Skip to comments.End Nears for Latin Mass at Boston (Catholic) Church
Posted on 05/30/2005 10:53:00 AM PDT by nonsumdignus
Monday, May 30, 2005; 5:00 AM
BOSTON -- Dan Linnell drives from his home on Cape Cod to Boston's South End most Sundays so he can worship at Holy Trinity Church, the only Roman Catholic congregation in the area that celebrates Mass in Latin.
Linnell's wife introduced him to Holy Trinity in 1996, when they started dating, and he immediately "fell in love" with the Latin Mass, which features Roman Catholic rituals, including Gregorian chants, that date back more than 1,500 years.
"I started crying I was so moved," the 41-year-old recalled as he entered the church with his three young children after an hourlong drive from Sandwich. "For me, it's what Catholic worship is. It's just beautiful, and it edifies the soul."
Sunday marked the 15th anniversary of Holy Trinity's Latin Mass, which is the only service of its kind sanctioned by the Boston Archdiocese. Barring a change of heart by the archdiocese, there won't be a 16th.
Holy Trinity is one of 20 parishes that the archdiocese intends to close in the coming weeks and months as part of a broader cost-cutting plan to close 80 of its 357 parishes.
Archbishop Sean P. O'Malley's decision to shutter or consolidate the churches came in response to declining attendance, a shortage of priests and financial pressure caused in part by the clergy sex abuse crisis.
With Holy Trinity scheduled to close June 30, the archdiocese plans to move its Latin Mass to St. James the Greater in nearby Chinatown. Parishioners are upset they have to leave the historic church, which was founded in 1844 to serve German immigrants. It's the only German-Catholic congregation in New England.
John Fahey, 49, of Boston, said Holy Trinity is an oasis for several hundred Catholics who prefer to worship in a more conservative, traditional manner.
The church is "totally financially self-sustaining," he added. "There is no reason why it should be closed by the archdiocese."
Archdiocese spokesman Terry Donilon said that although the church closings have been hard for parishioners to accept, the process has "strengthened the Catholic community" in other ways.
"The vast majority of parishioners have moved on and done so in a very spiritual and prayerful manner," he said.
Mass was celebrated in Latin across the world until the mid-1960s, when the Second Vatican Council ruled it could be celebrated in native languages. Twenty years later, however, Pope John Paul II granted permission for it to be celebrated in Latin again.
Once a month since the Latin Mass returned to Holy Trinity in 1990, Michael Ferry drives 75 miles from his home in Ogunquit, Maine, to sing in the church's choir, which recites Gregorian chants.
"People come here because this is the Mass as it was in 1962," he said. "It's more traditional."
Susan Long said she left the Catholic church as a teenager because she disagreed with the changes made by the Second Vatican Council.
"When I came back, I came back because of this Mass," she said. "I'd like it to stay here, but my faith is in my heart. Wherever they move it, it's not going to change my faith."
It has been a tumultuous month for parishioners at Holy Trinity. Earlier this month, worshippers at the church protested its imminent closing by placing fake bills in the collection baskets.
Holy Trinity also is coping with a brewing financial scandal. Parishioners have asked state and archdiocesan officials to investigate allegations that their pastor, the Rev. Hugh O'Regan, mismanaged the church's finances. O'Regan did not immediately return a call to comment.
ON THE NET
Boston Archdiocese: http://www.rcab.org/
Interesting. I didn't know the Mass was yours. I was taught the Mass is the action of Jesus. Every Mass. Every single Mass since the Last Supper. Every single Mass whether said in Greek, Latin, Polish, English.
Do you imagine Mass said in Latin is holier? Do you imagine Mass said in vernacular is not holy?
The Mass is not about me. The Mass is not about you. The Mass is not about Latin. The Mass is about Jesus; and us offering our lives in union with him. He is both priest and victim.
Is our offering our lives at Mass along with His perfect Sacrifice an offering of schism, of resistance to the Bishop, of self-righteousness, of self will?
But I say to you, that whosoever is angry with his brother, shall be in danger of the judgment. And whosoever shall say to his brother, Raca, shall be in danger of the council. And whosoever shall say, Thou fool, shall be in danger of hell fire.
The option, once discussed, of selling Holy Trinity to the FSSP and allowing the FSSP to continue the Latin Mass at Holy Trinity would, under Ecclesia Dei, actually require the Archdiocese to hold a second TLM somewhere else.at http://www.freerepublic.com/focus/f-religion/1413266/posts?page=13#13.
It isn't 'threatening' per se, it is just that if you do not sent your child to CCD for the 'First Eucharist Preparation' two years before receiving First Holy Communion and then again for two years prep before Confirmation, those children cannot be either Confirmed or have their First Communion. The years in between you can keep them out and teach them at home. Sooo, you cannot escape TaT in this diocese if it is taught in your parish (it's not taught in mine at this time).
I agree with you 100% on this. At this time there is no need to have a priest on site as this is not really a neighborhood parish and the rectory, as you note in your post, is only 0.3 miles away. It would be nice though, if TLM was accorded a priest of its own as the present administrator appears a bit hostile to TLM adherents (I would think A LOT more hostile after the story in the Globe from last week - I'll cut and paste it below).
The parish has inspired one man to listen to God calling him... he went through the FSSP seminary and is now an ordained FSSP priest - he said his first Mass at HT a few years ago as I recall. Sad that he isn't able to stay in his home state and minister to the flock here.
What's weird is that this parish received monies to in a 'steeple restoration project' back in 1999/2000 - possibly quite a bit of money according to the historical website. Now, the steeple has not been restored (ruined in the hurricane of 1936) - wonder what became of that money and the historical association's interest in the parish? Looks like a couple of other closed parishes received monies in this restoration project as well.
South End parishioners allege mismanagement By David Abel, Globe Staff | May 27, 2005
Parishioners at Holy Trinity Church in the South End, alleging that their pastor mismanaged the 161-year-old church's finances, called on Archbishop Sean P. O'Malley to hire independent accountants to audit the parish's books.
Members of the parish council at Holy Trinity, which the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Boston plans to close on June 30, sent a letter this week to O'Malley and Attorney General Thomas F. Reilly, alleging that the Rev. Hugh H. O'Regan's ''deliberate misrepresentation" of the church's finances misled the archdiocese into closing the parish.
''Legitimate concerns or suspicions about possible misappropriation of assets must be resolved," the parishioners wrote.
The parishioners did not provide the full letter to the Globe.
They said the letter cites O'Regan's ''failure, over his entire tenure, to provide any financial reports to parishioners and his refusal to convene the finance committee that he established." They also said he has refused to establish operating and capital expense budgets, has collected money for maintenance but has done ''very little," and that he merged the parish's finances with St. James the Greater in Chinatown, which he also administers.
In a phone interview, O'Regan denied any financial improprieties.
''I have not done anything wrong as far as their money is concerned," O'Regan said, denying he has merged the two churches' finances and failed to use money for maintenance. ''I've had to pay a lot of bills, from a new boiler to new heat exchangers. I'm responsible to the archdiocese rather than to individual parishioners."
A spokesman for the archdiocese confirmed that church officials received the letter. ''The archdiocese will review their claims, which might include a request for additional supporting documentation from the [parish council] group, review all the materials and then report our findings to the attorney general," said Terrence C. Donilon, the spokesman.
Corey Welford, a spokesman for Reilly, confirmed that his office received the letter.
Holy Trinity is one of about 79 parishes O'Malley is planning to close because of a shortage of priests, money, and worshipers. The church is the only German Catholic parish left in New England and the only one in the archdiocese with a traditional Mass said in Latin.
Globe staff writer Michael Paulson contributed to this report.
© Copyright 2005 The New York Times Company
"The Mass is not about me. The Mass is not about you. The Mass is not about Latin. The Mass is about Jesus; and us offering our lives in union with him. He is both priest and victim."
Then why was the Mass changed in the late 60's?
FYI, this is the press release from the Save Holy Trinity Committee, which prompted articles in both the Boston Globe and Boston Herald.
For updates on Holy Trinity, I encourage all to join the Save Holy Trinity Yahoo Egroup:
To clear the air, it is not the intent of HT Parishioners to sue their Administrator (and Vicar Forane) Fr. Hugh O'Regan. However, there are serious issues with financial reporting and management of Parish monies and overall stewardship of Parish property since his appointment on 1 November 1996. As a result, the Parish Pastoral Council is demanding an audit of all Parish financial records before suppression proceeds on 30 June. The general feeling among Parishioners is that they have been misrepresented to the Archdiocese.
In fact, members of the Latin Mass community were told by Bishop John Boles, following his August 2001 episcopal visitation, that they could join Holy Trinity as Parishioners . Membership until that time was understood to be reserved for those only of German ancestry. Apparently, this was only a verbal "gentleman's" agreement and the Canonical definition of Holy Trinity's status as a German Personal Parish was never officially expanded to include those of the Latin Mass community. For some reason some diocesan decision maker has deemed the Latin Mass community as a "portable" entity. The reason for suppression is solely the declining German demographic. It is tragic that the growing and significant contribution of the Latin Mass community has made to Parish life at Holy Trinity (since 1990) has been completely ignored by the diocese. This is particularly true since they have been misled into believing they were Parishioners, ultimately not considered as part of the equation that has determined the Parish's fate. In other words, "Thank you for your financial and spiritual contributions. Now MOVE."
PRESS RELEASE 26 May 2005
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Holy Trinity Parish Council Demands Independent Audit
Fears Irregularities Cover Financial Abuses; Notifies Archbishop,
BOSTON May 26 The lay members of the Holy Trinity Parish Council,
acting on behalf of the parishioners, have unanimously requested that
the Archdiocese of Boston engage independent accountants to conduct
an audit of the parish's books and property. The formal request for
the investigation was made in a letter sent to Bishop John P. Boles,
the Auxiliary Bishop with jurisdiction over the Central Region of the
Archdiocese, in which Holy Trinity resides. Because the amounts of
money involved are potentially significant, copies of the letter were
also sent to Archbishop Sean O'Malley and to Massachusetts Attorney
General Thomas Reilly.
The letter asserts, "Legitimate concerns or suspicions about possible
misappropriation of assets must be resolved. The elimination of Holy
Trinity as a legal entity might well serve to destroy evidence or
hinder its collection and must not happen while this investigation is
Founded in 1844 to meet the pastoral needs of German immigrants, Holy
Trinity Church in Boston's South End is the only German Catholic
parish left in New England. Over the years, it has grown as a faith
community in service to the Archdiocese by incorporating its only
authorized traditional Latin Mass and two social service agencies:
the Cardinal Medeiros Center day shelter for the homeless and the
Bridge Over Troubled Waters residence for at-risk youth. The parish
is scheduled to close on June 30 as part of the reconfiguration of
The Parish Council was motivated to write the letter by two, possibly
related, concerns about the actions of Fr. Hugh H. O'Regan,
administrator of the parish for the last eight and one half years.
The first is a pattern of financial irregularities that has raised
many questions which he has refused to address about the
management of parish funds and property. The second is the fear that
Holy Trinity ended up on the list of parishes to be closed as a
result of deliberate misrepresentation of the parish's financial and
spiritual condition and potential.
The Council cites nearly three pages of specific examples of
questionable or unsatisfactory behavior by Fr. O'Regan in three broad
areas: financial accountability, accounting practices, and
stewardship of parish property. Chief among the concerns are his
failure, over his entire tenure, to provide any financial reports to
parishioners and his refusal to convene the Finance Committee that he
established. The letter also notes Fr. O'Regan's refusal to discuss
capital expense decisions and to establish operating and capital
expense budgets. The letter adds that Fr. O'Regan has conducted a
monthly "Special Maintenance Fund" collection but has done very
little maintenance; still, he has not explained "why this does not
amount to solicitation of donations under false pretenses."
Parishioners are also concerned that he has "merged the parishes in
finance, if not in fact," by regularly announcing at Holy Trinity the
activities and collection totals at his other parish, St. James the
Greater in Chinatown, thereby creating the impression that in some
way these two separate parishes have become a joint enterprise.
The letter also states that the parish has lost tens of thousands of
dollars of rightful income because Fr. O'Regan failed to provide the
Cardinal Medeiros program with copies of utility bills for which it
could be reimbursed. He has also refused to cooperate with
parishioners' efforts to obtain grants to preserve the 127 year old
church's irreplaceable stained glass windows.
Other examples of Fr. O'Regan's unsatisfactory stewardship of parish
property include failures to establish a maintenance plan, to allow
for parishioner-subsidized upgrades to the electrical system, and to
address water leakage in the basement and roof. Also of concern are
his lack of care for rare, highly-decorated vestments and his removal
of "valuable artifacts . . . without consultation with or notice
given to the Parish Council or the Sacristan," according to the
letter. It continues, "Not only do these practices suggest that
Father O'Regan considers parish property to be his personal property,
they create an atmosphere of uncertainty. If anything actually is
stolen or misappropriated, it might never be reported because Father
O'Regan has created an environment in which the disappearance of
church property is routine."
Because the Parish Council believes "that this documented pattern of
financial carelessness could serve to cover (whether intended or not)
a host of potential financial abuses," it has demanded an audit of
all income, expenses, and parish property distribution dating back to
November 1, 1996, the date that Fr. O'Regan assumed responsibility
for Holy Trinity. The Parish Council has also demanded a valuation of
the total assets of the parish, including the building, artwork,
sacred vessels, vestments, and musical instruments.
While concerns about financial matters are normally the jurisdiction
of a parish's Finance Committee, the Parish Council explained that it
has taken the extraordinary action of writing this letter because the
parish has no Finance Committee. "My concern as a Parish Council
member was that we never received a financial report. `You'll get one
when I have one,' is the answer Fr. O'Regan most often told us,"
explained Dolores Miller, the secretary of the Parish Council. "Even
more disturbing to me is the fact that the Finance Committee,
established because canon law dictates it, never met, and I want to
"Eight and a half years with no accountability whatsoever is an
invitation for abuse," added Patti Strom, another member of the
Parish Council. "The fact that this successful and historic parish is
to be shut down by the Archdiocese may be the ultimate cover-up."
The mass was changed in the 1960's for one reason. It was to please Protestants, for Lutherans to be able to celebrate if they wanted to.
Who brought these changes. Bishop Annibale Bugnini, (a communist), and six Protestant ministers. The American bishops, as a group, hate anything prior to V2 and will try their best to take away the indult.
Any wonder PaulVI said "The smoke of Satan has entered through the cracks in the walls of the faith."
The numbers tell the story of how right he was. That among others tells why the Church is selling off all their property.
The indult mass will not be the problem. There are many priestless parrishes now and sometime in the future the new mass may be as scarce as the indult.
The archdiocese has never treated those of us who treasure our Catholic heritage very fairly. Monies can always be found to start up another paid parish/diocesan ministry or parish wreckovation or expensive parish air conditioning but to let a self sustaining parish stand is impossible when it sits on real estate worth a fortune.
Of course this is all to do with money and I know the current administrator has no loyalty or love for his Indult parishioners.
My only fear is that this situation will eventually become so frustrating for the parishioners that they will align themselves with the Voice of the Faithful CINO's who are looking to form a congregational style CINO archdiocese.
I totally agree. Unfortunately, I think the parish reconfiguration is another scandal in itself. Frankly, I think its a pastoral disaster no matter how the Archbishop's PR firm tries to spin it. That feeds into a "Fortress Mentality" that is more parochial than Catholic.
They expect an easy "Plug 'n'Play" Catholicism where the Domus Dei is simply a "Worship Space". What works against their effort (and lack of pastoral understanding) to suppress parishes is the fact that generations of Boston Catholic's have been required to attend Holy Mass at their local territorial Parish. Culturally, I think the hierarchy and chancery hacks minimize how deeply parochial the Catholic Faith has been experienced by Catholics in Boston. I also believe there is a failure to comprehend how Catholics attach cultural importance to the incarnational aspects of the Faith (e.g. use of Sacramentals, Sacred Art and Architecture, Vestments,..."smells and bells") which appeals to our own human (incarnational) condition. In other words our Holy Faith is both Incarnational and Spriritual. It seems Modernism has formed a generation of clerical Iconoclasts in their effort to foster post V-II renewal. To be Catholic also includes passing on both the traditions and Sacred Traditions of the Faith...faithfully to the next generation. This includes our ENTIRE patrimony, both earthly and spiritual.
The "stonewalling" and spin (PR psyhco-babble) we continue to receive at the hands of the Archdiocese of Boston is inexcusable from our perspective. At some point we may have to relent in not drawing more scandal upon the Church. For now this may be an exercise in turning the light on in a darkened room infested with cockroaches. As laymen, our awareness of continued scandal in Boston must continue to be clearly aired with the Hierarchy until this situation is brought under control. Unfortunately, many of the folks who were at the helm during the period that led to the Sex Scandals of 2002-present, did not leave with Cardinal Law's resignation in December 2002. The "Lavender Mafia" remains alive and well in the Archdiocese of Boston. Furthermore, it remains influential in key posts. The ecclesiology of the old Mass remains a threat to this power base.
Maybe the Irish hierarchy wants us to return to the "Mass Rocks" of the ol' Sod. They are doing Cromwell proud.
Speaking of Catholic churches in Boston, I was in the St. Anthony Shrine in downtown Boston the other day, and noticed several posters advertising this and that program for "GLBT Catholics," sponsored by the Franciscans, the Paulists and the Jesuits. I suppose those orders aren't really under the thumb of Archbishop O'Malley, but it seems such a travesty. I'm sure these groups are not promoting chastity among the "GLBT Community". Sigh...
Does the 1962 rubric require the priest to proceed directly in a straight line, etc.
Please regard me as inspired, but not to be taken
literally. My intended point was that the NO altar will serve as an obstacle. The priest and altar servers will have to allow for it in their movements and it will likely block the view of Mass attendees. It is either stupid or malevolent for the diocese to put the Latin Mass in such a configuration.
Yes, I gather St. Anthony's got a new rector a couple of years ago, and immediately started hurtling into the abyss. Until then, they were pretty good. (The Paulist Center was always weird, IMO -- at least as far back as the 60s.)
.....I couldn't agree more.
The reason I ask is that one the one hand, I keep hearing the parish is self supporting yet on the other hand I know the parishioners are questioning the financial acumen of the administrator. So I wonder who has been keeping track of the money and if the finances are messy, how does anyone know the parish really is self supporting?
I only ask out of curiousity and honest questioning, my hope is that the Indult will continue on at Holy Trinity and that the diocese will leave the one Indult right where it is and has been and that all the press lately will swell the ranks of the Indult.
Was wondering too if you know if the parish received the donation from the Boston Historical Association in order to fix the steeple. I read an article where it said that monies were donated but I haven't ever seen or heard anything else about it and of course, the steeple remains as it was in 1936 after the hurricane.
Too bad the parish isn't considered a landmark.
An absolute *GEM* that I found years ago is the St. Thomas More chapel at 49 Franklin St. - maintained by the Propagation of the Faith. It's between Filene's and the old Woolworths (TJMaxx now I think) building, on the Filene's side walking towards Post Office Square -- a couple of buildings behind Filene's.
The other wonderful 'stop in chapel' is the one at the Pru on the bottom floor, St. Francis - kind of modern, but very, very orthodox. Excellent little bookstore as well. It's staffed by the Oblates of the Virgin Mary.
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