|Mass at Our Lady of the Five and Dime|
What a fantastic idea! Here is something Canadian mall owners, if they are smart, ought to emulate. For the church-goers, it is perfect: malls have good air-conditioning, lots of parking, and you can stop at a restaurant afterwards for brunch, or a reward treat for the kids. For the churches, it is a free space, and it brings the gospel to the people where they really, right now, live. Probably boosts attendance. For the mall owners, it costs nothing: removable chairs were simply set up in the mall’s large open concourse for Sunday morning, before the shops opened. And it purchases a lot of good will at no cost. For the merchants, it brings in customers. The mass ended just as shops opened, and what would be more natural than to linger and do a little shopping before heading home?
There is good reason why, in earlier times, the market always grew up around the local church or cathedral.
Even if the mall is closed on Sundays, holding services there conveys the idea that it is the place to go, the community focal point. When in doubt, head for the mall...
One problem faced in Canada that does not exist in the Philippines, granted, is which denomination to invite. In the Philippines, no problem: Catholics demographically dominate. Canada is more diverse.
But the solution is simple: offer the space first to the largest local denomination, for the time nearest to when the shops open. If they decline, or for earlier services, offer it in turn to each other denomination in order of its local size. If, say, shops open at noon, there is room for five different denominations, starting at 7 am. And a large mall could accommodate several services at a time.
It seems to me the only reason this has not been yet done across Canada is a general anti-religious prejudice.