Detroit Bishop Plays Ukulele at Confirmation Mass

News: Crisis in the Church
by Bradley Eli, M.Div., Ma.Th.  •  •  May 18, 2016   

Parish organist tries to drown him out

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DETROIT ( - Bishop Donald Hanchon played a ukulele from the pulpit at a Confirmation Mass Tuesday night at Detroit's most conservative parish, Assumption Grotto. Parishioners afterwards objected to the stunt.

Auxiliary bishop for the archdiocese of Detroit since 2011, Hanchon pulled out his ukelele during his homily and began to sing "This Little Light of Mine." The bishop is well known for such antics, especially at youth Masses, where he has strummed his instrument before.

At Assumption Grotto, however, his musical efforts were drowned out by the parish organist, who started up with more appropriately themed music in the middle of Bp. Hanchon's performance.

The organist, a long-time parishioner of Assumption Grotto, played the organ at full volume, and although Bp. Hanchon continued singing and playing, he eventually stopped, drily remarking, "Only at Grotto do you get that sort of accompaniment. Thank you very much." was on the scene and after Mass asked the organist if he had deliberately intended to silence the bishop's performance. The organist remarked with a smile, "I'm not going to confirm or deny anything."

Because the liturgy at Assumption Grotto has a reputation for being reverent, incorporating Latin and Gregorian chant, parishioners took exception to what they considered a banal performance by the bishop.

One parishioner told that the bishop's ukulele strumming "would have been more appropriate at a party, reception or campfire."

Another attendee confided to that the bishop's conduct had brought back strong negative sentiments they had felt as a teenager while experienceing irreverent liturgy. "It put a smile on my face when the organ was drowning out the ukulele," he commented, "because the words 'The gates of Hell will not prevail' crossed my mind."


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