the Rev. Monsignor Edward J. Filardi
Sample Worshipper Dress
designer jeans, brown jacket, waifish red scarf
violin and flute
Estimated 2006 Operating Deficit
St. Stephen’s congregation, heavy on George Washington University students, blurred the line between mindful flock and Urban Outfitters street team at a recent service. A number of fashionable young parishioners showed up to Mass sporting the H&M version of Sunday best.
Food for the Soul
“So the mother sets out a $20 bill, a bottle of scotch, and a Bible,” said Filardi, setting up his homily with a joke about a worried Jewish mother giving her shiftless son a nontraditional career test. Filardi explained the logic as thus: If the boy takes the money, he’ll be a businessman; if he takes the scotch, he’ll be a politician; and if he takes the Bible, he’ll be a rabbi. “Her son comes in the house, puts the $20 bill in his pocket, takes a belt of the scotch, and walks off with the Bible. And her friend says, ‘It’s worse than I thought. He’ll be a Catholic priest.’”
Food for the Body
Although no food or drink was served after the 5:30 p.m. Mass (doughnuts and coffee are served after earlier services), St. Stephen’s benefits from being close to a Trader Joe’s grocery store. Several congregation members were seen there purchasing post-service treats.
Overall Worship Power
“What motivates us to give?” Filardi asked the congregation during an impassioned but humorous plea for collection-basket dollars. “Does it relate to spiritual life? Do we consider it an entrance fee? Is it because you liked my joke?” However, Filardi saw no need to question the judgment of those giving too much. “If you’re one of those people—don’t worry,” he said. “Keep it up.”