I got some interesting new via e-mail. Folks, the following report is good, but it is a little confusing. It is hard to tell who was saying or doing what. But the basic thrust of the story is quite positive.
Dear Fr. Z:
This is HUGE! The people who put this together told me they expected maybe 18 people to show up and 117 came! One of the people in the parish said that this crowd was bigger than the average turnout for the Saturday night vigil Mass.
The Diocese of Savannah [Georgia] has long been hostile to the older rite. The bishop will not permit the Priestly Fraternity of St. Peter to come in to assist and several people at my parish in Valdosta have approached our pastor with requests only to be told that "no one else has asked" "there are too many Masses already" and "We’d need one in Spanish before we did this."
This Mass had no advertising, [Okay… there is a disconnect here. At first, they were being told that "no one is interested", then suddenly they are having a celebration of the TLM. Don’t know what happened in between, folks.] except a blurb on my blog that has very low readership. Before now, Catholics in south Georgia had to drive 3 hours to Savannah, or else two miles to Macon or Jacksonville, Florida to attend this Mass.
Thanks be to God for Fr. Healy!
OFFER IT AND THEY WILL COME
[Then without transition, the sender included what I believe is a parish bulletin item about the Mass, since it seems to be signed by a priest. If it isn’t a parish bulletin, sorry. I can’t tell what it is and the sender didn’t say.]
Tonight’s Mass in Waycross
117 people, many from as far away as Valdosta, came to witness return of the Tridentine Latin Mass to Waycross, Georgia at St. Joseph’s Church.
Such a strong turnout is an overwhelming success by any standard.
Fr. Thomas Healy preached a solid homily that dispelled much of the false information that is often used against the older rite. [This doesn’t sound like the sort of fellow who would say, "No one is interested".] He reassured the congregants that the old rite was never abrogated and that one can participate in the Mass without "doing all sorts of things." He also reminded us that the priest is not turning his back on the congregation, but turning with us toward the cross. He stuck to the facts, but did interject that he believed that any priest who wanted to should be allowed to offer this Mass, which Pope Benedict’s Motu Proprio has freed them to do.
I spoke with Fr. Healy after Mass. He struck me as a gentleman in the best sense of the word. He was articulate yet soft spoken and very personable. He also seemed to like children–always a good sign in a priest. When I asked him if this Mass would be offered regularly, he told me that he would have to discuss it with his fellow priests at the next deanery meeting (evidently a gesture of consderation, since he is not required to do so) and that he hoped to offer it on a regular basis after this summer.
I was also struck by how warm and friendly the congregants were–no surprise for those of us who have "hung with the trads", but refreshing nonetheless after three years of rather sterile parish life. When I took my unruly younger daughters to the cry room, I noticed that there were several families with young children and older ones too. I even met some people from my hometown of San Diego.
Now, here’s the question we must ask our priests all over South Georgia:
If 117 people will drive long distances to attend the Extraordinary Form of the Mass at dinnertime in the middle of the week, a Mass that was not publicized or announced at any parishes in the Diocese of Savannah, and all of this in an area that is overwhelmingly Protestant, what would happen in our parishes if it was offered regularly on Sundays?
The demand is there and our priests know it.
Fr. Thomas Healy