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/
As for Arch Street, I was going to their 8:30, 3 or 4 years ago, I think, and that was quite sedate -- even novena prayers Tuesdays and Thursdays (one for St. Jude and one for St. Anthony -- I forget now which was which, and with veneration of a relic of St. Anthony on his novena day), no lectors, and another Friar or a Brother would help with Communion.
Even at that time, though, I went to the noon Mass once, and it was pretty far gone for my taste -- the progressive laity were apparently in charge and lapping it up!
Unfortunately, the 8:30 was one of the first Masses cut.
I think it's maintained by the Propagation for the Faith. Well worth a look see!
Once I noticed Arch St. gave up the real votives for those excretable 'turn on the light' things, it was all downhill from there! I miss seeing the beautiful statues in the side chapel though.
Pius XII, in Mystici Corporis, teaches that the unique Church of Christ is(est)the Catholic Church. Lumen Gentium, on the other hand, changes the est to subsistit because it no longer identifies (est) the Church of Christ with the Catholic Church. This is to say that the Church founded by Christ exists in the Catholic Church, without excluding the other 'separated churches.' (The conciliar magisterium uses capital C for the 'separated Churches')
"In short, the Mystical Body of Christ has a greater extension than that of the Roman Catholic Church."
The error of Vatican II is that it reduces the Roman Catholic Church to a mere organization in which the Church of Christ subsists. It is a mere branch of the great trunk of the Church of Christ. But there are other branches.
This heresy reduces the body of the Catholic Church to a mere moral person, that is, an ecclesiastical corporation with a certain natural structure, governed by certain natural laws, with a certain natural unity. Unity of faith is reduced to an obedience to "church order," which is to say, an external observance of the faith rules of the day, by which the church is preserved in order. This reduces the notion of orthodoxy to a purely legal observance of the prevailing theology of the day.
Those familiar with modernism see its ugly face in this theory and practice. Pope Pius XII condemned this theory in his encyclical Mystici Corporis in 1943:
Yes, Holy Trinity has been completely self supported by Parishioners and does not or ever has relied on additional financial subsidy (from the Archdiocese). BTW, I am aware of at least one restoration grant that was awarded and lost because Fr. O'Regan failed to officially accept. FYI, below is our "Petition for Reconsideration" that has never been acknowledged by either the RCAB or Archdiocese of Boston. This should answer some of your questions.
HOLY TRINITY (GERMAN) CHURCH
PETITION FOR RECONSIDERATION
Date: June 21, 2004
We, the undersigned members of Holy Trinity Church, 140 Shawmut Avenue, Boston, Massachusetts 02118, pursuant to canon 212, paragraphs 2 and 3, and canons 213 and canon 214 of the 1983 Code of Canon Law, request reconsideration of the decision to close Holy Trinity Church on June 30, 2005. Fully cognizant of the exigencies facing the archdiocese at this time, we understand that Your Excellency has no choice but to close a substantial number of parishes. Accordingly, we are making this request not from selfish motives but because we believe the archdiocese has made a serious mistake in selecting Holy Trinity for closure over St. James the Greateranother parish within our cluster located at 125 Harrison Avenue in Boston. Our belief is based not on disagreement with the archdiocesan reconfiguration committee, but on the existence of serious irregularities at the cluster and regional levels. We submit that these irregularities violated Your Excellencys express directives and have resulted in a decision adverse to the interests of the archdiocese. Therefore, we do not merely request a favor for our parish; we offer a solution as well. That is, we recommend that the archdiocese keep open Holy Trinity, close St. James, and relocate the faithful of St. James to our parish.
In support of this request, we submit the following matters for your consideration:
I. HOLY TRINITY IS NOT A FAILING PARISH; ST. JAMES THE GREATER IS.
1. First, as to Holy Trinity:
a. The parish is financially sound and self-sustaining. We have only one paid positionmusic directorand all other programs succeed on a volunteer basis.
b. The engineering report shows that the building is structurally sound, although in need of repair.
c. The parish is growing. In addition to the relatively small, approximately 30-member ethnic German congregation, there are some 250-280 members of the traditional Latin Mass community. The latter has consistently grown since its establishment fourteen years ago. Over the past six months alone, our numbers have risen by 20 percent from a membership of 210-215. This trend is continuing. Few other parishes have such a growth rate.
d. Holy Trinity is a small parish, but its members contribute at a rate per capita that is exceeded by only the wealthiest parishes in the archdiocese. The noon Mass offertory collections for January 19 to December 28, 2003, totaled $56,726.38. Second collections totaled $20,872.15 (including an average special maintenance collection of $1,000 per month). In addition to these collections, the Good Will fund takes in as much as $3,000 per month.
e. The sacramental index reported on the archdiocesan website is inaccurate. Holy Trinity had four first Communions in 2003 and ten in 2004. If the Latin Mass community were allowed to have confirmations, Holy Trinity would have had approximately twenty-five in 2003. Mass attendance, as noted above, continues to grow.
f. Although smaller than the average parish, Holy Trinity has sent at least six men to the seminary since the indult was granted for the Latin Mass. Two are now ordained priests. In a press conference May 25 of this year, Your Excellency was quoted as saying, If every parish sent one young man to the seminary every ten years, we'd have more than enough vocations." Given that the archdiocese ordains about seven men to the priesthood every year, it is clear that Holy Trinity is doing more than its share to solve the priest shortage.
g. Holy Trinity is part of the cultural patrimony of the archdiocese and contributes to outreach in the arts. Holy Trinitys three choirsthe German Choir, Schola Cantorum, and Preces Cantataeare deeply connected with the arts community in Boston, and even receive grant money. The Christian Arts Committee sponsors three or four concerts a year at Holy Trinity, including the biannual Epiphany concert and Tableau. Guest choral ensembles, especially from Germany, are presented periodically. This serves to enhance the prestige of the archdiocese as a whole.
h. Holy Trinity provides important social services through Bridge Over Troubled Waters, a mission for troubled youth, and the Cardinal Medeiros Center, a day center for homeless adults operated by Kit Clark Senior Services.
2. By contrast, St. James:
a. Is not financially sound. The Archdiocese of Boston forgave about $250,000 in St. James debt a few years ago, and the parish is already again in debt to the tune of $150,000. The extent to which Holy Trinity subsidizes St. James is unknown, since Rev. Hugh ORegan, the pastor for both parishes, refuses to make a financial accounting. Fr. ORegan has not allowed Holy Trinitys finance council to operate in two years.
b. St. James is in no better physical shape than Holy Trinity and may be worse.
c. St. James is not growing. The ethnic Chinese community at St. James is roughly comparable to Holy Trinitys German congregationbut without an additional Latin Mass congregation of 250-280 members.
d. The offertory collections at St. James are miniscule.
e. The sacramental index for St. James baptisms60, compared to seven for Holy Trinityis absurdly inflated. Almost all of these baptisms are attributable to the New England Medical Center, not St. James.
II. HOLY TRINITY WAS IMPROPERLY SELECTED FOR CLOSURE.
1. We reiterate that our objections to closure are based not on a mere disagreement with the central reconfiguration committee. This is not a case where the committee has simply interpreted data differently than we would have liked. Rather, the committee did not even make the decision; our regional bishop did. And he did so in the wake of grave irregularities at the cluster level.
a. Conflict of interest. Fr. ORegan is the pastor for both Holy Trinity and St. James the Greater. His rectory is at St. James. He is also the vicar forane for the cluster to which both parishes belong. Fr. ORegan has shown little affection for the German community at Holy Trinity and even less for the Latin Mass community. As noted, he does not permit the finance council to function. He also has not permitted new elections for the parish council in two years. Mass at Holy Trinity is usually celebrated by a rotation of priests from outside the parish. Fr. ORegan has made no secret of the fact that he would never consider recommending St. James for closure. The layperson he selected for membership on the central reconfiguration committee, Laura Chen, is a parishioner at St. James.
b. Absence of consultation at the cluster level. Archdiocesan directives on the reconfiguration process made it clear that clergy and laity at the parish and cluster levels were expected to work together in the consideration of which parishes would be selected to shut their doors. That was not done in the cluster to which Holy Trinity belongs. Bishop Lennons letter, dated January 10, 2004, ordered parishes to meet in their clusters to recommend, by March 8, which parishes would be subject to closure. No such meeting took place in Holy Trinitys cluster. Fr. ORegan, having missed the March 8 deadline, submitted his own recommendations on March 14. He held an impromptu cluster meeting two days later during a snowstorm. At that meeting, Fr. ORegans notion of consultation was to announce his recommendationwhich he had already submittedand let people comment on it after the fact. Persons present at the meetingincluding Holy Trinity parishioners Peter Cooper, Kathleen Stone, Dorothy Fresolo, Theresa Cronkhite, Emmett Wells, and Robert Quaganwill attest to this.
c. Subterfuge. Although Fr. ORegan says he recommended only St. Anns and Sacred Heart for closing, he made it clear at the cluster meeting that Holy Trinity would have been next in line. In fact, he said that Holy Trinity might have to close at a later datewhich is exactly what has happened (Holy Trinity having been designated to stay open for one year). When asked whether Holy Trinity would be named in any manner in his recommendation, Fr. ORegan evaded the question.
d. Bypassing the central committee. It is known that Auxiliary Bishop John Boles, the bishop for Central Region (to which Holy Trinity and St. James belong), arbitrarily placed Holy Trinity on the list of parishes recommended for closure. Like Fr. ORegan, Bishop Boles has long expressed antipathy to the Latin Mass community at Holy Trinity. On May 7, the archdiocese issued a supplemental list of 37 additional parishes subject to closure. These were supposed to be from those clusters that had failed to make any recommendations at all. Holy Trinity was on the list, even though Fr. ORegan had made a recommendation for our cluster.
e. We believe that, had the proper procedures been followed in our cluster, the central reconfiguration committee would have been informed of the numerous points in Holy Trinitys favor and would have recommended St. James for closure instead.
2. The Portability Argument. Fr. ORegan ties the viability of Holy Trinity to the size of the German community. He excludes the Latin Mass community as a factor altogether, arguing that the Latin Mass congregation is portable and can be moved to a different parish. We submit that this argument is spurious, since it could be applied to any congregation. To single out the Latin Mass community for portability is fundamentally unfair.
a. In his 1988 motu proprio Ecclesia Dei, Pope John Paul II referred to the rightful aspirations of those Catholic faithful who feel attached to some previous liturgical and disciplinary forms of the Latin tradition. The Holy Father declared that respect must everywhere be shown for the feelings of all those who are attached to the Latin liturgical tradition, by a wide and generous application of the directives issued for the use of the 1962 Roman Missal. As Cardinal Castrillion Hoyos, Prefect of the Congregation for the Clergy and President of the Pontifical Commission "Ecclesia Dei," recently stated, traditionalists should not be seen as second class faithful, but should be protected in their right to be able to express their faith and piety in accordance with their particular spirituality, that the Holy Father recognizes as totally legitimate. Canon 214 recognizes this right to particular spirituality. The Latin Mass congregants at Holy Trinity are not second-class faithful to be arbitrarily shifted from parish to parish. We are active and committed members of Holy Trinity Church. The German and the Latin Mass communities collaborate amicably in the life of our parish.
b. In fact, due to our liturgical needs, the Latin Mass community is the least portable congregation in the archdiocese.
(1) Holy Trinity is specially suited for the celebration of the traditional Latin Mass: It has an intact high altar and an altar rail. St. James the Greater has no altar rail and has a fixed altar facing the people, in front of the high altar. Thus, moving the Latin Mass community to St. James will pose significant problems.
(2) In his letter to the bishops of the United States on behalf of the Pontifical Commission "Ecclesia Dei," Augustin Cardinal Mayer urged that, in places where the faithful have made a request for the regular celebration for the Mass according to the 1962 Roman Missal, a weekly Sunday and Holyday Mass be scheduled in a central location and at a convenient time. Holy Trinity meets these requirements. St. James has no parking, except limited parking available at the New England Medical Center for a fee. Since Holy Trinity is a personal parish and the Latin Mass community is necessarily a commuter group, parking is essential. People come from all over the archdiocese to attend the traditional Mass. To deny parking would be to effectively kill this community.
(3) Holy Trinity has an active and successful religious-education program. The basic texts are from the USCCB-approved Faith and Life series. The members of the Latin Mass community will not want to subject their children to a religious-education program in another parish where they might be exposed to teaching methods inconsistent with the rightful aspirations of those Catholic faithful who feel attached to some previous liturgical and disciplinary forms of the Latin tradition (Ecclesia Dei).
(4) Holy Trinity has an excellent music program in which the German and Latin Mass communities fully collaborate. As noted above, the music director is our only paid position. Collaboration will not work in a parish where different musical sensibilities are well-established.
c. Your Excellencys letter of May 24, 2004, announcing the selection of Holy Trinity for closure gives as a rationale the small size of the German community. Your letter makes no mention of the Latin Mass community. We respectfully submit that this omission makes the rationale for closing Holy Trinity fatally flawed. Combined, Holy Trinitys congregations make a substantial contribution to the life and mission of the archdiocese. We implore you to reconsider insofar as a crucial factor has been excluded to the detriment of our parish and of the archdiocese.
III. THE CLOSING OF HOLY TRINITY WILL NOT SERVE THE CAUSE OF RECONFIGURATION.
Closing Holy Trinity will likely result in a substantial loss of archdiocesan faithful to other diocesessuch as the Worcester diocese, which maintains a traditional Latin Mass in Still River. Consequently, any attempt at moving Holy Trinitys Latin Mass community to St. James the Greater will not succeed in making St. James a viable parish. Since there is no parking at St. James, the Latin Mass congregation will dwindle. The cost of parking at the New England Medical Center will only be a further drain on St. James finances. Ultimately, the parish will remain a liability for the archdiocese. It makes little sense for the archdiocese to close Holy Trinity in favor of St. James, only to see the parking issue force, in short order, the closing of St. James as well.
IV. THE CLOSING OF HOLY TRINITY RAISES CANONICAL ISSUES.
1. Patrimony. Canon 1292, paragraph 2, requires the permission of the Holy See for the alienation of property precious for artistic or historical reasons. Holy Trinity Church falls within this category. The parish, established in 1844, was the first German national church in the United States and today is the only remaining one. It built the first Catholic parish school in New England. The current building, dedicated in 1877, is one of the beautiful gothic structures designed by the great church architect Patrick Keely. Holy Trinitys pastors have included the Jesuit scholar Fr. Francis X. Weiser. The Von Trapp family sang at Holy Trinity on more than one occasion as a personal favor to Fr. Weiser, including a concert for Holy Trinity's 100th Anniversary Mass in 1944. Holy Trinity is known as the Christmas Parish, because it introduced the United States to many of the Christmas customs imported by German immigrants during the nineteenth century. It is a registered historical landmark. Given this pedigree, suppression of the parish and sale of its property are unthinkable, especially since alternatives are available. Canon law demands that the archdiocese seek permission from Rome.
2. The Rights of the Faithful. Canon 214 recognizes that The Christian faithful have the right to worship God according to the prescripts of their own rite approved by the legitimate pastors of the Church and to follow their own form of spiritual life as long as it is consonant with the doctrine of the Church. Since closing Holy Trinity will effectively foreclose many of the faithful from attending the traditional Latin Mass in this archdiocese, this closure implicates one of the basic rights of the Christian faithful.
V. A BETTER SOLUTION IS AVAILABLE.
We submit that the most reasonable decision, pastorally and administratively, would be to close St. James and transfer the Chinese community to Holy Trinity. This would save the German, Chinese, and Latin Mass congregations, increase an already vibrant parish, and permit the Bridge Over Troubled Waters and Cardinal Medeiros Center to stay where they are. The Chinese community should face no difficulty in moving to Holy Trinity, a church perfectly capable of assimilating them and only blocks away from St. James.
For the above reasons, we respectfully urge Your Excellency to reconsider the decision to close Holy Trinity Church.
The Congregation for Bishops
Pontifical Commission Ecclesia Dei
The Boston Globe
The Saint Joseph Foundation
(I always assumed the switch to the electric candles probably had something to do insurance requirements -- stupid ones, if so. In any case, I don't really know. They are lower maintenance, I guess. Of course, they don't seem worth using.)
I really wonder, though, how much of what goes into the Chancery is actually seen by or reported (accurately) to O'Malley. I don't trust Lennon myself, and I doubt there are many traditionalists there at all.
IIRC, Boles was also the bishop to make recommendations on Southie parishes. He proposed an order of closing which would have left St. Monica's the last one standing (when I heard that, I just wondered grumpily why they don't just close them all and be done with it!), which struck me as totally irrational (there had been talk for years about closing St. Monica's because of low attendance).
But how do you get decent people into the Chancery?
Things are just as confusing in my diocese.
Good question. I did not author this document, nor can I claim responsibility for its distribution on 21 June 2004. I suspect this was sent to the Boston Globe to inform them of our situation and put the Archdiocese on notice that our situation has been made public. Interestingly, this never saw the light of day at the Globe. The Archdiocese neither acknowledged receipt or addressed any points.
I believe Archbishop O'Malley is troubled with very few of these details and only addresses strategic issues. Bishop Lennon is generally the point of contact, with which our Parish Council only met once, in August 2004, to address many of these issues. Nothing was answered...we are still waiting.
And it's a pity that Father Higgins isn't the full time administrator at Holy Trinity - I definitely sense Fr. O'Regan doesn't have Holy Trinity's best interests at heart.
I miss the 'smells and bells' although they were around for fewer years than the spartan look has been around - at least in my lifetime (born 1959) - I will never stop missing our Catholic traditions.
The Mass has been the same since the Last Supper. Different Rites, different Liturgical settings, Different Divine Liturgies etc; same Mass
Except for Holy Trinity, there are no other options
OK - I don't know Boston, but, despite the costs of the sex abuse problems, there is surely moe than one church left in the archdiocese. Or is it that all the others been so wreckovated they cannot provide for a completely Catholic Mass?
I am genuinely confused.
The same thing smaller, but in color:
Parking would be a problem, but it's a problem at Holy Trinity (and everywhere else in Boston).
This is a lousy picture of the outside (they must have used some weird lense), but the only one I could find:
Thanks. This situation is really a shame.
Of course , there is no such thing as a permanent altar, as we have learned all too well from the Novus Ordo
So, the solution seems to be to make the "permanent" NO altar a movable one.
Pretty church. They just don't build 'em like that anymore.