What’s up in Steubenville at St. Peter’s near Franciscan University?

I got this e-mail about the situation of the TLM in Steubenville.

My emphases:

Fr. Z,

I wanted to share some good news here in the diocese of Steubenville.  Yesterday, St. Peter’s Church offered the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass on its magnificent high altar for the first time in nearly 40 years.  What a joy to receive Holy Communion at an altar rail that for over a decade simply gathered dust.  The mass was celebrated with dignity and reverence, and the chants were executed beautifully.  And best of all, the church was packed–standing room only (and most Franciscan students were still on Thanksgiving break).

One could tell that everyone was a bit rusty, both the celebrant (silent Gospel but audible Canon) and parishioners (a bit of confusion on when to stand or sit or kneel).  However, I heard not a word of complaint.  I saw some people in tears.  One lady who had never read the prayers of the Traditional Latin Mass mentioned that she was awestruck by the beauty of the prayers.  The good monsignor was lavished with praise after mass.  Methinks that the parishioners will be requesting this a little more often that once a month.

In Corde Iesu,

I love success stories!

About Fr. John Zuhlsdorf

Fr. Z is the guy who runs this blog. o{]:¬)
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  1. Tommaso says:

    Good things come to those who pray

  2. Joshua says:

    Was it a low or High Mass? That you could have a silent Gospel makes me think low but you mention chants?

    Anyhow, that is good news and hopefully the Mass expands

  3. rev.franklyn mcafee says:

    You can never have a silent Gospel.In a solemn mass or missa cantata it is sung.In a low mass it is said loud enough so that others may hear it.

  4. James Straight says:

    I thought it was made pretty clear by the context that the silent Gospel was a mistake.

    “One could tell that everyone was a bit rusty, both the celebrant (silent Gospel but audible Canon)…”

    Honest mistakes are to be expected in the beginning. These things will happen less and less as the priest (and the people) become more familiar with the Mass.


  5. Diane K says:

    Wonderful story, indeed.

    I can relate to the woman who was awestruck with tears after reading the prayers. After assisting may TLM’s at Assumption Grotto (Sunday 9:30, and 7:30am on weekdays when I’m off), I am still finding treasures in my missal.

    The offertory was most revealing for me (in contrast to what I was accustomed to hearing in the NOM), and so was the Judica me. The spirituality of this Mass runs deep, with many caverns to be explored. I feel like a kid in the candy shop with this Mass. I’m also finding it difficult to assist at the NOM in a similar way that one would have difficulty going back a grade or two at school. Believe me, I have one of the most reverent Latin Novus Ordo Masses in the world at my parish, but I find myself drawn deeper into the more contemplative TLM. I like not having to dialogue because that dialogue pulls me out. I would rather follow along in my Missal, watch the movemnent of priest and servers to get my cues as to where the Mass is at.

    I’m very glad people in the Steubenville area are getting something. I pray that University will give them a weekly Mass or more, and soon. I assist daily at a 6:00am NOM at another parish when I can, near my place of employment. While there, my heart longs for the TLM, even though I acknowledge the validity and effectiveness of the Sacrament as celebrated in that NOM. I keep praying the priests in my parish will find a way to give us a working-class, early-bird Mass in the extraordinary form, even if only a Low Mass.

  6. Arieh says:

    I was there, and the scripture readings were a bit awkward. The readings were in a low tone but the canon fully audible. After the Epistle was read in Latin it was read in English from the lectern, after the Gospel was read in Latin a deacon again read it in English. I think everyone tried their absolute best to pull off the TLM right, but there hasn’t been a TLM in this diocese since the new missal came to town.

    Aside from these minor issues the mass was great (and the Monsignor mentioned in his homily that he was rusty and apologized because he felt there were people in the audience who knew it better than he). The choir was angelic, the celebrant really did a great job articulating the prayers and following the rubrics, and everyone was giving positive feedback.

    I do hope this becomes weekly rather than monthly, but I will take what I can get.

  7. Diane K says:

    James – I agree on what you say about mistakes. In talking to servers and priests, even after so many long hours of practice and study (and even experience), I get a sense that the vast majority of mistakes are already known to them as they are made, or shortly after. It’s one thing to practice it in an empty church, and then to do the real thing with the pews packed (and a few hawks watching for every little mistake).

    It takes the same kind of patience on the part of all of us to let our priests and servers learn through their mistakes. With their hearts in the right place, and a fervent desire to learn the TLM, I’m sure our Lord has far more mercy on those making honest mistakes than any of us could possibly comprehend.

  8. RichR says:

    Nice story. There will be more……..

  9. Nick says:

    Can someone fill me in?…

    All I remember a few weeks ago on Fr Z’s blog was how Stubenville was not going to allow the TLM and how all these letters were being sent it of people who wanted it…did the priests give in and allow it all of the sudden?

  10. FUS Faculty says:

    The TLM is not being allowed at Franciscan University of Steubenville, however, St. Peter’s Church is the location of the Mass described here. If only our students could rely on this kind of experience in their own chapel…
    But, how great for the people of St. Peter’s. I was at Mass on Sunday, too, and the whole building was transformed by the sight of our humble Monsignor offering the Divine Victim at the high altar. After Mass he was very apologetic and pledged to do better next time. However, I shook his hand with pride and woman behind me said “Father, it felt like Mass again!”

  11. Sid Cundiff says:

    Caveat lector: I base the following opinion from my experience 25 years ago with (1) seminarians from Steubenville, most of whom subsequently were ordained, and with (2) a faculty member from this diocese who taught liturgy in the seminary and imposed his liturgical fascism and Stalinism upon us:

    Steubenville surely must be counted among one of the worst dioceses in the US of A. That this Mass now is taking place there is a radical sign of hope for all of us! May Stupidville some day be Stupendousville!

    A fountain springs in a desert, a well that needs the labor of buckets. Soon an oasis, that needs the labor of irrigation. Soon a tropical rain forest, rain needing no labor at all! How correct St. Teresa of Avila was!

  12. A Lowly Seminarian says:

    Sid Cundiff,

    Your caveat aside, I simply must object to your comments about the Diocese of Stuebenville. Sure, they have their problems. There are poor liturgies, as there are in every diocese, but you base you opinions from an era where the entire Church was in a state of liturgical upheaval. I know most of the priests who were ordained in the era you describe personally, and however their liturgical leanings were then, they all celebrate middle-of-the-road, but always reverent, liturgies now. Calling Stuebenville “one of the worst dioceses in the US of A” is ludicrous. Calling it “Stupidville” is childish.

    (This is not necessarily directed at Sid) NB: Franciscan University is not the Diocese of Stuebenville. In fact, it has little to do with it, and quite often pays little attention to it. There are 37,000 Catholics in this diocese, the majority of which do not even have a faint idea about the impact FUS has(for better or worse) on the Catholic world.

    I have no problem with informed criticisms of any person or group, but, please, let’s be smart about these things.

    This aside, the liturgy at St. Peter’s was beautiful, and a wonderful start to what we all hope will be many more EF liturgies. On a related note, the church truly was filled, and one wonders what will happen when two hundred or so University students who were on Thanksgiving vacation attend the next mass…

  13. Christopher Sarsfield says:

    Just a quick note. I lived in Stuebenville for on two occasions for a total of about seven years. I moved away for the second time a year and a half ago. While I disagree with the tone of Mr. Cundiff’s comments, I will say that Stuebenville was one of the worst dioceses I have ever lived in. There is little support for the lay people coming from the diocese. For example on Saturday they have confessions for an hour before the Saturday vigil. Two priests hear confessions. The wait time to is about 45 minutes to an hour, and at 4:25 at least 10 sometimes as many as 25 people get turned away because the vigil is about to start. Yet does the diocese send more priests to hear confessions? No. Does St. Peter’s decided to start having confessions an half an hour before each Mass? No. There are many, many, many wonderful families in Stuebenville trying to lead Catholic lives in the modern world. Yet the diocese, which is supposedly much more pastoral today than 50 years ago, can not be bothered about trying to help them. The diocese had the opportunity to have the FSSP come, the bishop refused. I can understand his concerns. If the FSSP came and were given a chapel, St. Peter’s would lose half their families and more than 80% of their daily mass attendance (which is substantial). This would obviously be bad for St. Peter’s, but if you are not going to attend to the needs of the faithful, then at least have the decency to let someone else do the job. Sorry for the rant.

    Finally, with regard to the TLM at St. Peter’s. This should have been going on for years, and they could easily support (with regard to attendance) a daily TLM, which they are obliged to give according to the terms of Summorum Pontificum. There is still a great deal of resistance to the TLM in Stuebenville. Many are not happy with the fact that this Mass occurred. If I were in Stuebenville, I would be sending a note to the Ecclesia Dei Commission, because you know the diocese is going to come up with excuses for why they can only have a monthly Mass, ie priest shortage. Yet I know that the FSSP would be willing to help them out, and they could very quickly start having the TLM everyday, if the only the diocese wanted to do the right thing.

  14. DebSTS says:

    Sid Cundiff writes:

    A fountain springs in a desert, a well that needs the labor of buckets. Soon an oasis, that needs the labor of irrigation. Soon a tropical rain forest, rain needing no labor at all! How correct St. Teresa of Avila was!

    St. Teresa of Avila also wrote, “From silly devotions and from sour-faced saints, good Lord, deliver us.”

  15. Joshua says:

    Fr. McAfee,
    I did not mean to imply that one may ever say it silently. I only thought that the mistake of doing so would be far more likely in a low Mass, then in a High Mass.

    We have a priest here that for all the effort he puts it (and it is a lot) can never get what to say aloud and what to say quietly down. He has it down before Mass, but while saying it he gets flustered and nervous worrying over smaller details. Great priest, especially since he personally doesn’t care much for the Old Rite but is willing to put hours in because of demand.

  16. Sid Cundiff says:

    If what “A Lowly Seminarian” says be true, then rejoicing is quite in order. I pray that such is indeed true. Mr. Sarsfield’s comments and the general reports on this very blog from and about Steubenville might suggest otherwise. In my caveat, I said to readers that my view was based on my own experience, experience from 25 years ago. To correct the vision in my perhaps too censorious eye, other reports about this diocese would be welcome.

    DebSTS needs to cite his/her source, and provide context and co-text. Mine is St. Teresa of Avila, Autobiography or The Book of Her Life, chapter 11, #7. The saint’s co-text is a simile. Her context is prayer. Mine are being answered.

    So my tone, objected to, is a tone of joy. I (and we) have endured animadversion and derision of heretics, iconoclasts, and sodomites before, to say nothing of the suffering they have caused us all, and we can endure it again. What is new is that my side — our side — is now the winning side, even in Steubenville. Reason enough to be joyful.

  17. John says:

    What a beautiful Litugy.This is the e-mail I sent to Msgr. Yontz thanking him for the opportunity to experience this most divine Litugy,I encourage everyone who attended yesterday to do the same and thank him in hopes that the Traditional Latin Mass will become regularly scheduled at St. Peter’s Church.

    Msgr. George W. Yontz,
    Thank you so very much for giving us the opportunity to experience the 11:00am Traditional Latin Mass, so beautifully done yesterday, I want to thank everyone involved and hope and pray that we can attend a Traditional Latin Mass at St. Peter’s on a regular basis. I want to express my heartfelt gratitude to you personally for the most excellent Divine Liturgy experienced yesterday at the Traditional Latin Mass. We are so very blessed, by our Lord, to have you as Pastor of St. Peter’s Church.
    God Bless You,

    link to send an e-mail to Msgr.



  18. JR says:

    Just a note about confessions at St. Peter’s in Steubenville. In addition to the regular confession hours, an Opus Dei priest comes every Friday and hears confessions from 2p.m. until all are heard (sometimes almost 6p.m.)

  19. danphunter1 says:

    St Teresa of Avila was referring to Protestant devotions and hypocrites who pretend to be holy, usually those who perform worldly actions but ignore their internal spirituality. Those who put on forced dour expressions.
    What she said never applied to canonized saints or the absolute need for personal piety.
    God bless you

  20. Bonaventure says:

    I was at the Mass as well and it was wonderful. As was mentioned, it was standing room only. I have never seen the Church so packed…not even on Easter Vigil. There were many young men serving and the choir was excellent. If the students at FUS hadn’t been on vacation, I’m sure there would have been many more people there as well. I’m sending Father Yontz a than you note as well.

  21. jack burton says:

    I heard that the Mass was for the feast of Christ the King, is this true? If so I wonder how this works since this feast was like a month ago on the old calendar. Is it ok to celebrate the extraordinary form with the new calendar? Obviously there would be problems since there are new days that aren’t on the old calendar and old feasts that aren’t in the new, etc.

    I guess if they only plan on celebrating this Mass every so often they could juggle it with the new calendar, but it still seems unusual to me.


  22. Dominican says:

    This is great news, however, if the communion rail was gathering dust I’d hate to see the cleaning job in the rest of the Church! :-)

  23. Arieh says:


    They did celebrate the TLM as the Feast of Christ the King rather than the Last Sunday after Pentecost.


    The altar rail gathering dust comment has to do with the fact that even though St. Peter’s has a beautiful marble altar rail, it has not been allowed to be used in 10-15 years.

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