A Visit to Bath, England for the 11th Annual Training Conference organized by the Latin Mass Society of England and Wales.
Prior Park College is a stately home in Bath, now a Catholic boarding school for secondary students.
Their classical style chapel is very beautiful, and has not suffered from any significant reordering or misguided ‘renovation.’
Prior Park College’s school chapel also has ideal acoustics for polyphonic singing.
It also has plenty of side altars, which are useful both for tuition purposes and for the priests to offer their private Masses
The conference was attended by priests, transitional and permanent deacons, a seminarian and a group of laymen.
There were five priestly and lay tutors, and a schola and polyphonic choir.
The clergy came from England, Scotland, Poland and St Lucia in the Caribbean.
On each of the three days, the majority of the time was given over to tuition.
A Solemn Mass was celebrated each day, and the programme also included Lauds, Vespers, Benediction and Compline when they could be fitted in.
For the first time, one of the priests attending the conference was there at the request of his bishop. This is a pleasing development
Several of the recently appointed bishops in England and Wales are much more sympathetic to the traditional Mass than were their predecessors.
The Latin Mass Society conference also serves a useful purpose in training servers.
In many parts of England and Wales it is harder to find servers than celebrants for the old Mass.
Servers are not only given training in Low Mass, but many come to perfect their skills at serving Solemn Mass.
Some of the priests were new to the usus antiquior, and studied the celebration of Low Mass.
Others had attended earlier conferences and returned to study the roles of the ministers at Solemn Mass.
All of them made good progress in all they came to learn.
“I thoroughly enjoyed the Latin Mass society training course for priests, especially the opportunity to meet priests who are of the same spirit and spirituality.’
“As always with first experiences, one only realizes afterwards how much more one could have done.”
“Thanks to all involved in organising the Conference, especially Fr Francis Wadsworth who patiently watched me getting nowhere fast while struggling with the Fractio. The Libera Nos Domine has taken on a whole new meaning for me.”
“However, having had this experience under my belt, I should like to do another training session next year, if at all possible. I am tempted to do the Low Mass, if only to absorb more of the theology of the Rubrics.”
The conference has benefits that go far beyond mere tuition. Many of the priests regard the occasion as a form of retreat or pilgrimage, the quality liturgies being an uplifting experience.
Also, it is a great social occasion for the traditionally minded priests. Many of them are quite isolated, and they enjoy the company of the other priests that attend the conferences.
It was particularly pleasing that two seminarians attended the conference.
One is a deacon who learned to celebrate Low Mass and expects to be proficient by the time of his ordination this year.
“It is encouraging to see that the new generation of priests are very keen to learn the older Mass.” said Paul Waddington, long-time organizer of the Conference.
Priests, seminarians, deacons and laymen interested in attending future conferences should contact Paul Waddington at the Latin Mass Society HERE