Fr. Peter Stravinskas is pictured in early July in a recording booth display at Faith Comes By Hearing in Albuquerque, N.M.

Project records New Testament in Latin

By  Madeline Watkins, Catholic News Service
  • September 7, 2011

WASHINGTON - A new initiative got under way this summer for the first audio recording of the New Testament in Latin.

Vatican Press has partnered with Faith Comes By Hearing, a non-profit, donor-driven interdenominational ministry “committed to the mission of reaching poor and illiterate people worldwide with the Word of God in audio” for the audio recording of the Neo-Vulgate, the Catholic Church’s official Latin translation.

Fr. Peter Stravinskas played a key role in spearheading this project.

“I’ve been involved with making available the liturgy in Latin since I was ordained,” said Stravinskas, founder and president of the St. Gregory Foundation for Latin Liturgy based in Pine Beach, N.J. Stravinskas said in the early 1980s he celebrated the only Latin Mass in New York.

In an interview with Catholic News Service, the priest said he learned about Faith Comes by Hearing, which for the past 30 years has made the New Testament available by audio in more than 500 languages. He e-mailed them and said he was impressed with the program but noticed Latin was missing.

 

“I got an e-mail back saying they only do living languages, and I said it’s the living language of 2.2 billion Catholics,” Stravinskas said. “They e-mailed me back and said let’s talk about this.”

The project got under way in August 2010, and has been an opportunity for “healthy and helpful” ecumenism, Stravinskas said.

This past January, a group of the Faith Comes by Hearing leadership team travelled to Rome with Stravinskas to meet with several bishops and cardinals about their work and the Latin project. Fr. Nicholas Gregoris, editor of The Catholic Response magazine, travelled with the group to Rome as a liaison and translator. The priest spoke highly of the experience in a CNS interview.

The group visited with at least seven cardinals, toured the Vatican gardens and Sistine Chapel and were announced at a papal audience. He said the cardinals were enthusiastic about the initiative.

“We went to various congregations in Rome to several dicasteries (major Vatican departments) and (to) present this project and show them how the (New Testament) has been recorded in over 500 languages, and that Latin would be a helpful addition. It really appealed to them,” Gregoris said.

The project to record the New Testament in Latin has brought together a diverse team of Latin speakers from various parts of the United States to voice the 180 characters in the New Testament. The 15 men and women chosen for the recording project include priests, teachers, graduates of classical studies programs and an accountant — all who share a passion for the Latin language.

“It’s a very beautiful and precise language,” said Bridget McBryan, a graduate of Thomas Aquinas College in California who provided the voice of Mary, among other female characters in the recording. “It’s the official language of the Catholic Church, (and) it’s part of our tradition as Catholics.”

For four weeks this summer, the group gathered in the crypt of an old Franciscan monastery in Newark, N.J., for the recording sessions. Stravinskas said with the recording finished by the end of July, the entire project is expected to be finished by October.

“It has been a long process, very intense project as you can imagine,” Stravinskas told CNS. Once the final work is completed, it will be available “in every kind of modern media that’s out there,” he said.

The audio version of the Scriptures in Latin is geared for a wide audience — particularly seminarians and young Catholics, who according to Stravinskas and Gregoris are showing a growing interest in learning the Latin language.

“I see that happening and I think it’s wonderful that the young people can lay claim to their own Catholic inheritance,” Gregoris said.

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