Cleansing Fire

Defending Truth and Tradition in the Roman Catholic Church

Updates on TLM and STA “together”

September 1st, 2014, Promulgated by Diane Harris

At yesterday’s Mass in the Extraordinary Form, celebrated at St. Stanislaus, Fr. Bonsignore announced that, instead of a sermon, he would give an update on where the situation stands regarding a move of TLM to St. Thomas the Apostle.  As I heard/received the information, it seemed to be divided into three parts:  1) History 2) Input and 3) Meetings with DoR.  If anyone who was in attendance can add or correct the following, please do so with a comment, and I will revise.  Many rapid-fire points were made, and it was hard to cover it all by note-taking.  Where needed for clarity, I’ve put certain clarifications in parentheses.  I have also added, in red, a subject in which a few listeners heard “different” things, and input is especially solicited on that matter. There were also subjects of concern that had been raised, about which no mention was made.  And, at the very end, concerning the next meeting with DoR, please consider your input to Fr. Bonsignore.  He did not ask for further input, but seemed open to continuing communications.


Father Bonsignore began by explaining the original proposal from Bishop Matano.  He noted that on August 10th he had submitted (to the Latin Mass Community) the Bishop’s proposal that TLM move to the STA “building” and that Masses would be said (under both forms on Sundays)  “at a morning hour.”  He noted that both forms are “equally valid.”  Thus, TLM would “join with the former St. Thomas parishioners.” Father Bonsignore would be named “Chaplain” of the TLM community (at a point in time to be clarified) and he hopes and expects the community would grow, to be “one parish entity in the future.”  (Now those were the words I wrote down, but another listener who reviewed this post heard that it would not (eventually) become a parish, and would remain part of St. Kateri Tekakwitha.)

Father Bonsignore told those present: “You understood and reacted”, with “depth and insight” in the spoken discussion, offering ideas and showing “passionate commitment” to the TLM.  He continued:  “I asked for a show of hands and an overwhelming majority” reacted positively (to the proposal at that first meeting). Further, Father Bonsignore also had invited written input, which he characterized as having  “intelligent and forceful comments.”  He stated that he had read “every single one” and again mentioned “overall support.”  He hoped we would hear some of our own inputs as he summarized.


Father Bonsignore characterized the written input “main issues” as follows:  (Some answers were given and are in parentheses).

-repairs and maintenance; (St. Kateri will pay for the roof repair)

-engineering report on the building (he noted this had been done already)

-questions of how finances will work -part of St. Kateri? (answer: yes) (future maybe separate parish?)

-Holy Day Masses? (yes)

-Triduum? (no)

-What about the school  (tenant needed asap)

-Can facility be used for other meetings (not decided) -Operating expenses?  ($100,000 per year for STA (!) Much financial analysis is needed on this estimate.)

-“Atrocious acoustics” (but Father says excellent for Gregorian Chant)

-Will Fr. Helfrich be there at STA?  (Father Bonsignore answered “I hope so.”)

-How will conflicts be settled?  (“needs to be discussed”)

-We need a “chain of command” was another input.

-We will need “advertising of the move and the Mass time”

-If 3 years to become a parish, how will we measure success?  This relates to the prior question of whether or not there is a “parish” light at the end of the tunnel, and what exactly did Father Bonsignore say on this matter?  Please comment.

-Written comments included caution about “working out details as we go” (much needs to be decided in advance.)

Father Bonsignore said there are a “huge number of ideas to process.”


August 20th:  Father Bonsignore met with Father Condon (Chancellor)

August 27th:  Father Bonsignore met with Fathers Condon and English, and  Lisa Passero (diocesan finance officer).  Bishop Matano joined part of the meeting. Discussed some of the issues raised (see answers in parentheses shown above). Other comments:  “STA no longer exists … now TLM would be …  “at the St. Thomas site.”

September 10th:  Next meeting, to be focused on financial and budget concerns. (Input to Father Bonsignore before that meeting is appropriate, even though unsolicited.) Fr. Bonsignore closed with these comments:  “This proposal/plan/project is not simply picking up and moving a few things. There are complex issues and hard work.  We need to work AND pray. As the Psalm says:  ‘Unless the Lord builds the house, we labor in vain.’   Good topic for Labor Day weekend.”  

Father Bonsignore said that, as he was leaving the diocesan meeting, that Father Condon said to him: “We want you to succeed”.  (It is unclear if Bp. Matano was in the room at this point.)  When Fr. Bonsignore said he was looking slightly disbelieving “like Thomas,” Fr. Condon repeated his words, saying “Have faith.” Father Bonsignore avowed he has no problem with “faith” and urged us to have “faith.”

My own personal comment on the closing statement is this:  I have never found dealing with the Diocese to be an issue of faith.  Rather, I have consistently found it, under the prior administration, of which parts and pieces remain, to be an issue of trust.  As the Psalms say:   “Put not your trust in princes, in a son of man, in whom there is no help.”   

MIA:  I heard no discussion of the patrimony of St. Thomas Apostle being repatriated to STA, believed to be over a half million dollars, which apparently resides under control of St. Kateri, and those who voted to close STA.  It would seem that without such settling of the parishioner-mandaters’ complaints to Rome, that TLM would be stepping into the middle of a canonical lawsuit, and be divisive with the perception of having intruded in the matter.  That would not seem to be an auspicious beginning, nor a way to work with or win prior parishioners to the TLM.  For example, would former STA parishioners want to pay toward $100,000 costs per year, when their prior patrimony has been taken away? Perhaps it is better to wait until that matter is definitively settled?  What do you think?  



16 Responses to “Updates on TLM and STA “together””

  1. Diane Harris says:

    Update to the Update

    A week or two ago Father Bonsignore mentioned that there will be no new Mass intentions for 2015 until dates and places and times are decided. Today (9/28) he mentioned seeing Bishop Matano this morning who was offering Mass at the hospital, and His Excellency asked Fr. B how the planning was coming for TLM and STA. Father B said they were continuing to do financial planning, and that no date had been set. However, it was easy to come away from that announcement today (before Mass) with the impression it is going to happen, rather than any impression that it won’t. Just impressions, fyi.

  2. Diane Harris says:

    Today Fr. Bonsignore reported that he had continued to work on the financial matters. (I sure hope he is getting independent help as there are significant subtleties that can make all the difference.) He said that things are going “quickly” and he thinks we will be having TLM at STA “before Christmas.” I assume he meant 2014.

  3. Diane Harris says:

    Fr. Bonsignore announced today that he has a meeting with the diocese on Wednesday, October 15th at 2PM, and that Bishop Matano is expected to attend. Please pray that decisions are made which are best for the People of God.

  4. Diane Harris says:

    Father Bonsignore said today that he expects to be able to tell us next week when the bishop says our first Mass will be at STA. He also added that there is no money for movers, and he will be needing lots of help, but that it will be a good opportunity for both of the communities (TLM and STA) to get to know each other.

  5. JLo says:

    Good news, but I want to return to the parish of St. Thomas the Apostle, not to a cluster. I do hope they are not leaving St. Thomas in other than Fr. Bonsignore’s hands and instead keeping Fr. English in charge of administration… that will leave some of us in a dilemma. +JMJ

  6. Sid says:

    Please somebody announce the schedule for the final TLM Masses at St. Stanislaus. I’d certainly like to move some things around in order to be able to attend, hopefully a High Mass.

    I’m very glad there is a Latin Mass Community group in the Diocese, but wish that other parishes would offer the Extraordinary Form as well. It seems that even those that might be sympathetic are afraid to “muscle in” on LMC’s “product”. That’s no fault of LMC, mind you. The rest of us just need to keep telling our pastors that we want an EM option as well.

  7. Ben Anderson says:

    It’s likely this weekend’s High Mass will be the last High Mass at St. Stan’s.

  8. Sid says:

    Thanks, Ben. I shall endeavor to attend!

  9. Diane Harris says:

    Fr. Bonsignore announced that he has not yet received the “letter” from the Bishop, so no more/start date is yet public. He also said that there will be a press release on November 9th. Today was the last high Mass at St. Stan’s, and it was beautiful. As we get closer in time, more people seem to be saying how much they are going to miss the Sanctuary of St. Stan’s, but most also say they realize this needs to happen, and that they support Father B.

    Regarding other Latin Masses, coming soon, there will be a noon Mass on Saturday, November 1st (All Saints Day, but not a Holy Day of Obligation) at St. Stan’s, and a 6:00 PM at St. Bridget’s in Bloomfield on November 3rd, with the All Souls’ Day Liturgy. Father Mottola is celebrating both of these Latin Masses.

  10. Diane Harris says:

    Update: Yesterday Father Bonsignore reported that he did receive the letter from Bishop Matano this past week, and also a key to St. Thomas the Apostle Church. He further announced that our first Mass in the EF would be at St. Thomas on the First Sunday of Advent, November 30, 2014. He is beginning to hold coordination meetings, and mentioned the altar servers and the ushers. Help will be needed with the move, and with the cleaning.

  11. JLo says:

    Do you know, Diane, is it the case that those who want to join (rejoin) St. Thomas must actually enroll with St. Kateri at Christ the King?

  12. Diane Harris says:

    I don’t know, but it would not surprise me. We were given the prior understanding that STA could in time (3 years?) emerge as a parish itself. I don’t know if that is in the letter or not. Surely there are some people who would go to STA but not register at St. Kateri, awaiting instead the day when STA is a stand-alone parish. I think a lot may depend on how the financials are handled over time, and if any trust can be restored.

    My impression is that this reorganization won’t address all the STA mandaters’ concerns, but we’ll see. Would anyone who lived through the oppression of the pastoral planning process want to go to meetings with the same people who treated them so badly? Be “in community” with people who didn’t want them? It is a lot to ask. These are the fruits of what went before. We are certainly asked to forgive, but not to unreasonably subject ourselves or community to abuse.

    I would think most members of the TLM community would not want to be drawn into any fray.
    Personally, my current plan is to attend the TLM, contribute to TLM if it is the TLM and not St. Kateri, not have any involvement with St. Kateri or its leadership, and then see how it all goes over time.

  13. JLo says:

    I totally agree, Diane. As one of those who lost St. Thomas the Apostle in that whole mess, I disassociated from the “cluster” that was set up and found another parish.

    My problem now is that I want to once again be part of St. Thomas but can’t fathom rejoining the cluster. Yet I can’t imagine not being actually enrolled in a parish, which means I’ll be keeping my current enrollment but not attending there. Handling it that way also means that I must support both or feel part of neither. Just such an awful adrift feeling. I wonder if all those planners everywhere realize the position this “solution” puts some of us in.

    May seem an insignificant dilemma to others, but it’s a very hot thorn to my husband and to me. How did we get here?!

    In any case, we are very grateful for your keeping on top of this situation and reporting on it: thank you. In God’s hands, of course, so I plan to TRY to not worry and to let God, always the perfect way (but hard!!).


  14. JLo says:

    A last thing that just came to mind…. how much I miss being a lector. I can’t lector at my current parish, because they issue assignments on an annual basis… yep; means that their lectors “own” their spot… and not enrolling at STA in its cluster condition means I couldn’t lector there again either! Must be God wants to withhold that sweet parish ministry from me.


  15. Diane Harris says:

    The perspective can be very different from opposite sides of the altar rail. What happened in DoR re pastoral planning, and what is soon to happen in NYC, convinces many people that “parish” doesn’t matter at all, that what is more important is “WHO is the priest?” And when the priest gets moved around, everything changes in a parish anyway. WHOse hands we put our souls into by going to confession, listening to their homilies, seeking their counsel, attending their bible studies, having them at a loved one’s deathbed matters more than WHERE we attend, WHICH pew we sit in, WHAT social events we attend, and HOW nice the sanctuary is.

    Easy to say, but hard, hard to do. Peace.

    PS Who is my brother/sister parishioner? Perhaps Matthew 12:46,48-50 gives insight:

    “While he was still speaking to the people, behold, his mother and his brothers stood outside, asking to speak to him. But he replied to the man who told him, “Who is my mother, and who are my brothers?” And stretching out his hand toward his disciples, he said, “Here are my mother and my brothers! For whoever does the will of my Father in heaven is my brother, and sister, and mother.”

  16. JLo says:

    Oh, I agree with that, Diane, that it’s more important that the Ordinary is a faithful, dedicated disciple of Jesus bringing all Truth to us truthfully, in line with Holy Mother Church than location and administration, etc. I remember Fr. Groeschel once saying that if you find error in your parish and cannot correct it by speaking up and trying, “get in your car and drive until you find the Truth.” That’s valuable advice, same as your conjecture.

    I guess I’m human enough to also want the warmth of “belonging” to a parish. Haven’t found that since STA was closed. Thinking it through via our exchange now is telling me that perhaps that feeling of not “belonging” is what I’m meant to suffer. As long as the important food is there, so be it. You’ve helped me arrive at that.


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