Friday, November 30, 2007

Archbishop Burke approves new oratory for Latin Mass

St. Louis Review Online

by Jean M. Schildz, Review Staff Writer

Archbishop Raymond L. Burke has announced he is establishing this weekend the Oratory of St. Gregory the Great and St. Augustine of Canterbury at the Abbey of St. Mary and St. Louis in Creve Coeur.

The oratory will be the new West County home for the regular celebration of the "extraordinary form" of the Mass, commonly known as the traditional or Tridentine Latin Mass.

The decree of erection establishing the oratory will take effect the First Sunday of Advent, Dec. 2.

This will be the archdiocese’s second such oratory, or nonterritorial parish, that has been set aside for the celebration of the Latin Mass. St. Francis de Sales Oratory was the first, established by Archbishop Burke in 2005.

As part of the archbishop’s decree, he appointed Benedictine Father Bede Price to the office of rector of the oratory, effective Dec. 2. That day Father Price will celebrate the first traditional Latin Mass at the oratory at 10:30 a.m.

The oratory will then celebrate Latin Mass Sundays at 10:30 a.m. and Mondays through Saturdays at 7:30 a.m. The Masses will take place in St. Anselm Parish Centre Chapel on the grounds of St. Louis Abbey, 530 S. Mason Road. The site was chosen in part because it is easily accessible to Catholics residing in West County and surrounding areas.

The archbishop in a prepared statement Nov. 27 told the Review, "I am most grateful that I have been able to provide fitting pastoral care for the faithful in the West County and surrounding area, who desire the celebration of the Sacred Liturgy according to the ‘extraordinary use.’ The celebration of the Sacred Liturgy at the Oratory of St. Gregory the Great and St. Augustine of Canterbury, and the pastoral life at the oratory will bring added richness of grace to the life of the Church in the archdiocese."

He expressed his deepest gratitude to Abbot Thomas Frerking, OSB, of the Abbey of St. Mary and St. Louis, and the monks of the abbey, "who have so generously worked with me in providing for the oratory."

Archbishop Burke said Abbot Thomas had generously agreed to erect the oratory at the abbey "for those desiring the celebration of the Sacred Liturgy, according to the rites in force in 1962" and to present Father Price for appointment to the office of oratory rector.

Noted the archbishop, "The abbey, with the collaboration of the archdiocese, is preparing a most fitting chapel for the celebration of the Sacred Liturgy."

The abbot told the Review in an interview earlier this fall that his community will offer the Latin Mass as a part of its apostolate while continuing to offer Mass in the ordinary form.

The new West County oratory has been placed under the protection of two major Benedictine saints: St. Gregory the Great, pope from 590 to 604 and a Doctor of the Church, and St. Augustine of Canterbury, who brought Roman Catholicism to England and was the first archbishop of Canterbury. The two saints knew each other; it was St. Gregory who sent St. Augustine out to England as a missionary.

Their names were chosen as a way to honor the abbey "because of the ministry entrusted to the English Benedictines," said Father Thomas Keller. The archdiocese’s master of ceremonies has been working with the archbishop for several months to find a viable site at which to celebrate the Latin Mass in West County since the departure this past summer of the Canons Regular of the New Jerusalem.

The Canons Regular of the New Jerusalem for the past four years had been celebrating the Latin Mass according to the rites in force in 1962 at the Passionist Monastery in Ellisville. Father Keller began caring for the community of 75 to 100 people when the order left.

Father Price began assisting Father Keller in October. The community now will be served by the oratory at the abbey. Other monks as they are trained in the traditional Latin rite will later assist Father Price, Father Keller said.

Father Price has been on the staff at Priory School for 15 years. He teaches history and theology part time there. He entered the Benedictine community in 1990, and has a master’s in history from the University of Oxford, England, and a master’s in theology from St. Meinrad Seminary in St. Meinrad, Ind. He will be joining three fellow monks now serving as parish priests: two at St. Anselm and the pastor of St. Ignatius in Concord Hill.

Father Price said both he and his Benedictine community "are quite excited to serve this new community in this capacity." The oratory community, though small, is growing, he said, "with lots of little babies. It’s a very cozy, family environment."

Added the soon-to-be oratory rector, "It’s a great honor for all of us that the archbishop is wanting to entrust this to us. He told me when he spoke to me he thinks it is appropriate that the Benedictines do this work because we have a reputation for doing the liturgy well, which was certainly a compliment to the community here."

Father Price also thanked Father Karl Lenhardt, rector of St. Francis de Sales Oratory, for his strong support and Father Keller for his tireless help "in keeping this little community together."

Father Price noted that the oratory will celebrate the traditional Latin Mass for Christmas Midnight Mass on Christmas Eve and a sung High Mass on Christmas Day at 10:30 a.m.

Father Lenhardt of St. Francis de Sales is the archdiocese’s episcopal vicar for the traditional Latin Mass. He called the establishment of the second oratory providential, as was the oratory of his order, the Institute of Christ the King Sovereign Priest.

The archbishop erected St. Francis de Sales Oratory two years before Pope Benedict XVI published his apostolic letter, "Summorum Pontificum," which allows for greater use of the Tridentine Mass. "The presence of the former discipline of the celebration of the holy Mass and also the liturgy of the other sacraments and devotions is not something that is simply a part of past history, ... preference of taste or aesthetics, but it should be a normal part of the life of the Church." It is the archbishop’s as well as the pope’s intentions, he said, "to provide not only the necessary, but good pastoral care for all the faithful who wish to experience this continuity in the liturgy of the Church."

Father Lenhardt added he was particularly grateful and pleased the oratory was connected to the Benedictines, who he said are renowned for their care of the liturgy. "I have no doubt this beautiful treasure of the Church is in the right hands at the abbey."

Teresa and David White and their family of four of Moscow Mills in Lincoln County have been part of the Ellisville Latin Mass community and plan to attend Mass at the new oratory.

After the Canons left, said Teresa, "there was a great degree of uncertainty as to what would happen to the availability of the Latin Mass." She was very thankful that the archbishop was "committed in his heart to making available a viable solution to keep and prorogate the Latin Mass in West County."

White called the move to the abbey "wonderful in the sense that it gives our little community a permanent home" and visible exposure. It opens the doors for others "to enter into the spirituality of the 1962 Latin missal."

Added White, "It’s wonderful that he’s given us that security, because we didn’t have that."

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