Tridentine mission in the works

  • September 12, 2008

{mosimage}TORONTO - One year after implementing the papal decree paving the way for celebration of the traditional Latin Mass, the archdiocese of Toronto has invited the Priestly Fraternity of St. Peter to help pave the way for the first mission parish for the Tridentine Mass in the archdiocese.

Fr. Howard Venette, a member of the Priestly Fraternity of St. Peter, is the new chaplain for the Tridentine Mass community at St. Theresa’s parish and Holy Cross parish. Venette said he hopes the Mass will be accessible to all those interested in the old rite.

Venette said there has been a surge of demand in having priests from his order celebrate the Tridentine Mass from parishes in North America since Pope Benedict XVI issued a decree last year easing restrictions on the Mass. 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 decree also applies to weddings, funerals and other forms of liturgy. 

The pre-Vatican II 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 while kneeling and on the tongue.

Pope Benedict XVI issued his edict July 7, 2007, instructing that it be implemented Sept. 14, 2007.

In a letter to go with the decree, Pope Benedict alluded to some divisions within the church stemming from ultra-traditionalist groups who split with the Vatican over the introduction of the new Mass and other Vatican II reforms.

“It is a matter of coming to an interior reconciliation in the heart of the church,” the Pope wrote.

In the letter, the Pope also addressed concerns raised in some media reports that his announcement would lead to divisions within parish communities.

Fr. Derek Cross of the Oratory of St. Philip Neri in Toronto said what the papal decree is trying to show is “the unity and continuity of what had been historically the practice of the church and the newer possibilities opened up by it.”

In Toronto, three churches took their cue from Pope Benedict XVI’s decree and established traditional Latin Masses. Oratorian priests at Holy Family parish began weekday Tridentine Masses and St. Vincent de Paul Church offered Sunday Traditional Latin Masses soon after Pope Benedict’s announcement last year. In August, Holy Cross Church welcomed Venette as a pastor-in-residence where he began the parish’s first Tridentine Masses. He said there have been about 20 people who are attending the weekday and Saturday Masses.

Venette said the plan is to eventually have the first mission parish for the Tridentine Mass in Toronto by next July. He said it would most likely be at an existing central parish, where it would also be accessible to commuters from outside the city.

Even before the papal decree, St. Theresa’s parish and St. Patrick’s Church in Schomberg, Ont., had been offering Tridentine Masses for at least 20 years. St. Vincent de Paul parish also celebrated the post-Vatican II Mass in Latin for several years before it offered the traditional Latin liturgy.

Meanwhile in Ottawa, 20-year-old Carleton University student Adrian Debow said attending Tridentine Masses at St. Clement parish has affirmed him in his vocation. Debow hopes to enter the Priestly Fraternity of St. Peter within two years.

“It’s a quieter Mass,” he said during a telephone interview from Ottawa. “It allows you to concentrate on your prayers and focus on the Mass. The solemnity of that just draws you in.”

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