Sunday, March 9, 2008

Diocese Solidifies Celebration of the Latin Mass

By Bishop John M. D'Arcy

Must be given due honor for its venerable and ancient usage

With such words does Pope Benedict XVI present to us the reason for the right use of what he has called the extraordinary form of the Roman rite. In this decision, Pope Benedict showed his great pastoral heart and gave a place to the traditional Latin Mass, the Mass promulgated by blessed Pope John XXIII in 1962, “never abrogated” and named it as “extraordinary form of the liturgy of the church” — he also showed his understanding of history. In a letter written to bishops, the Holy Father said too often the serious divisions in the church could have been avoided if the church or the Holy See had taken an extra step toward reconciliation. He hopes to reconcile those who have separated themselves from the church.

Mindful of all those who treasure the Latin rite and indeed of many young people who find themselves better able to worship in it because of what they sense as a strong sense of mystery, the pope has made it possible for the older Latin rite to be celebrated without any special permission.

Indeed since Pope John Paul II allowed this under some conditions and encouraged bishops to be open to it, in a special apostolic letter in 1988, we have been blessed to have in our diocese what is now called the extraordinary form. This is the Mass that I grew up with and prayed at Our Lady of Presentation Church in Brighton, Mass., the Mass I celebrated for the first 10 years of my priesthood. It has been celebrated every Sunday in each end of our diocese since 1989.

In Fort Wayne, several senior priests have made this available. I salute Father Dan Leeuw, Father Adam Schmidt, and there have been others. In the South Bend area, one thinks especially of Father Jim Seculoff, who celebrated this Mass both in St. Mary, Bristol, and also in St. John the Baptist, South Bend. More recently several priests of Holy Cross have filled in, Father Jerome Esper, CSC, and Father Tom Blantz, CSC.

A special new priest

When Pope Benedict XVI issued his motu proprio, I thought immediately of Father George Gabet, FSSP. Father George is a native of St. John Parish, New Haven, and attended Bishop Dwenger High School, where among other things, he played football.

Several years ago, I had the privilege of ordaining Father George according to the old rite, the rite by which I was ordained 51 years ago at the Cathedral of the Holy Cross in Boston. For many years, my good friend Dominic (Nick) Harris has asked me to bring in a member of Father George’s community, the Fraternity of St. Peter, to give assurance that this Mass could be celebrated well into the future. The significant number that attend the Mass in Fort Wayne are worried that with priests aging, they may not have anyone to celebrate this Mass. Father George is a member of a religious congregation called The Priestly Fraternity of St. Peter and they are dedicated to the celebration of Mass under this form.

With the help of Father Bob Schulte, our vicar general, we reached Father George, and with the approval of his superiors, he began his ministry with us this past Sunday.

Father Gabet will be responsible for celebrating the Mass according to the extraordinary rite in both Fort Wayne and South Bend. He will have the spiritual care of each community. To the extent possible, he will celebrate the Mass in each church each Sunday, and where necessary, he will call on other priests to help him.

Father George will also assist as part-time priest chaplain at Lutheran Hospital, Fort Wayne and will try to visit each Catholic patient there twice a week.

His community has asked that he be assigned as a chaplain to each group and that the group have a heavenly patron. Of course, we have chosen St. Mother Theodore Guérin.

Father George will live at Sacred Heart rectory, Fort Wayne, but will be responsible for the pastoral care of each community, working in close communion with each pastor. Like the priests of other religious congregations, he will be a full member of our presbyterate, and I am pleased to welcome him back to his home diocese. I know he will be a blessing for us.

Professor Mark Searle

Many years ago when the Latin Mass was reintroduced in our diocese at the request of Pope John Paul II, I met Professor Mark Searle, who served for a short time on our Diocesan Liturgical Commission and who was an eminent liturgical scholar teaching at Notre Dame. He later died quite prematurely. At any rate, he gave me clear advice when this Mass was first restored. He said, “Bishop, it is very important for you to celebrate that Mass with the people so they have a sense that they are fully part of the diocese.” I was privileged to do so, and now I intend to do so again. I have asked Father George to set up a time so I can celebrate this Mass in each end of the diocese. I will need to rehearse again, and it will bring back so many memories. I look forward to it and to meeting those many people including, I am told, a few young people who come from the surrounding area to pray at this Mass.

Saint Joe Medical Center

Recently I made a pastoral visitation to Saint Joseph Regional Medical Center, South Bend. Founded, like so many other institutions in our diocese, by the Congregation of Holy Cross, in this case the sisters. This hospital has served with a special devotion to the poor and needy in this diocese since 1882. I offered Mass in the chapel and concelebrated with Father Henry Byekwaso, the chaplain. Also present was Father David Tyson, CSC, provincial of Holy Cross, and Father Tony Szakaly, CSC, associate provincial, along with many South Bend pastors.

I want to single out one beautiful event that was shared with us at the luncheon that followed. You know that one of the most painful things that can happen to a mother, indeed to a father as well, is the loss of an unborn child through a miscarriage. Just when it seems there is to be a new person in the world, something unexpected happens, and the birth does not take place. Saint Joseph Medical Center as part of its pro-life efforts will, with great sensitivity, take the remains of the unborn child and bury them in a special cemetery plot. Then once or twice a year, all the parents who have lost a child in this way are brought together for a prayer service at the cemetery. This gives closure to a very painful event. Many thanks to Sister Laureen Painter, pastoral minister at the medical center, who has put together this effort along with Nancy Hellyer.

Gratitude also to Nancy for her strong emphasis on the Catholic identity during her time as administrator at Saint Joseph Medical Center, and to Father Henry for his devotion to the sick and the dying for over 20 years. A beautiful day at Saint Joseph Regional Medical Center, South Bend.

Another parish mission

I was off west on a wintry northern Indiana night to our westernmost parish, St. Stanislaus Kostka, New Carlisle. My purpose was to close the mission with Father Paul McCarthy. Despite some health problems, Father Paul has begun a vigorous ministry among the people there. He has instituted eucharistic adoration on a weekly basis and is working hard for the renewal and restoration of the sacrament of penance.

It was a joy to hear from so many people how much they appreciate his presence and his leadership, and there was a fine crowd despite the wintry evening.

Looking forward to Holy Week and also to watching spring training from afar. No call as of yet from the Red Sox, but there is still time.
See you all next week.

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