Pawtucket Times: Introibo ad altare Dei

Here is an interesting piece from the Pawtucket Times.

My emphases and com[]ments.

Introibo ad altare Dei (I will go in to the altar of God)

[CLICHE ALERT!] PAWTUCKET – St. Leo the Great Church will be going back in time. Using a 1962 pre-Vatican II missal, the Rev. Kevin Fisette will celebrate Sunday Mass in Latin on Oct. 21 at 5 p.m.
The pastor will be wearing traditional vestments and during much [I hope all…] of the Mass, will be standing with his back to the congregation. Worshippers will have to kneel to receive Holy Communion, and the host will be placed on the tongue.
In one other notable difference, Father Fisette will be assisted by altar boys – no girls allowed.  [Isn’t it wonderful?]
While this hasn’t met with any resistance from parishioners, he did admit that one of his female altar servers, perhaps only half jokingly, responded with "Hey, that’s not fair!" when told of the Latin Mass rules.  [Poor little darlings.  But, perhaps one’s sense of "fair" needs to be adjusted.]
St. Leo’s, at 697 Central Ave., is the second church in Rhode Island to offer the Tridentine Mass. The other is Holy Name of Jesus Church in Providence, which has been offering the Mass for almost a decade by special permission from church authorities.
Earlier this year, Pope Benedict XVI lifted Vatican restrictions on the celebration of the Latin Mass, paving the way for more parishes to offer the traditional rite. However, as Father Fisette pointed out, there are many specific rules and regulations associated with it, which have been outlined by the Most Rev. Thomas Tobin, Bishop of Providence.  [Ehem… Summorum Pontificum doesn’t impose a lot of regulations.  I don’t think I have seen the "regulations" issued by the bishop of Providence.  Maybe someone will send them to me.]
"Bishop Tobin made it clear we can not mix rites, do a little of the old Mass and a little of the new," said Father Fisette. "Everything will be just as it was in 1962." He added that Bishop Tobin has been "extremely supportive" of his plan.
Father Fisette said he is excited about offering the Latin Mass and hopes that it will generate enthusiasm among his own parishioners, and perhaps attract some that are new.
Noting that weekly Mass attendance among Catholics has dropped about 40 percent in the last 40 years, Father Fisette said, "We have to do whatever we can to bring people back."
Father Fisette, who has been a priest for 26 years, said he realizes there are some who consider the practice a sign of the church going backwards.
He and other supporters of the Tridentine Mass view it as a return to a time of more sacred, traditional church values that were in place prior to the Second Vatican Council.  [I think it is a step into the future, not into the past.]
"Sometimes, I think we have lost a sense of the sacred. It’s all become very familiar," he said. "We would like to bring back the sense of mystery, if you will – back when people were more in awe of the Mass." He added that the Latin Mass celebration offers more in the way of "spiritual drama."  [All good insights.]
Commenting on the longtime practice of the priest turning his back to the congregation, [grrrrr] Father Fisette said that traditional thinking held that the old Mass was, essentially, the "priest’s prayer on behalf of the people who were gathered."
In contrast, the new Mass is centered around the idea that all of the people celebrate the Mass with the priest.  [Hmmm… well… this is true, though, isn’t it?   The baptized participate in their own way in Christ’s priesthood and unite their spiritual sacrifices to those of the priest during Mass, any Mass.]
Father Fisette said he sees the Latin Mass [grrrrr] as providing parishioners with another option of a traditional Catholic Mass.
"The Church is certainly big enough for different types of Masses. It is big enough for everybody’s spirituality," he said. "We have guitar Masses and Gregorian chants, why not the Latin Mass?" [grrrrrr]
Before arriving at St. Leo’s, Father Fisette was pastor of Holy Name Church, where he celebrated the weekly Tridentine Mass for seven years. He said that at Holy Name, there was a great deal of interest in the Latin Mass, even attracting a younger segment of the parishioners.
Father Fisette admits he is no Latin scholar, having only taken a couple of years of the ancient language in high school. However, when he was assigned to Holy Name in 1997, he decided to learn it himself. He said he used his mother’s old missal and watched a videotape as a guide. "I was tongue-tied at first, but I found that it was fairly easy to learn," he said.
He said he still intends to deliver his homily in English, however.  [HAR HAR HAR… insert knee slap here.  What a clever reporter!]
Because of all the different rules and practices involving the Latin Mass, Fisette said he plans to hold an instructional session for parishioners on Wednesday, Oct. 17, at 6:30 p.m. in St. Leo’s Church.  [An excellent idea.]
Following the inaugural Mass on Oct. 21, Father Fisette plans to celebrate a 5 p.m. Latin Mass on the third Sunday of each month for one year, to see if it catches on with parishioners. "I feel optimistic that it will," he stated.


All in all very positive news.  I like the fact that the bishop is supportive and that the priest will have sessions for the parish about the older form of Mass.  Also, I like Fr. Fisette’s interest in bringing people back to the Church.   This must be a priority for us now. 

About Fr. John Zuhlsdorf

Fr. Z is the guy who runs this blog. o{]:¬)
This entry was posted in SESSIUNCULA. Bookmark the permalink.


  1. RC says:

    Well, we don’t want Father to face the altar during the sermon, do we?

  2. JPG says:

    Fr facing the altar during the sermon in some cases could be an improvement.
    Also, I recall hearing thet my paternal grandmother in
    in Ireland prior to the turn of the last century would kneel at the altar rail and recite the responses at the foot of the altar when a server was not present. She achieved a second grade education prior to emigrating to the States. This may be family legend but illustrates how one can be of service.
    Her lack of formal education did not deter her devotion and I have little doubt she knew precisely what was done at Mass and its significance. A faith she transmitted to her sons and grandchildren.

  3. Dominic says:

    It’s good to hear that Fr Fissette is giving instructional sessions, and I hope other priests will do this too. I have only been to a handful of traditional Latin Masses, and it would have been helpful to have known beforehand what to expect, and to know how best to participate.

  4. JPG-

    Yes, women can answer from outside the sanctuary (but not serve) when there is no alternative.

Comments are closed.