DURYEA —Rev. Fr. Carmen Bolock will do anything to help his parishioners attend Mass, even if it means holding services in the church basement.
St. Mary’s Polish National Catholic Church is going above and beyond for the community by holding a handicapped accessible Mass at 9 a.m. on Sunday, Aug. 23.
The Mass is open to anyone, both members and non-members of the parish, with physical limitations.
Bolock said it will be no different than a regular Mass.
“It’s the same liturgy,” Bolock said. “We have music as there is a piano downstairs and my son, who is my organist, has a portable keyboard and he uses that and I feel it’s a little more intimate, too, because I’m right there close with everyone.”
Bolock, who has been pastor at St. Mary’s Polish National Catholic Church for over five years, said the idea for the Mass came to him a few months ago when he noticed it was hard for elderly parishioners to climb the many stairs to the sanctuary.
After Bolock received permission from Bishop Bernard Nowicki of the Central Diocese of Scranton, the church’s first handicapped accessible Mass was held in January and was met with great attendance.
“I’ve been trying to do at least one a quarter,” Bolock said. “We had one in January, one in April and one in June so this will be the fourth one. Attendance has been pretty good with about 30 or so people and some people just hadn’t been able to come to regular Mass because they can’t make it up the stairs.”
Before the idea for holding Mass in the church basement came along, Bolock pondered other ways to help those who couldn’t reach the sanctuary, even almost getting a wheelchair lift.
“A gentleman was going to donate a wheelchair lift, but the unit was too old,” said Bolock. “I couldn’t find anyone from the company it was made from who would back it up, plus getting it here and getting it set up, on top of all those fun things about permits and all that. We’re a small parish and I was hoping somebody nice enough would come along and just say ‘Hey, I’ll give you a chair lift for outside to help you get up the stairs.’ That didn’t work out.”
Holding the handicapped accessible Mass in the basement has been beneficial to those able to attend, and Bolock hopes this is something he can continue to do in the future.
“I’m just happy it works out and maybe we’ll figure something else out,” Bolock said. “I’m getting people here to church and I was hesitant at first because it wasn’t going to be in the sanctuary, but on a rotten winter Sunday instead of shoveling the stairs and having people break their necks trying to get here, we can just have liturgy in the basement.”
Bolock said another handicapped accessible Mass will be held some time in September.