Fraternity of St. Peter's days in Toronto over

By 
  • February 25, 2010
{mosimage}TORONTO - Due to a pastoral reassignment, the Fraternity of St. Peter will be leaving the archdiocese of Toronto on Feb. 28, but the Tridentine Mass they brought here will remain.

Fr. Howard Venette, the only priest from the fraternity based in Toronto, said he is being reassigned to a parish affiliated with the Fraternity in Sarasota, Fla.

The Fraternity of St. Peter is a Clerical Society of Apostolic Life of Pontifical right, meaning it is a community of priests who do not take religious vows but work together for a common mission. It was founded in 1988 by a dozen priests and several seminarians at the Abbey of Hauterive in Switzerland. Its mission is to form priests in the Tridentine Mass or the traditional, pre-Vatican II liturgy of the Roman rite.

There are about 200 priests and 110 seminarians in the Fraternity in 11 countries, including six houses in Canada, who serve traditional Mass communities.

Toronto is a Sunday apostolate for the Fraternity, with Venette serving as chaplain for the Sunday Tridentine Mass community at St. Theresa’s Church. Fr. Liam Gavigan, an archdiocesan priest, will continue the Mass in Venette’s place at St. Theresa’s.

The archdiocese of Toronto invited the Fraternity of St. Peter 19 months ago, a year after the papal decree in support of the celebration of the traditional Latin Mass in more Catholic parishes.

Venette said there have been personnel changes within the Fraternity, with a priest being reassigned to Europe and another priest experiencing health issues.

“We have to go where we’re given full parishes to exercise our ministry fully. It’s our hope to be re-invited at a time when circumstances allow,” he said.

In a previous interview, Venette had said the hope in 2008 had been to expand from St. Theresa’s and eventually have the archdiocese’s first mission for the Tridentine Mass.

Archdiocese of Toronto communications director Neil MacCarthy said the archdiocese would welcome the Fraternity back to Toronto once they are able to send another priest.

At the moment, there are no plans to have a mission for the Tridentine Mass community because there are already six parishes offering the Mass in the city, MacCarthy said. Having the Masses spread out also means more access for parishioners throughout Toronto given the size of the city, he said.

Venette said the past year-and-a-half has been fruitful in spreading the word about the pre-Vatican II Mass.

About 85 people attend St. Theresa’s Sunday Tridentine Mass, including youth and families.

Parish priests are now able to celebrate the old rite if a “stable group of faithful” requests it, without needing their bishop’s permission.

The Tridentine Mass was never abolished, but parish priests required permission from their bishop to celebrate it. Among the differences between the new Mass and old rite is having the priest face the altar in the same direction as the congregation and Communion is received on the tongue while kneeling.

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