Sunday, February 17, 2013

The Traditional Latin Mass in Oregon

Although we’re not having much success in re-instituting the extraordinary form of the Mass here in the Diocese of Baker, I’m taking some encouragement from recent developments in the neighboring Archdiocese of Portland.  Be sure to read both parts of this post – they are two different stories that are both worth jumping up and down about!

Part I

I was made aware that the celebration of the extraordinary form of the Mass was planned in Southern Oregon, via the “Orate Fratres” blog, which had this announcement:

It’s confirmed… What was previously known as the Tridentine Mass, or Traditional Latin Mass, and most recently, the “extraordinary form” of the Mass, will be periodically offered to worshipers at Our Lady of the River Catholic Church in Rogue River, Oregon.

The celebrant will be Father Adam Kotas, from the Diocese of Santa Rosa, Pastor of St. Joseph Catholic Church in Crescent City, California.

And the first such Mass did happen on February 10, just one week ago. One attendee told me that several years ago she and her husband had signed a petition to have the EF Mass offered in their area, but – the typical story – they were stonewalled because the powers-that-be said there “wasn't any interest”.  Ha! As she commented to me in an email, “Last night's Mass, with 150 in attendance and standing room only at Our Lady of the River seems to indicate otherwise!” 

Thanks are due to Fr. Bill Holtzinger, the pastor who authorized the celebration of the TLM on this periodic basis. It's nice to see a pastor accommodating the desire of the faithful to have this Mass!

Here are a few photos taken by Marc Salvatore, who kindly gave me permission to post them:

Also, be sure to check out Shower of Roses blog by Jessica for another story on the Mass; she has some of the same photos there (and if you look at other stories on her blog, you’ll find fun photos of her beautiful children).

Part II

The other good news about the TLM in Oregon came via an email from a correspondent who alerted me to a wonderful letter by the Fr. J. Michael Morrissey, pastor of St. Catherine of Siena parish in Veneta, Oregon. Veneta is also home to an SSPX chapel (St. Thomas Becket); from the letter, you can tell see that Fr. Morrissey understands the implications of that for the faithful of his parish who desire the TLM.

I’ve pasted in the entire letter below, but I’d like to point out a few things about the spirit that shines through that letter (to me, at least).  

1.       Fr. Morrissey wants to conform to Pope Benedict XVI’s wishes concerning the Mass.
2.      He does not see the extraordinary form of the Mass as a threat.
3.      He recognizes the needs of the faithful and is trying to meet them.
4.      He wants to form “a stable community of people whose desire for this form of the Liturgy.  He WANTS it to happen. He’s not just waiting for “enough people” to say they want it.
5.      He’s asking people change! He’s asking for an adjustment to the Mass schedule!

This letter epitomizes what I would love to see coming from bishops! I don’t know Fr. Morrissey, but I have written him a letter thanking him for what he is attempting to do. He gives me hope!

Here’s the letter in its entirety with my emphases:

February 2013

Dear Fellow Catholics,

My name is Fr. J. Michael Morrissey and I am Pastor of St Catherine of Siena in Veneta. I am about to begin my second term of office in Veneta and my 35th year of priesthood. With two short periods of time off I have been a pastor almost continuously for over 32 years. Much of that experience has been in parishes of diverse language needs.

The Liturgy of the Church has long been one of my deepest loves and it was with a joyful heart that I have tried to receive the guidance of Pope Benedict to undertake a “reform of the reform” of the Liturgy of the Roman Rite. Indeed over the years I have consciously tried to bring the graces of that effort to my ministry here at St Catherine of Siena.

These efforts are bearing fruit and I believe they are about to enter upon a new phase under the guidance of the Holy Spirit. By God’s grace the time has come for a renewed effort in this parish to address the needs of the many Catholics among us who prefer what Pope Benedict calls the Extraordinary Form of the Latin Rite–using the liturgical books of 1962 to celebrate what is popularly known as the Tridentine Rite.

Over the past few years in the Eugene area vicariate, sporadic efforts have been made to make a Mass in the Extraordinary Form available but, in my personal judgment, all these efforts have suffered from the planned lack of consistency and the lack of local priests willing and able to provide the Mass on a regular, stable basis. That needs to change.

After much prayer, reflection and extensive conversation with the leadership of St
Catherine I have concluded that in my second term of office a renewed and serious effort should be made. I do not envision the provision of a Latin Mass on an on again, off again basis, but rather an enduring commitment to the formation of a stable community of people whose desire for this form of the Liturgy has gone unfulfilled for too long. This vision is quite different from prior efforts.

Because I had just started High School when the Ordinary Form was introduced, I have no prior experience as a priest celebrant of the Extraordinary Form. I am not completely unfamiliar in that I had served the Mass for years on a daily basis and enjoyed my extensive studies of the Latin language in the seminary. Now I have begun to take the steps necessary to be trained in the rubrics of the Extraordinary Form so that I can make it available.

Having waited in vain for the return to full communion and canonical status of the SSPX so that we might legitimately reap the benefits of their presence among us, over the past year the Pastoral Council of the parish has extensively discussed and unanimously decided that we so want the graces to be gained from this opportunity that we are willing to ask the folks attending St Catherine to make a major adjustment to the Mass schedule of the parish in order to accommodate a new EF Mass at Noon every Sunday. It means the cancellation of an English Mass and the consolidation of all our folks into one Sunday Mass. That is asking a lot of them.

Obviously this effort calls for sacrifices to be made. Despite the poor health which occasioned my assignment to the parish, I am willing to dedicate the considerable time and energy that will be needed and the parish leadership is willing to lead our folks through a major adjustment in order to make it happen. We do this without knowing how you might respond and in the sincere hope that the response will be favorable.

We hope you will give us the chance and the support needed to make this effort a success.

At this time we anticipate that we can be ready to begin offering Mass in Latin at noon every Sunday starting no later than the first Sunday in June 2013. In the meantime we have sought to gather anyone willing to help us get mobilized to lend a hand by attending Organizational Meetings planned for Feb 16, Mar 23, and April 13 at 10 am in the Parish Hall. Please consider joining us.

Your prayers for the success of this effort are most certainly needed.

Sincerely in Christus Dominus,

Fr. J. Michael Morrissey
Pastor, St Catherine of Siena Veneta


  1. Well thank God for two good priests who will (Dv) lead the way for others to follow.

  2. It is a shame that efforts to offer the TLM are so often opposed when it clearly is the will of our Holy Father that such Masses be offered. It is a sign of the lack of obedience that Priests who do try to follow the Holy Father's direction must show courage in doing so because of the opposition of fellow Priests and, in some cases, Bishops. If the Bishop of Baker was truely in line with the Holy Father's direction he would insure that the TLM was offered at least on a regional basis within the diocese---the initiative coming from him not the few Priests who have shown the initiative. Thus far the new Bishop of Baker has been a disappointment in this regard.

  3. My wife and I make trips to Veneta on a regular bases. Mostly on Sundays. We will have to plan our trips so that we can attend the noon mass.


  4. It was a beautiful Mass! We are so grateful to Father Holtzinger for his pastoral care and Father Kotas for his generosity in driving over to offer the Mass for us! We are very much looking forward to our next Latin Mass in April!

    That is also excellent news for those up in Veneta. Deo Gratias!

    Thanks for linking to my blog and your kind comments on my family! God bless you!


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