Good TLM news in Georgia (USA): 18 people expected, 117 came

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

 

 

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14 Responses to Good TLM news in Georgia (USA): 18 people expected, 117 came

  1. Robert says:

    I apologize for the confusing stuff in my previous email about the TLM in Georgia. I wrote it and sent it in a hurry.

    The item I sent was not from a parish bulletin, but my blog, St. John’s Valdosta Blog (www.stjohnsvaldosta.blogspot.coom).

    The Mass was NOT in Valdosta. Our priests here would not do it. It was done about 100 miles away in Waycross, Georgia, a town with an even SMALLER population. Many people from Valdosta drove that distance to attend Mass.

    The priest, Fr. Healy, is NOT the pastor of St. John’s in Valdosta, but St. Joseph’s in Waycross, where the Mass was held. And the Mass was only announced in that parish. Yet people from all around neighboring parishes (most of them far away) came. It was mostly word of mouth that brought them.

  2. Chironomo says:

    Robert;

    “The Diocese of Savannah [Georgia] has long been hostile to the older rite”

    Although I don’t know him personally, Bishop Boland doesn’t exactly seem “hostile” to the TLM. The Cathedral (St. John The Baptist in Savannah) was remodeled in a resplendent traditional style, and there is a scheduled weekly Latin Mass at 1:00PM every Sunday. I wish all Bishops were so hostile! Are you talking about the Diocese on a wider scale (Priests, Parishioners, etc..?). I’m also not sure that whether or not the PFSP is allowed to assist is a good measure of the Diocese’s commitment. There are many factors involved. I hope you will keep us updated on this!

  3. Robert says:

    Chironomo:

    My comment does apply more widely to the diocese. Bishop Boland, quite frankly, confuses me. Before Summorum Pontificum, there was only one TLM permitted, and it was in Savannah, which is a long drive from many parts of the diocese. Further, it was only permitted once every other month and any advertising of the Mass was prohibited. Such draconian restrictions would certainly keep the Mass from building a steady following, yet when I wrote the diocese in 2005 to request another TLM, I was told that there was no demand because few people attended the Mass that was offered. Well, no kidding?

    My contacts in Savannah have also told me that the Priestly Fraternity of St. Peter are not welcome in the diocese. I would love to be wrong on that one, so correct me please if I am.

    My intent was not to criticize the bishop, but only to point out that the overall atmosphere in the diocese is less than welcoming toward the older rite and traditionally-minded Catholics. I commend Bishop Boland for not interfering with Fr. Healy like many other bishops have attempted to do since Summorum Pontificum when priests have taken the initiative to offer this Mass.

    I hope that clarifies my position.

  4. Robert says:

    One more thing–now I know why Fr. Z thought this was a bulletin item. I actually sent him photos from the blog and evidently they did not go through. Under the photo of Fr. Healy, I put his name, but if the photo didn’t go through, his name would appear as a signature to the story.

  5. Bigt says:

    This is good. Knock them flat with huge attendance and collection and they can’t help but get the picture.

  6. 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.

    This is the part that confuses me. If anything, the people at my regular parish are warm and friendly – so much so that I exit with all deliberate speed, as I’m not a sociable person in the least – and the people at the local Tridentine chapel are a little forbidding. Even the ones who don’t turn around and stare agape at any newcomer who makes a mistake seem very chilly. I’m not especially comfortable with the snugglebunnies at my OF parish, but the worst they do is to look a trifle perplexed when I make the responses in Latin. Fiat justicia ruat caelum: they have much better manners.

  7. Templar says:

    I am from the Diocese of Savannah, but not from Valdosta where Robert is reporting from.

    Although I have no evidence that would support the notion that Bishop Boland is “hostile” to the TLM and/or Traditionalism, the general feeling in this Diocese is that it is at least fostering a spirit of benign neglect towards the TLM, if not trying to obstruct.

    Since SP was released, there has been no progress for the TLM on the Diocesan level. The weekly TLM in Savannah was a pre-existing service from the indult days, and was only recently moved to the Cathedral in Savannah when they outgrew the small church they had been alloted. It’s growth is attributed to the people who attend it, and not from any help from the Diocese. The only other regular TLM in the Diocese is a once monthly in Macon, and that is done solely through the efforts of the Pastor there, again without any help from the Diocese. This new endeavor in Waycross is apparently also undertaken by the parish priest, and again with no help from the Diocese.

    The Diocesan newspaper (The Southern Cross) runs few, if any articles related to Tradition, the TLM or SP in particular, and those that have been placed are negative towards, or in opposition to the TLM. A brief note in the Deanery notices section is the only mention of a TLM that has ever been seen in that newspaper. The same newspaper runs a cover story around Holy Week showing the Bishop washing the feet of women on Holy Thursday. All of which is to say the “feeling” in the Diocese is one where you get the impression they would prefer that SP would have never been penned, and if they just ignore it long enough it will fade away.

    Granted, as Father Z says, SP was intended for priests, and at the parish level is where the new liturgal movement will come from, so none of this is a great shock. It would just be nice to see some “Leadership” come from the Diocesan level. It would instill a wonderful sense of “Universal Church” on us.

  8. Chironomo says:

    Robert;

    Thanks for your follow-up on my question. I understand now what you mean. Before SP, the situation described was the case in nearly every Diocese in the US. The argument you pointed to was the mantra of the Bishops at the release of SP.. “We offer a TLM now and very few people come..(O.K, so it’s at 6:00AM and about 500 miles from where the people live, but very few come anyway) so obviously there is no desire for it in this Diocese”. “

  9. jon says:

    i too am from the diocese of savannah, living and attending in augusta. some seven months before the SP, my wife and i met with our priest to plan our june (07) wedding, and, (rather naively, in retrospect) asked if it couldn’t be a tridentine nuptial mass (for reasons that were, honestly, more romantic and historical than having anything to do with being anti- the ‘spirit’ of Vatican II or rubrical). he laughed in our faces, literally. first he claimed that NO ONE for miles knew the first thing about celebrating a LM, then saying bishop boland had *expressly forbidden* any latin masses anyway, and then going on to say NO ONE in the diocese had TLM except a tiny “clique of hardliners” in savannah proper. we changed the subject. after our meeting, he pulled me aside, and, apparently aware that we had been taken aback by his response (he knows we’re both JPII converts in our 20s, and haven’t ever really had a dog in the Tridentine-vs-NovusOrdo fight), said in a lowered voice, “You’re free to write the bishop himself if you want to, of course, and ask him.” i did, and the bishop plainly told me that it couldn’t happen for the lack of knowledgeable priests.

    after the MP, however, the bishop seemed to have made an about-face (Laus Deo!). he almost immediately issued a diocese-wide letter on the MP*, basically throwing the door open. that his excellency has gone from one end of the spectrum to the other on this issue can only be contributed to the intercession of Our Lady and the work of the Holy Spirit, as it truly seems as though a miracle has taken place in the last 12 months in out diocese. again: LAUS DEO!

    * the following went out on the heels of the MP, so clearly he knew it was coming, and that he’d be inundated with requests/questions regarding the same:

    “Statement by Bishop J. Kevin Boland on Pope Benedict’s Letter, ?re: Expanding Use of Extraordinary Mass?

    July 9, 2007

    “On Saturday, July 7, 2007, Pope Benedict XVI issued an Apostolic letter?relaxing restrictions on the use of the Mass that was celebrated by the? Catholic Church prior to Vatican Council II. This Mass is the one that? follows the Roman Missal promulgated by Blessed John XXIII in 1962.?

    “Frequently it is referred to as the Latin Mass.?The Apostolic letter takes effect on September 14, 2007, the feast of the?Triumph of the Holy Cross.? What does issuance of this Apostolic letter mean for the Diocese of? Savannah?? First, the Holy Father clarified that there will be a twofold use of the one? Roman rite of the Catholic Church.

    “There will be the ordinary form—the? Mass we have been celebrating for the past 40 years—and the ?extraordinary form—the Mass that was promulgated by Blessed John XXIII?in 1962. This Mass is celebrated in Latin.?

    “Presently in the Diocese of Savannah we have at least three priests who? are capable of celebrating the extraordinary Mass of the Roman rite. There? may be others. ?In the city of Savannah the Mass promulgated by Blessed John XXIII is? offered bimonthly. Sixty to seventy people attend. Prior to this instruction? from Pope Benedict it was necessary for the Bishop to give permission for ?this Mass to be celebrated. Now any priest (provided he has the necessary? skills) may offer this Mass privately. The public may attend if they so wish.?

    “The priest does not need the permission of the Bishop or the Holy See.? We will have to retool and reeducate, and all of this takes time. Many ?priests know little or any Latin. It will be a challenge, and in some cases? they may not wish to celebrate the extraordinary form of the Roman rite. ?The biggest challenge will be the availability of priests who are ?knowledgeable enough to celebrate the extraordinary form.?

    “We are deeply committed to do our best to meet the religious needs of the ?people who are deeply devoted to the Roman rite of the Catholic Mass? promulgated by Blessed John XXIII in 1962.?With this new Apostolic letter, the Holy Father, Pope Benedict, has? expanded the use of the Roman missal that was in place immediately prior? to Vatican Council II. It is a matter of the twofold use of one rite. No matter ?which form of the rite is used, it is essential that the celebration of Mass be? one of great reverence in harmony with the rubrics (directives) which apply? to each form.

    “With more availability of the extraordinary rite, there will be a ?renewed emphasis on celebrating both forms with greater dignity and? reverence.?

    “To facilitate and coordinate proper planning and implementation of this? Apostolic Exhortation I have appointed Monsignor [name] as ?Diocesan Director.? It will take time to put a plan in place. In the meantime, if any priests are ?interested in developing the necessary skills to celebrate the Mass ?promulgated by Pope John XXIII, please contact Monsignor [name].”

  10. jon says:

    sorry about all the question marks; heaven knows how they got in there…

  11. Templar says:

    I remember that letter, and I applaude it (then and now). But a couple of observations:

    1) The fact that in a diocese that covers half the state of Georgia there was in mid 2007 only 3 priests capable of saying a TLM speaks poorly to the Seminary system they use. Granted this was/is a common afflication.

    2) More than anything else, what has been lacking is a follow on to this letter. What has the diocese done to correct those short comings, and when will it provide us with an update to this status to give those interested some sense of progress. It\’s called commnications, and like all families, we seem to stink at it.

  12. Robert says:

    I agree, Templar. Communication is SERIOUSLY lacking here and, by all accounts, the diocese of Savannah does seem to function as a dysfunctional family.

    The above letter was mentioned in some news articles, but every one of my sources indicates that it has not been read at Masses (though, to be fair, I don’t have sources in EVERY parish in the diocese). However, most people don’t seem to know about the Motu Proprio and that seems to be the way that the leadership here wants to keep it. I DO know of several people who have approached priests in the diocese since SP and they were given the same kind of response that they could expect if the Motu Proprio had never been issued.

    So the leadership in Savannah, while not standing in the way, doesn’t appear to be lifting a finger to inform or help either. We have benign neglect: “If we ignore it long enough, those annoying traditionalists will shut up and go away.”

  13. Michael says:

    “Even the ones who don’t turn around and stare agape at any newcomer who makes a mistake seem very chilly.”

    What is a good Catholic to do when one person\’s anecdotal evidence conflicts with their own experience? I have never, ever, seen this type of behavior at any of the Traditional Masses I\’ve attended throughout the country. I have no doubt that this type of thing happens, as I am sure it happens whenever any group of people get together, but to suggest that this is typical behavior is absurd.

  14. Who suggested it was typical of most EF Masses? I’ve witnessed it many times at the EF chapel my husband attends, mostly thanks to one or two of the Old Guard who belonged to it back when it was an SSPX outfit. As these old members die off, I don’t doubt that the behavior complained of will cease.