TLM at Universities: the saga continues…. with Boston College

I got this note from a student at the Jesuit operated Boston College (me emphases):

Fr. Z,

     I’m a sophomore at the Jesuit-run Boston College and a Catholic who longs for liturgy and worship that is spiritually fulfilling, having been greatly pained by what His Holiness has called "arbitrary deformations of the [Novus Ordo] liturgy". It was suggested to me by another faithful reader of your blog that I email you with the tale of my attempt to bring the TLM to this Catholic institution.
     I’ve attended the TLM whenever and wherever I could, ever since I discovered it a bit over a year ago. When Summorum Pontificum was released, I saw in it the possibility of wider acceptance and performance of the form of our liturgy that I have come to know and love. Having heard no word of the TLM being held on campus, I attempted to contact our Campus Ministry, to see whether there had been any thought to the matter. Over a period of months I received no response, so I made an appointment to meet with our university’s Vice President for Mission and Ministry.
     The tone of the Jesuits here toward the TLM has, in the past, seemed less than congenial, but when I met the kindly old priest/Vice President, I sensed only a bit of reluctance. The man told me that his only real concerns in holding an even somewhat-regular TLM on campus would be the availability of resources (namely priests), as well as interest among a group of people who would attend. Due to the popularity of a regular TLM on the campus of the University of Notre Dame, for instance, these concerns didn’t seem to me too pressing, but I accepted them at the time. Certainly these concerns are nothing like the response that was given to one professor who, several years ago, had attempted to bring the TLM to the Boston College campus, as even the Byzantine Rite mass has been celebrated here, and was told that the TLM was "a camel whose nose will not find its way under this tent."
     I have heard from any number of students who would be willing to attend such a mass regularly, among them two seniors with whom I travel to a parish that holds a weekly TLM. A few males have even expressed interest in altar serving for such a mass. I have the name of one priest who is a professor here, and who has expressed interest in performing the TLM. I am planning to speak with him, to see if we couldn’t get this thing going.
     I will be sure to keep you posted on developments.

I am glad for the information.

From the onset this sounds like a bit of an uphill climb.

I am convinced that Summorum Pontificum is not about "nostalgia".  The real aim of the Motu Proprio is to help revive Catholic identity by giving the priest more tools.  After that, yes, it is about fostering unity and all that… and let it not be forgotten that this is the week for prayer for Christian Unity.  However, after priests I cannot help but think that the Motu Proprio is really aimed at younger people.  As a result, I am quite interested in what happens in schools and universities that claim a Catholic identity.

About Fr. John Zuhlsdorf

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

    The real story here is that there is going to be enough interest and supply of resources to get this going. So far, this is not the standard issue Jesuits-at-the-barricades-to-prevent-the-TLM story. There’s not a lot of demand in the Boston area that has erupted in the past few months; mostly, there has been increased flexibility in a few more places and times to meet the existing relatively small but perservering demand. But, then again, understand that Boston has never been known (this antedates the Council and goes directly to the liturgical pragmatism/minimalism that was long cultivated here among the clergy and people) as a place abundant in people seeking liturgical excellence. The places that stood out were few and far between (like my own parish, St Paul’s in Harvard Square). And the Council did not change that.

  2. Fr. John says:

    I find this comment very encouaging, balance and sincere. Let me assure you that many young priests are working hard to prepare themselves for celebration of TLM. We’re taking some hits from our parish leadership and the technicians that run our Diocesan offices, but we’re rushing to support the spiritual needs of our young people and a solid Catholic identity.

  3. There is a group of students at BC called the St. Thomas More Society, which meets for prayer and fellowship, and may be a natural ally in this. If this group were interested in having a TLM at BC, that would assuage one of the concerns of the vp for mission.

    Our Anglican Use congregation has had Masses at BC, as well as Evensong and Stations of the Cross (the latter involving the above named STM Society) and were well received. In addition, our congregation in West Roxbury (not all that far from BC) has had many visitors from BC, including a couple of their professors who are fairly regular worshippers. I would urge the student to look up the STM Society, and look for sympathetic professors (perhaps in the philosophy and linguistics departments if the theology department seems uninterested).

    Also, it is worth commenting that at least two of the priests who have been celebrants for the TLM in the Boston area over the years at Holy Trinity are Jesuits.

  4. Good news indeed for Boston College. I will be interested to see how far this effort goes.

  5. Joe says:

    The best way to get something done with the Jesuits is to do it. Start by holding it once a month or something like that. As a former Jesuit I can tell you this is how they get things done. JUST DO IT AND THEY’LL COME!

  6. JS says:

    The regular (since S.P.) First Friday TLM at St Columbkille has also garnered good attendance from both St John’s Seminary, and BC, as it is just down the hill. Both the Anglican Use community and St Col’s have Candelmas/Purification/Presentation as a Vigil Mass on Friday, Feb. 1st at 7:00.

  7. Fr. John says:

    As a priest ordained now for twenty years, who knows only the Novus Ordo, I’m happy that the WHOLE Camel is in the tent and will be staying. Efforts to establish a Latin proficiency “test,” at least out West, will meet with the following double standards: There is no English proficiency requirement for foreign-born priests celebrating the Novus Ordo. Nor for we Anglo priests is their a Spanish test. The basic rule is “just do your best.” The accent-reduction issue is ongoing and admits of no easy solution. Also, I have not seen a great desire to correct liturgical abuses or an effort to assure excellence in the celebration of the Novus Ordo. As to assigning a specific number, and thus specifying what is a “stable group of faithful” who adhere to the earlier liturgical tradition, similar problems arise. We regularly do Novus Ordo Masses for very small assemblies who “adhere” to a vernacular (Spanish)tradition – and don’t impose numerical limits that must be achieved by lay faithful before meeting their needs.

  8. Ed Rosky says:

    Briefly: Our Bishop presented with 400 signatures asking for TLM, 5 priest agreed to say it. He refused. After Motu Proprio, students at local college , with the help of a young priest began a private group. the Bishop got wind of it and intervened. We still have a couple of daily masses, but the Sunday mass was stopped. Talk about an up-hill fight. Pray for us. That we do not lose heart.

  9. giovanni says:

    Perhaps you could suggest its better to have the camel inside the tent “spitting” out, than outside the tent “spitting” in. Best of luck.

  10. Ed Rosky says:

    My sympathy to the student. Briefly: Our Bishop was presented with a petition of 400 signatures asking for the TLM, he refused despite the fact that 5 priests agreed to say it. After the Moto Proprio, students at a local college started a private group (invitation only). The Bishop intervened and the Sunday Mass was stopped. We still have a couple of daily masses and that is all. Talk about an uphill battle. Pray for us that we do not lose heart/

  11. T. Chan says:

    We still have a couple of daily masses, but the Sunday mass was stopped.

    Is this even possible with Summorum Pontificum? Does the bishop have the authority to stop a Sunday Mass? (I assume this was “private” as well?)

  12. Matt says:

    To the BC student or anyone at BC, I’m quite active as an MC for masses at St. Col’s and I regularly go to the TLM in Newton. I went to Holy Trinity as a BC student. If you need help with training (both for servers and priests) there will be one coming up soon. Feel free to contact me at

    Also, irregardless of what campus ministry says, you can have private masses provided you have a willing priest

  13. Kathleen says:

    Hi Matt see you at the training sessions.

    I went to BC and there are priest there who can and will say the TLM if you know who they are. I will email Fr. Z with the info.
    There are several TLM’s going on in Boston that you can either get to by T or walk.

    Sacred Heart Church
    45 Brooks Street
    East Boston
    Monday at 7:00pm

    Saint Columbkille
    321 Market Street
    First Friday’s at 7:00pm
    which is about a mile maybe from campus

    Mary Immaculate of Lourdes
    270 Elliot Street,
    12 noon every Sunday
    bit of a walk from the Elliot T stop but doable for a young kid.

    And Holy Trinity’s TLM will resume sometime in early February at 9:00am. We are still working on the rotation of priest’s. Very easy to bet to by the green line.

    There will be a few more starting but not close to BC.

  14. Ed Rosky says:

    The Mass’s were by “invitation only”, words gets around. A web site announcing them was basically closed. There’s little on it. The Pastor was aware and did not have a problem with it. It was the Bishop who stepped in when he found out about it.

  15. JS says:

    Mass Schedule Change
    The resumption of weekly Tridentine Masses at Holy Trinity will begin
    on the first Sunday of Lent, February 10, 2008. The Tridentine Mass
    will be celebrated each Sunday at 9:00 AM. Also, effective the same
    day, the Sunday English/German Mass will be moved from 10:00 AM to
    11:00 AM. Father Connolly is grateful to all the members of the
    congregation who are working to fulfill the practical implications of
    his acceptance of the petition made in accordance with Pope Benedict
    XVI’s motu proprio. He is particularly appreciative of the input
    provided by so many interested individuals regarding how best to carry
    out the implementation.

  16. J says:

    Three TLMs for Candelmas, first at St Columbkille, Brighton – 7:00pm,
    Friday, Feb 1. Procession with candles, Eccard “When to the Temple”, Victoria Missa “O Magnum
    Mysterium”, Chant and Polyphony

    Fr Agustin Anda

    Saturday, Feb 2 at Mary Immaculate, Newton, 9:00 Low, 12:00 – High Mass with Procession, Gregorian Chant and Polyphony

    Fr Charles Higgins

  17. paulofrade77 says:

    September 29, 2009 – Mass in the Extraordinary Form at Boston College

    Mass in the Extraordinary Form (Traditional Latin Mass) will be offered on 09/29/2009 Tuesday evening, 7PM at St. Mary’s for the Feast of the Archangels.

    I guess the camel’s nose found its way into the BC tent. :-)

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