Last Chance Mass drawing max capacity crowd

| October 25, 2016 | 0 Comments
Father Michael Becker delivers the homily during Sunday evening Mass Oct. 9 at  St. John Vianney College Seminary in St. Paul.  Dave Hrbacek/ The Catholic Spirit

Father Michael Becker delivers the homily during Sunday evening Mass Oct. 9 at
St. John Vianney College Seminary in St. Paul. Dave Hrbacek/The Catholic Spirit

Every Sunday night during the school year, St. John Vianney College Seminary gets packed to the gills.

Nearly 300 students and adults come for the Last Chance Mass at 9 p.m. in the minor seminary at the University of St. Thomas in St. Paul. Since the Mass’ inception a decade ago, it continues to bear fruit.

“I’ve really taken those homilies at Last Chance to heart, and I’ve seen God work in my life in amazing ways,” UST junior Katie  Schacht said.

Schacht began taking time for daily prayer since attending.

“It’s just made me a happier, less stressful [and] friendlier person that people want to be around, and has given me courage to talk to others about my faith and about Jesus,” Schacht said.

Brityn Ryshavy doesn’t hesitate to invite fellow UST students to the Last Chance Mass. Ryshavy sees it as a welcoming atmosphere with contemporary music, engaging homilies and strong fellowship following Mass, including good snacks.

“That makes it really easy for somebody who hasn’t been to Mass in a long time, or ever, to step in and not feel uncomfortable,” Ryshavy said.

UST alumnus Danny Lindsey attended the Masses during college, which helped him journey to the Catholic faith. Mitchell Watkins, a current student, also joined the Church, as did alumnus Griffin Snyder.

Snyder kicked for the UST football team, the original intended congregation. An SJV seminarian who played for the Tommies in 2006 approached then rector Father William Baer about the need for a Sunday night Mass to accommodate students’ schedules. Father Baer offered the first Last Chance Mass for a group of six.

News about the Mass spread quickly around campus. Students from nearby St. Catherine’s University and people from the surrounding community began coming, too.

“In just a matter of months, we were over capacity — 250 people coming to Mass in a chapel that only seated 125,” Father Baer said.

Father Michael Becker continued the Mass after he became SJV’s rector in 2010. He sees the fruitfulness continuing.

“It’s the future of the Church, and it’s just exciting to me,” Father Becker said. “It brings me a lot of hope and joy to see young people captured by their gaze on Christ, their love for God, for the Church [and] making that value No. 1 in their lives.”

Father Becker said the students will naturally go to earlier Mass times after college with demands of work and family. Both he and Father Baer have seen alumni continuing to live the faith after college.

Father Baer has celebrated seven weddings of previous Last Chance Mass attendees. A recent one included a former UST football player and his wife.

“I was thrilled to discover that this couple had registered at a parish, St. Pius X [in White Bear Lake], and were actively involved with that,” Father Baer said.

One former attendee, Zachary Galante, will enter seminary next fall for the Archdiocese of Milwaukee. Galante currently studies in Rome through UST.

The Last Chance Mass benefits SJV’s seminarians, too. Many of them serve in hospitality before and after the Mass, a chance to minister to their peers.

SJV’s Sunday night liturgy has allowed for seeds of faith to grow. Father Baer saw that potential right away.

“It wasn’t just a Mass, it was a mission,” he said.

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