Tuesday, April 15, 2008

NLM Guest Report: Growth of the Usus Antiquior in Detroit

[An NLM guest report by Alex Begin.]

On Friday, April 11, Detroit's Sweetest Heart of Mary Church hosted its first Extraordinary Form Mass in 38 years, a Solemn High Mass commemorating the anniversary of the death of its founding pastor, Fr. Dominik Kolasinski. The celebrant was Fr. James Miara from the Archdiocese of New York; the Deacon was Fr. Peter Hrytsyk of Windsor, Ontario's Assumption Church; and the Subdeacon was pastor Fr. Mark Borkowski. Fr. Borkowski intends for this to be the first of regular special occasion Masses in the Usus Antiquior at the parish.

Sweetest Heart becomes the third of a three-parish cluster in the Archdiocese of Detroit to hold regular Extraordinary Form Masses, and may in fact be the first three-parish cluster in North America to do so. The other parishes in the cluster are nearby St. Josaphat Church, where a weekly Tridentine Mass began in October 2004; and St. Joseph Church, where a Fourth Sunday Extraordinary Form Mass began in October, 2007. St. Joseph is also the site of a decades-old weekly ad orientem Ordinary Form Latin Mass.

Fr. Borkowski is a proponent of celebrating the Ordinary Form Mass ad orientem, doing so at most of the Masses at St. Joseph, in the chapel at Sweetest Heart, and on occasion for the vernacular Masses at St. Josaphat and Sweetest Heart. The cluster enjoys a close working relationship with Ss. Cyril & Methodius Polish Seminary in Orchard Lake, Michigan, several of whose priests assist with the celebration of weekend Masses, in Polish, English, and Latin.

Neighboring St. Albertus Church was Detroit's original Polish parish, the parish from which the historically Polish Sweetest Heart and St. Josaphat sprung. While not a part of the cluster, St. Albertus has also begun offering regular Masses in the Extraordinary Form, with the next scheduled for Sunday, June 29 at noon. Sweetest Heart, St. Josaphat, St. Joseph, and St. Albertus are all beautifully preserved historic edifices with intact high altars and Communion rails, perfectly suited for the classic form of Holy Mass. In conjunction with the weekly EF Mass across the river at Windsor's similarly historic Assumption Church, downtown Detroit is now blessed to have a thriving Tridentine Mass scene that was unimaginable just a few years ago.

While there has been much attention of late devoted to parishes beginning monthly or weekly Extraordinary Form Masses, developments such as this indicate that there is also room for irregular, special occasion Masses to be held, especially when historic churches open their doors to such celebrations.

[NLM Note: I have been inside this church and some readers may be interested to know that this church was originally built as part of a schismatic Polish movement, though it is now part of the Archdiocese of Detroit. While it cannot be seen in this picture, one testimony to this history is that at the very back of church on the right hand side, the final row is comprised, not of pews, but rather quite grandiose seats that are akin to what one might expect to find in a chancel. Apparently this is where the Polish "elders" sat who effectively directed the priest and the parish of the church, prior to its coming into full communion with Rome. An interesting tidbit I thought.]

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