“Ask a Priest: If a Priest’s English Isn’t Good, Could I Switch to Online Masses?”

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Q: I am an 81-year-old woman who sometimes has problems getting around but try to get to Mass every Sunday. Our country parish is small, and we just got a new pastor. I and others all have the same problem: We cannot understand anything he is saying, and we just give up on the sermon as we can’t follow it. He is from another country. I do understand that we have a major shortage of priests, and we take what we can get, but I get nothing out of Mass anymore. I have gone online and found some wonderful Masses with singing, etc., and I really enjoy hearing them. But am I really doing the right thing? I just wish we had an English-speaking priest so I could enjoy my church Mass. Thank you. – P.C.

Answered by Fr. Edward McIlmail, LC

A: You are fortunate that you at least have a priest who can celebrate the Eucharist. Many parish churches don’t even have that anymore.

It remains important that you attend Mass if you can. Even if you don’t understand much, the Holy Spirit can still bestow graces, especially through the Eucharist.

If you find that online Masses help, you could use them as a supplement but not as a substitute for the real thing.

If you hope for native English-speaking priests, it would be good to pray for vocations and to spend time in adoration of the Blessed Sacrament. “Ask the master of the harvest to send out laborers for his harvest” (Luke 10:2).

And pray for the priest you have. It probably hasn’t been easy for him to leave his homeland and to minister in another language.

For more ideas, see the U.S. bishops’ conference webpage on vocation promotion.


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One Comment
  1. Thank you Father for this excellent reply. I hear that complaint in my parish too. But I, like you, think of our priests and what they had to give up for the honor to follow Christ and minister to His people. And to learn another language. And yes we should be grateful for the priests we have and pray for more priests. These people can read on line Catholic websites and read up on the gospels and reflections of that day BUT I know from personal experience nothing can take place of receiving Holy Communion or being present at the celebration of the mass.

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