For the last several weeks, The Latin Mass (TLM) Community bulletin has announced the following; “At the request of Bishop Salvatore Matano…all attending, participating and contributing members of the St. Stanislaus Latin Mass Community are urged to attend an informational meeting with Father Bonsignore regarding our continued and secure future as a worshiping Family in the Diocese of Rochester… Sunday, August 10, 2014 immediately after the Latin Mass, in the Church….”
Today was the day! The meeting was 1 hour and 40 minutes. After briefly reviewing basic TLM Community finance for the past year, Fr. Bonsignore introduced the very important news, what he called a “providential sequel” to the 21 years since the founding of TLM Community. He said that on June 24th, Bishop Matano had called him into his office and “completely surprised” him. Fr. Bonsignore made sure everyone understood that our Bishop fully supports TLM, and “what we do here.” Then, he said, Bishop Matano made the following “proposal” and asked for TLM Community’s input. Fr. Bonsignore requested all comments in next weekend’s collection basket (1 page, in writing.) He mentioned that Bishop Matano had proposed growing TLM by having a more convenient Mass time (11:15 AM) and in a “suburban” location (St. Thomas the Apostle (STA) !) in order to achieve our “full potential.” At those words, the approximately 100 people in attendance broke into spontaneous and prolonged applause.
Fr. Bonsignore went on to state that the Bishop is concerned “not only for us” but for those STA parishioners who have drifted away from their former parish. STA is described as a “semi-closed” worship site which now belongs to St. Kateri Tekakwitha parish. Fr. Bonsignore noted how the STA parishioners have been praying for a long time and petitioning for the reopening of STA. What Bishop Matano is said to be proposing is two Sunday (only) Masses — the Novus Ordo at 9:00 AM and the Latin Mass (Extraordinary Form) at 11:15 AM. In the current proposal is no provision for any weekday Masses. Fr. Bonsignore described the STA community as orthodox, having a reverent sense of the sacred. The implication is a compatibility between the two communities. These are not separate rites; these are two forms of the Roman rite. The possibility for Holydays of Obligations, Feast Days and even the Triduum are not yet discussed. Catechetical plans need to be established too. We were told that baptisms, weddings and funerals would be done under either (both) of the forms. There are obviously many details to be worked out, including reported repairs needed to STA, which has been effectively closed for several years. There will be a role for volunteers (and some even volunteered before they left today.) Fr. Bonsignore noted the importance of “Charity in Everything” as we approach these matters.
Perhaps not everything hoped for can be achieved at once but it is “a start” he said, what Fr. Bonsignore called “a generous invitation” from Bishop Matano. It would be a step, he said, in moving toward “full parish life” which TLM has not been able to have at St. Stanislaus. Although, this proposal would seem to be the “best opportunity to succeed,” Fr. Condon was quoted as calling it a “3-year experiment” and if it didn’t work out, TLM could move back to St. Stan’s, lowering the risk. Fr. Bonsignore also explained that several accommodations would need to be made for his own chaplaincies, and for priests to serve a newly formed community. There would be an effort to re-rent the empty school building (a source of income), and the Church and Adoration Chapel/Community Center would be accessible.
Before the dismissal, Fr. Bonsignore asked for a preliminary show of hands and the response was overwhelmingly positive. Obviously plans need to be developed, Fr. English may be invited to supply more details on STA to the TLM Community, and a timeline needs to be developed. Fr. Bonsignore expressed the hope that this could happen in the autumn, completed “this year.” Nevertheless, input and reactions and ideas were again solicited, to be added as one page in next week’s collection basket. We were reminded to pray over this matter, and to remember that the final decision belongs in God’s Hands.
Finally, I would mention that there were extreme opinions in both directions and emotional concerns which understandably are a product of individual experience, surprise reactions, even fears. That is not to say they are without merit. But it does the larger community of TLM and STA no benefit to document those on either side at this point, as each person is invited to think, pray, and submit concerns in writing. It is too early in any bonafide process to polarize any part of the community. We were assured of Bishop Matano’s sincerity and concern for both communities. May we receive his gift with grateful hearts.
I invite the Cleansing Fire Community to add thoughts, ideas and information as comments, in the spirit of Charity requested of us. Please correct any errors I may have made in my notes. I will save my own personal thoughts for the comment section. God bless!
Tags: Latin Mass