From the Pastor: Memories!
Last week I wrote about the growth, against all worldly odds, of our parish. But as I started looking back a year I saw not only the Mass attendance but also something else of great importance. One year ago this week we had our handicap ramp installed! That was a long-planned project that took quite a bit of time and effort to figure out how to get the plans approved, pass the permitting process, and comply with all disabilities legislation. It seems like such a simple thing but it certainly wasn’t! But what a blessing it has been for those who have a difficult time managing even the few stairs we have leading into the church and social hall. As I was thinking about that project, it dawned on me (you could say that I had an epiphany) that many of you don’t know what changes have occurred in the five years that the Traditional Latin Mass has been at the parish. On our website, you can find a whole section devoted to photos going back to the beginning. If you have the patience to scroll all the way back, you can see photos of the church as it was. There was a different altar. The old one is currently being used as a credence table in the social hall, keeping our monstrance, extra altar cards, missal stand, and other essential objects for Mass out of harm’s way. There were two matching side altars, one of which was being used as a pedestal for the Sacred Heart statue. The pedestals currently holding statues were used as flower stands. The old ambo (pulpit) matched the altar set. There was no altar rail (although there had been one at one time). We got one from a second-hand church supply company. That is also where we got our marble baptismal font. You really should see what it replaced! The tabernacle was completely different, too. It was shaped like a rectangle except that the top went down a couple of inches making it a “v” shape instead of flat. It was replaced first with a tabernacle which had been made to fit on top of the current altar (when it was against the wall in its previous home) and was later replaced with the current tabernacle. There are also photos of Mass in the rectory chapel. I didn’t see any which included the plexiglass altar (which you may have noticed was in the social hall for Masses during the covid lockouts, which is also when the current church sanctuary flooring and steps were installed). The dark wood paneling in the chapel was replaced when the roof decided that it was allergic to water and so let it pass through into the chapel, necessitating a remodel of sorts. That also led to a new roof being installed on the rectory and the school, both of which had been routinely patched for years. You will also find photos of the church being covered with black tarps as we had to have it fumigated to kill the termites. Even now you can check out the front right pew to see just how much damage they were doing!
Looking back at those old photos as I wrote this was fun for me. There were so many things that we were doing as a parish that few attending Traditional Latin Masses in this diocese had ever done before. Since 1969 there had not been a parish dedicated to the Old Rite in our diocese. The few places where the TLM was celebrated never had the ability to allow so much as coffee and donuts after Mass or a regularly scheduled potluck. At one of the parishes, they wouldn’t even allow the priest to keep anything needed for the TLM at the parish, so everything from books to vestments to chalice and bells all had to be loaded up, brought in, set up for use, and taken back down and packed away when Mass was done, each and every week. At this parish, we, for the first time, had the opportunity to allow the parishioners to stay and socialize after Mass and even during the week! While the adults got to know each other, the children had the ability to play and there were footballs and kickballs and frisbees and ping-pong available. What a huge difference all of that makes in a parish!
But more than that, for the first time we also had the opportunity to celebrate feasts which for decades had not been available except in the New Order Rites--if they were done at all--such as all three Christmas Masses (starting with Midnight Mass), Epiphany Mass celebrated on the traditional Feast of Epiphany (January 6), Tenebrae, Rorate Coeli Masses, Ember Days, Holy Thursday’s Mass of the Lord’s Supper, Good Friday’s Passion and Veneration of the Cross, the Holy Saturday blessing of Easter Baskets, and, joy of all joys, the Holy Saturday nighttime Vigil and Mass, all done in the 1962 form! We had processions of various kinds for Candlemas, Corpus Christi, and Palm Sunday. We celebrated, in the Old Rite, baptisms, confirmations (Bishop Parkes even celebrated them for us one year!), weddings, and funerals. We had Low Mass and High Mass and, occasionally, Solemn High Mass. I had to learn (and am still learning) how to celebrate all of these, as I didn’t even chant Mass before coming here! Many of you, new to the parish, still haven’t experienced much of this. You are in for a treat when you finally see what I mean. The photos are great. But greater still is experiencing this in person!
With prayers for your holiness,
Rev. Fr. Edwin Palka