Monday, October 15, 2007


One of the parishes is another former parish of mine.

This article found in the Providence Journal. Don't ask me how I missed this, but RSCT to Catholic Church Conservation.

PROVIDENCE — The Rev. Alfred P. Almonte hadn’t celebrated the Mass in Latin in about four decades, so when one of his parishioners at St. Bartholomew (modern church, one of the few Italian-American parishes left in RI that are still staffed by the Scalabrini Fathers, seating in semi-circle, but nice Moller pipe organ) parish in Silver Lake suggested that he bring back the Latin Mass as part of the church’s 100-year jubilee, he knew that he would have some brushing up to do.

But the priest, who said Mass in Latin for the first four or five years after his ordination, in 1961, saw it as an opportunity to connect St. Bart’s parishioners to their past.

Not that it was going to be easy. While the edict issued by Pope Benedict XVI three months ago gave priests blanket permission to publicly celebrate the old Tridentine rite without having to get the approval of their bishop, there was still the problem of finding a cadre of altar servers who could recite the Latin responses and do the detailed choreography associated with a Solemn High Latin Mass.

Yesterday, as more than 400 people filtered into what some people still call the “new” St. Bart’s (having replaced the original building in 1969), 10 altar servers, all grown men, two deacons and two priests gathered in a room to don cassocks and robes, hoping that they would not forget what they had learned in three weeks of rehearsals.

Angelo DeFeo, 44, acknowledged that he had never been to a Latin Mass. “Don’t worry,” declared fellow altar server Ray Funaro, 64. “We’ll make a lot of mistakes, but nobody will know but us.”

At one time St. Bartholomew’s was an almost exclusively a parish of Italian immigrants, but has evolved over time into a parish with a large contingent of young Hispanic families who attend a Spanish-speaking Mass at 9:30 a.m. and an older, English-speaking congregation that worships at 11:30.

Yesterday the two congregations were joined. Though some critics have expressed disdain for what they see as a liturgy that does not encourage participation by the people, the Rev. Philip (correction: Robert) E. Lacombe of St. Timothy Church in Warwick (I shudder to admit I once worked there), the visiting preacher, argued yesterday that there is participation in the Tridentine rite but of a different sort.

“Through this Mass people experience a profound sense that they are participating in a mystery,” Father Lacombe said.

“The priest’s back is not against the people, but rather the priest and people are facing in the same direction toward God,” he said.
(I forgot to mention, Fr. Lacombe, St. Timothy's curate, is NOT the cause of my bitterness there.)

Though there has been a weekly celebration of the old rite at Holy Name Church in Providence for the last 13 years, Pope Benedict’s edict allowing the rite’s wider use seems to be taking hold: the Rev. Kevin R. Fisette, pastor of St. Leo the Great parish in Pawtucket, announced that he will have a 5 p.m. “low” Latin Mass on the third Sunday of every month beginning Oct. 21. and the Rev. Douglas J. Spina polled his parishioners at St. Martha Church in East Providence and found 180 parishioners who would “commit” to attending a Latin Mass weekly (Good, but they need an organ. One friend of mine interviewed there last year and found there was no organ, only a piano or keyboard, with no apparent intentions of acquiring one. I can't picture the Extraordinary form with piano, though I can picture a good High Mass a cappella. Still, get an organ!). He plans to introduce the Mass in January.

Father Lacombe says St. Timothy’s is planning to celebrate the old rite on an “occasional basis.” (I find that hard to believe, but if this is true, good! But they too need a real organ. Current instrument: a Hammond E300 series - blech!) Father Almonte said so many people were moved by yesterday’s Mass that he would consider doing the same.

Codified by Pope Pius V in 1570, the Tridentine rite was the dominant form of worship in the Catholic Church until the Second Vatican Council permitted Masses in the vernacular and Pope Paul VI promulgated a simpler “new order” Mass in the late 1960s.

As was customary under the old rite, parishioners yesterday knelt at a communion rail and received the hosts on the tongue.

Esther Yacavone said choir members had been practicing the Latin prayers for two months and was pleased with the result.

“Would I like to do it every week? No. But I would like it for my funeral. It was beautiful.” (For mine, I want the Ordinary Form, but with chants, traditional hymnody - none of Glory and Praise's or Gather's "greatest hits", and celebrated ad orientem. Don't get me wrong, I still like the Extraordinary Form, but I want to shake things up a bit, you see - give the family and friends a taste of how the Ordinary Form is SUPPOSED to be done.)


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