What To Expect at Mass

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Check out the topics below to learn about the Catholic Mass and what you can expect when you visit!

Please note that during the pandemic, modifications have been made to Mass which are not reflected on this page. Please click here to learn more.

Our Building & Grounds

Entrances: There are two main entrances into St. Maria Goretti Church. One can be accessed from Spring Mill Road and the other from 169th Street. The church address is 17102 Spring Mill Road, Westfield, Indiana.

Handicap Access: Handicapped parking is available in both our north and south parking lots. All entrances of our building are handicap accessible.

Hearing Assistance: Assisted Hearing Devices are available upon request. If you’d like an Assisted Hearing Device, please see an usher before mass.

Seating: You are welcome to sit anywhere. Additional space for wheelchairs can be found in both the front and back of the church.

Lavatories: Restrooms are located in the gathering space of our church near the doors which exit to the north parking lot. A family bathroom is also available in this area.

Kneeling: Our pews contain kneelers and we kneel as a sign of reverence during portions of prayer. Members of other religions and people with health problems may sit during the kneeling times.

Summer and Winter Concerns: Our church is air conditioned in the summer. Because our priests live in the rectory, adjacent to the church, we always have Mass (even during significant snowfall) in the winter. However, if it is unsafe for you to travel during winter weather, we encourage you to remain at home.

Making the sign of the Cross

As Catholics, we often make the sign of the cross with our right hand. We invite you to do the same. You begin by raising your fingers to your forehead and say, “In the name of the Father”. Then you lower your fingers to your chest and say, “and of the Son”. Then you move your hand to your left shoulder and say, “and of the Holy”. Then you bring your hand to your right shoulder and say, “Spirit. Amen”. During Mass, we do this when we enter the Church and at various times during the Mass.

Holy water

Holy water is water which has been blessed by a priest. As we enter the church, there are holy water fonts near every entrance. We invite you to briefly dip the tip of your fingers on your right hand into the water in the font and make the sign of the Cross with the holy water.

Taking your seat

When you get to your desired pew, Catholics genuflect toward the tabernacle before taking their seat. The tabernacle is prominently visible directly behind the altar. You can genuflect by placing your right knee lightly and briefly on the ground as you face the tabernacle.

Prayer before Mass begins

After entering the pew, we invite you to kneel in prayer. This is your opportunity to pray for a few minutes before Mass starts. We encourage all to arrive before the start of Mass. This allows us the needed time for prayer, and to focus our hearts and minds.

The Rosary before Mass

When you arrive, the congregation may be praying the rosary aloud. The rosary is an ancient Christian prayer which comes from the early Church as well as from our Jewish roots. It is a meditative prayer in which we think about the life of Jesus through the eyes of his mother as we verbalize the memorized prayers. You do not have to pray it with us, but you are welcome and encouraged to learn more about it. Learn more about the Rosary and why we pray it here.

Following along during Mass

There are two places you can look to follow along throughout Mass. During the first part of Mass (known as the Liturgy of the Word) when the readings are being read, you can follow along in the red Gather hymnal. In the back of the hymnal are the readings from each Lord's Day Mass. Simply find the page number (usually in the 900s) listed on the hymnal board at the front of the church.

During the second part of the Mass (known as the Liturgy of the Eucharist), you can find the prayers said by the congregation on the folded worship aids next to the hymnals in the pews. We also invite you to sing along with us throughout Mass.

The congregation will at times stand, at times sit, and at times kneel. Although you are not required to take the posture of the congregation, we invite you to do so.

The collection basket

Collection baskets are passed person-to-person down each pew. The collection is used to support the many ministries of the church. Occasionally, a second collection will be taken for a missionary or some other need. Although we are always grateful for any gift made, you are by no means required to give.

Giving the sign of peace

Shortly after the congregation prays the Our Father together (about 3/4 of the way through the Mass), the priest invites us to "offer each other a sign of peace". The sign of peace is a handshake with those sitting near you. We invite you to simply shake hands and say, “peace be with you”. If you are not comfortable with this gesture, you are not obligated to participate, a smile is fine.

What to do during communion

The basic condition for receiving the Eucharist is to be able to honestly say “Amen” (I believe) to the Catholic faith with integrity of one’s belief and actions.

Roman Catholics not in a state of serious sin, and members of various other Eastern churches are welcome to join us in Communion. We use real wine, and we believe that God’s grace transforms the bread and wine into the body, blood, soul, and divinity of Christ. In 1 Corinthians 11:27-28, Paul writes, “Whoever, therefore, eats the bread or drinks the cup of the Lord in an unworthy manner will be guilty of profaning the body and blood of the Lord. Let a man examine himself, and so eat of the bread and drink of the cup.” Through confession, Christ offers healing and conversion — reconciliation between not just God and you, but between you and the entire Body of Christ. If you’re Catholic and not sure about receiving communion, make time for the healing sacrament of reconciliation.

Receiving communion acknowledges both our faith in Christ as well as our communion with the apostolic teaching of the Church. The Catholic Church longs for the fulfillment of Jesus’ prayer “that they may all be one” (John 17:21). We grieve the division within the Body of Christ, because division is contrary to the will of Christ, Who is the Head of the Church. These divisions in teaching and community are real, the sad result of human sin. Because of these divisions, those who are not one in the unity of the faith should not receive communion at Mass. Rather, we and all Christians are called pray to for Christian unity, and to work towards the true unity in Christ that will allow us to all come to the table together. If you will not be receiving communion, we do invite you to come forward and receive a blessing. To indicate that you would like a blessing, simply cross your arms over your chest (in the shape of an "X"), and the minister distributing Holy Communion will give you a blessing.

Receiving communion

At Communion time, ministers will bring the Body and Blood of Christ to various stations in the front of the church. If you will be receiving communion (first read the topic above titled "What to do during communion"), we invite you to follow the lead of the congregation and make your way forward to the front of the church in order to receive communion. We slightly bow as we approach the minister as a gesture of reverence and thanksgiving before receiving the Sacrament. The Body of Christ may be received in the hand or can be placed directly into your mouth. The Blood of Christ is distributed in common cups; the distributor wipes the cup clean after each recipient’s sip.

Children at Mass
Jesus said, “Let the little children come to me, and do not stop them, for it is to such as these that the kingdom of heaven belong.”  (Matthew 19:14)

Our parish has many families with children of all ages, and welcomes children to take part in learning and participating with their families during Mass!

If you would prefer, you may participate in Mass from the gathering space at the back of the church. Television monitors and speakers will allow you to participate in the Mass from that location. For those with children of walking age up to 5 years old, we invite you to participate in our 10am Mass nursery co-op. The nursery is open throughout the year during 10am Sunday Mass, except during Christmas and Easter.

Length of the Mass

The celebration of Mass usually lasts between 60 to 75 minutes. You are encouraged to stay until the priest and other ministers process out of church.