Thursday, February 28, 2008

An Inside View of the new Ordinary of Lansing, MI.: Bishop Earl Boyea

I asked Alex Begin, one of the M.C.'s at St. Josaphat's in Detroit, MI. to give us an "insider's" report on the recent news of Bishop Earl Boyea's move from being an auxiliary bishop in that region, to the ordinary of a neighbouring diocese. Given his role at St. Josaphat's, and given Bishop Boyea's activity there, this should give NLM readers a good sense of what the new Ordinary of Lansing, MI. is all about.

The NLM is also pleased to present photos after Alex's piece of the Bishop in question celebrating the usus antiquior at St. Josaphat's.

On Wednesday, February 27, 2008, Detroit Auxiliary Bishop Earl Boyea was named the Bishop of the Diocese of Lansing, Michigan.

Bishop Boyea has been a valuable friend of the Extraordinary Form Mass in the Archdiocese of Detroit. The Detroit indult Mass began at St. Josaphat Church in October, 2004. Shortly thereafter, in December, 2004, Bishop Boyea celebrated his first Tridentine Mass there.

It was well-known that Bishop Boyea celebrated the Ordinary Form in Latin and already had a good grasp of chant. Rather than viewing it as simply a duty to be fulfilled, Bishop Boyea embraced the opportunity to learn the Tridentine Mass. He bought the 2003 edition of Fortescue right away. Realizing that a bishop should celebrate more than just a conventional Solemn Missa Cantata, he taught himself the rubrics for a Low Mass Said By A Bishop, which he did celebrate when a deacon was available. He acquired a Pontifical Canon, the special prayer book that takes the place of the center altar card for a bishop's Mass. He acquired a hand candle for a server to hold. He asked for music sheets to be made up for the Epistle and Gospel so that he could practice the chant beforehand. Despite his responsibilities of making Sunday visits to the vast number of parishes under his purview in the northeast section of the Archdiocese, Bishop Boyea set aside the time to celebrate the EF at St. Josaphat three or four times per year.

From this MC's perspective, it is unusual for a new celebrant to become even reasonably proficient in the rubrics of the EF Mass quickly. But Bishop Boyea must have been studying on his own, as his Masses were virtually perfect from the start. And he approached the task with enthusiasm and a smile, even encouraging his brother auxiliaries to celebrate the Mass, which they did, in fact, do. Just before Summorum Pontificum was published, he commented that he was looking forward to the day when any priest could celebrate the Classic Form of Mass without requiring permission.

When certain operational concerns faced St. Josaphat, Bishop Boyea offered to take the issues to the Cardinal, even though the parish was technically not in his assigned region. He made himself available for consultation to the pastor and parish leaders on short notice. It became clear that he believes the Extraordinary Form has a vital role, and that those who desire it should be supported as much as any other parish should be.

The Lansing Diocese, with Extraordinary Form Communities at All Saints Church in Flint and at St. Joseph Church in Jackson, is already reasonably friendly towards the EF. Bishop Boyea's predecessor, Bishop Carl Mengeling, celebrated Pontifical High Masses in Flint on multiple occasions. It would not be surprising to see Bishop Boyea get to know one or both of these communities in short order.

In summary, Bishop Boyea is a model of the kind of Ordinary consistent with the thoughts of Pope Benedict XVI: One who treats the Classic Form of Mass as a normal, mainstream part of today's Church.

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