Altar servers, priests of the FSSP and Ottawa Archbishop Terrence Prendergast gather for a photo after a Pontifical High Mass in the Extraordinary Form of the Roman Rite Nov. 23 at Ottawa’s Notre Dame Cathedral. Photo courtesty Paul Lauzon

Ottawa's St. Clement Parish celebrates 50th year of Latin Mass

  • November 28, 2018

OTTAWA – Notre Dame Cathedral was packed on Nov. 23 for a Pontifical High Mass marking the 50th anniversary of Ottawa’s Traditional Latin Mass community at St. Clement’s Parish.

Archbishop Terrence Prendergast celebrated the Extraordinary Form of the Roman Rite on the Feast of St. Clement in the old liturgical calendar. He celebrated what has been called “the Mass of the Ages” wearing traditional vestments at the cathedral’s high altar facing ad orientem, in the same direction as the congregation.

“You, the Latin Mass community of Ottawa that have become St. Clement Parish, now celebrate your 50 years,” Prendergast said in his homily. “You have always worked respectfully with the pastors of the archdiocese in promoting your legitimate desire for a Traditional Latin Mass. This Extraordinary Form is an important part of our Church’s patrimony.”

The archbishop noted that his predecessors, Archbishop Joseph-Aurèle Plourde and Archbishop Marcel Gervais, were “always open” to those who desired a Traditional Latin Mass after the Novus Ordo, the Ordinary Form of the Mass, was established following the Second Vatican Council.

St. Clement’s parish has about 600 members, served by two priests from the Priestly Fraternity of St. Peter (FSSP). Hundreds more from the wider Catholic community also attended the 50th anniversary Mass.

Also present were the newly elected Superior General of the FSSP, Fr. Andrzej Komorowski, and Fr. Joseph Bisig, who co-founded the FSSP in 1988. Komorowski spoke of the uniqueness of a parish worshipping according to the Extraordinary Form for an unbroken 50 years. 

The growth over 50 years of St. Clement’s Parish, which includes a large number of young families, speaks to its attraction to young people.

In 2007, Pope Benedict XVI published the motu proprio Summorum Pontificum that established that the old Mass had never been abrogated and could be celebrated by any diocesan priest if a group of the faithful asked for it.

Komorowski said that under Pope Benedict XVI there was a bit of a “liturgical revival” and it would be difficult now to suppress or forbid the Traditional Latin Mass, even though some Italian bishops expressed such a desire at a recent meeting.

Older people still remember the pre-Vatican II liturgy and “are amazed to see young people” flocking to it, Komorowski said. “What young people seek is truth and authenticity in their faith.

“I think the Traditional Latin Mass is convincing. It gives to us this feeling this is something the Church has been doing for centuries. It was good in the past; why is it not any good now?”

The Traditional Latin Mass also appeals to young people looking for beauty, whether that beauty is experienced in Gregorian chant or in the silences of a low Mass, he said. They also find in it mystery and a sacred language. In being attracted to the truth, they will also find the joy of the faith, he said.

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