Dennis Lucey is a congregation member who lives in Salinas and worships online. In December 2023, he visited Grace Cathedral in person and reflected on his path to Grace.
I was raised Roman Catholic in San Francisco and attended seminary for high school and college, but I explored other paths in my mid-20s to mid-40s. Then, for over 20 years, I served as a lay ecclesial minister in the Roman Catholic Church in the Seattle area. I most recently worked in retreat ministry, which brought me back to California. After retiring, I sang in choirs and was a cantor leading music at a nursing home. Then, the pandemic hit, and I began checking out livestream opportunities for liturgy.
I checked out Grace Cathedral because of the positive experience I’d had in my 30s of worshiping at Grace and composing plainchant settings for psalms and prayers from the New Prayer Book.
Eventually, full participation in in-person liturgy became possible again, but my nearly 80-year-old body was having a harder time getting around. I live in Salinas and no longer drive, so I stayed with Grace, live-streamed, and continued the devotion to Spiritual Communion in the Eucharist. The words of the responses and hymns appear on the screen, and I can participate out loud, so this has become a meaningful worship experience for me. I discovered the monthly Zoom coffee hour and met others who worship online, and I decided to pledge to stewardship. Even though my financial contribution is small, it helps me feel a real part of the community.
Recently, our local transit added a route from Salinas to Gilroy, which makes it possible to connect with Caltrain to San Francisco, and I came up to the City for Seniors with Grace lunch in December and midday Eucharist with Bishop Marc. Erin McCune, the coordinator of our Zoom coffee hour, came to the Eucharist to meet me in person and introduced me around. I felt surrounded by a warm and welcoming community!
What inspires me to worship online with Grace is the grand liturgical style with great music and thoughtful and varied preaching. I appreciate celebrating in the cathedral tradition (“smells and bells”) with a progressive community immersed in contemporary realities. The rotation of presiders and preachers brings added depth and complexity. The flow of the services is uncluttered, and the symbols speak clearly. For example, I love how you (or may I now say “we?”) do the baptisms of children within the Eucharist while shortening some other aspects of the service for the occasion.
One thing I especially have come to appreciate, with my Roman Catholic background, is the inclusion of women clergy. When I was in retreat ministry in a Catholic retreat center, we hosted retreats by many denominations, and I came to realize that the ones who did not have women clergy were missing something important. Now, at Grace, I experience this as something well integrated into the life of the church over many years—a rich perspective!
I hope to be able to come to San Francisco again soon and participate in person at Grace, maybe to spend a Thursday night and come to Evensong, or even spend a weekend and attend the 11:00 am Choral Eucharist. But mostly, I will participate online; even then, my stewardship contribution connects me to the in-person community.