Splendor in the City

Sacra Liturgia USA in New York City




“THE PURPOSE OF SACRA LITURGIA IS TO PROMOTE IN AN ACTIVE WAY THE LITURGICAL REFORM THAT IS SO SORELY NEEDED IN THE CHURCH, through intellect  — the papers presented at the Conference — and through the beauty of holiness as reflected in the liturgical celebrations.”  Fr Richard Cipolla, St Mary’s Parish, Norwalk CT (PHOTO CREDIT: Stuart Chessman)

“ALL OF THE SOLEMN HIGH MASSES WERE SUPERB thanks to the musical direction of David Hughes.  The polyphony during the Corpus Christi High Mass brought tears to my eyes.” Joanne O’Beirne, NYC  (Here with the Schola Dominicana of the Church of St. Catherine of Siena and the Schola Cantorum of St. Mary Church, Norwalk, CT.  in a photo by Stuart Chessman)

RAYMOND CARDINAL BURKE IN THE CAPPA MAGNA (LATIN FOR “GREAT CAPE”), an ecclesiastical vestment worn by cardinals of the Church in red to signify their willingness to die for the Faith. It is worn only outside of Rome, in circumstances of very special solemnity. (§ 12 1969 Instruction on the Dress, Titles and Coats-of-arms of Cardinals, Bishops and Lesser Prelates) (PHOTO CREDIT: Stuart Chessman)

THE ATTENDANCE WAS VERY GOOD INDEED.  I was very happy about the number of priests and seminarians who came to the Conference, some from as far away as England. “ Fr Richard Cipolla, St Mary’s Parish, Norwalk CT (PHOTO CREDIT: Stuart Chessman)

THE VESPERS ON THE FIRST EVENING, AND EACH OF THE MASSES were powerful examples of what good liturgy should look like.”  Fr Richard Cipolla ( (PHOTO CREDIT: Arrys Ortanez)

MOST REVEREND JOSEPH PERRY, Auxiliary Bishop of Chicago, was the celebrant at the splendid Corpus Christi Solemn Pontifical High Mass. (PHOTO CREDIT: Arrys Ortanez)

“AUXILIARY BISHOP JOHN O’HARA’S (Staten Island, NY) sermon was the best preaching I have heard in many years.” Matt Menendez , Founder, Juventutem Boston  (PHOTO CREDIT: Arrys Ortanez)

“IT WAS HEARTENING TO SEE SO MANY LAY PEOPLE THERE OF ALL AGES.  The papers presented were varied in content and tone, but all were of fine quality and showed a strong ecclesial sense. “   Fr Richard Cipolla (PHOTO CREDIT: Stuart Chessman)

“IT WAS QUITE HUMBLING FOR ME TO BE ABLE TO OFFER REFLECTIONS ON BEAUTY IN THE MASS TO THOSE ON WHOM I RELY FOR THE MASS. Writing this paper was very different from any other paper that I have written, in that, as I was writing it, I thought of it as a gift that I might offer to those who offer themselves as Personae Christi. It was a great joy and honor to be able to do so.”   – Dr Margaret Hughes (PHOTO CREDIT: Stuart Chessman)

“I BELIEVE THAT IT IS PRECISELY A PROPER UNDERSTANDING OF LITURGY THAT CAN OFFER HEALING to the schizophrenia in our culture.” – From “‘Liturgical Leadership in a Secular Society: A Bishop’s Perspective’ lecture by Archbishop Salvatore Cordileone, San Francisco (PHOTO CREDIT: Stuart Chessman)

“I ADDRESSED THE TOPIC OF YOUTH AND THE LITURGY. I was amazed at the reception. As a young man with no ecclesiastical appointment, I was, Praise God!, able to frankly address today’s crisis in the liturgy. I believe so many people are used to having to pretend that everything is just fine, a topic Fr. Cipolla discussed in his talk on positivism. They were refreshed to hear another view. I saw so many old friends, and met plenty of new ones.” Matt Menendez  (PHOTO CREDIT: Stuart Chessman)

“FOR HIS LISTENERS, HE PUT A GALE FORCE WIND INTO OUR TRADITIONALIST SAILS: I was riveted by the talk given by Matt Menendez, founder of Juventutem Boston.  His talk, ‘Youth and the Liturgy’ was lively and sprinkled with humorous commentary, interrupted by several rounds of applause.  Juventutem represents the most exciting youth movement in the Church today and it’s sprouting up all over the country.  They really do represent the New Evangelization. To hear such an engaging, intelligent (Harvard graduate) young man promote his faith in an articulate and clear fashion was most heartening.” Daniel Marengo, NYC (PHOTO CREDIT: Stuart Chessman)

“IT WAS A HIGH PRIVILEGE TO OFFER ONE OF THE CONFERENCE MASSES AT SACRA LITURGIA–NEW YORK. I was ordained for only a little over a week and was humbled to be able to offer Holy Mass for all the participants of the conference–bishops, abbots, priests and such devoted lay faithful. I thought my being trusted with such a Mass was a beautiful testament to the youthfulness of the burgeoning traditional movement as well to the understanding we Catholics have of the priesthood–whether young or old, experienced or not, at the altar the priest is Christ offering for all present His Sacrifice to the Father.” – Fr Sean Connolly

“WHEN THE HOLY FATHER, POPE FRANCIS, ASKED ME TO ACCEPT the ministry of Prefect of the Congregation for Divine Worship and Discipline of the Sacraments, I asked: ‘Your Holiness, how do you want me to exercise this ministry?’ The Holy Father’s reply was clear. ‘I want you to continue to implement the liturgical reform of the Second Vatican Council,’ he said ‘and I want you to continue the good work in the liturgy begun by Pope Benedict XVI.’ – From the Letter to Sacra Liturgia, by Cardinal Sarah (PHOTO CREDIT: Arrys Ortanez)


“IT WAS INCREDIBLY WELL ATTENDED. I had been at the original Sacra Liturgia in 2013 in Rome and the crowd here was especially lively since there were so many more Americans, whereas the previous conference was in English, Spanish, Italian, French, and German.” – Matt Menendez

“I HAVE LIVED IN NYC ALL MY LIFE and never participated in such an outward Eucharistic procession of this kind.  All of NYC, including the police, pedestrians and the stunned commercial and residential onlookers from the buildings along the way, watched in awe and silent wondering as the canopied Blessed Sacrament meandered its way through the cavernous streets, touching the lives of countless secular and hard bitten New Yorkers.” Daniel Marengo, NYC

“THE CANDLELIGHT PROCESSION WAS THE MOST UPLIFTING AND EMOTIONALLY CHARGED EXPERIENCE for me personally. The whole city seemed to be put to a stop as the procession took up two avenues. A peace was brought forth during that half hour as the whole east side of Manhattan seemed to just listen to the voices singing “Jesus, My Lord, my God, My all…” – Arrys Ortanez, NYC

‘THE MOST REMARKABLE THING WAS THE RESPECT SHOWN BY THE PUBLIC. In this day and age, you expect people to be impatient with these types of things. In fact, people were impressed that a procession of this type was even happening. I was the “advance scout party” and had to be at St. John Nepomucene ahead of the procession. People asked what was going on and a few said, “Oh, is today Corpus Christi?” I told them about the day being transferred in this country. But non-religious people and non-Christians were curious, and respectful, too.’  – Bill Riccio, Jr

“MY BEST MEMORY, WHICH I INCLUDED IN MY PARISH HOMILY ON SUNDAY, was the remarkable procession on Corpus Christ through the streets of the upper east side of Manhattan.  I have talked to many participants about this, and they all agree that it was a truly spiritual event that amazed and silenced the normally frenetic and prolix denizens of this part of Manhattan.  It was a true witness to the Truth and Beauty of the person of Christ and the Catholic faith.” – Father Richard Cipolla

“There were several things that struck me: the first is the silence of those in the procession – we were all united in adoration of Christ, so that there was almost no talking and everyone was intent on following the Blessed Sacrament; the second is the stillness of those on the sidewalks – while New Yorkers almost never stop, people stood still on the sidewalks and watched the procession. I did not see anyone try to push through the procession to cross the street, as they might have a parade. It seemed that everyone recognized that there was something special here, even if they did not know exactly what it was; the third, is the kindness of the participants in the procession towards each other.” Dr Margaret Hughes (PHOTO CREDIT: Arrys Ortanez)

Another surprise of the conference is how diverse the participants in the conference were. As is to be expected (at least to someone already familiar with such circles), many of the the participants were young seminarians and priests. But the attendance was by no means limited to them. I met so many people – younger and older, men and women, laymen and in orders or religious life – all bound together by a love of Christ, especially as expressed in the Liturgy.” – Dr. Margaret Hughes

“I WAS PRESENT FOR THE PROCESSION, AND IT WAS INCREDIBLY SPIRITUALLY FULFILLING.  The New Yorkers were very respectful. No one interrupted or taunted us, and many prayed in silence. The beauty was overwhelming, and it echoed a story Cardinal Burke told earlier in the week about offering a Solemn Pontifical High Mass in the more ancient rite for homeless people in Spain, and how well received it was. The poor, whether spiritually or materially, can become rich through their participation in the traditional liturgy of Holy Mother Church.”  — Matt Melendez (PHOTO CREDIT: Arrys Ortanez)

“HEARING THOSE HUNDREDS OF VOICES SING “JESUS, MY LORD, MY GOD, MY ALL,” WHILE COMING UP 66TH STREET was other-worldly as it bounced off the concrete walls of the canyon. But the kicker was an NYPD officer that was part of the traffic detail. He said to me, “Do you realize the peace you’ve brought here?” He pointed to the way people were stopped and taking it all in. He was impressed and genuinely moved.” – Bill Riccio, Jr. (PHOTO CREDIT: Arrys Ortanez)

“THE PROCESSION WAS MAGICAL. WE CLEARLY NEED MORE OF THOSE. Stopping traffic on 1st, 2nd, 3rd Ave — amazing! It almost felt like this “new evangelization” one hears about from time to time. Everyone stopped still to watch the procession with smiles on their faces.  Most people took photos and one woman took a video of us.  Doormen came outside of their buildings to watch.  The police blocked the traffic and no one even honked their horns.  The NYPD were very supportive and told us to “stay safe”.  There was a feeling of peace and serenity.  We transformed the streets of Manhattan to holy ground as we sang ‘Jesus, my Lord, my God, my All’ in a candlelight procession.” Joanne O’Beirne (PHOTO CREDIT: Arrys Ortanez)

“NO MATTER HOW TALENTED THE PHOTOGRAPHERS, IT’S IMPOSSIBLE FOR STILL IMAGES to convey the breadth and importance of this event. Every New York bystander we encountered was either intently watching or photographing or recording the Corpus Christi Procession. The Lord of Lord and King of Kings still commands reverence when he is taken to the streets. St John Neumann ora pro nobis.”  Society of St Dominic, Winnepeg, Canada (PHOTO CREDIT: Arrys Ortanez)

“IMAGINE SEEING DOZENS UPON DOZENS OF YOUNG MEN AND PRIESTS, IN SURPLICES AND BIRETTAS, WOMEN WITH VEILS, BABIES AND YOUNG CHILDREN, all singing and chanting Latin and English hymns, marching through the canyons of NYC.  It was a spectacular and priceless experience.” Daniel Marengo, NYC  (PHOTO CREDIT: Arrys Ortanez)

PEOPLE IN THE STREETS JUST STOPPED IN WONDERMENT as a Rome-like procession made its way through the city blocks. As the procession entered St. Vincent’s, tears literally starting to form –just in awe of everything. I have no other words to say about that night and I have no doubt that Christ did touch the heart of at least one wayward soul.”  — Arrys Ortanez

REGINA: As ​the international coordinator of Sacra Liturgia and the person responsible for all the liturgical celebrations in NYC, what is your assessment of the New York conference?

DOM ALCUIN REID: It was, I think, a singular moment of grace, as it brought together in Catholic unity and in communion with the Holy Father and the local bishop many prelates, scholars, clergy, religious and lay men and women for whom a deeper appreciation of the Sacred Liturgy, academically and in practice, is fundamental to all of the Christian life and our mission in the world. That the participants were noticeably young and enthusiastic is a great sign of hope, a true ‘sign of the times’.

REGINA: Did the enthusiasm of the participants surprise you? Hearten you?

DOM ALCUIN REID: There was a similar, if more international, enthusiasm present at Sacra Liturgia 2013 in Rome. But yes, it was most heartening. So too was the beautiful message sent by His Eminence, Robert Cardinal Sarah, Prefect of the Congregation for Divine Worship and Discipline of the Sacraments, in which he most humbly asked our help in his own liturgical mission. That message is worth reading and rereading.

REGINA: What was going through your mind as you were processing through the Upper East Side in that Corpus Christi procession? 

DOM ALCUIN REID: I’m afraid I was unashamedly very, very happy. So many people gave so much to ensure that the preparation and organisation of the practical, academic and liturgical elements of the conference were first class, but in the Corpus Christi procession there we all were, walking, singing, adoring and witnessing in the streets of New York City. The Sacred Liturgy, indeed He Who is at work in the Sacred Liturgy, was celebrated as beautifully and as reverently as possible. That procession touched many hearts that Thursday evening – those of us who worked to bring it about, the conference participants, local parishioners, as well as bystanders and people in the apartments above. That will bring its fruit. It was also moment of profound liturgical formation for the many young priests and seminarians who participated. We could not have asked for a more moving or a more fitting end to the conference.

REGINA: What do you think most participants took away from their experience of the conference?

DOM ALCUIN REID:  Much hope, please God. Hope and confidence – that beautiful, God-centred liturgy, liturgy that is truly sacred, truly beautiful, is very much alive and at the heart of our Catholic life. Confidence also that at the academic level sound work continues to address the larger questions, particularly those of elements of liturgical reforms in the twentieth century that went somewhat off-track.

I have to say that it was rather disappointing that one new media outlet who reported on the conference does not seem to have grasped the inner meaning, spiritually or academically, of what we are about, or indeed the importance of getting the worship of God right, externally and internally, for Christian life. Sadly their report seemed to obsess over dress and externals – which concerns seem very dated and superficial!

AD 1

“MY BEST MEMORY OF THE CONFERENCE IS CERTAINLY THE MASSES THEMSELVES. The care and love which with they were celebrated made manifest the reality that the Mass is “the source and summit of the Christian life.” After all the talking about Liturgy during the day, it was a relief, in the best possible sense, to do what we had been talking about. At the end of the day, what matters is not what we say about the Mass, but that we pray the Mass as well as possible.”  – Dr. Margaret Hughes (PHOTO CREDIT: Stuart Chessman)

Sign up for REGINA's weekly newsletter

  1. You will usually hear from us about once a week, usually on Sunday. 
  2. At other times, we may send a special email. 

To subscribe, go here!