Diary of a Media Priest

Daily observations and tips for anyone who wants to reach out and change the world.


How an Italian Plumber Deals With Church Closures

diary of a media priest Mar 10, 2024

Even if you're not into video games, you've likely seen him: Mario, the cheerful plumber with a red cap, a mustache, and blue overalls. He doesn't spend much time fixing pipes and faucets because he's always busy rescuing a princess from the clutches of a gorilla or an angry giant turtle.

Today, March 10th, is Mario Day. That’s because the date, when abbreviated, spells out ‘MAR 10,’ resembling the name Mario.

This year, his celebration coincides with another festive day: Mid-Lent, or "Laetare Sunday." This day marks the midpoint of Lent and thus has an extra festive touch (the Gregorian Introit begins with 'Laetare,' "rejoice!").

This morning, I celebrated Laetare Sunday at the Bernulphus Church in Oosterbeek, the Netherlands. Just a week earlier, the parishioners were informed that the parish intends to close that church building. Sadly, this is a common phenomenon in my country, where church attendance has been in steady decline for years. You can imagine that this unleashes a lot of emotions among parishioners and within myself.

It feels like a failure. You've given the best of yourself for years to help the church, but everything seems to crumble faster than you can build.

This morning, the call to ‘Rejoice’ felt particularly out of place...

It's just like Mario in a video game. At the start, you're full of good spirits and cheerfully running around, but the longer you're at it, the harder it gets and the less progress you seem to make. I've thrown my joystick across the room in frustration before.

Yet, it never seems to bother Mario himself. He remains cheerful. In the face of setbacks, he might exclaim "Mamma mia!" but this is invariably followed by "Let's-a go!"

Perhaps that's the secret of Laetare Sunday. It's joy in the midst of suffering. Joy for a God who makes Himself found where people are struggling. Who desires to dwell among us, even as we close His churches.

Even if we are forced to abandon some of our church buildings, He will never abandon us.

Fr. Roderick Vonhögen

Get access to my Diary

Sign up to read my daily adventures as a Media Priest!

You're safe with me. I'll never spam you or sell your contact info.