Wednesday, February 06, 2019

Faithful in All Generations: The History of the First TLM Parish

A little-known fact about the movement to restore the usus antiquior is that the first diocesan parish established for the exclusive use of the traditional Mass after the liturgical changes of the 1960s is located in Canada: Saint Clement Parish in Ottawa.

The remarkable story of this intrepid community in the country's capital is certainly unique. It began with a small group of concerned lay Catholics in 1968 who requested permission to retain the traditional Mass. The archbishop of Ottawa at the time, Joseph-Aurele Plourde, responded favorably and arranged for the chaplain of the Sisters Adorers of the Precious Blood, Canon Rene Martin, to celebrate a Low Mass according to the Missal of 1962 every Sunday for this fledgling group of traditionalists.

Moving from place to place for Masses, the group eventually got so big that it essentially created its own parish from scratch. In 1993, it purchased its first proper church building and became a quasi-parish. In 1997, the community was canonically erected as a full parish of the Archdiocese of Ottawa. St Clement Parish was therefore the first traditional Mass-only diocesan parish since Vatican II, a distinction confirmed by a 2005 letter from Cardinal Hoyos to the Archbishop of Ottawa, Marcel Gervais. It was also the first parish to be given to the care of the Priestly Fraternity of St. Peter.

St. Clement's celebrated its 50th anniversary in 2018. To mark the occasion, a group of parishioners compiled a thorough and colorful book, Faithful in All Generations, detailing the exciting events, dramatic successes, unfortunate setbacks, tragic losses, and the incredible displays of Divine Providence in the development of the parish. This book is a must-have for anyone interested in the history of the preservation of the usus antiquior. Full of historic documents, letters, reports, and photos, Faithful in All Generations is well worth adding to your personal library. It stands alongside Leo Darroch's history of Una Voce as a valuable witness to the courage of the faithful, the strength of the sensus fidelium.

The book is lavishly produced in full color, with the highest design standards. Sample pages will be found below.

I myself had the great blessing of visiting St. Clement's last year to give a lecture as part of their 50th anniversary celebrations, and I was deeply impressed with what I saw. The Sunday Mass was packed with faithful, both French- and English-speaking, who were drawn together by and united in the ancient solemn sacrifice conducted in Latin. I had a powerful conviction of how well the Latin Mass would continue to unite our increasingly multilingual and fragmented Church, if only it were available everywhere in the same way.

This book may be purchased from the bookstore of the Fraternity of St. Peter.

One of the rare compassionate bishops in those days
Note that another Mass on the same page is advertised as featuring guitar
A frequent sight in the bad old days -- rescuing an altar from jackhammers

More recent articles:

For more articles, see the NLM archives: