastor said many people today are raised in families where the parents do not attend church. Their sons and daughters may grow up without a sense or understanding of Christianity.
Agoha is trying to address this issue through the church’s Marian Academy, which he founded in 2008. The academy offers a preschool and a full-day kindergarten program. First grade will be added in 2010-11.
Agoha hopes that the school can continue growing and that it will instill a sense of spirituality in children who might otherwise grow up without exposure to Christianity.
“We want to challenge the modern secular times,’’ Agoha said.
The academy is a nondenominational school offering a Bible-based education.
Agoha is in his third year as pastor of Our Lady of the Valley. People who would like to discuss joining the church or who have questions or concerns can call him at 541-963-7341.