Special service open to all diocesan parishioners who are grieving or experiencing loneliness during holidays
The Diocese of Knoxville will celebrate a special Christmas Mass on Dec. 24 for those who are alone, sad, or grieving during the holidays.
The 8 p.m. Blue Christmas Mass will be celebrated at Blessed John XXIII Parish and University Center on the University of Tennessee campus.
“Christmas can be a challenging time for people who are grieving or alone. And people who are alone sometimes don’t feel comfortable,” said Father Rich Andre, CSP, the associate pastor at Blessed John XXIII who will celebrate the Blue Christmas Mass.
Father Andre said it will be the first Blue Christmas Mass celebrated in the diocese. He said U.S. churches began holding services about 20 years ago for members who were lonely or sad, noting that the winter solstice can have adverse affects on people who are feeling blue.
“The Paulist Fathers have been doing a Blue Christmas Mass at the Ohio State University for nearly 10 years,” he said. “It will be the same liturgy, but it is intended for people experiencing pain or loss. The music will have a more muted tone and the Mass will emphasize a message of hope more than a message of joy.”
Father Andre emphasized that the Mass is specifically for those experiencing sadness during the holidays.
“Our hope is for people who would feel comfortable attending their own parishes to celebrate Christmas there. But the idea is for people who are alone across the diocese to come to our service,” he said. “The Diocese of Knoxville, the Paulist Fathers, and Pope Francis all emphasize outreach to those on the margins. The Blue Christmas Mass is another ministry for that outreach.”
Father Andre attended his first Blue Christmas Mass in 2008 at St. Thomas More Newman Center on the Ohio State University campus during his pastoral internship. And the Mass has had a lasting effect on him.
“It was the most beautiful Christmas Eve Mass I have ever attended. We can only imagine what Mary and Joseph must have been thinking and feeling on that first Christmas. They must have had a whole range of emotions,” he said.
“At the Blue Christmas Mass, sitting among people experiencing a range of emotions, too, brought me closer to experiencing Christmas the way I imagined Mary and Joseph did,” he added.
Father Andre said the special Mass is receiving support from Blessed John XXIII parishioners as well as parishes around the diocese and there are plans to announce it in church bulletins.
He asked that any Diocese of Knoxville parishioners who know of someone who would be interested in attending the Blue Christmas Mass should contact Blessed John XXIII Parish at 865-523-7931.
For more information on the Blue Christmas Mass, go to http://www.john23rd.org/liturgy/blue-christmas-mass.