I dream of a “missionary option,” that is, a missionary impulse capable of transforming everything, so that the Church’s customs, ways of doing things, times and schedules, language and structures can be suitably channeled for the evangelization of today’s word rather than for her self-preservation.
--The Joy of the Gospel, 27
Go out to the highways and byways, go out to tell the good news fearlessly, without prejudice, without superiority, without condescension, to all those who have lost the joy of living.
Go out to proclaim the merciful embrace of the Father.
--Homily for Canonization of St. Junipero Serra
In light of this missionary call, the Diocese of Fresno 50th Anniversary committee met with Bishop Armando Ochoa to explore the idea of a “Mobile Chapel.”
In the early 1900s, Fr. Francis Clement Kelley felt a call to serve those who were living in rural, frontier areas that did not have access to a priest or a church. He initiated the Catholic Society (now Catholic Extension) in order to raise money to reach parts of the United States that were not yet established. He also began the practice of a “Chapel Car”, and travelled along the railway in a three-car train, celebrating Mass and distributing the Eucharist from the back of the last car. In areas where he was not able to reach by train, he used a motor chapel, driving to obscure places and celebrating with the people. From 1929 through 1947, similar trailers, RVs and other vehicles answered the call in the Fresno-Monterey diocese. There is a history of priests, starting with the Redemptorist Order,traveling to serve the rural communities, making sure that the sacraments were available to the people who lived and worked in the fields.
In the same sentiment, and with the words of Pope Francis echoing in our hearts, we are
resurrecting this practice. It began with the acquisition of a trailer which was converted to accommodate an area for an altar, and a canopy overhang for protection. This vehicle will be sent to different areas in the diocese, most notably areas that do not have a church nearby, where Mass is not regularly celebrated. Rather than hosting an event asking people to travel to the Church, the Church will go out to the People of God to celebrate our diocesan anniversary!
The Mobile Chapel is wrapped with our theme and striking images of our beautiful countryside and agricultural life.
The Itinerary will be published in January 2017.