As implementation of the new Pastoral Plan in the Boston Archdiocese progresses, complaints continue to come in about problems with the plan. The latest comes from the Latin Mass Community at Mary Immaculate of Lourdes–the only church where the Latin Mass is celebrated daily and weekly–which is currently under a threat of being disbanded by the Boston Archdiocese.
As background, in March 2007, the Boston Archdiocese announced that the Traditional Mass held at Holy Trinity in Boston was being moved to Mary Immaculate of Lourdes in Newton Upper Falls, effective April 22, 2007. Holy Trinity was subsequently closed and relegated to profane use. Someone familiar with the situation shared the following background with us:
“The ability to formally join the parish was especially important for those who had come to Mary Immaculate from the Latin Mass Community at Holy Trinity in Boston. The Archdiocese had considered these people a movable apostolate which could be moved from Holy Trinity to facilitate its closure. To lure them to Mary Immaculate, they promised a pastor favorable to the Extraordinary Form (Fr Charles J. Higgins ’88 ) and parishioner status so they could not be easily moved.
Apparently, Mary Immaculate was hoping their special one-of-a-kind situation–being a canonically open parish in which persons may freely register–would exempt them from the pastoral plan and allow the Latin Mass to continue uninterrupted. (Attendees of ordinary form Masses, as well as the Extraordinary Form Mass, have been able to formally enroll in the parsh even though they do not live in the Newton-Needham area originally attached to Mary Immaculate). Not so any more. Here is a notice in the Mary Immaculate bulletin this past weekend:
Any discussion of our parish stewardship though cannot be separated from the way in which the Archdiocesan parish re-organization plan Disciples in Mission may be applied to Mary Immaculate of Lourdes. In last year’s Report, I explained that the Planning Commission had informed me that Mary Immaculate’s place had not been decided. I had interpreted this as a positive sign that my own letters, the joint letters signed by two groups of parishioners, and various individual letters sent by some others of our parishioners had impressed upon the members of the Commission the total unsuitability of their plan for this parish. In this I was much mistaken.
In August I received another letter from the director of the Pastoral Planning Commission, informing me that Mary Immaculate of Lourdes was to be joined in a Pastoral Collaborative with St. Bernard’s Church in West Newton, whose official name is now Corpus-Christi/St. Bernard Parish. When I asked for further clarification on how such a plan could be reconciled with the special apostolate of the traditional Latin Mass in place here, I was informed by another letter in October that, since the Latin Mass can now be said anywhere, the canonically open status of Mary Immaculate of Lourdes will be revoked and that it will be up to the future pastor of the Mary Immaculate of Lourdes—Corpus-Christi/St. Bernard collaborative to decide whether or not to continue offering it. I then wrote another letter as a response-to-their-response. This letter went unacknowledged. After a month, I followed up with an e-mail inquiry. The reply I received was that the final decision had been made, the matter was closed, and there would be no further discussion with me.
On Wednesday, November 13th, I convoked a meeting with a new Parish Pastoral Council and presented them with all of the correspondence related to this matter. We had a very thoughtful discussion and the consensus was that the Parish Pastoral Council should continue to make representation to the powers-that-be in this Archdiocese on the things that are most important to us as a parish community.
In the meantime, we should continue work at the building up the kind of parish that reflects the descriptive words of Pope Paul VI which we have adopted as our Parish Mission Statement:
“What then is a parish? It is the smallest section of the one universal flock which has been entrusted to Peter by the Lord. Under the authority of a responsible priest who has received the care of souls from his bishop, the parish is, within the Church of Jesus Christ, the first community of Christian life; it is a community cut to human dimensions, in which the shepherd can know his flock and the flock can know their shepherd …”
A reader also commented, “Thus, it seems that, just as the lack of parishioner status was exploited to move Extraordinary Form Mass parishioners out of Holy Trinity, these people may be stripped of their canonical rights – they are enrolled parishioners – if it suits the convenience of the Archdiocese. The same goes for people who, attracted by the reverent manner in which the Ordinary Form is celebrated at Mary Immaculate, have enrolled there instead of their territorial parishes.”
BCI readers complaining about this situation find a number of aspects of this troubling. First, the claimed justification by the Archdiocese that the “Latin Mass can now be said anywhere,” is a spurious claim, and the archdiocese knows they are trying to fool people with it. Yes, the Latin Mass can, in principle, be said “anywhere”–but the reality is that few priests know how to say the Latin Mass, and no other diocesan parishes offer it on a weekly and daily basis. (It is offered weekly on Sundays at St Adelaide in Peabody and in the basement at the Cathedral). People want to belong to a parish and should be members of a parish, so even if the Latin Mass can, in theory, be said “anywhere,” it needs to actually be offered on a regular schedule somewhere. That it is offered on a weekly and daily basis in a centrally located parish, such as Mary Immaculate of Lourdes, allows the greatest number of faithful to attend, and indeed, many come from a great distance to attend the Latin Mass. What is the Boston Archdiocese proposing as the parish where the Latin Mass will be offered on a weekly and/or daily basis?
Furthermore, there appears to be a bit of a double-standard in play with respect to language-specific Masses and communities. The Boston Archdiocese has a designated parish with regular weekly Masses for the Korean Catholic Community at Corpus Christi in Newton. There is a weekly Haitian Mass at St. Charles Borromeo in Waltham. The Vietnamese Community is at St. Rose in Chelsea. There is a Cape Verdean Community at St. Edith Stein Parish in Brockton and St. Patrick & St. Peter Parish in Boston. If we can have a designated parish and priest for regular weekly Masses for Korean, Haitian, Vietnamese and Cape Verdean, why not the same for the Latin Mass in a regular parish?
Lastly, the Boston Archdiocese says a”final decision” was made, the matter was closed, and “there would be no further discussion.” Sounds like a far stretch from the supposed “transparent” operating approach the folks at the Pastoral Center claim to be operating under.
Readers, what do you think?