The Catholic Gentleman

One of the hottest pages on Facebook these days goes by the unlikely name of “The Catholic Gentleman.” Here’s Regina Magazine’s exclusive interview with the young gentleman behind this fascinating look into the minds and hearts of young American Catholics today.

Q. So, you are “The Catholic Gentleman” on Facebook, but who are you, really?

A. My real name is Sam Guzman, and I am 25 years old. I live in the Milwaukee area of Wisconsin, USA.

I am not a cradle Catholic; I am a convert. My journey to Catholic faith is too long to share here, but very briefly, I was raised protestant with a strong Reformed influence—as in the doctrines of John Calvin. In college, I strongly considered becoming a Baptist minister, and further on my road to Rome, an Anglican priest. Eventually, after much agonizing study and prayer, I realized that Jesus had founded only one true Church, and I had to unite with it to be faithful to him. My wife and I were confirmed in the Catholic and Apostolic Faith Easter of 2012.

By day, I am the Communications Director for Pro-Life Wisconsin, a legislative action and educational organization dedicated to defend the dignity of human life from conception until natural death.

I am married to a beautiful woman, and I am the father of three children—one in heaven, one just over a year, and one about to be born.

Q. How did you arrive at the idea for this page?

A. For many years, I have been a faithful reader of the site, The Art of Manliness—a blog which seeks to encourage a revival of classic manhood. AoM regularly features articles on everything from shaving, to starting a fire, to virtuous manhood. Frequently, posts will center on manly heroes, such as Teddy Roosevelt, and draw practical wisdom from their lives.

While praying about how I could serve the Church, the idea occurred to create a Catholic version of The Art of Manliness. Instead of inspiring men with the example of Teddy Roosevelt, I envisioned sharing the lives of the masculine gentleman saints from the history of the Church. After all, these extraordinary men modeled true holiness, masculinity, toughness, and courage better than anyone else.

Rather than sharing advice on the virtuous life from Ben Franklin, I envisioned blogging about the four cardinal virtues, the three theological virtues, the seven gifts of the Holy Spirit, and other treasures of wisdom and knowledge left to us by Holy Mother Church. I realized more strongly than before that everything a man needs to know is contained in the Catholic faith, and I simply wanted to share that with the world. The Catholic Gentleman was born.

dscn28091Everything a man needs to know is contained in the Catholic faith, and I simply wanted to share that with the world. Hence, The Catholic Gentleman was born.

Q. What are you trying to accomplish?

A. First and foremost, it is my desire to inspire men to be saints by creating an atmosphere—an ethos—of Catholic manliness. Contrary to popular opinion, there is nothing more manly, challenging, or rewarding than the pursuit of holiness. The truest men were the saints.

Unfortunately, the Church has been effeminized and softened in recent years, and men have drifted away. This happened for a number of reasons, but seeking to deny it will do no good. It is a fact. Most men no longer see the Catholic faith as something worthy of a man’s interest, and this is a tragedy in the highest degree. I want to counteract this notion by presenting images that portray the strength, majesty, and beauty of the Catholic faith.

Along the way, I hope to encourage a revival of classic manliness. Men today are told that they are either fools, belching brutes, or effeminate fops. This simply isn’t true. Men (I include myself) need to know traditional manly arts like how to treat a lady, iron their pants, use technology responsibly, defend their families, or polish their shoes.

I want to emphasize that I am very much learning as I go. It has been said that the best way to learn is to teach, and I find that adage true. By no means do I consider myself the master of all things manly or Catholic. But that really isn’t the point. True masculinity is a journey, and we are all at different stages of it. I am the one managing the page and writing the posts, but this community is about journeying side by side, encouraging one another and learning together.

Finally, I want to have fun. Catholics know how to have a good time, and I want the page to be a place where men can talk about manly things and enjoy themselves. There are a lot of bad things happening in the world, and we all need somewhere to laugh and be encouraged, even if it is an online community.

Men today are told that they are either fools, belching brutes, or effeminate fops. This simply isn’t true.

Q. What is your definition of a Catholic Gentleman?

A. Above all, the Catholic gentleman has God at the center of his life, informing every decision, desire, and action. He loves and protects everything that is good and true. He fights zealously for the honor of Christ and his Bride, the Catholic Church. He pursue holiness with his whole heart, mind, and strength. He is a virtuous man.

The Catholic gentleman is also cultured and courteous. He doesn’t dress like a slob, and he is respectful of others. He is temperate and self-controlled. He knows how to treat a lady, and he cherishes true femininity. He is humble enough to learn from others, and he does not scorn wisdom or learning. He does not sink to the lowest common denominator or choose the path of least resistance. Instead, he is always ready to courageously embrace sacrifice and suffering.

13922_346179225501405_24907677_nThe Catholic gentleman  loves and protects everything that is good and true. He does not sink to the lowest common denominator or choose the path of least resistance.

Q. Can you give us some examples of Catholic gentleman — from history, from today?

A. There are countless Catholic gentleman, but among the saints, St. Francis de Sales is foremost. This humble man was universally known for his gentle courtesy and the warmth of his charity. He even earned the nickname, “the gentleman saint.” You can read my profile of him in the link above.

Among modern Catholic men, I believe Pope Benedict XVI is a shining example of Catholic gentlemanliness. While he is often overshadowed by the charismatic John Paul II and Pope Francis, Pope Benedict is a wonderful and holy man, and it is hard to overestimate his contributions to the Church. He possesses both a profound intellect and a profound humility, and throughout his pontificate, he sought to promote the treasures of Catholic culture—artistically, musically, and liturgically.

Q. Who are your fans? Male? Female?

164573_10150129570803352_7973900_nA. Due to the nature of the content, most of the fans are men. However, I am continually surprised at how many women readers we have. While I can’t speak for all women, I believe women are drawn to true masculinity, just as men are drawn to true femininity. While feminism has sought to effeminize men, deep down women love men that are tough and strong, but who are also gentle and holy. That is my theory, anyway!

It is also worth noting that we have protestant readers. Lutherans, Anglicans, and Presbyterians have left comments that they enjoy the page. I always take the opportunity to encourage them to become Catholic!

Q. How do people react to your page? Any negatives?

A. We had one angry atheist pay a visit, but other than that, all the feedback has been very positive. It is incredible to see the passionate community that has formed in a short amount of time.

Q. What are your plans for the page you have created?

Long term, I want to give back to the fans with opportunities for them to share their projects and passions. I am still working out exactly how this will be done, but I am constantly receiving links to great things men are working on, and I want to share them in some way.

In addition, I am working on a book. While the blog is a great venue for sharing brief thoughts, I see the need for a full length book covering Catholic manhood. There are many such books for women, but only a few for men.

We had one angry atheist pay a visit, but other than that, all the feedback has been very positive. It is incredible to see the passionate community that has formed in a short amount of time.

Liturgy Guy

By day, he’s mild-mannered Brian Williams, a financial services manager in Charlotte, North Carolina. By night, however, he’s Liturgy Guy — blogging on matters relating to the Faith and Liturgy at liturgyguy.com.

Brian’s clever tagline — ‘Life, Liturgy & the Pursuit of Holiness’ — will resonate with American Catholics. (For non-Americans, it’s a riff on Thomas Jefferson’s famous words in the Declaration of Independence, issued on July 4, 1776.)

In this exclusive Regina Magazine interview, Brian talks about his conversion, and his convictions about Catholic liturgy as we prepare to launch ‘The Secret Catholic Insider Guide to America” on October 8.

Tell us something about yourself, and how you found your Faith.

I grew up in Los Angeles, and my parents were largely irreligious when I was growing up. I have an aunt who quite often would scoop up my brother and me and take us to non-denominational Christian churches. Eventually in my early twenties I began attending a Missouri Synod Lutheran Church, which is of course liturgically oriented, recognizes two Sacraments, follows a liturgical calendar, etc. My wife is a cradle Catholic who, at the time we met, had somewhat fallen away. It was the birth of several children and convalidating our marriage in the Church in 2005 that set the stage for my conversion.

Once we moved to Charlotte I immediately began RCIA, with my wife as my sponsor. I would say that I largely read my way into the Church. I had to intellectually grasp the faith before it could work its way from my brain down to my heart. I was confirmed at Easter 2006 and have continued to grow in my love for our Lord and His Church everyday since.

“I would say that I largely read my way into the Church. I had to intellectually grasp the faith before it could work its way from my brain down to my heart.”

Q. For centuries, the Liturgy was considered a matter for specialists, mostly clergy. Why is the Liturgy so important to ordinary Catholics today, do you think?

I think there are two primary reasons why the laity today finds the Liturgy so important: exposure to poor liturgy in the past and access to information via the internet, television and print.

First, I would focus on poor liturgy. For decades many Catholics have been subjected to liturgy largely devoid of beauty or reverence. As a convert myself, it is clear that in many parishes the Mass has been treated very much as a communal worship service, devoid of its inherent Catholicism. As a relatively recent convert, I would argue that the ongoing “reform of the reform” that our Pope emeritus so often referenced has been embraced by many clergy and laity alike. Further, as we have seen the Traditional Latin Mass (now called the Extraordinary Form) become more widely available to the faithful since Summorum Pontificum, the lay Catholic has more opportunities now to participate in a sacred and beautiful liturgy. In addition, our holy priests who offer both forms of the rite have increased the reverence in the Novus Ordo (or Ordinary Form), highlighting our liturgical heritage and continuity. For so many Catholics today, once you have seen the Mass offered in such a manner, it becomes difficult to tolerate the casual, Protestant service, approach that was so prevalent for years and years.

“Our holy priests who offer both forms of the rite have increased the reverence in the Novus Ordo (or Ordinary Form), highlighting our liturgical heritage and continuity. For so many Catholics today, once you have seen the Mass offered in such a manner, it becomes difficult to tolerate the casual, Protestant service, approach that was so prevalent for years and years.”

Secondly, I believe that media such as the internet, television and print has provided the ordinary Catholic with the history, tradition, theology and (most importantly) the imagery of what the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass always was, and once again is becoming. Websites like New Liturgical Movement, publishers like TAN books (in my hometown of Charlotte) and Ignatius Press, the writings of Ratzinger, Gamber and Nichols (along with those from the past such as Gueranger and Fortescue), and even You Tube with so many clips of beautiful masses have all contributed to the collective formation.

There has been quite a bit of self-catechizing going on with regards to the liturgy. I don’t know if we would have seen the exponential growth of the Latin Mass in America, recently covered in a great piece in Regina Magazine, if we didn’t have the Internet and social media such Facebook to bring people together. The traditionally minded Catholic discovered that they were not alone in their love for the Mass.

“I believe that new media has provided the ordinary Catholic with the history, tradition, theology and (most importantly) the imagery of what the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass always was, and once again is becoming. There has been quite a bit of self-catechizing going on with regards to the liturgy.”

Q. People say ‘Lex orandi, lex credendi’ — do you believe this is true? If so, how do the issues surrounding the Liturgy today affect Catholic belief and identity?

I actually blogged about this. Several years ago I first heard the Latin expression, “lex orandi, lex credendi” which translates to the “law of prayer is the law of belief”. To paraphrase, how we worship is how we believe. Added to this sometimes is “lex vivendi” which completes the thought: how we pray is how we believe which is how we live.

We know from St. Matthew’s Gospel that our Lord teaches us, “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind. This is the great and first commandment”. The Mass is the liturgical prayer of the Church. Defined, liturgy is simply a prescribed form or set of forms and rituals for public religious worship. How we worship affects what we believe which then influences how we live.

There is a uniquely Catholic way to worship. A traditional and reverent liturgy which is unabashedly Catholic, far from being optional, is actually a necessity for imparting the faith. I would also argue, much like Cardinal Raymond Burke has, that we do not succeed at the New Evangelization if we do not “get” the liturgy right. From a catechetical standpoint, an understanding of why we worship and how we worship helps to form us as Catholics.

What we believe, from the centrality of Christ in our lives to His real presence in the Eucharist, can either be reinforced by beautiful liturgy or done serious harm through the desacralization of the Holy Mass.

“There is a uniquely Catholic way to worship. A traditional and reverent liturgy which is unabashedly Catholic, far from being optional, is actually a necessity for imparting the Faith.”

Buy his book Litugy Guy: Essays  here

Prayer, Prudence, and Courage

REGINA: Father Markey, how long has St Mary’s in Norwalk, CT offered the Latin Mass? Father Markey: We started in Advent 2007, a few months after the implementation of Summorum Pontificum.  We began with a Missa Cantata, and now we have a Solemn High Mass every Sunday.  We have been offering the Solemn High Mass … Read more

Springtime for an American Order of Preachers

The Nashville Dominicans

 

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NASHVILLE NOVICES wearing white veils, now number 16 — and growing!
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DOMINICAN POSTULANTS begin their day at Aquinas College where they work toward a college degree and teaching certification. The sisters return home in time for noon prayers and house duties. In the afternoon, they pray the Rosary with the novices as they walk the Motherhouse grounds, and then have a time of recreation. As the end of their postulant year approaches, in preparation for their reception of the habit, the postulants also spend time sewing their Dominican habit.
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THE DIVINE OFFICE marks the sacred and fixed rhythm of the day. Following the monastic custom of praying chorally and in the tradition of our Holy Father St. Dominic, we pray with our entire bodies, standing, sitting, and bowing as we chant the Divine Office.
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STUDENT SISTERS: Once they have professed their first vows, the sisters work toward the completion of a degree or teaching certification at Aquinas College. Their time at school is a combination of study, prayer, and recreation. When they return home in the afternoon, the sisters have time for study, prayer, duties or recreation before Vespers.
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TEACHING SISTERS: After breakfast, the teaching sisters make a visit to the Blessed Sacrament before leaving for school. The day is spent in the apostolate, bringing the truth of the Gospel to students of all ages in various subject areas.
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TEACHING AFTERNOONS: As sisters return home from school in the afternoon, there is time for prayer, study, schoolwork, or recreation before Vespers.

For more than 150 years, the Sisters of St Cecilia in Nashville, Tennessee have exemplified the Dominican charism.

The charism of a community is such that if all written records were destroyed, it could be re-created through the living testimony of its members. 

After Vatican II, the ‘Nashville Dominicans,’ as they are known, elected to continue to follow their charism closely, retaining their religious habits and their life in community. Fast forward 50 years, and the Order has experienced an outpouring of interest on the part of many young American women, bursting the seams of their Motherhouse and prompting an expansion of the Order to other parts of America and beyond.

REGINA: Sister Anne Catherine, O.P, you have just announced a foundation in Scotland. Is this your Order’s first foray outside America? How did this come about?

Sister Anne Catherine: This fall four of our sisters went to the Diocese of Aberdeen.  This is our first mission house in the UK, although we also have sisters in Vancouver, British Columbia, Sydney, Australia, and Rome.

The story of how the sisters got to Scotland is referenced in the homily of Bishop Hugh Gilbert of Aberdeen at the welcome Mass:  Bishop Hugh Gilbert, a Benedictine and former abbot of Pluscarden Abbey, has so kindly prepared for the sisters’ arrival and is a great advocate for the presence of Dominican life in the local Church.

“Over 60 sisters are currently in formation in our novitiate, with 27 young women entering our community this August.”

REGINA: Can you characterize your order’s growth for us in any way? Percentage growth over the last ten or twenty years, for example?

Sister Anne Catherine: Our Congregation has grown 46% in the past 14 years, and currently, at 300, we are the largest we have ever been.  Since I entered the convent in 1998, over 150 sisters have followed me.  Over 60 sisters are currently in formation in our novitiate, with 27 young women entering our community this August.  While the numbers vary, I think the underlying fact is that the Lord continues to call young women to religious life, and they are responding with generosity.

REGINA: Many -in fact most – people don’t yet realize that the traditional orders are meeting with such success. Do you find that people are surprised that you exist — and that you are thriving?

Sister Anne Catherine: Sometimes we are met with surprised expressions–in airports, at grocery stores, on the street–and a person may come up to us and say he or she was taught by sisters in grade school and is glad to see we are still around.

People who are not Catholic or who have never seen a sister are not always quite sure who we are, but so often we find that they want to talk to us, ask us questions, or ask our prayers for something.  Very often they are surprised to learn that there are people around who have chosen to give their lives totally to Christ, and yet I have found that our presence is a sign of hope to people, even when they cannot quite understand exactly what our life means.

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“People who are not Catholic or who have never seen a sister are not always quite sure who we are, but so often we find that they want to talk to us, ask us questions, or ask our prayers for something.  Very often they are surprised to learn that there are people around who have chosen to give their lives totally to Christ.”

REGINA: Can you relate some anecdotes about how young girls find your order? How they come to understand that they have a vocation?

Sister Anne Catherine: Young women find out about our order in various ways–through our website, through a priest or friends who know us, through meeting one of our sisters at a retreat or on a college campus, through seeing one of our brochures.  I am always amazed how God’s Providence works so uniquely in the life of each young woman to draw her to Himself in the way He knows best.  While some young women know clearly and early on in their lives that God is calling them, I would say for most of us the call emerges gradually over a period of time.

In my own case, I had a friend from college who had decided to enter our community, and she was my initial reason for coming to visit.  For most girls considering a religious vocation, they need to visit a convent in order to see what the life is actually like and to ask themselves, “Can I see myself being happy here?”  Talking to the sisters, asking them questions, learning more about the life–all of this is important in the discernment process.

But most important of all is to develop a deeper friendship with Christ through prayer and the sacraments.  In a world surrounded by noise, we have to learn to hear the Lord’s voice speaking to us in the depths of our hearts and revealing Himself in the ordinary events of every day.

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A SCOTTISH BISHOP WELCOMES AMERICAN SISTERS: “What is happening today? I’m old enough to remember Westerns. And here we are, wagons drawn close, feeling our last days have come and our scalps about to be removed, when – lo and behold – the US 7th Cavalry appears over the hill. Here they are, armed not with carbines but rosaries. And we can breathe again.”
“This Fall four of our sisters went to the Diocese of Aberdeen.  This is our first mission house in the UK, although we also have sisters in Vancouver, British Columbia, Sydney, Australia, and Rome.”

REGINA: What do you see as the Order’s next challenge(s)?

Sister Anne Catherine: We have a number of young sisters, and going forward we want to make sure we have room for all of them to flourish!  We also want to continue to provide the best formation and support we can for all of our sisters, and this takes ongoing thoughtful consideration.  I think any person who takes seriously the call to follow the Lord, and not just one called to religious life, is going to meet with many challenges in this culture, for there are a lot of forces acting against the Gospel message.

Therefore, we need to be well-formed and equipped to see the needs of the new evangelization in the situations in which we find ourselves, and be ready to respond with energy and creativity in preaching the truth of Christ.  There are many good and necessary things we can and must do to spread the Gospel in a world that so desperately needs to hear it, especially in our apostolate of education, but we also have to remember that if we are not first faithful to our primary relationship with Christ, then we will have little of value to give to the world.

As the Dominican motto says, “Contemplate and give to others the fruits of your contemplation.”

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“We have a number of young sisters, and going forward we want to make sure we have room for all of them to flourish!”

The Sisters can be reached at Here

How You Can Help

You can assist the Dominican Sisters of St. Cecilia by participating in their life and mission through a financial gift. Your gift would be used for daily living expenses as well as larger areas of need, including education and formation, maintaining the Motherhouse and building endowments for the future.

May God Give Us the Strength

To Do What Needs to Be Done

He is a convert from the Episcopal Church, a priest who learned the Traditional Latin Mass (TLM) only reluctantly — and at the behest of his bishop. Herewith the story of Father Richard Cipolla, a priest of the Diocese of Bridgeport, Connecticut and a Latin scholar who came to love and celebrate the TLM. (Reprinted with the kind permission of www.thenewliturgicalmovement.com.)

By Rev. Richard G. Cipolla

To say that discovering and learning the traditional Roman Mass (I shall avoid the problematic term “Extraordinary Form”) saved my priesthood may be too dramatic to begin this personal account of the importance of the Traditional Mass in my life as a Catholic priest. Although I cannot say with any certainty what would have become of my priesthood had I not encountered the Traditional Mass, I can certainly say that that encounter had such a radical effect on me as a priest that I cannot imagine my priesthood without the real presence of the Traditional Mass in my life.

When the post-Vatican II liturgical changes came in the late 1960’s, we in the Episcopal Church adopted most of the changes including the free standing altar and facing the people. I remember so well when facing the people my feeling of being “ultra-cool” and dismissing the protests of the parishioners against the changes with “Father knows best” because “Roma locuta est, causa finita est.” 

I am a convert from the Episcopal Church, having functioned as an Episcopal minister for nearly eleven years before deciding to enter the Catholic Church. I was always associated with the Anglo-Catholic wing of the Episcopal Church, so the Mass was always at the center of my faith, and I always understood the role of beauty in the celebration of Mass. When the post-Vatican II liturgical changes came in the late 1960’s, we adopted most of the changes including the free standing altar and facing the people. I remember so well when facing the people my feeling of being “ultra-cool” and dismissing the protests of the parishioners against the changes with “Father knows best” because “Roma locuta est, causa finita est.” 

My First Days as a Catholic Priest

The proximate reason why I left the Episcopal Church was because of developments within that body that departed from the Catholic understanding of the Church. But the deeper reason was that, after much study, learning and prayer, I saw, like Newman, that the Catholic Church is the Church that Christ founded and that once one understood this, one had the moral obligation to become part of that Church. The impetus for becoming Catholic was Blessed John Paul’s formation of the Pastoral Provision in the 1980’s that made possible for former Episcopal priests who were married to be considered for the Catholic priesthood. I was received into the Church in 1982 and ordained priest in 1984.

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The deeper reason why I left the Episcopal Church was that, after much study, learning and prayer, I saw, like Newman, that the Catholic Church is the Church that Christ founded.

I became a Catholic at a time during which there was continuing liturgical abuse, when Catholic music seemed to no longer exist in parishes and in its place saccharine sacro-pop prevailed, a time when Mass seemed more like a high school assembly than the awesome Sacrifice, a time when it seemed as if there was a deliberate forgetting, a mass amnesia, of the Tradition of the Mass. As a Pastoral Provision priest I had the option of being an Anglican Use priest, but I decided against this quite vehemently, for I wanted to be an ordinary Catholic priest at this particular time in the Church’s history. No nostalgia for me, no hankering after the good old days—the Novus Ordo defined the Mass in this present time, and I knew that I must submit to this and do my best to celebrate what the Church had given to me.

I became a Catholic at a time during which there was continuing liturgical abuse, when Catholic music seemed to no longer exist in parishes and in its place saccharine sacro-pop prevailed.

How I Came to Learn the Traditional Latin Mass

This background is necessary to understand the profound effect that learning and celebrating the Traditional Mass had on me. The first ten years of my priesthood were not easy but were a source of grace. But I always felt an incompleteness, that there was something missing, something I should have known but did not. And this sense of incompleteness was always associated with the celebration of Mass. It was at this time that my bishop asked if I would learn the Traditional Mass, because one of the priests who celebrated the two Indult Masses in the diocese had died. I was asked because of my strong background in Latin. I initially refused. My refusal was based on my fear that this would be seen by my fellow priests as a reversion to my old “high-church” (a damnable term) days as an Anglican.

I wanted to be an ordinary Catholic priest at this particular time in the Church’s history. No nostalgia for me, no hankering after the good old days. Then my bishop asked if I would learn the Traditional Mass, because one of the priests who celebrated the two Indult Masses in the diocese had died. I was asked because of my strong background in Latin. I initially refused.
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Mr Bill Riccio

But the bishop prevailed. I learned the Mass at the hands of one of the great mentors of so many priests who have learned the Traditional Mass, Mr. William Riccio of New Haven. He, quite rightly, taught me Solemn Mass first, rather than Low Mass. I remember, more than my ordination, my first Solemn Mass at Sacred Heart Church in New Haven under the sponsorship of the St. Gregory Society, which in the dark days of the Indult, supported the Traditional Mass in an important and heroic way.

What Happened at My First Traditional Latin Mass

As I walked up the aisle at my first Mass, I was terrified, frightened that I would forget what I was supposed to be doing. Suddenly I was overwhelmed with the thought of remembering all the gestures, the order of things. But I knew Bill was by my side as the MC and that gave me comfort. I got through the Mass through the Offertory without any disasters.

And so I started the Canon. I cannot write this except with great emotion, for the moment is so etched into my memory. I came to the consecration and said those words that are at the very heart of Catholic faith and worship. It was then, during the Unde et memores, that suddenly, while saying the words silently, that I realized in a flash of insight, that this was what was missing, this is what I was meant to do as a Catholic priest, this is what joined me to the Tradition of the Church. That was a moment of healing, a moment of grace-ful surprise, surprised by joy, and the joy of that moment changed me as a priest, and in the very real trials of being a priest in the Church at this time in history this moment of joy has never left me.

And so I started the Canon. I cannot write this except with great emotion, for the moment is so etched into my memory. I came to the consecration and said those words that are at the very heart of Catholic faith and worship. It was then, during the Unde et memores, that suddenly, while saying the words silently, that I realized in a flash of insight, that this was what was missing, this is what I was meant to do as a Catholic priest, this is what joined me to the Tradition of the Church.

Today, Beauty and Depth Overflowing

I am blessed with being a priest in a parish where the main Sunday Mass is the Traditional Roman rite Solemn Mass. This Mass has been a great blessing to our priests and to our parishioners, for its beauty and its depth overflows to the celebrations of the Novus Ordo Mass in both English and Spanish. I am convinced that the presence of the Traditional Mass in every Catholic parish in the world would be a key to that re-evangelization of the Western world that must happen before we can evangelize the world.

Hoc est opus nostrum, hoc est labor. May God give us the strength to do what needs to be done.

Published with permission from Farther Cipolla, first printed at The New Liturgical Movement, photos by Stuart Chessman with permssion

 

East Side, West Side, All Around the Town

The Latin Mass in New York City

by Barbara Monzon-Puleo

It was a determined but hopeful crowd which gathered at the Church of St Agnes in mid-town Manhattan one evening in 1989. Cardinal O’Connor had asked the pastor to establish a weekly Sunday Tridentine Mass. The gathering included such pioneers as the late Dr. William Marra.

Monsignor Eugene Clark fielded questions from a nervous audience still suffering from feelings of abandonment by the Church since the Second Vatican Council. This author recalls when an older woman, seated somewhere in the back of the church  suddenly interrupted Monsignor’s explanation about the planning of the Latin Mass.

“You will need to re-consecrate the altar!” she shouted.

“Everything will be taken care of, ” Monsignor replied in his controlled way.

A year before, Ecclesia Dei had opened citywide not only weekly Masses according to the 1962 missal but conferences, Catechism classes, devotions and the sacraments.

Today, twenty-four years later, the reassurance that the Mass of the Ages would be available to the faithful has been a commitment carried out by the Archbishops of New York and the Bishops of Brooklyn. But Latin Mass devotees are diffused throughout the city and must travel to take advantage of all these offerings.

An older woman, seated somewhere in the back of the church  suddenly interrupted Monsignor’s explanation about the planning of the Latin Mass. “You will need to re-consecrate the altar!” she shouted.

A Renaissance in NYC’s Garment Center

After the 2007 promulgation of the Motu Propio, another NYC parish which answered the call was Holy Innocents Church. Located on West 37th Street in the now-gentrifying heart of Manhattan’s famous Garment Center, the parish is experiencing a renaissance.

“When the then-Pastor expressed his openness to having a daily Mass, the Confraternity of the Sacred Heart and some male lay servers were very instrumental in assisting him to get in touch with possible priests and servers who would help say and serve the Mass,” explains their master of ceremonies Eddy Jose Toribio. “They were also very instrumental in helping the priests and servers to become familiar with the ceremonies of the Mass, in providing for the music, and for the vestments and other things that were necessary for the traditional Mass.”

Since then, the Church has also hosted Pontifical and Christmas Masses, First Saturday devotions and Holy Days.

“We have the traditional Midnight Mass at midnight on Christmas Eve. It is always very well attended.  A professional choir was hired for this Mass. We have the Midnight Mass every year and (for the past two years) we have also sung the Anno a creation mundi and had a blessing of the Manger before the start of the Mass,” Mr. Toribio stated proudly.

Holy Innocents Church on West 37th Street in the now-gentrifying heart of Manhattan’s famous Garment Center, is experiencing a renaissance.

The Brooklyn Story

FIRST HOLY COMMUNION IN THE EXTRAORDINARY FORM, BROOKLYN STYLE

Bishop Mugavero appointed Monsignor James Asip to coordinate  the weekly Latin Mass in Brooklyn. Msgr. Asip, a popular diocesan priest, soon gathered a group of a loyal parishioners who moved with the Mass to various locations, beginning with the Most Precious Blood Monastery to its present home at Our Lady of Peace Church in downtown Brooklyn.

Monsignor Asip  pioneered marrying couples, performing baptisms and administering First Holy Communions in the Extraordinary Form.   He also recruited priests in the city who he knew could tackle Latin. These included two Jesuits from Fordham University in the Bronx and some retired chaplains — and from the Vatican Mission to the United Nations, most recently, Monsignor Mauro Cionini.

A Fordham priest is currently in charge of the Mass at Our Lady of Peace, which a loyal group of 50-60 parishioners attend each Sunday. The parish gets together once a year after Mass for a Communion breakfast.

Teaching Saturdays

To this group, one must add the several dozen Catholics who come from far and wide around New York and its suburbs to attend the parish’s  new monthly Saturday Teaching. These sessions, conducted by various priests from the NYC metropolitan area, teach the theology of the Latin Mass.

“Quite a few people come back each time,” says David Adam Smith, one of the organizers. “And there are always new people arriving. The teaching begins at 12:00 noon, with a Solemn Mass or a Missa Cantata offered at 1:00 pm. The schola is quite good, and provides an excellent example of what Catholic music should be.”

Our Lady of Peace offers monthly Saturday Teaching sessions which instruct a growing crowd of Catholics about the theology of the Latin Mass.

The TLM in a Cemetery Chapel and the Future

Because many parishioners travel many hours from other boroughs or New York suburbs, the Diocese of Brooklyn gave permission for a Latin Mass at the chapel of St John’s Cemetery in Queens, celebrated by Father John Wilson. This Mass is quite crowded, attended weekly by about 100 people. Many of these are young families who are clearly hoping for a parish of their own in the near future.

Today, across New York City, the faithful enjoy Masses, processions, devotions and sacraments in the traditional rite.  But what of the future?

A parishioner at Brooklyn’s Our Lady of Peace, Robert Maresca, offers a pithy prognostication.

“Of course, the Traditional Mass is available in several churches today, but it’s my belief that it will grow only to the extent that the Church hierarchy promotes that growth.”

Update: The Latin Mass in America Today

A Candid Interview with Byron Smith

He’s the secretary of Una Voce America, which today supports the training of diocesan priests in the Extraordinary Form of the Mass, otherwise known as the Latin Mass. In the this wide-ranging, exclusive Regina Magazine interview, Byron Smith tells the astounding story of the many people — some famous, some obscure — who have labored long and hard for more than fifty years to bring this Mass to Catholics in North America.

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Q. Where were the earliest Latin Masses after Vatican II, in America?

Perhaps the best-known of the surviving authorized Masses on this continent was in Ottawa, Canada, which eventually became the St Clement’s Latin Community. It became an inspiration to those holding similar aspirations in the States.

Q. What is the background on Una Voce America?

Una Voce in the United States was founded in September 1967.  Its first Chairman was eminent philosopher, anti-Nazi and religious writer, Dietrich von Hildebrand. He led the association until his death in 1977, hosting several national meetings in Manhattan, near his academic home at Fordham University.

Before coming to the United States, Dr. von Hildebrand had written Liturgy and Personality (Salzburg, 1933) that had focused on the healing power of formal prayer as exemplified in the ancient Latin Mass. During his chairmanship, he wrote several books that concerned both the liturgy and the changes in the Church after Vatican II:

  •  Trojan Horse in the City of God (1967)
  • The Devastated Vineyard (1973)
  • Jaws of Death: Gate of Heaven (1976)

IMG_2253 - Version 2Following Dr. von Hildebrand’s death, W. Robert Opelle of California assumed the leadership of Una Voce in this country. Mr. Opelle had worked with the late Fr. Harry Marchosky to win diocesan approval for the traditional Mass at Serra Chapel of the San Juan Capistrano Mission, one of the first Mass locations approved after promulgation of the 1984 indult, Quattuor Abhinc Annos.  It is still being offered there today.   

During his tenure (1978-1995), Mr Opelle increased the visibility of Una Voce with a widely-read newsletter, “Our Catholic Tradition.”  He initiated a national petition for a traditional Ordinariate that gathered nearly 50,000 names and was placed directly into the hands of Pope John Paul II in 1994 by Bob himself.

When British author Michael Davies indicated his desire in 1995 to merge all the traditional Mass organizations in North America into an umbrella Federation called Una Voce America, Mr. Opelle was named to its first board of directors.

In America, Una Voce’s  main activity since 2007 has been to financially and logistically support the training of diocesan priests in the Latin Mass. 
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PILGRIMAGE AT CHARTRES: Traditional Catholics in France have become a role model for other countries, including the United States and Canada.

 

Q. How big is Una Voce today?

Una Voce America currently consists of over 65 chapters and 10 affiliates across the United States and eastern Canada, all working to increase the visibility and support the ministry of what Pope Benedict XVI pronounced, in Summorum Pontificum (2007), the Extraordinary Use of the Roman Rite.

Its Chairman today is R. Michael Dunnigan, JCL, and its main activity since 2007 has been to financially and logistically support the training of diocesan priests in the Latin Mass. 

There are a variety of resources on the website of Una Voce America.

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Just about every Latin Mass community draws a disproportionate number of college-age young adults. 

 

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THE LATIN MASS IS GROWING IN AMERICA

Q. There has been considerable growth in the TLM in the last 10 years in America. Can you give us a sense of how much growth there was before the  Motu Proprio? After?

Along with the increasing number of Sunday Masses, daily Mass is offered in 60 locations in the U.S. also.  Approximately 1,000 priests have completed a formal training program for the traditional Latin Mass and a few seminaries in the U.S. are training their men in offering the Extraordinary Form. (Statistics courtesy of UVA affiliate, Coalition in Support of Ecclesia Dei)

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After the promulgation of Summorum Pontificum, the number of Sunday Masses in the US almost doubled from 220 in 2006 to 420 today.

Q. What were the ‘worst of times’ for the TLM in America?

Until 1975, Archbishop Lefebvre’s still-unsuppressed Society of St. Pius X established several chapels in the U.S. that, while never accepted by local bishops, were not technically “unauthorized.” By the late 1970s, however, authorized Sunday celebrations of the traditional Latin Mass disappeared entirely. There were, perhaps, a dozen elderly priests who were permitted to offer the Mass privately. Those were the “dark ages” for the traditional liturgy. 

Through a long process of petitioning sympathetic members of the Curia, Pope John Paul II granted permission for the traditional Mass in his 1984 indult. With that, a few weekly Mass sites were established in the U.S., in the dioceses of San Diego, Corpus Christi, and Orange.  (In the latter was the famous mission of San Juan Capistrano.)  A number of “experimental” and less-frequent Latin Masses were offered elsewhere, but the restrictions of this indult still made it difficult to obtain permissions from bishops.

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EARLY SITE FOR THE LATIN MASS: In the 1980s, the chapel at famous California Mission San Juan Capistrano was one of the tiny number of locations where the Mass was allowed.
In the late 1970s, there were, perhaps, a dozen elderly priests in America who were permitted to offer the Mass privately. Those were the “dark ages” for the traditional liturgy. 

Q. Where is the newest TLM in America?

One of the most recent began in April, 2013, in Salisbury, North Carolina (diocese of Charlotte).  Another began May 26 in San Francisco, California.  At this writing, there may be others.

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LITTLE ANGELS: Independent lay-run Catholic academies have sprung up beside the celebration of the Latin Mass in communities around America.

Q. Can you characterize the Latin Mass movement in terms of any demographics at all? I ask because I have the sense that early aficionados were intellectuals and artists. Is this true or am I way off base?

As for intellectuals and artists, yes, we can begin with Dietrich von Hildebrand who was an internationally renowned scholar.  Joining him on his board of directors were Dr. Thomas Molnar, Catholic philosopher and author of over 40 books; political theorist Russell Kirk, whose writings gave shape to the post-World War II conservative movement; Major
General Thomas A. Lane, columnist, lecturer and author and H. Lyman Stebbins, founder of Catholics United for the Faith, among others.

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We draw talented musicians and composers and there are new schools of Catholic art arising in university life, inspired by the traditional Latin liturgy.  Along with that, one of the most important segments in our demographic is college and university students.  We have at least two Una Voce chapters founded on university campuses and just about every Latin Mass community draws a disproportionate number of college-age young adults.  This is an indication of how the Latin Mass answers the spiritual search that young people pursue, as well as its power to appeal to the intellect.  For our own organization, we are grateful and blessed to have Michael Dunnigan, who is an internationally known canonist and scholar as chairman of UVA.  So, you’re not off-base at all.

We draw talented musicians and composers and there are new schools of Catholic art arising in university life, inspired by the traditional Latin liturgy.
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BREAKING BREAD AFTER MASS: Latin Mass parishes foster close communities of Catholics who often stay after Mass for common meals.

Q. Where have there been the most friendly bishops? Has there been progress in this area?

Perhaps one of the friendliest bishops in 1990 was the late Joseph T. O’Keefe, under whose auspices many regular Sunday Masses (including Sacraments and Requiems) were approved in the Archdiocese of New York and the diocese of Syracuse.  Bishop James Timlin of Scranton invited the Priestly Fraternity of St Peter to establish a seminary and school in Scranton. 

Bishop Fabian Bruskewitz of Lincoln, Nebraska strongly encouraged the work of the FSSP and permitted them to build a permanent seminary in his diocese..  (Bishop Bruskewitz retired recently and it seems that his successor, Bishop Conley will continue his legacy.)  In a sense, any bishop who responds positively to the needs of his faithful can be said to be friendly — and there are have been many of these.

To date, approximately 1,000 priests have completed a formal training program for the traditional Latin Mass in North America.

How I Got to Saint Louis

An Interview with Canon Ueda

He is a Japanese convert to the Faith. Canon Raphael Ueda, Vicar of Saint Francis de Sales Oratory, in a recent interview with Regina Magazine discussed his background as a Catholic priest of the Institute of Christ the King Sovereign Priest and the work that is being done at the Oratory located at the Cathedral of South Saint Louis.

REGINA: When were you ordained, and how did you become a priest of the Institute of Christ the King Sovereign Priest?

Canon Ueda: I was not born a Catholic. Divine Providence guided me to an encounter with the Catholic faith. For those who are in the Catholic Church the veracity of the Church is very evident, but for me who is not Catholic by birth, especially born in Japan (in the far east where Catholicism is in its entirety not known) it was not so easy. But as always Divine Providence guides those who are sincerely looking for the truth in a very mysterious way.

I was born in Kobe, Japan, in 1968; I studied as a medical student to become a doctor in Kyoto, the ancient imperial capital of the country for more than one thousand years. However God had another plan for me. An Italian missionary baptized me when I was 27 years old in Kobe. That same year I left for Quebec, Canada where I would learn the French language (in the Institute of Christ the King Sovereign Priest, French is the common language.)

At this time I did not know that one day I would join the Institute, but providentially this stay in Quebec allowed me to. In 2001 I joined Saint Phillip Neri Seminary (the seminary of the Institute of Christ the King Sovereign Priest) in Florence, Italy. After 8 years of prayer, study, and hard work His Eminence, Raymond Cardinal Burke ordained me a priest in Florence, Italy. It was a long journey to become a priest. After my ordination, I stayed for a year in Europe, and in 2010 I was assigned to the Shrine of Christ the King in Chicago, Illinois. There I served as Vicar for two years. It was an exciting experience to stay in this windy and dynamic city.

Raymond Cardinal Burke

After 8 years of prayer, study, and hard work His Eminence, Raymond Cardinal Burke ordained me a priest in Florence, Italy. It was a long journey to become a priest.

Then in 2012 I was assigned to Saint Francis de Sales Oratory here in Saint Louis as Vicar. I am very grateful to serve the faithful of the city Saint Louis, which is called Rome of the West because of its longstanding Catholic culture tradition, which is both dynamic and diverse. The faithful are great. They are generous and sincerely looking for the love of God. They love the Catholic Church.

REGINA: What are some of the greatest challenges you encounter as a priest? How have they affected your priesthood?

Canon Ueda: I was baptized as a Catholic but that does not mean I cease to be Japanese. I left Japan in 1995. Since then I have had several occasions to return. Living previously in Quebec, Italy, and now the U.S., it is always a challenge for me to grow as Catholic in a harmonious way without losing my identity as Japanese. Jesus was called as Jesus of Nazareth.

Even though the Catholic faith is universal, when we live our faith in a concrete way, we need to take flesh in the place where we are put by Divine Providence. This is really a challenge for me. Preserving identity while remaining open is a process that will continue to entail much pain and confusion. It is a process likely to be carried along on the tide of risk taking and withdrawal, expansion and contraction, exhilaration and disappointment, consolation and desolation, integration and disintegration.

Saint Francis de Sales Oratory

I was born in Kobe, Japan, in 1968; I studied as a medical student to become a doctor in Kyoto, the ancient imperial capital of the country for more than one thousand years. However God had another plan for me. An Italian missionary baptized me when I was 27 years old in Kobe.

REGINA: What do you hope to achieve in Saint Louis?

Canon Ueda:  The Institute of Christ the King Sovereign Priest is an international community. The members come from all over the world. As of now, I am the only Japanese priest but the diversity of origin of all the Institutes members has helped me. The Institute of Christ the King Sovereign Priest has received the mission from the Church to celebrate the extraordinary form of the Latin Rite in its integrity.

This venerable Liturgy which fostered the souls of Catholics for thousands of years has help me to understand the transcendence of God. Since my ordination by Cardinal Raymond Burke in 2009, I have been celebrating this Liturgy every day. Our superiors say: “Service of Christ the King Sovereign Priest is the leading goal of our existence. Every member of the Institute wants to belong fully to the Lord through His Eternal Priesthood and His Supernatural Kingship. Under the protection of His Immaculate Mother, we try to conform our will to the Divine Will in every moment of our lives.

We wish to be modeled into faithful servants of His Kingship, who receive all their strength from Divine Grace flowing from the Holy Mysteries of the Liturgy. The center of our spiritual life is the Altar and the Divine Office.

This is true. I can realize this truth more and more every day.

Our Archbishop, Most Reverend Robert J. Carlson wrote the preface for the Oratory’s booklet in which he says “We are proud of the contributions the Catholic Church has made to the rich traditions and history of all our community and our state.”

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The people and clergy in Saint Louis have a genuine love of God. It is a blessing for me to exercise my ministry in Saint Louis as a part of local and universal Church.

REGINA: Tell us about the homeschool co-op at the Oratory; what it is, how it’s organized, and what have been the greatest challenges and rewards of teaching.

Canon Ueda: In the spirit of the Apostolic Constitution Sacrae Disciplinae Legis (Pope John Paul II, 1983), Catholic parents are specifically graced by Christ to exercise the charism of teaching their children in accord with the magisterium of the Holy Roman Catholic Church. To that aim, the Saint Francis de Sales Homeschool Co-op was established as an aid to parents in providing this education to their children in matters of faith, academics, social direction, and to provide an environment of support for the parents to their home schooling endeavor, all of which is to give greater glory to God. The Co-op is an organization under the leadership of the Institute of Christ the King Sovereign Priest, and the day-to-day affairs of the Co-op are managed by a volunteer committee. Indeed the children are the future of the Church and our society; they need a very solid formation to be able to carry the responsibility of life.

The homeschool co-op at Saint Francis de Sales began fall of 2007 with approximately 22 families. There were around 60 children in K-8th grade at the beginning. We were given access to half of the 3rd floor of the 1888 building (the former grade school of Saint Francis de Sales Parish, built in 1888), which was full of debris. We had to clean it and do many repairs. We offered Latin, Catechism, art, music, drama, science, and physical education. By the grace of God and the tireless efforts of both mothers and teachers, the homeschool co-op at Saint Francis de Sales has grown into the 28 families and almost 100 students!

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By the grace of God and the tireless efforts of both mothers and teachers, the homeschool co-op at Saint Francis de Sales has grown into the 28 families and almost 100 students!

Jesus said that ‘you are in this world but not of this world.’ In this secularized world the desire of parents to keep their children apart from the world might be very great. Nevertheless Jesus says that you should be in this world. So our objective is to educate our children so they can be strong enough to resist against the temptation of this world. Our goals reach much further than just the education of the children, who are the future to edify the Church and convert the world.

This is a real challenge, especially in our days when government has become too strong and wants dictate everything, but our mothers are very courageous. They will begin this year putting together a group for our young people, grades 7-12, to socialize and contribute to the Oratory. This will offer opportunities for the children to volunteer at the Oratory by cleaning, babysitting, fundraising, and just being available to the parish needs, as well as opportunities to volunteer outside the Oratory with pro-life work and visiting the elderly. Also, the mothers like the thought of the young people having the chance to spend time with like-minded people and have fun.

Children have still very tender hearts. They can sense the truth and the good. And they are very eager to learn and grow up. So it is the greatest reward of teaching for me to see that they absorb and assimilate our teachings and grow up in the love and the truth of God.

Corpus Christi

This is a real challenge, especially in our days when government has become too strong and wants dictate everything, but our mothers are very courageous.

REGINA: I know you are very active in Sursum Corda. Tell us about this organization and any upcoming events.

Canon Ueda: Sursum Corda is a national young adults group, ages 18 to 35, under the direction of the Institute of Christ the King Sovereign Priest. The goal of the Institute is to extend the reign of Christ in society. To this end the Sursum Corda group is formed to foster the necessary harmony between spiritual, social and cultural life of the youth. This is done through group prayer, faith discussion, fun activities, and charity work as a means of building up Catholic identity. In our age we can get almost everything in a very fast and convenient way. Social networking often fuels and informs our personal lives, but we also need personal contact to share our joys, dreams, and concerns with other young people so that all of us can be encouraged to continue our lives in the love of God.

Pope Francis encourages us to build up the culture of encounter and dialogue. Of course email is a wonderful way to communicate, but to see our friends face to face, talk and share a time together is indispensable in our lives.

I would like to cite a text, which one of group members wrote about our last gathering. You can feel their joy.

“Last weekend saw another enjoyable Sursum Corda get-together at Saint Francis de Sales Oratory. This one was made more special by the addition of some of the young adults from the Shrine of Christ the King in Chicago! A few enthusiastic Saint Louis Susum Cordians were on hand to greet them on Friday night but the majority of the record attendance (41!!) came on Saturday, which began with eight ‘o clock Mass.

A”fter a breakfast in the hall, everyone piled into vehicles for the hour and a half drive to Onandoga Cave in Leesburg, MO. In spite of being very cold and clammy, the cave tour was most impressive and instructive.  Everyone had a chance to discuss the cave at a picnic lunch outside of the visitor’s center before enjoying some barbecue and volleyball!

“We were also treated to a spiritual conference by Canon Ueda on Pope Francis’ new encyclical Lumen Fidei, a powerful reminder of the importance of faith in our lives. The gathering broke up after ten ‘o clock Mass, followed by brunch on Sunday to end one of the most enjoyable weekends of my life. Things at the convent were never quiet as the girls discussed everything from old movies, to the Civil War, to family Christmas traditions!”

On Saturday, 14 September, the Feast of the Exaltation of the Holy Cross and sixth anniversary of the implementation of Pope Benedict XVI’s motu proprio “Summorum Pontificum”, Sursum Corda visited the Shrine of Saint Joseph, located just north of downtown Saint Louis.  Founded in 1843 by the Jesuits, the Shrine is a beautiful example of Romanesque Revival architecture, and is the location of the only Vatican-authenticated miracle in the Midwest.

Although we have visited the Shrine in the past, this time we were able to have a High Mass, with a choir formed from our own members. The Mass was open to the public and I am grateful to Divine Providence for this timely grace. May Saint Joseph help the young!

St. Francis de Sales, ora pro nobis

Donate to the Cathedral of South Saint Louis restoration by clicking Here

 

PHOTO CREDITS: PHIL ROUSSIN

 

The Cathedral of South Saint Louis

Restoring Saint Francis de Sales Oratory

by Phil Roussin

For over one hundred years, the silhouette of Saint Francis de Sales has been a distinctive mark on the skyline of Saint Louis, Missouri. While the area surrounding the church has undergone considerable change, the 300-foot tower has remained a steadfast symbol of Catholic tradition and hope.

Now, the Oratory is being renewed by the faithful witness of the Institute of Christ the King, Sovereign Priest.  In this article, parishioner Phil Roussin discusses the history and the reality of this American treasure.

History and Background

In 1867, seven German dairy farmers purchased a plot of land between Gravois and Ohio streets on which to build a new church. With the laying of the first cornerstone on September 15, 1867, Saint Francis de Sales Church began to serve as the spiritual and social anchor of the community. Over the next 40 years, a new generation of Americans built the church with the hope of a prosperous future in their new country. They first added a school, then a convent, then started to plan the next phase: a larger church which would capture the grandeur of the eternal expression of truth.

By the 1890s, Saint Louis had become the fourth largest city in the United States after New York City, Philadelphia, and Chicago. Amidst the post-Civil War economic expansion, bustling Saint Louis City became the proud owner of a new transportation infrastructure, as well as one of the world’s first skyscrapers: the 10-story Wainwright Building.

It was against this backdrop that the parishioners of Saint Francis de Sales planned to build their new, larger church. Led by their pastor, Fr. Lotz, the largely German congregation looked to their ancestral heritage for a set of architectural plans. The original German design called for an elaborate Gothic Revival church built with cut stone and two towers at each transept arm. However, at this point an act of Divine Providence definitely intervened. Before the basement of the church could be completed as planned, the most devastating tornado ever to strike Saint Louis happened on May 27, 1896. The original church was all but completely destroyed, and much damage was inflicted likewise upon the homes of the entire neighborhood. All plans to raise funds for a new church had to await the return of normal conditions among the people of the parish and the city.

On May 27, 1908 — the twelfth anniversary of the terrible tornado that had destroyed the old parish church — parishioners raised the old church’s iron cross on the pinnacle of the church’s majestic new steeple, amid the full and loud ringing of the new church bells.

However, it was not long before the work continued without interruption. It is interesting to note that on the twelfth anniversary of the terrible tornado (May 27, 1908), at the precise time that the tragic tornado had destroyed the old parish church, parishioners raised the old church’s iron cross on the pinnacle of the church’s majestic new steeple, amid the full and loud ringing of the new church bells. There was cause for much rejoicing.

This immense new church was built to symbolize the hopes and dreams of the immigrant community, deeply rooted in the traditions and heritage of their forefathers. It was a brick and mortar symbol of American values of the time: faith, beauty, and grandeur in the midst of hard work and community sacrifice, venerable traditions in a new land, and hope for the future. This spiritual edifice embodied the aspirations of an American community. What came to be known as the Cathedral of South Saint Louis would also be a living tradition of the past.

This immense new church was a brick and mortar symbol of American values of the time: faith, beauty, and grandeur in the midst of hard work and community sacrifice, venerable traditions in a new land, and hope for the future.

Decline and Renewal

Since its dedication in 1908, the fate of Saint Francis de Sales Church has closely dovetailed with that of the city of Saint Louis. As the city grew, the parish also grew continuously through the 1950s, adding a thriving high school to its campus in 1939. However, in the 1950s the population of Saint Louis steadily declined due to outward migration towards the suburbs. Fox Park, the neighborhood of Saint Francis de Sales, followed the same pattern. By 1974 the parish dissipated to the point that Saint Francis de Sales High School would close for good. With decades of dwindling support, the condition of the church and surrounding campus began to deteriorate visibly and rapidly. As the city embarked on various urban renewal projects, so did the Fox Park neighborhood. The DeSales Community Housing Corporation was formed from the congregation of Saint Francis de Sales in an effort to stay the tide of decline. In recognition of its architectural, cultural, and historic significance, Saint Francis de Sales Church was entered in the National Register of Historic Places in 1978. In spite of these efforts, the decline continued, and the church was in danger of being closed and demolished.

In recognition of its architectural, cultural, and historic significance, Saint Francis de Sales Church was entered in the National Register of Historic Places in 1978. In spite of these efforts, the decline continued, and the church was in danger of being closed and demolished.

In 2005, an important change took place in the effort to preserve this magnificent church. Under then-Archbishop Raymond Burke, Saint Francis de Sales was erected as an Oratory of the Institute of Christ the King Sovereign Priest, serving Saint Louis as the premier center of the Extraordinary Form of the Roman Rite. Since the architecture and the interior of Saint Francis de Sales were originally designed for this use of the Roman Rite, the church was perfectly suited for this new endeavor.

With its new mission, the appeal of Saint Francis de Sales would be extended beyond the boundaries of the original parish, and beyond any singular demographic group. For the first time, there was hope that the deserted infrastructure would slowly regain active and purposeful use. The perfect balance between usage and preservation would be an effective means of safeguarding a cultural treasure of Saint Louis.

The New Focus

In 2008, Saint Francis de Sales’ centennial celebration was attended by members and visitors from all over the Saint Louis metropolitan area and beyond. Two consecutive annual surveys (2010 & 2011) show that the average family drives 20 miles (one-way) to attend Holy Mass at Saint Francis de Sales. These annual surveys also reveal the median age of the congregation to be less than 30 years old. The church building may be old, but the youthful families it attracts are as vigorous as ever.

One aspect of our preservation work is to bring to life the repository of sacred music used in the Church’s highest liturgies. A living tradition, sacred music has enriched the hearts and minds of many souls in every age through the centuries. At Saint Francis de Sales Oratory, the ever-growing repertoire of ancient chants, classical music, polyphony, and magnificent organ pieces can be heard in the context for which they were originally composed.

At Saint Francis de Sales Oratory, the ever-growing repertoire of ancient chants, classical music, polyphony, and magnificent organ pieces can be heard in the context for which they were originally composed.

The Restoration – A Daunting Task in Small Steps

Due to the size of the campus and the enormity of the church, restoring its dilapidated infrastructure is a daunting task from any perspective. Nevertheless, since 2005, generous volunteers yielding much success have done the on-going restoration in steady, small steps.

The most recent restoration work on the church building was restoring the damage caused by water on the tall steeple masonry. Brick and terra cotta pieces were missing and damaged, and some of the brickwork was loose. Due to the extreme height of the steeple and the limited reach of standard lifts, a special lift was required to be used that could access the damage at the 150 foot level. Several locations needed work and the timing required calm and clear weather to safely accomplish the repairs.

Another recently completed project was the restoration of two statues of adoring angels that had been lost for many years. They had been given to the parish some time ago but were sent off for restoration and forgotten. While in a search for other liturgical items, the angels were accidently discovered at a specialty restoration company and identified as belonging to Saint Francis de Sales. Through the efforts of some members of the congregation, the statues were restored to their original glory in time to be made available for use during Holy Week devotions at the Oratory.

Through the efforts of some members of the congregation, two statues of adoring angels which had been lost for many years were restored to their original glory in time for  Holy Week at the Oratory.

An on-going restoration project concerns the steeple clock that has been non-functional for many years. Pieces of the mechanical gearing that drives the hands at the four faces were missing and the remaining mechanism was corroded and unable to turn. Through the generosity of a local machine company, new parts were made and our volunteer repairman is in the process of installing the new gears, coordinating the four movements and calibrating the speed of the drive motor. We hope to have the clock working in the very near future as an outward sign of the church’s restoration efforts.

A future restoration project is to ensure the continued viability of all of the outstanding stained glass windows that are the hallmark of this beautiful structure. They are all intact but require replacement of the protective outer glass, sealing all the joints to make them watertight, stabilizing them, and cleaning the interiors from decades of soot and smoke accumulation. Due to the number of these windows and the terra cotta replacement work for the columns that provide the exterior support, this work will be phased in over a period of years, working on the most deteriorated windows first. 

 

Through the generosity of a local machine company, new parts were made and our volunteer repairman is in the process of installing the new gears, coordinating the four movements and calibrating the speed of the drive motor. We hope to have the clock working in the very near future as an outward sign of the church’s restoration efforts.

Tradition for Tomorrow

Restoring the campus of Saint Francis de Sales is also much more than brick and mortar repairs. It is equally about restoring the sense of community amongst the faithful and the youth. We discuss this at length with Canon Raphael Ueda, Vicar of Saint Francis de Sales Oratory in the article “How I got to St. Louis elsewhere in this issue.) 

Photos by Phil Roussin

Miracle in Palo Alto

How The St. Ann Choir Kept Chant and Polyphony Alive for 50 Years by Roseanne Therese Sullivan The St. Ann Choir is celebrating its 50th anniversary this year. The timing of its beginning seems to have been providential. The Choir began singing the music for the traditional cycle of the Church year at Sunday Masses in … Read more