Monday, January 05, 2009

St. Benilde Church, Metairie, Lousiana

Another case of an outstanding parish that is not yet on the map is St. Benilde's in Metairie, Louisiana. A missa cantata according to the 1962 missal has been celebrated weekly by St. Benilde's pastor, Fr. Patrick Wattigny, since September 2007, according to the norms of Summorum Pontificum. A small schola (four men at present but they would like more, both men and women) sings the Gregorian propers (including full gradual and alleluia) from the Liber Usualis every Sunday for the mass, celebrated at 7 a.m.

Moreover, the congregation (50-60 on a usual Sunday at 7 a.m., small probably because of the early hour) joins in singing one of three mass ordinary settings: 'Orbis factor' during the year; 'De angelis' during Christmastide, Eastertide, and on 1st-class feasts; and Kyrie XVII (Kyrie salve) during Advent and Lent.

The "musical genealogy" of the schola traces its roots in part to the St. Gregory Society in New Haven, where one of the members sang before relocating to Louisiana many years ago.

St. Benilde is a good example of a neighborhood parish, of modest means but committed faith, where the Extraordinary Form has found a steady home, in a rather plain 1960s-era structure (though with a fine altar rescued from a closed church several years ago, and a newly commissioned matching communion rail).

Note: the free-standing altar is quite heavy and difficult to move, so the EF mass is usually celebrated on it, but of course facing ad orientem towards the main altar).

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