Wonderful news from Harrisburrg: Bp. Rhoades treats people like adults

I have been catching up on e-mail: it pours in.  I wish I had seen this one earlier!

A kind reader sent this.  Enjoy!

Edited (the letter was from a scan and had to be cleaned up) with my emphases and comments.

Hi Father,
Great news – it finally happened! This morning our vicar general was at St. Lawrence in Harrisburg to read the below letter from Bishop Rhoades. … There were about 300 people in the congregation this morning, and only a few dry eyes. He said he personally greeted the news he was about to read "with great joy." He read the letter before Mass began, and when he was finished, he stepped away and knelt, asking Father Parrinello, FSSP, for his blessing. Father complied, blessing him in Latin of course.
I’ve been asked by the parish to forward the letter to you and every other Catholic blog/paper out there. Father Parrinello has given his blessing. The statutes I faxed you in September remain the same.
So, if you’d like to add Bishop Rhoades’ letter to the blog, you’re now free and clear.
Thanks again Father for all you do, and a blessed and happy Thanksgiving!
DIOCESE OF HARRISBURG — office of the Bishop
4800 Union Deposit Road — Box 2153 • Harrisburg, Pennsylvania 17105-2153 (717)657-4804
November 15, 2007
Dear Friends in Christ,

On July 7, 2007, Our Holy Father, Pope Benedict XVI, promulgated motu proprio, the Apostolic Letter, Summorum Pontificum. The norms contained in this letter became effective on September 14, 2007. In this letter, our Holy Father defined two forms of the rule of prayer (Lex orandi) of the Catholic Church of Latin Rite: an ordinary form, as contained in the Missale Romanum of Pope Paul VI, and an extraordinary form, as contained in the Missale Romanum promulgated by Blessed John XXIII. The guidelines previously provided by Pope John Paul II for the use of the Missal of Blessed John XXIII are now replaced by the new norms promulgated by Pope Benedict XVI. I am certainly grateful to the Holy Father for the clarity of the norms contained in Summorum Pontificum.

In my first year as Bishop of Harrisburg, I was happy to grant permission for the celebration of Holy Mass every Sunday and Holy Day, according to the Missal of Blessed John XXIII, at Saint Lawrence Chapel in Harrisburg. I am very grateful to Father Thomas Rozman and the Cathedral Parish for their openness and hospitality in providing for the use of this beautiful church for the celebration of the Mass according to the Missal of Blessed John XXIII these past two and a half years.

In light of the prescriptions of Summorum Pontificum, it is my joy to announce the appointment of a full-time Chaplain for the pastoral care of the community of the faithful that celebrates the extraordinary form of the Roman Rite at Saint Lawrence Chapel. At the presentation of Father George Gabet, superior of the Priestly Fraternity of Saint Peter in the United States, I have appointed Father Frank Parrinello full-time Chaplain of the community, with residence at the Saint Patrick Cathedral rectory. I am deeply grateful to the Priestly Fraternity of Saint Peter for providing this priestly ministry in Harrisburg.

It is also my joy to announce that the community of the faithful which worships at Saint Lawrence Chapel according to the Missal of Blessed John XXIII shall be called the Mater Dei Community, in honor of the Most Blessed Virgin Mary, the Holy Mother of God. The Mater Dei Community will officially come into existence on the First Sunday of Advent of this year, December 2, 2007. Within the diocesan structure, this chaplaincy will fall within the Secretariat for Catholic Life and Evangelization.

With the priestly ministry of a full-time chaplain, the Mater Dei Community will have the offering of the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass daily as well as the celebration of all the sacraments and other rites of the Church according to the Missal of Blessed John XXIII, according to the prescriptions contained in Summorum Pontificum. The chaplain of the Mater Dei Community will be available for visitation of the sick, both the homebound and the hospitalized. He will also be available for pastoral counseling and other priestly ministries as needed and requested.

The Mater Dei Community will begin programs of sacramental preparation and catechetical instruction and may host other activities and programs under the direction of the chaplain. It is my hope and prayer that the spiritual life of this community will flourish and bear many good fruits for its members and for our diocese.

Catholics who so desire may choose to register as members of the Mater Dei Community, thus assuming rights and obligations which parallel membership in a parish.  [Note two things.  First, it is not a parish, which is a canonical structure.  Also, these folks now have the burden of making it work:  all of the bonus and all of the onus.  It is up to them.] The Mater Dei Community has the financial responsibility to provide the salary and benefits for the chaplain as well as rent and utilities for the use of the Saint Lawrence Chapel facilities of Saint Patrick Cathedral Parish. The Mater Dei Community will also be assessed for the Bishop’s Annual Lenten Appeal and for students of the Community who attend Catholic schools. Those who attend the liturgy according to the Missal of Blessed John XXIII who choose not to register as members of the Mater Dei Community will retain membership in their territorial parishes with the rights and obligations that pertain to that membership.

I wish to extend my fervent best wishes to Father Parrinello and to all who choose to become members of the Mater Dei Community. As this new chaplaincy begins, please know that you are especially remembered in my prayers. I offer for your reflection the following words of Pope Benedict near the end of his beautiful Apostolic Letter, Sacramentum Caritatis: the most holy mystery of the Eucharist "needs to be firmly believed, devoutly celebrated and intensely lived in the Church. Jesus’ gift of Himself in the sacrament which is the memorial of His passion tells us that the success of our lives is found in our participation in the Trinitarian life offered to us truly and definitively in Him. The celebration and worship of the Eucharist enable us to draw near to God’s love and to persevere in that love until we are united with the Lord whom we love."

May the Holy Eucharist, the wondrous sacrament of charity, be the center of the life and mission of the Mater Dei Community. And may the Mother of God intercede for you as I commend your community to her loving care!

Sincerely yours in Christ,

Most Reverend Kevin C. Rhoades Bishop of Harrisburg

Happy Thanksgiving indeed!

What a blessing for these people.

I was speaking with a friend the other day, who said that with Benedict XVI and Summorum Pontificum, we have a Pope who treats people like grown ups. 

The people at this new community have now all the joys of the rites, and all the joys of the responsibilities as well.  It is theirs, now, to make to creep, crawl, toddle, walk, and run… or fall face first to the floor, either to rise or to die.

I am deeply thankful for this great news.

Thank you Bp. Rhoades.

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  1. Rita says:

    I am so happy for Father Parrinello as he was our priest in Rapid City up until a couple of months ago. He was merely tolerated by the current bishop who inherited the Tridentine Mass community from Bishop Chaput when he became the archbishop of Denver. Originally there was a very large SSPX group here and after the “excommunications” FSSP…I believe Father Irwin approached the coordinators and Bishop Chaput granted the Indult and all of the sacraments. Then when he left the new bishop would not let them celebrate anything but Mass and Confession. Father Parrinello couldn’t wait to get out of here.

    The vicar general showed true humility too by asking for Father’s blessing at the end of reading the letter and the bishop put in place the SP with true obedience and charity. That was beautiful.

    It is cause for hope to know that at least we do still have some good Bishops out there. I just wish the renegades would either get with the program or go away!

  2. Jeff Pinyan says:

    How does the status of the “Mater Dei Community” — that is, not being a parish — affect its ability to celebrate the Triduum with the Extraordinary Form? I ask this because I am very near an Opus Dei house which regularly celebrates the Novus Ordo in Latin in a very (very) small chapel with a traditional-style altar, ad orientem, etc. I am curious, since they are a prelate under the jurisdiction of the bishop (and not of a parish) what Summorum Pontificum can do for them, in terms of celebrating the Extraordinary Form regularly.

    Their masses are private, if that makes any difference.

  3. Jeff: If it is not a parish, and it must share space, I suspect they will not have the Triduum in the older rite. The Opus Dei situation is entirely different.

  4. canon1753 says:

    Bp. Rhoades was Fr. Parrinello’s (and my) rector at Mount St. Mary’s.

  5. Michele Q. says:

    Thank you Bishop Kevin!

  6. Thomas L. says:

    I just transferred to Dickinson College (located about 25 minutes away from St. Lawrence Chapel) this semester after a very difficult tenure at Boston College. This development is a very great blessing to the Harrisburg Catholic Community, and I cannot thank Bishop Rhoades and the Priestly Fraternity of Saint Peter enough. I cannot wait to spend more time in our states capital.

  7. Adam says:

    I actually expect that the Mater Dei Community WILL celebrate the Triduum. I don’t think that the shared facilities are an issue, since the chapel is not currently used for much other than the Traditional Mass; at least, they seem to have the place to themselves on Sundays. (I live about 1.5 hours away and have been there on occasion.) Of course the Triduum will be celebrated in the new rite in the Cathedral proper, but I doubt it will also be celebrated in the St. Lawrence chapel (a separate building), in which case there wouldn’t be a time conflict. It would also be odd for the bishop to allow the old rite in public on every day EXCEPT the three holiest of the year.

  8. Matt Q says:

    How blessed are the people of Harrisburg and such a wonderful bishop as His Excellency. Slowly but surely another group of people have been emancipated and can how taste true religious freedom in this Church of ours so besotted with other less-than-charitable, egotistical bishops.

  9. Jon says:

    I’m afraid I’m about to leap into my car for my 700 mile Thanksgiving trip, so forgive my hurry and possible incoherence…

    First, I’d like to thank Father for posting the letter I sent him. My reason for doing so is first and foremost to thank Bishop Rhoades publicly. His generosity has been, to forgive the pun, extraordinary. It’s known that within hours of being elected our bishop, he made the decision to grant a weekly Mass in Harrisburg. Hitherto we’d been consigned to a Saturday evening, once a month, in an old high school chapel. The church building in which we now worship is a mere 100 yards or so from the cathedral, and the Mass is at 10am on Sunday. Very symbolic.

    If any of you would like a look at our “chapel,” just click over to New Liturgical Movement. Shawn Tribe has posted a picture I sent him when Bishop Rhoades came to St. Lawrence to commemorate the second anniversary of our Mass back in May. Mass was celebrated in his presence. http://thenewliturgicalmovement.blogspot.com/

    The Triduum question was settled immediately at the meeting I was privileged to attend with the bishop back in September. We will celebrate the Triduum. Deo gratias.

    I’m off – a blessed and safe Thanksgiving to all!

  10. Henry Edwards says:

    Jon: The Triduum question was settled immediately at the meeting I was privileged to attend with the bishop back in September. We will celebrate the Triduum. Deo gratias.

    You mean, as I know, that Mater Dei will celebrate the full Triduum, from Holy Thurdsay through Good Friday to Easter in the usus antiquior of the traditional Roman rite. Deo gratias, indeed, even for those of us who won’t be enjoying such full liturgical riches this year.

  11. Steve Skojec says:

    I’ve been a friend of Fr. Parinello’s for about ten years now, and he’s worked long and hard (and suffered much) to get here. Congratulations to Fr. Parinello, the diocese, and the Mater Dei community.

    I’m very gratified by the way this appointment was carried out. What a beautiful example! Hopefully it will set a precedent for other dioceses.

  12. Steve Skojec says:

    Despite being his friend for so long, I still can’t spell his name correctly. Parrinello, not Parinello!

  13. Maria says:

    Cheers to Bishop Rhoades! Ad multos annos!

  14. Chris Garton-Zavesky says:


    May I add to your good news?

    On the evening of Friday 12th October, in honor of the 90th anniversary of Our Lady’s apparition, the entire priestly staff, altar guild (nearly 100 boys) and choir of St. Stephen the First Martyr (FSSP parish) celebrated a solemn high Mass at the Cathedral, at the invitation of the soon-to-retire-for-health-reasons Bishop Wiegand. Many non-trads were present, based on the clothing they wore. In any event, it was an awe-inspiring occasion. Father Robert Novokowsky celebrated and preached. I know there is a DVD of the occasion. Several priests unknown to me were in attendance, vested and able to assist.

    Chris Garton-Zavesky

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