Interest in the traditional Latin Mass is rising in popularity among Catholics in the Archdiocese of Philadelphia, so a new spiritual home in a central location in the region will be erected to serve their spiritual needs.
The archdiocese announced Sunday, April 8 the decision of Archbishop Charles Chaput to establish a “quasi-parish” at St. Mary Church in Conshohocken, effective Aug. 1.
It will be staffed by the Priestly Fraternity of St. Peter, and a pastor from the community of Catholic priests will be appointed at a later date.
St. Mary’s was founded as a Polish personal parish in 1905 and operated in the former steel mill town, now a thriving borough in central Montgomery county at the confluence of three interstate highways and regional mass transit lines, until it was consolidated with St. Matthew Parish in Conshohocken in 2014.
The church was used for occasional Masses celebrated mostly by priests of St. Matthew’s, which is where parishioners first heard the news about the new quasi-parish at Masses last weekend.
The term for this kind of parish may be unfamiliar to most Catholics but it is provided for in church law, the Code of Canon Law.
Canon 516.1 explains that a quasi-parish is “a definite community of the Christian faithful” in a diocese, is “entrusted to a priest as its pastor” and is “equivalent to a parish” but is “not yet erected as a parish because of particular circumstances.”
In its statement, the archdiocese said the quasi-parish was being established “in response to an interest for additional pastoral care for those wishing to participate in divine worship in the Extraordinary Form.”
Most Catholics in the Latin Rite worship through the Mass in the Ordinary Form published in the United States in 1973 as the fruit of liturgical reforms following the Second Vatican Council. The Ordinary Form was further refined in the U.S. with some revised vernacular translations in 2010.
Yet interest by some Catholics in the pre-Vatican II Mass celebrated in Latin, often referred to as the Tridentine Mass, persisted over the years.
In 2007 Pope Benedict XVI used the phrase “Extraordinary Form of the Roman Rite” to describe the liturgy of the 1962 Roman Missal, which is celebrated in Latin. This is the liturgical form that will be celebrated at St. Mary’s beginning next August.
In the meantime, the Extraordinary Form will continue to be celebrated at six Catholic churches in the archdiocese: the Cathedral Basilica of SS. Peter and Paul, Our Lady of Consolation and Our Lady of Lourdes, all in Philadelphia; Our Lady of Mount Carmel Mission Chapel, Plymouth Meeting; the National Shrine of Our Lady of Czestochowa, Doylestown; and St. Albert the Great, Huntingdon Valley.
Since the forms of the Mass are different and most priests ordained in the past 45 years would be challenged to celebrate it accurately and in fluent Latin, the Priestly Fraternity of St. Peter provides clergy trained in the Extraordinary Form liturgy, for the benefit of the worshiping faithful. The community of priests was formed in 1988 in Switzerland and now numbers some 200 priests and more than 100 seminarians worldwide.
Archbishop Chaput, according to the archdiocesan statement, consulted on the new quasi-parish with pastors of surrounding parishes, local priests who currently celebrate Mass in the Extraordinary Form and the archdiocesan Council of Priests.
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Wonderful news! Thank you Archbishop Chaput for bringing back such a powerful, militant, majestic and beautiful mass:+) God be praised!
And for those who think we are “stuck in the past” … the TLM is the ancient mass going back to before the 5th century with it’s bones and Canon of apostolic origin. It is as one prelate said “the most beautiful thing this side of heaven.” Like all things beautiful and powerful, it is timeless. A great quote I picked up recently is “Tradition is not the worshiping of the ashes, but the preservation of the fire.” (Gustav Mahler) So don’t fall for the “Latin is boring” idea. The TLM pulls your out of yourself and leads you to God which is the whole point of Holy Mass i.e. worshiping Our Lord:+)
Thank you so much, Archbishop Chaput!!!!! We cannot wait to attend Mass at St. Mary’s!
I am very glad to hear this. Everyone should experience the Latin Liturgy at least once. It isn’t simply a Mass in another language or something old fashioned. The words of the Latin Mass are profound due to the Latin language which is very specific. All the actions are centered on Jesus in the Eucharist. This Mass was the Mass celebrated throughout Catholic history. Latin united all Catholics globally. You have to see it to understand. My husband, a convert, after seeing a Latin Mass was deeply moved and impressed by the extraordinary reverence and focus on Jesus in the Eucharist. I am deeply grateful to Archbishop Chaput.
The new location is in NO way central. There remains NO regular Latin mass in center city Philadelphia or anywhere near except for the occasional TLM at the cathedral.
Actually, if you look at a map of the Archdiocese, Conshohocken is almost smack in the middle of the Archdiocese and due to being at the intersection of i467 and i76, it really is the most accessible location.
Geographically speaking only, St. Helena’s parish in Blue Bell is most likely the central most parish, but it takes back roads to get there.
Center City, while it is the geographic center of the Philadelphia Metro area, it’s not the center of the Archdiocese because South Jersey and Delaware are different dioceses.
So putting a FSSP parish in Conshohocken is really a major win. Plus, there was already a group of lay people paying to keep St. Mary’s open as a Catholic Church.
Also, in regards to putting a parish in Center City, I sometimes used to attend the Latin Mass at Holy Trinity. It was very nice, but very small.
Perhaps one day, they can find the support to have Latin Masses weekly at the Cathedral, but it doesn’t seem like there is enough demand for a weekly Latin Mass at the Cathedral (at least not yet). But there is obviously demand to have the Latin Mass on most Holy Days at the Cathedral (outside of Christmas and Holy Week), which we should be thankful for. Spending holy days at the Cathedral for he Latin Mass is wonderful.
The Archdiocese has proven that they are more than willing to provide the Latin Mass, and this invitation by Archbishop Chaput proves it.
Thank you to His Excellency and let’s pray for more interest in having additional Latin Masses at the Cathedral.
Let’s not kick a gift horse in the mouth.
Time is marching forward yet these folks are going backwards and stuck in the past.
“these folks are going backwards and stuck in the past” …
… have you thought that maybe us ‘backward folk’ are actually moving forward and fulfilling God’s will rather than taking the self-centred/focused left turn detour which is now driving the Church towards the edge of the cliff? Would rather be stuck in the past and being true to God, than presently living a lie and firming my path to hell (if you believe it still exists).
In the spirit of your likely idol, who are you to judge? Where is the tolerance, love and mercy that is so frequently spouted?
I would say rather that it this those who so dearly hold on to the “spirit of Vatican II” and its offspring, most particularly the Novus Ordo Missae, are the real ones who are stuck in the past. Like, stuck in the 1960’s man.
One practical question: why would a Diocese that is strapped for cash sit on a piece of PRIME real estate in the center of a booming commercial & residential area ?? — it defies common sense.
How many schools ( and their students ) could be supported with the monies from the sale of this property. This is a case of very poor stewardship by those entrusted with serious financial responsibilities.
First, St. Mary’s Church doesn’t belong to the Archdiocese, it belongs to St. Matthew’s parish in Conshohocken. St. Matthew’s has already sold two other Church buildings (4 parishes merged into one back in 2014). One Church became a Coptic Orthodox Church and the one in West Conshohocken was sold the Boro. The St. Mary Polish American Society in Conshohocken has been raising funds ever since the merger to keep St. Mary’s as a Catholic Church.
The diocese cannot sell the Church building because the Diocese does not own it. It belongs to St. Matthew’s Parish. The parish was going to sell it at one point (same time it sold both Sts. Cosmos and Damien Church & St. Gertrude Church). However, the St. Mary Polish American Society struck a deal with the parish to keep the Church building open as a Catholic Church. And the society agreed to pay for upkeep, etc of St. Mary’s.
Maybe the Diocese should sell the schools to fix it finances, afterall schools are not the ‘core business’ of the church …
… and aren’t we all entrusted with the stewardship of the church and its serious financial responsibilities?
Why not do something equivalent to the old St. Michael’s beautiful church sitting there in Chester PA rotting away. Catholic charities is housed in the old St. Michael’s Schoolhouse I attended and was baptized in as well as educated and received the sacraments. It is a crying shame that the churches and parishes in Chester PA area are no longer functioning as part of the Archdiocese. Millions of wasted property and no place to worship unless you leave the city. There are still many, many worshipping Catholics in the city of Chester PA. We don’t want to attend churches in other areas.
I don’t think there’s a lot of people who want to visit Chester to offen.That is one of the most dangerous cities in the United States. I do though but they have a great parish in Saint Katharine Drexel Chester and one of the best Pastors I’ve ever had the privilege to know,Fr Thomas Wittingham.
This is wonderful news! I hope more will catch on…we need a Latin Mass in Chester County!
Great news … I am from NH. Our Bishop Peter Libasci invited the FFSP to our dioceses nearly two years ago to reopen St. Stanislaus parish. It’s has been one of the greatest blessing of my life and for so many others.
Blessings to all in Philly.
I don’t understand why it would be stupid to have such a quasi-parish. If you could elaborate I might be able to change your mind.
“Extraordinarily stupid,” in what way?
Good news for the folks of Philadelphia.
Not a complaint but an amusing aside: I love how the author of the article’s caption refers to those of us whose faith is rooted in a 1,500 year old liturgy as “enthusiasts” as if we suddenly discovered we love fly fishing or something :)
There’s an error in the list of churches in the Archdiocese: for almost a year now there have been no First Friday or First Saturday Masses at St. Albert the Great parish in Huntingdon Valley, because the rectory chapel there needed extensive repairs. Those two monthly Masses are now celebrated at Immaculate Conception parish in Jenkintown (FF: 7:00 p.m., FS 9:00 a.m.).