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3030: St John Vianney, Goodyear, Arizona, USA
St John Vianney, Goodyear, AZ (Exterior)
Mystery Worshipper: Lou M. Christie.
The church: St John Vianney, Goodyear, Arizona, USA.
Denomination: Roman Catholic, Diocese of Phoenix. The church is administered by priests of the Congregation of Holy Cross, United States Province.
The building: Dedicated in 1990, it is in the Southwest adobe style. One enters through an arched porch. Inside, a large narthex leads into the main worship space, which features a white color scheme in the center and reddish-brown on the sides. The altar sits beneath an arch. Frosted glass windows illuminate the space, with three round stained glass windows on either side and behind the altar. Choir seating and musical instruments are in the rear and to the right. The baptismal pool is in the shape of a cross with a waterfall at the head. The pews face the altar in a half-octagon formation.
The church: They sponsor numerous groups, all well described on their website. Among them are chapters of the Legion of Mary, Knights of Columbus, and the St Vincent de Paul Society. They call their seniors group Future Saints. There is a summer camp for children ages 5-14. Sunday masses are celebrated in English and Spanish plus a Sunday evening bilingual mass. The Blessed Sacrament is exposed for adoration from 9.00am to 9.00pm weekdays except Fridays, when the host is removed from the monstrance at 7.00pm.
The neighborhood: The city of Goodyear, in the southwest corner of the Phoenix metropolitan area, owes its existence to the Goodyear Tire & Rubber Company, which in the early 20th century selected the area for a 16,000-acre plantation to grow cotton for use in automobile and airplane tires. In the 1940s the company’s aircraft division built a major factory in Goodyear that over a 20 year period turned out hundreds of dirigibles, or blimps, primarily for military use. But the Goodyear blimp is no longer made here, and the old cotton fields have been given over to commercial and residential development. Phoenix’s western suburbs have long played poor country cousin to the more fashionable East Valley, but Goodyear is decidedly on the rise. The church is just off Central Avenue on Loma Linda Boulevard (not La Pasada Boulevard, as their website states) – some commercial establishments on Central Avenue but decidedly plebeian housing on the side streets.
The cast: The Revd Thomas Lemos, CSC, parochial vicar, vested in alb and green stole but no chasuble. He was assisted by crucifer and two acolytes in cottas and red cassocks and a lay reader in street clothes. Rea Herrera was in charge of the music.
The date & time: Tenth Sunday in Ordinary Time, June 5, 2016, 11.00am.

What was the name of the service?
Parish Mass.

How full was the building?
Completely full, with some people standing in the aisles. Lots of young adults and families with children, as well as middle age and older folks.

Did anyone welcome you personally?
A gentleman at the door said “Good morning” as he handed me a hymnal.

Was your pew comfortable?
Yes – green upholstered pew.

How would you describe the pre-service atmosphere?
People sat quietly. As mass time approached there was a low buzz of conversation, but not loud by any means.

What were the exact opening words of the service?
“Good morning. Welcome to St John Vianney Church. We are truly blessed to have you with us.”

What books did the congregation use during the service?
Paperback Unidos en Cristo – United in Christ, a combination hymnal and prayer book. We used only the English section.

What musical instruments were played?
Kawai digital piano. An electronic organ remained closed and silent. There was a choir of about six people.

Did anything distract you?
Father Lemos is elderly and walked with a distinct waddle. A woman a few rows ahead of me turned to face me, smiled at me, and made a hand gesture imitating the clicking of a ball point pen. I thought she had spotted me as a Mystery Worshipper and that I should know her from somewhere – she looked vaguely familiar – but it turned out that she just wanted to borrow my pen.

St John Vianney, Goodyear, Az (Interior)

Was the worship stiff-upper-lip, happy clappy, or what?
Standard Catholic mass. Bells but no incense. No Confiteor, but absolution anyway. No Gloria even though the color was green. The music was all contemporary Catholic stuff by Dan Schutte, Sebastian Temple, John Foley and David Haas. Some of this music can rise to a level of excellence, but none of today’s selections did. There was one notable exception that I will mention later. We received communion under both species.

Exactly how long was the sermon?
6 minutes.

On a scale of 1-10, how good was the preacher?
5 – Father Lemos’ sermon was well prepared but he read it from copy in front of him. To me, that is not the same as preaching.

In a nutshell, what was the sermon about?
The several miracles mentioned in today’s readings, in which people were raised from the dead, show God’s compassion. Jesus brought life out of death – he brought salvation. That is why he came to earth. Truly “God has visited his people.” How do we see this? Through the Word of God, through “God moments” in nature (beautiful sunset, clearing after storm, etc.), through the grace of the sacraments. Miracles are not always as dramatic as raising someone from the dead, but they’re there.

Which part of the service was like being in heaven?
The church was air conditioned, but there were two large fans mounted on the ceiling. I sat directly under one of them. Heavenly refreshing! And the one exception to the rather pedestrian music was the recessional hymn, that old Quaker chestnut “How can I keep from singing?” Nice to be singing that one.

And which part was like being in... er... the other place?
I have to mention the usual chorus of crying babies. The church could use a cry room.

What happened when you hung around after the service looking lost?
Not much. People cleared out pretty fast.

How would you describe the after-service coffee?
The Knights of Columbus were serving refreshments outside the church. I didn’t see any coffee, but bottled water and assorted eats were being sold. Donuts appeared to be free, so I helped myself to one. I asked the gentleman manning the donut table what varieties were on hand. “Oh, we have something of everything: crullers, bear claws, old fashioned, jelly, glazed – help yourself!” I imagined him saying – actually, he remained silent and let me explore for myself. I took a lemon crème filled sugar donut – delicious. Besides the donut man, no one else said anything to me either.

How would you feel about making this church your regular (where 10 = ecstatic, 0 = terminal)?
4 – There was nothing really wrong with it as far as Catholic masses go, but I didn’t feel particularly inspired by anything except maybe the last hymn. Certainly not by the donut man! I don’t live in this area, so I would not be making it my regular anyway. But if I did, I’d probably want to look around more.

St John Vianney, Goodyear, Az (Baptismal pool)

Did the service make you feel glad to be a Christian?

What one thing will you remember about all this in seven days' time?
That lovely cool ceiling fan.
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