Catch me in the Front at Mass by McLean Casey

If you see me at Mass, chances are you will see me sitting in the front of the church. Usually, I am seated in the first pew closest to the altar, of course in non-covid times. But, if you see me in front of the church, you might be thinking, “hmmm, why is she sitting in the front of the church? Why is she so serious about it? Is she seriously mad when she doesn’t get to sit in that spot?” Well, I’m here to answer all of these questions and hopefully encourage you to join me when it is safe to do so.

First of all, no, I am not seriously mad about it when I don’t get to sit in that spot at Mass. If you know anything about me, you know that I show love to people by teasing them and giving them a hard time. So if you hear me say something along those lines at Mass any given week, know that I am just kidding. Whenever that happens I always think about what a good friend of mine once said to me, “sometimes it is okay for me to not be in the front.”. Which has been a great lesson to me during this time.

Moving on to the next and biggest question, why do I sit in the front of the church? Well, that can be kind of a difficult question because I didn’t always like to sit in the front. This all stemmed from a great group of friends I have, that has always been pushing to grow in my faith. A few summers ago, they had invited me to sit with them in the front row of our home parish. After a few weeks of going back and forth on my decision, I finally decided “okay, let’s do this.” Which happened to be after we got back from our mission trip to South Dakota. When I had gotten to Mass that week, I was so intimidated to sit with them because their faith’s felt so much stronger than mine. However, I learned on that trip to South Dakota that to grow in my faith I need to do things that are out of my comfort zone even if it’s scary because that is what God did and does for us. The more times I went to Mass that summer and sat with my friends in the front, the more comfortable I became and the more present and focused I became. As summer ended and I prepared to come back to DePaul, I was worried that my faith would regress and I would go back to following the crowd. Again, I thought about that mantra, even if I told myself that my friends at school didn’t want to sit in the front with me, I would. And for a few weeks, I did sit by myself, but the more times people saw me praying so intently to my God without paying attention to others, the more of my friends decided to join me. By the time DePaul closed due to covid-19 at the end of the year last year, the whole front section of the church was full. It was so beautiful to see our group grow in community with each other every week.

Although I am graduating this June, and it is highly unlikely we will be back celebrating Mass in the normal way while I am still a student, I hope that when we can,  there will be a group of students sitting unabashedly in the front.

McLean Casey – Senior