La Salle Students Should Be Able to Opt Out of Going to School Mass


Cassandra Hauck

With one out of three students not being Catholic, is a required mass necessary?

By Nick Slugg, La Salle Catholic College Preparatory

With daily prayer, religious studies classes, and the occasional liturgy, La Salle has a prominent Catholic presence. Despite this, according to Ms. Katie Allen, the Admissions Director, approximately 39% of students at La Salle (278 students) do not identify as Catholic.

When I first came to La Salle from a very predominantly Catholic middle school, I was surprised with the amount of diversity within the student body both in terms of background and thought. At La Salle, for the first time, I was meeting students who almost viewed mass as a burden. They thought it was boring, something that they couldn’t wrap their minds around, or maybe they just didn’t want to dress up for liturgy.

Mass is a very traditional part of Catholicism, and it is a large part of students expressing their Catholic identity. “A really important part of the Catholic tradition is celebration of mass, and as students in a Catholic school, we feel like it’s important that we celebrate,” said Mr. Brian Devine, La Salle’s Vice Principal of Student Life.

Despite the importance of mass to Catholicism, if some students aren’t able to attend mass with an open mind, the school shouldn’t make those students go.

Recently, The Falconer put up an Instagram poll asking, “Do you think that La Salle students should have the choice to opt out of mass?” Of the 235 people who responded, 153 said “yes,” making up roughly 65% of all votes.

A second Instagram story post allowed users to elaborate as to why they answered the question the way they did, prompting 38 responses.

“Since I’m not really religious, being forced to attend mass makes me feel like an outsider,” said one responder, junior Maddie Hull.

Another responder, sophomore Daniel Fuchs, said, “I can kind of tell and understand [why] many students get bored at mass, and I’m not going to lie, [I get bored as well].”

Many students who argued for having the choice to not attend mass stated that they felt that it was a waste of time, not many students are engaged, and that the many students who aren’t Catholic at La Salle should have attending be a choice.

Another student, senior Jessica Loboy, who argued that all students should attend mass, said, “People have specifically chosen to go to a Catholic school, so they should have to participate.”

While it is true that La Salle is a very Catholic school, many students at La Salle come for the academics, the smaller community, and because their friends came here.

If La Salle were to not require attendance to school masses, that wouldn’t necessarily mean that there wouldn’t be any attendance to mass. Although most Catholic schools, including those in Oregon, require attendance to every school mass, Jesuit, on the other hand, does not.

“At Jesuit, we have mass every Friday, but it’s optional,” said Jesuit senior Natalie Pernas. “So after your first period on Friday, you can choose to go to mass or study hall… even though it’s optional, most students attend mass. I would say there’s still a really high number of people [who attend].”

Considering the amount of students who attend mass at Jesuit and the results of the poll, I think a reasonable amount of students would probably attend mass even if it wasn’t a requirement. However, it is important to keep in mind that the poll results don’t represent the entirety of La Salle.

Even if students weren’t required to attend mass, they could still express their Catholic identity through other means such as retreats, religious studies classes, and participating in social justice.

This idea was even reinforced by Mr. Devine, despite his belief that all students should be required to attend mass.

“When we have students participate in service immersions or service outings,” Mr. Devine said, “where they’re really engaging and doing some social justice work, and thinking about how to remedy injustice in the world, that’s very much tied to the Catholic tradition.”

To me, I don’t particularly mind attending mass, but I believe that students at La Salle should have a choice over how they want to use their time in school, and I think that should include the choice to opt out of going to mass.

This story was originally published on The La Salle Falconer on May 22, 2019.