Knoxville TLM success and eye candy

The great gift which is Summorum Pontificum is bearing fruit everywhere. 

Good news comes from Knoxville, TN, where our friend Henry, long-time WDTPRSer, has reported about a very fine celebration of Holy Mass. 

Knoxville’s First Solemn Latin Mass in Decades

This past Sunday, April 20, area Catholics gathered in joy and thanksgiving at Knoxville’s beautiful Holy Ghost Catholic Church — currently celebrating its centennial year — to attend the city’s first traditional solemn Latin Mass in the four decades since the newer vernacular Mass was introduced in the years following the Second Vatican Council.

This historic Mass was sponsored by the Knoxville Latin Mass community whose weekly Masses are celebrated by Fr. John Arthur Orr each Sunday at St. Therese Catholic Church in Clinton. Fr. Orr, spiritual director at Knoxville Catholic High School and St. Therese pastor, has served the Latin Mass community since his 2005 appointment as its chaplain by then Bishop Joseph E. Kurtz.

In addition to Fr. Orr as celebrant, diocesan priests Fr. David Carter and Fr. Patrick Resen served as deacon and subdeacon for the Mass, and venerable Holy Ghost pastor Msgr. Xavier Mankel attended in choir. The sacred ministers at Holy Ghost’s beautiful old high altar wore new cloth of gold vestments of the classical Roman style so rarely seen in recent years, and were assisted in the sanctuary by master of ceremonies Michael Garner, thurifer Joshua Jakubowski, three acolytes, and six torch bearers from the Latin Mass community’s enthusiastic corps of altar servers, which includes essentially every boy of appropriate age among the community’s families. A dozen 4th degree Knights of Columbus from two local assemblies provided a color guard for a truly colorful as well as holy occasion.

"Today we celebrate not only the Sabbath of the Lord’s Resurrection, as we do each Sunday. Today we celebrate not only the first hundred years of this Holy Ghost Catholic Church. Today we sing a new song to the Lord even as we use the ancient words, the songs of the holy angels sanctus, sanctus, sanctus and gloria in excelsis Deo. Even with settings centuries old, they are new for we sing them today to the eternal Triune God: Father, Son and Spirit. Over the years in this holy place, the Sacrifice of the Mass has been offered more than 36,500 times. For sixty-two of these hundred years the solemn rites — basically as we today are observing them and participating with heart, and hand, and voice — were celebrated." So began Fr. John Arthur Orr’s homily of a grace and power that is too seldom heard from today’s pulpits.

A standing room only congregation filled the Holy Ghost church pews which seat a maximum of 450 and over-flowed into temporary seating in the two transepts before the St. Joseph and Blessed Virgin side altars, as well as into the basement where some late arrivals resorted to viewing the Mass on closed circuit TV in preference to standing in the church above with others unable to find seats.

In addition, the choir loft at the rear of the nave was filled to capacity with a combined diocesan orchestra and choir of 50 members that was directed by Mary Frazier Garner and sang the principal choral parts of the Mass — the Kyrie, Gloria, Credo, Sanctus, Benedictus, and Agnus Dei — in the famous "Coronation Mass" setting composed by Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart. Members of the choir, as well as those in the congregation, represented most of the Catholic churches in the Knoxville area, as well as parishes as far away as Chattanooga and Johnson City, a hundred miles distant from Knoxville in opposite directions. It seemed auspicious that, on this final day of Pope Benedict XVI’s first U.S. visit, this solemn Mass in the extraordinary form that he has restored to the liturgical heart of the Church was accompanied by the sacred music of Mozart that he is said to love most.

A truly special occasion was signaled by a church already beginning to fill over an hour before the Mass was scheduled to begin, and by the palpable atmosphere of silent anticipation and reverence that all displayed prior to the beginning of Mass. But at the beginning of the prelude "Ye watchers and ye holy ones" by organ, choir, and orchestra, a number of heads turned back toward the choir loft to see the source of the cascading sounds of such unaccustomed fullness and magnificence.

Especially printed Latin-English Mass booklets including both the complete order of Mass and the readings and propers for the 4th Sunday after Easter were provided, though the supply of 360 booklets failed to anticipate a crowd that far exceeded the expectations of those who had worked and prayed for months in preparation for the occasion. Fortunately, however, many carried into church worn old missals that they evidently had kept and treasured over the decades. But in addition to the expected adults old enough to remember the Latin Mass, young families with a half dozen or more children were also conspicuous among those in attendance.

One of the community’s members reported a week ago a nightmare in which so many showed up that people had to be turned away and so many approached the altar rail that Holy Communion took over an hour. But with three priests distributing, there was just about enough time for the choir to sing their prepared Latin selections including Adoro te devote, Ave Verum Corpus,  Panis angelicus, and O salutaris Hostia.  The entire Mass itself was sung by the ministers, choir, and men’s schola, but following the Regina coeli at the end of Mass, the whole congregation virtually raised the roof with the recessional "Holy God, we praise thy name", the anthem of traditional Catholics which is a vernacular paraphrase of the great Te Deum that is the Church’s official Latin hymn of thanksgiving.

Instead of rushing to their cars in typical parish Sunday Mass fashion, many lingered for joyous and thankful celebration and fellowship long after the Mass had ended. They spoke of the moving beauty and reverence of this first solemn traditional Latin Mass here in so long, of how the elaborate actions of the ministers at the altar and the fragrance of incense had combined with sight and sound to provide an enveloping atmosphere of reverence that lifted them up to heaven in adoration and worship. Some spoke of the rare opportunity to hear some of the Church’s greatest sacred music presented not merely in concert but in active support of the liturgy that had inspired it, and of their pride that our city and diocese had been capable of such an impressive liturgical offering to the greater glory of God.

Click here for photos of the Mass provided by Roy Ehman ( who has so faithfully and superbly documented the progress of the Knoxville Latin Mass community since our first traditional Latin Mass at the beginning of Advent in 2005.

About Fr. John Zuhlsdorf

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


  1. TJM says:

    But, but, we were told by liturgical progressives that “NO ONE” other than old fogies (me) want the TLM. We’ve been lied to. All kidding aside, this
    is a wonderful development and the photographs are exquisite! Thanks, Father Z. Tom

  2. Limbo says:

    Praise God for this. Gee He must be pleased !

  3. Fabrizio says:

    “Gutta cavat lapidem non vi, sed saepe cadendo”

    If only “true” traditionalists gave a hand instead of joining modernists in hurting the Bride of Christ!

    Viva il Papa !!!

  4. TNCath says:

    Congratulations to the Knoxville Latin Mass Community and thanks to Msgr. F. Xavier Mankel, pastor of Holy Ghost Church! It is so refreshing to hear of some positive liturgical developments in Tennessee!

  5. techno_aesthete says:

    Congratulations to the Knoxville Latin Mass Community! Beautiful.

  6. Jeff Pinyan says:

    Fabrizio: “A drop hollows out stone, not by strength, but by falling many times.” Right? Am I actually LEARNING this language now?! Awesome.

  7. AnnaTrad says:

    This is what “True Traditionalist” have been working for for 40 years, not the hurting the Bride of Christ but to restore all things to Christ. The others are not.

    What a beautiful High Mass and so well attended in Knoxville. This is a good example of Summorum Pontificum working at it’s best. Lets hope it bears fruit for those who came a long distance to attend the Mass,that they will go home and request the Mass and will be able to get it.

  8. Matt Q says:

    This is such a wonderful thing. Every time I log on to this site, I look for Father posting just this sort of information. Like bringing water to a dry, thirsty land. Hmmm, sounds sort of Psalmatic. :)

    Nice pictures. Looks like a quaint parish church. Every time though I see a Tridentine Mass being celebrated in a “Novus Ordo environment,” it strikes me as being awkward. Either the Mass is being celebrated on a Novus Ordo altar ( which makes the high altar look–if there is one–further neglected ), or its at a high altar and **behind** a Novus Ordo altar. That looks really obtrusive and in the way. At the same time, we use what we have until we are able to effect ad orientem re-ordering. As Father says, brick by brick. I told Father we have a massive shortage of bricks out here in Los Angeles, but I don’t think it’s due to a supply-and-demand issue, but the fact there is an effort to keep everyone in liturgical hovels.

  9. Jim of Maryland says:

    Magnificent and so encouraging.

    By the way Washington area readers a new priest of the FSSP (I believe his first mass) will be celebrating a Solemn High Mass (EF) at the Crypt Church, where the Papal Vespers were held on June 7 at 6 pm. See following URL:

  10. heather says:

    What a beautiful church! What a beautiful Mass! God is so good.

  11. Tom says:

    TJM wrote: “But, but, we were told by liturgical progressives that “NO ONE” other than old fogies (me) want the TLM. We’ve been lied to.”

    It isn’t fair to claim that “liturgical progressives” alone have promoted the “nobody is interested in the TLM” party line.

    Cardinal DiNardo, for example, stated late last year that while he is open to the TLM, little interest exists for said Mass.

    Cardinal Rigali (Philadelphia) is open to the TLM but has declared that he has not forseen “a great demand for celebrations according to the extraordinary form of the Mass. In the Archdiocese of Philadelphia the requests we have received are very few.”

    While many conservative Churchmen are open to the TLM, they have made it clear that the Novus Ordo will remain the Mass of 99 percent of Latin Catholics.

    The reality is that relatively little interest among Latin Church Catholics exists for the Traditional Latin Mass.

    In the United States, for example, 80 to 85 percent of Latin Catholics refuse each week to assist at Novus Ordo Masses (and Traditional Masses).

    The Catholic Religion is of little importance to tens of baptized U.S. Catholics.

    Regarding the 15 to 20 percent of U.S. Latin Church Catholics who assist each week at Mass, the TLM is of little interest to said Catholics.

    Our Churchmen, conservatives, progressives…whatever…are correct: The TLM is of interest to relatively few Latin Church Catholics.

    Besides, while they may express some favor toward the TLM, conservative Catholics favor the Novus Ordo and believe that the Latin Church is best served via the promotion of the so-called “reform of the reform.”


  12. Petrus says:

    Jim of Maryland: Ooh, didn’t hear about that. I’ll be there.

  13. Zach says:

    It’s too bad that “people’s altar” was in the way the whole time. For the most part, though, bravo!

  14. Sid Cundiff says:

    The bishop of Nashville is among the best.

  15. Sid: The bishop of Nashville is among the best.

    But perhaps in the present context it should be mentioned that the Dioceses of Nashville and Knoxville separated about 20 years ago. The Diocese of Knoxville has been without a bishop since last August.

    Here in Knoxville, our Latin Mass community has received a fair amount of comment and e-mail in the last couple of days, but perhaps the most thought-provoking came from a wise and (to many) familiar old hand with decades of experience in the vineyard of TLM labors. A good friend, he came some distance to attend our solemn Mass Sunday, and after returning home e-mailed the following simple comment.

    “I wish Pope Benedict could have seen your Mass!”

    So do I, of course. But I wonder. What might our Holy Father learned Sunday by being on the ground in flyover territory, rather than in Yankee Stadium?

  16. Pelicanus says:

    Isn’t the north facing Gospel an abuse of the current rubrics?

  17. Michael Garner says:


    If one only read the rubrics of the Missale Romanum one would think this as it states to face the people while chanting the Gospel. But if one looks to the Ceremoniale Episcoporum, one will find the correct intepretation of this which is to go a good distance from the altar and face north so that you are partially turned to the people.

  18. Elena says:

    Someone at the Vatican, the Holy Father I would assume, seems to be aware of what is happening in “flyover country.” Not too long ago Knoxville’s Bishop Kurtz who first allowed the TLM in the Diocese of Knoxville was named Archbishop of Louisville and more recently Fr. Vann Johnston of DOK was named Bishop of Diocese of Springfield–Cape Girardeau, Mo.

    I can’t fault the choice of NYC for the events. I knew that EWTN would be covering all the events, but was thrilled with the amount of coverage on other networks, especially so FoxNews and MSNBC.

    BTW, something that I read earlier that I haven’t seen in some reports since the recent Mass at Holy Ghost, an historic church, is that earlier it had been planned for April to celebrate the occupation of the beautiful new St. John Neumann Church in the DOK
    Here is a link to construction photos. Perhaps before long there will be a Latin Mass there.

  19. Elena: Yes, indeed, over a year ago this solemn Mass initially was planned for April 6 to celebrate the dedication of the magnificent new classical Romanesque style St. John Neumann Church, the first home of the Knoxville Latin Mass community. Bishop Kurtz was to have presided in choro.

    The solemn Mass was re-scheduled to Holy Ghost Church because of the new SJN completion being delayed till summer, when many of the musicians who had been practicing the Mozart Coronation Mass all year will have scattered.

    It might be mentioned that Holy Ghost is the home parish of new Bishop Vann Johnston, who before being named Bishop of Springfield was chancellor in Knoxville and a strong friend of and constant encourager of our Latin Mass community.

    Finally, after having celebrated our Sunday Latin Mass at the SJN church since Advent 2005, we moved it to St. Therese Church this past Lent–where our chaplain Fr. John Arthur Orr is now pastor–after the old SJN church was sold and uncertainty about the completion date for the new church developed. But when this finally occurs, the Knoxville Latin Mass community will certainly hope to mark the occasion appropriately.

  20. Eric says:

    I went to one of the Masses in the old St. John Neumann last Advent. I was discouraged to find that when visiting right after Easter that they had stopped altogether in Knoxville. I’m glad to know why at least. Once the new St. John Neumann is completed, will there be regular TLM’s in Knoxville again?

  21. Marcus says:


    Traditional Latin Mass IS celebrated every Sunday at 1:30pm at St. Therese Church in Clinton, where Fr. Orr is pastor (assuming Father is in town – and he’s not this weekend).

    It didn’t stop; it just moved for the time being. Hope to see you there.

Comments are closed.