Bowie, Maryland–Mass at St. Alphonsus Parish in Bowie, Maryland quickly turned chaotic earlier this morning after all eight ushers called in sick with the flu. 66-year-old Herman Wible, who one of the first to arrive for the early-morning liturgy, said that “At first I thought that the ushers would soon arrive, so I just waited outside. But by 6:55, as more people came, it became clear that no ushers were showing up. We didn’t know what to do. No one knew which door to go through, much less which pew to sit in.” Another parishioner, Katherine Warfield, told EOTT that she had never witnessed such a scene in “all her years.” “People were sitting on top of each other…others were sitting on their heads, and one guy was sitting backwards. I even saw one poor woman screaming because six other people were sitting on top of her. I wanted to tell them that the rest of the pew was empty but, without an usher there to confirm that the seats weren’t being held for some group, I said nothing and just prayed for her.”
Several reports say that the chaos truly began when it was time for Communion. “The church devolved into a scene of absolute madness,” one anonymous parishioner recalled. “It was horrible. We didn’t know which pews went first or which Eucharistic Minister to go to. Next thing you know the riot police are storming the church to restore order. And on top of all that, no one was there to urge those in a state of mortal sin to go to Communion anyway, so some people clogged up the pews.” Monsignor Alberto Casarella of the Archdiocese’s Office of the Liturgy told reporters hours after the Mass that new procedures would be instituted to prevent such mishaps in the future. But no one knows how long-lasting the impact of this event may be.