One of my favorite things about traveling is getting to worship with new communities. I love being part of a universal church where I am welcome wherever I go, and I can see how other people celebrate Liturgy.
We had the distinct pleasure today to worship with an amazingly dynamic Catholic community on the Base at NAWS China Lake, California. They call themselves Our Lady of the Desert Catholic Community and they worship in the All Faith Chapel on the base.
This little community is a very vibrant one, led by a retired Navy chaplain Fr. James Dowds. C. Ss. R. Fr Dowds was charming and relatable and had a wonderful singing voice. Someone told us that when he first came to the chapel he did all of the music ministry himself, because to him a Mass without music was unthinkable.
The community while small, seems to be very active, with daily Mass and music and religious education ministries as well as other outreaches going on all year.
In fact the chapel on the base is so busy that the 9:00 a.m. Mass is on a time constraint in that the Protestant Community has a worship service that begins at 10:00 a.m. so we Catholics have to get done with Mass and clear out so that our brothers and sisters in faith can begin to prepare for their service.
Today we were lucky enough to be gifted with a musical selection from the protestant community bell choir during communion (I think it was probably their practice session for their service). How great is it that the communities that share the worship space feel that collegial about sharing their gifts. I also watched as the Protestant minister came over to retrieve the wireless microphone from Fr. at our Coffee and donuts so that he could use it at their service. (Fr was still in his vestments when he came over to share coffee and donuts with us).
I will take back a few lessons about Liturgy from this little community of faith that I will be able to bring to my work with the Liturgy committee at my own parish.