Ebenezer Scrooge is alive and well, living in Virginia Beach, and wearing a Roman collar. Christ-Mass? Bah, humbug! Let me explain. My family spent a few days after Christmas at the beach. Since my husband and I attend daily Mass we immediately looked for the local Church, Star of the Sea, a few blocks from the hotel. When we walked over after dinner the building was dark and locked. A sign in the window said the parish was closed from Christmas to New Years. Oh well, there had to be several Catholic churches in the area. The hotel clerk gave us names and directions to two others. Next morning we headed out early to St. Nicholas, an auspicious name we thought. Daily Mass was posted as 9:00 a.m. Being 45 minutes early we assumed the Church was locked because the sacristan hadn’t arrived yet. So we sat in the car and prayed our rosary. Nine-forty and no signs of life — not looking good. We drove to the back of the Church where several cars were parked. Maybe there was a separate chapel. We waited until someone arrived and asked. "Oh no," was the response. "There are no ‘liturgies’ this week." (Poor St. Nicholas was rolling over in his grave.)

Next stop, Holy Family, another auspicious name. Surely we’d find Mass there! Lots of cars, lots of activity. Great! We went into the large foyer. Straight-ahead was the "worship space" which looked like a Protestant meeting hall. Unfortunately, all the activity seemed to be related to a building project. A gentleman told us the "Communion service" would start in the chapel in a few minutes — no Mass.

Back in Alexandria, I checked the Richmond Diocese’s website for Virginia Beach. I found a Church staffed by the Benedictines, St. Gregory’s, which offers a Sunday Tridentine Mass. That would probably have been our best bet for orthodoxy in a diocese well known for liturgical lunacy. They also are well staffed, unlike most of the parishes run by diocesan priests. Vocations in Richmond have been in the basement for years.

Those of us who live in the Diocese of Arlington must never take for granted our abundant vocations and many orthodox priests. We should pray regularly for our bishop and priests, especially in our own parishes. Reflecting on Bishop Sullivan’s problem, too many understaffed churches, I offer a humble suggestion. Why not turn over the northern parishes to the Diocese of Arlington. Priests there can be reassigned to VA Beach and other priest-starved locales. Additionally, Bishop Sullivan should consider importing missionaries from Africa where the seminaries are overflowing with zealous orthodox young men. It could really help Richmond, not just with the staffing problem, but the faith problem as well.

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