Student Mass Times Change for FCLC


At 5:15 p.m. every Sunday evening, Catholics from all over New York convene at the Church of St. Paul the Apostle for a weekly liturgy. The Mass is directed at New York young adults, but the parishioners have added diversity now. Last year, Fordham College at Lincoln Center’s (FCLC) Campus Ministry moved the 8 p.m. Mass to 7:30 p.m. This seemingly did not make the timing much more convenient for students as student attendance was minimal.

 “Over the last 20 years, the Mass later at night was attracting few of our students and some parishioners,” Rev. John J. Shea, S.J., director of Campus Ministry, said. “It became clear that at Lincoln Center, the student culture was attracted to an earlier liturgy, which would free them up for other commitments,” he said. 

(Tyler Martins/The Observer)

While there were many social benefits to having the Mass for Fordham students, only about 75 people were present at most student Masses, and less than half of them were from Fordham.  

“It could be uncomfortable,” Emma Lemar, FCLC ’15, said. “I find Mass more comfortable when people are singing and responding.” 

 Shea and Carol Gibney, associate director of Campus Ministry, the heads of Campus Ministry here at FCLC, were in a bind: Students could not come to the later celebration, but events after the Young Adult Mass at St. Paul’s often ran into the preparations for the Fordham Mass.

 In coordination with the Paulist Fathers, FCLC Campus Ministry decided to cosponsor the Young Adult Liturgy. Even before the consolidation, many of the 700 individuals who attended the 5:15 p.m. were Fordham alumni/alumnae and enrolled students.

 Anne Souder, FCLC ’14, attends the 5:15 p.m. Mass. “Having it at a time that coincides with a regular Mass time at St. Paul’s helps the students to become part of a larger church community,” Souder, who studied theology at Fordham, said.

 “It also helps them to feel comfortable continuing to participate in that community after they graduate,” she continued.

Students can expect that things to be done differently at the Young Adult Mass. 

The music is performed by a larger band, which includes drums, guitars, brass and strings. The choir is also significantly larger than the choir that performed at the Fordham Mass. 

Students from Fordham and Julliard participate in the music ministry alongside regular parishioners from St. Paul’s. Paulist and Jesuit priests take turns saying the homily from week to week, but the Jesuits are always invited to participate in the rest of the Mass, as Shea does every week. The most noticeable difference, however, is the amount of individuals who attend the Mass.

 Father Gilbert Martinez, the pastor at the Church of St. Paul the Apostle, usually asks the Fordham students who are present to stand as the rest of the church welcomes them. Lemar believes that being a part of the larger community fits well with Fordham’s campus culture: “A big part of Fordham is being in New York, and participating in the larger community is like participating more in New York.” 

However, the Fordham students who attended the 7:30 p.m. Mass might feel that the very large 5:15 p.m. Mass is less intimate. 

“I had been to the 5:15 before [the consolidation], but it was nice to have a close Fordham community at the 7:30 Mass,” Natalie DeVaughn said, FCLC’ 15. 

“It would be good to meet up before or after Mass just to connect with other students,” she said.

As it integrates into the community at St. Paul’s, the Fordham Campus Ministry community will change, not disappear.

All are welcome to the 5:15 p.m. Young Adult Mass at the Church of St. Paul the Apostle, co-sponsored by Fordham Campus Ministry and the Paulist Fathers on Sunday afternoons. .