On Sunday at 4PM, the Tridentine Mass was celebrated at St. Casimir Church, 8223 Sowinski Ave., Cleveland. St. Casimir is the Polish ethnic church for the neighborhood known as Poznan. It would better be known as Sadr City, as it’s in a tragic state right now. Every other house is boarded up; of those, a quarter have foreclosure signs on them, and a quarter have been stripped of siding. The church is a bit dingy outside but glorious inside, with a white Baroque altar and wonderful stained glass.
I got there early (not much to do after St. james). They were having a St. Patty’s fundraiser party, and the choir had been invited to eat free, so I had perfectly-executed corned beef, cabbage, carrots and potatoes. I got to listen to old guys talking Polish in the parish hall, and a lot of buzz about the upcoming Mass. We got together at 3 for the runthrough of the music.
Things went well. I was in good voice and had the freedom to really phrase. The sopranos were occasionally shaky about notes, but the men were solid and held it all together. There were 3 sopranos, 2 altos (including Fred Lautzenheiser, the director) a tenor and 2 baritones, for music in up to 6 parts. Fr. Bede Kotlinski did the chant but somebody local did the sermon (in English and Polish). People were full of praise for the choir. One woman expressed the wish that we could be there every Sunday, and I said, “I’d have to quit my church job, which means you’d have to pay me.” I was gracious about it, but it needs to be said: there’s a limit to what can be done with amateurs, and the Catholic Church needs to figure that out, especially if they want polyphony that was written for professionals.