The Deacon's Bench

The Deacon's Bench

Beat the clock: welcome to the 15-minute mass

And it’s causing a small sensation in Ireland:

An Irish cleric’s congregation has increased tenfold in a week — thanks to a quickie Mass.

Despite the controversies which have rocked the church in recent years and the resulting fall-off in attendances at church services, Fr Michael Kenny has been packing them in at his Kilconly parish in Co Galway.


The popular priest started his 15-minute Mass as nothing more than an experiment at the start of Lent, just over a week ago. And he attributes the speed of the service to foregoing a sermon — and having the help of a Eucharistic minister for communion.

The regular morning Mass at 9am had been drawing an attendance of just three or four up to the start of his no-frills experiment.

Fr Kenny decided to bring the time back to 7.30am and guarantee he would keep parishioners no longer than a quarter of a hour.

Attendances at the small north Galway parish church have now soared to between 30 and 40, with Mass-goers walking out the door by 7.45am.

“The general view among parishioners is that the 9am Mass was totally unsuitable for people going to work.

“Now, more and more people are coming along to the Mass at 7.30am as they know they can be on their way to work or school 15 or 20 minutes later and it is far more suitable,” said Fr Kenny.

You can find more about it at the link.

Comments read comments(34)
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Dev Thakur

posted February 25, 2010 at 1:14 pm

I am fine with no homily, and using an EMHC if it makes it possible for people to attend the Mass as it becomes less length seems an appropriate use.
But 15 minutes? Is this really said reverently? What about starting at 7:15 and allowing 1/2 hour for the Mass, to actually say it prayerfully?

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Lorraine Withers

posted February 25, 2010 at 2:14 pm

Our parish of St. Mary’s in Hamilton, NY has had a 7:15am Mass for years, thanks to our pastor, Msgr. John Madden (who celebrated his Golden Jubilee last May). We are able to attend Mass and get to work on time…..such a gift!

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Your Name

posted February 25, 2010 at 2:22 pm

The assumption would be that this really isn’t a Mass, but more like a Communion Service since it mentions allowing people to get to work on time.
I attend a daily Communion Service in my Parish that begins at 7:00-AM and is over by 7:15 and includes the 1st Reading, Psalms, Gospel & Lord’s Prayer. Although it has been offered for years, the daily attendance is usually around 5-7 people. It keeps me focused on Christ and his love for me so much so that I don’t have the struggles with sin as was the case in the past.

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posted February 25, 2010 at 3:08 pm

What’s next? Drive-through Communion? Starting a bit earlier might allow for a more reverent Mass…or even a Noon mass when people are
on lunch break is offered in our Parish and allows for higher attendance. Even with a short homily..3-4 minutes.

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posted February 25, 2010 at 3:23 pm

I think Father’s attempts are admirable. One of my priest-friends says Holy Mass, prayerfully and reverently, in 17 minutes. He skips the homily, skips the passing of the peace, and skips the prayers of the faithful (all optional for a daily Mass). Seeing as organists and musicians are always available for a daily Mass.
I would prefer participating in any Sacrifice of the Mass over a Communion Service…commemorating the Saving Death of the Lord is much, much more meaningful than skipping the whole Sacrifice part.

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posted February 25, 2010 at 3:25 pm

I forgot to add that seeing as musicians are not always available for daily Mass, the Introit, Communion antiphon and Ordinary parts are all said.

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posted February 25, 2010 at 3:59 pm

This is a wonderful idea. Who said there needs to be a dedicated amount of time for a mass? As we move further away from the true purpose of the mass, it is good to question why there is so much focus on turning it into a Broadway production. Every parish now seems to have a choir attempting to dominate the service. It is time to knock off the extraneous add on elements and focus on the Sacrifice.
Now how do I get Father to transfer to my parish in Virgina?

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posted February 25, 2010 at 4:18 pm

Actually, the Ultimate in quick service would be an online Mass! Log in, 24 hours a day, listen and respond by audio link or chat (with a dedicated staff of young priests in a call center in Mumbai.) Then have communion administered to your avatar!

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posted February 25, 2010 at 4:31 pm

“You say the Mass is too long. I say your love is too short.”
St. Josemaria.

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posted February 25, 2010 at 4:48 pm

In the 1940s I was in a parish where a Fr. Canadian priest went through most daily masses in less than 20 minutes. Of course, he was reading it in Latin, which most of us didn’t understand (except for the prayers at the foot of the altar (“Introibo ad altare dei” “Ad deum qui laetificat juventutem meam”) which we as altar servers had memorized.
We got little or nothing from the readings – wondered why the Last Gospel was used for approx. 360 days per year.
Returning to the EF (pre-Vatican II Mass) will cause less understanding and allow for quicker turn-around. Is this really desirable?

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posted February 25, 2010 at 5:41 pm

I am not able to attend daily Mass, but a couple of times a month I am able to attend the weekday Tuesday night Mass at my parish because of attendance at parish meetings. Mass is very reverently said by our Pastor in about 15 minutes- with a short homily included! We don’t have any music and Father does include several prayers of the faithful. It’s a blessing to be able to attend, but I also know Father is somewhat motivated because he also has to attend the same parish meetings!
Usually our daily Masses are done in about 20 minutes when the Pastor is the celebrant. Our parochial vicar takes 30 + minutes and gives a long homily- sometimes he takes an hour. The retired folks who attend don’t mind, but those who like to start their workday with Mass do get a little annoyed. Ash Wednesday Mass was quite a challenge for the morning crowd- our PV took 1 hour and 15 minutes!!

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Patrick Connell

posted February 25, 2010 at 6:41 pm

In response to Dymphna’s statement
AMEN!!! Whilst the a 9.00 am doesn’t work for many people
because of work, leaving out a homily is no good either.
How then is the priest supposed to explain the readings
and teach his parishioners.
The Mass is about praising God not about getting a quick fix.

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Jay Everett

posted February 25, 2010 at 6:55 pm

Actual not a new idea. Back in the 70’s and 80’s in Chicago we had a 6:30AM Mass where attendees left directly after communion and their was no homily ergo a 15 minute mass so we could catch the 7:10AM train downtown. By the way their are no Eucharistic Ministers only Extra Ordinary Ministers of Holy Communion!

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Viator Catholicus

posted February 25, 2010 at 7:25 pm

The ordinary form can be short if all the shortest options are taken (No hymns, Penitential B, no “Alleluia/Glory and praise” verse, silent offertory, EP II, no sign of peace) And there’s nothing wrong with leaving out the homily outside a day of precept. In fact, no homily can be a good homily emphasizing we go to Mass primarily to attend to the sacrifice of Calvary and not hear the priest or deacon preach.
But, using a “Eucharistic Minister” (actually the correct term is an extraordinary minister of Holy Communion” – only a priest is a Eucharistic Minister because only a priest can consecrate) for 30-40 is unjustified and is therefore illicit according to Canon Law.
The priest alone can distribute to 30-40 in less than 3 minutes. If the parishioners really need the 1.5 minutes having a extraordinary minister saves then they have good justification to leave before the final blessing.

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Carlos R

posted February 25, 2010 at 7:55 pm

Shame, Shame……I priest prayer prior to Celebrating Mass is Lord help me to held this celebration like it is my First Mass, My only Mass, or My LAST one…….Those a 15 minutes Mass will Render the proper Honor and Solemnity that a Mass of our Lord Jesus, Life, Dead, and Resurrection………we are part of it……..

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Commander Craig

posted February 25, 2010 at 8:25 pm

Hah! My former pastor got through it in 14 minutes! You could set your watch to it.
The weekday Mass doesn’t need the EWTN treatment, but you must be careful not to sacrifice reverence and recollection.
A bigger problem is an unwritten rule in many parishes that no Sunday Mass goes longer than 45-50 minutes, even Palm Sunday. In the words of Johnny Rotten, “Ever get the feeling you’ve been cheated?”

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posted February 25, 2010 at 8:45 pm

I imagine that the good number of people who love the 15 minute mass are rather staunch, conservatice Catholics, but fail to appreciate the genius of catholicism, both/and, both grace and works, etc, and in this case, both word and sacrament. I think people are happy without a sermon because they just don’t want to be challenged by some new insight; perhaps latin would be better for all the liturgy, no one would understand anything!

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Dcn Billy D Mitchell

posted February 25, 2010 at 11:12 pm

I wonder if they would be happy with only 15 minutes in heaven …

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E Pluribus Unum

posted February 25, 2010 at 11:53 pm

I attend daily mass on a regular basis and would prefer to have a brief homily. It’s always good to be fed before the work day begins.

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John Plum

posted February 26, 2010 at 1:04 am

Should I feel good if nearly all the masses the Sunday masses in my small diocese run a bit over an hour at least?

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Margaret Duffy

posted February 26, 2010 at 1:27 am

Reminds me of a Sunday Mass my mother and I attended in Cork City (in Ireland) in the 1970s. Out on the sidewalk, after 15 minutes, we asked each other “Was that a Mass?” I had my doubts then, and I have them now.

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Bryan Healy

posted February 26, 2010 at 1:32 am

What my parish does at the 6:45 a.m. daily Mass (I don’t know if they do it as well at the 9 a.m.) is that the homily is moved to after the Mass is ended. That way, the Mass is finished in about 20 minutes for those who have to leave for work while those who want to stay to hear the homily are able to. It seems to work very well.

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Your Name

posted February 26, 2010 at 2:17 am

Can we diminsh the presence of Christ or the magnitude of what is happening if we diminsih the amount of time it takes to offfer the sacrifice?

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posted February 26, 2010 at 2:33 am

My husband has been going to the 7AM mass for Lent. Most days he’s at work (four miles away) by 7:30, and the priests are always reverent. But they’ve made a habit of foregoing the sermon for the working crowd.

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posted February 26, 2010 at 3:00 am

Wow, a Mass about the Mass… and NOT about the priest… Thank God!
Dont worry about those who dont understand it’s about the Eucharist and not about their feelings of “community” and “inspiration”. P.S. ask them to come to Wednesday evening “revival celebrations” and bible study. and watch how many show up. 😉 Or maybe their “faith” would be better served at a Protestant service.
Thank you Father, you are doing a great thing for Catholics.
God Bless You

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posted February 26, 2010 at 4:04 am

This 15 minute mass is not to be lauded, masses in Ireland are generally modelled for convenience and I have often had to endure masses of less than fifteen minutes. Any priest conducting such a mass should reconsider his position in regard to his faith.

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posted February 26, 2010 at 8:35 am

I’m glad to see that someone, somewhere recognizes the importance of having an early mass at a time that many people can attend before going to work. I would love to attend mass during the week. Unfortunately my parish offers daily mass at a time that is incompatible to the general work force. A reverse situation happened in my city. The downtown church had a new priest assigned and he decided the noon mass needed “improvement” – singing every verse of the songs and longer homilies. Someone finally had to explain to him that the attendees at the noon mass were attending during their lunch hour and if the mass ran long, they had to leave because they had to return to work or get reprimanded for taking too long a break.

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Deacon Greg Kandra

posted February 26, 2010 at 9:21 am

For a few years, I regularly went to Los Angeles for my job and I would attend daily mass at St. Victor’s, in Hollywood. If I remember correctly, the mass was at 8:00 am, and was always celebrated by the same priest, who included a brief two or three sentence homily. He finished by 8:20.
I felt like I got everything I needed in that short amount of time — including, most importantly, the Eucharist. The service had decent attendance for a daily mass — 20 or 30 people.
Dcn. G.

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posted February 26, 2010 at 10:24 am

I’ve recently seen 20 — 25 minute daily Masses in the Extraordinary Form. It’s quite irreverent. I’m not sure the priest is even saying all the words. Also, such behavior feeds into common smears of the EF such as “Father just gabbled away” and the like. Our new priest says a very slow and reverent Latin Mass, as most priests nowadays do. He also gives himself a Sunday and more than a hour to say it.
As much as I am devoted to the EF, I must say that the Novus Ordo/Ordinary Form allows a priest to say a reverent Mass in 15 to 20 minutes. No sermon, no petitions, eucharistic prayer II, as others have said. Perhaps one of the greatest achievements of the Council was the introduction of a rite suitable for working people on weekdays. One just can’t cram a liturgy (the EF) that requires at least 45 minutes into a 15 minute time block.

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posted February 26, 2010 at 10:29 am

perhaps an evening Mass could also be possible — it makes for a wonderful transition from work mode to a peaceful home life
anything that brings people closer to God is a good thing
God bless our clergy everywhere

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Franklin Jennings

posted February 26, 2010 at 12:33 pm

‘Any preist who spends more than 15 minutes saying Mass [in Latin, with the Extraordinary Form no less) is a manifest heretic!’
–Hillaire Bellock–

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Your Name

posted February 27, 2010 at 9:56 am

As I understand it the job of the Priest is to bring the word to the people, to explain what we just heard in the readings. No sermon is just like saying, “We know what is important here, receiving the body and blood of Christ so let’s get to it” or “Figure it out for yourselves”. (self interpretation is extremely dangerous.) Aside from the Eucharist, we are also to go forth and live God’s word, to serve the Lord. If we don’t know what our Lord means by his words, as explained by the Priest, how are we to do it effectively? We as followers of the Lord are to accomodate him, not the other way around. If people really want the Lord in their life they will find time for him. Our Lord is GOD! How dare we tell him when we are going to make time for him and how long we will do so! I find time for all my other friends and those important to me. None of my relationships are as one sided as I see people making their relationship with our Lord Jesus Christ. I pray for the church and this Priest and I hope this is just an experiment, the message being sent is terrible.

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Dcn Steve

posted February 27, 2010 at 3:26 pm

Rsponding to “Your Name;”
Per the General Instructions of the Roman Missal (GIRM):
“The Homily
65. The homily is part of the Liturgy and is strongly recommended,63 for it is necessary for the nurturing of the Christian life. It should be an exposition of some aspect of the readings from Sacred Scripture or of another text from the Ordinary or from the Proper of the Mass of the day and should take into account both the mystery being celebrated and the particular needs of the listeners.64
66. The Homily should ordinarily be given by the priest celebrant himself. He may entrust it to a concelebrating priest or occasionally, according to circumstances, to the deacon, but never to a lay person.65 In particular cases and for a just cause, the homily may even be given by a Bishop or a priest who is present at the celebration but cannot concelebrate.
There is to be a homily on Sundays and holy days of obligation at all Masses that are celebrated with the participation of a congregation; it may not be omitted without a serious reason. It is recommended on other days, especially on the weekdays of Advent, Lent, and the Easter Season, as well as on other festive days and occasions when the people come to church in greater numbers.
66After the homily a brief period of silence is appropriately observed.”
So, you see a Homily is not required at daily Mass. That said, I don’t think I would be a fan of the 15 minute Mass if were perceived by those in attendance to be “rushed.” But, if it allows more of the faithful to start the day and the go to work as followers of the Gospel, then that is great.

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posted March 17, 2010 at 1:19 am

How I wish they had a Mass like this here in the states! The shortest I’m able to get is a 30-minute Mass in summer or on television. 15 minutes is perfect; finally strip the Mass of all the “It’s showtime!” theatrics and get back to basics.

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