Dominican Rite in Anchorage, Alaska

From The Catholic Anchor, the paper of the Archdiocese of Anchorage, Alaska.

Remember that the Latin Church has more than one Latin Rite!

Also… take this away with you, you Dominicans:

The Western and Eastern Provinces of the Dominican order are planning instructive conferences for its friars in the Dominican Rite. The first takes place August 2009 at St. Albert’s priory in Oakland.

My emphases and comments.

Dominican rite aims to shine from the ‘dark ages’ 
Ancient Mass comes to Anchorage

Ethereal chant, incense and perhaps even an ostrich-feathered liturgical fan will soon waft through Holy Family Cathedral in Anchorage.

Beginning Dec. 6, the ancient Dominican rite Mass will be celebrated in Latin every first Saturday of the month at noon.

The successful emergence of the Dominican rite locally is keeping tradition alive, and perhaps fueling organic development of the liturgy into the future[Someone may have been reading WDTPRS!]

By early 2009, the Anchorage Archdiocese is also hoping to provide regular celebrations of the Tridentine Latin Mass, which was the standard Roman Catholic liturgy before the Second Vatican Council (1962-65).

Within the universal Catholic Church, there are 22 different rites, such as the Roman, Byzantine and Coptic, that incorporate different traditions into the Mass.

When it comes to forms of the Mass, “often we think of the Masses as ‘pre-Vatican II’ and ‘post-Vatican II,’ and it was more complicated than that,” said Father Vincent Kelber — a Dominican priest at Holy Family Cathedral, where he is preparing to celebrate the Dominican rite.

In 1570, the Council of Trent codified the Tridentine Mass as “the Mass for all time,” he explained. It then served as the main form of the Mass for the Latin Church until the Second Vatican Council.

The Council of Trent, however, allowed for the celebration of those rites which, at the time, had been in existence for at least 200 years, Father Kelber said.

That meant the Dominican order and others like the Carthusians, Cistercians and Carmelites could continue celebrating their own rites, alongside the principal Tridentine Mass.

Father Kelber explained that by the 1200s, it was clear that the Dominicans needed a common liturgical expression for the order’s many priests who preached and celebrated Mass in varied communities across Europe. Thus, the Dominican rite was established.

While the Tridentine Mass is sometimes criticized for being antiquated, it is actually pretty new compared to the medieval Dominican rite, noted Father Kelber. The Tridentine is really “the beginning of the modern era,” he said.

Ancient is new again

Those familiar with the Tridentine Mass will find similarities in the Dominican rite. Both are celebrated in Latin, which for centuries was the sacred liturgical language of the Catholic Church, Father Kelber said.

Additionally, in both the Tridentine and Dominican rites, priests face the same direction as the congregation — toward the altar.   [Thank you for avoiding the cliche, "back to the people"!]

The point is to be “oriented towards the one God,” said Father Kelber. The Eucharist is always central, he added.

Priests also wear special vestments in the Dominican rite, but since the Dominicans “pre-date lace,” explained Father Kelber, they are not as ornate as those in the Tridentine rite.

Catholics may also notice that the Dominican rite contains many signs of reverence, such as bowing, Father Kelber explained.

A penitential prayer, which the priest leads at the start of the Mass, is said before he enters into the sanctuary, “the holy of holies,” Father Kelber said. Also, communicants receive Communion kneeling.

Every movement in the Mass is purposeful and prayerful; it is embodied worship,” he said.

‘Rite’ for the times

Photo by Patricia Coll Freeman At Holy Family Cathedral Nov. 1, Father Vincent Kelber, O.P. dons the traditional vestments for the ancient Dominican Mass. They include, shown here, a long, white linen garment called an amice, which is appareled with squares or patches of decorative material, and the capuce, a hood or cowl which is part of the Dominican habit.While Vatican II ushered in many needed changes, the continued use of the Dominican rite helped provide stability amid the flux.

“We realize now and Pope Benedict realizes that some of the changes of the Second Vatican Council were good, but some of them were too fast, some weren’t explained, some were poorly implemented and some weren’t according to the documents,” Father Kelber said.

The ancient Masses “helped people to cope,” he added. [Interesting way to put it.]

As part of the patrimony of the church, the ancient Mass is worth preserving, Father Kelber continued.

“It’s okay to have this kind of diversity,” he said.

Father Kelber said it is especially important to appreciate the “ethos” of a pre-reformation tradition, such as that of the Dominicans.

There is a lot that the medieval times can offer,” he said. “They weren’t in the dark ages at all. [Exactly!] They lived a life that we can see today is something worth emulating in many ways, because it was before the busy-ness of the modern world. They knew what contemplation was, they knew what silence was, and we don’t.”

In the 1980s interest in the Dominican rite grew among the young friars of the Dominicans’ Western Province, said Father Kelber. Interest “bloomed again in a new way” with friars, such as Father Kelber, who were ordained in the late 1990s and early 21-century.

With no formal training on how to celebrate the ancient Mass, Father Kelber said he read about the Mass and worked with other priests familiar with it.

“Preservation work is personal,” he said. “It has to be handed-down. It can’t be just gotten out of a book.”

Now, given the growing interest in the Dominican rite, the Western and Eastern Provinces of the Dominican order are planning instructive conferences for its friars. The first takes place August 2009 at St. Albert’s priory in Oakland[Interesting!  I would love to hear more about this.]

Here in Anchorage, with permission from his provincial director and Anchorage Archbishop Roger Schwietz, Father Kelber has been perfecting his practice of the Dominican rite on his days off.

“There are people all over the United States and the world excited about the old rite — excited about Gregorian chant,” he said. “It’s not just one person here saying ‘Well, I miss the old days.’ It’s not just something looking back, but something looking forward and a gift for these crazy times.”

About Fr. John Zuhlsdorf

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

    Deo gratias!

  2. As many will ask about the conference: planning is far advanced and I will be making the particulars public within a week or two. There are some final details that need to be confirmed before that.

    And actually, current planning is only in the Western Domincan Province–although I expect something may eventually happen in the East.

  3. Katie says:

    The Church in Alaska could really use some Orthodoxy and a beautiful Liturgy like this! I’m from Juneau, so Anchorage is close to home. Pray for the Church in Alaska, in particular for the Juneau diocese. Our diocese doesn’t currently have a Bishop…

  4. QC says:

    For some reason I liked the comment about predating lace. :P

  5. Christina says:

    I’m in the eastern province and have only been to a Dominican rite requiem mass. I would LOVE for this rite to be offered it more frequently unfortunately only one of our priests is trained in it. I’m totally emailing this to my pastor (although I think he reads this blog too).

  6. Somerset '76 says:

    If this all comes to fruition as related here, this would perhaps be a good way to invite Gov. Sarah Palin to rediscover her true religious birthright, the Faith into which she was originally baptized.

    Let’s not forget: the two most principled members of the U.S. Supreme Court are both attendees at Old St. Mary’s, the TLM venue in northwest DC….

  7. Ken says:

    Somerset ’76 — if only that were true. Justice Scalia attends the TLM at Saint Mary’s about five times per year, and Justice Thomas has (I believe) never been to Saint Mary’s.

    Interestingly, Justice Kennedy has attended the TLM in Northern Virginia at least once.

  8. We LOVE the Dominicans and the Dominican Rite here in Portland, OR at Holy Rosary CC. No altar girls, no extraordinary ministers of the Eucharist, one species (on the tongue), quiet reverence, and a Latin Mass every Sunday. Thank God for blessing Portland with the only traditional parish in liberal Portland.

  9. Ohio Annie says:

    I like my Dominican parish. No female altar servers, communion kneeling at the rail, etc. Not much Latin and it’s NO but it’s still great.

  10. HD says:

    In the same online issue of the Catholic Anchor issue there is a positive editorial of the Holy Father’s Summorum Pontificum. However there is also a rather slanted, and possibly factually incorrect, explanation of the Novus Ordo written by Fr James Oberle, S.S. which I’m hoping Father Z. will address. Both can be seen at As a Catholic living in Alaska these developments in Anchorage are very welcome.


  11. Derik says:

    I would love to see the Dominican rite extending to a parish near my home. I have always liked the Dominican way of life.

  12. Steve says:

    Isn’t there also a “Franciscan Rite” Liturgy?

  13. A Random Friar says:

    Our Franciscan brothers have not had their own rite, following Roman custom in general. However, they had certain privileges and peculiarities (basically due to wearing their habit with the vestments). Like almost every order, they have their own, supplemental ordo for their own feast days.

  14. Steve,

    No, there is no Franciscan Rite. The Franciscans use the Roman Rite with, of course, their own calendar. That calendar includes not only those on the Roman but also a lot additional Franciscan saints and blesseds. Otherwise, it is identical to the Roman Rite.

    In modern historical times the only religious orders with their own proper rites are: Dominicans, Carthusians, Carmelites, Cistercians. The Benedictine Office might be called a separate “rite” from the Roman as it is very different, indeed very close to the Cistercian Rite Office, but Benedictines use the Roman Mass. It is interesting that the Discalced Carmelites did NOT use the Carmelite Rite, adoption of the Roman Liturgy was part of the Teresian Reform.

  15. HD says:

    Oops, I forgot to paste in the relevant website in my comment above –

    In the same online issue of the Catholic Anchor there is a positive editorial of the Holy Father’s Summorum Pontificum. However there is also a rather slanted, and I think, factually incorrect explanation of the Novus Ordo written by Fr James Oberle, S.S. which I’m hoping Father Z. will address. Both can be seen at As a Catholic living in Alaska these developments in Anchorage are very welcome.


  16. Boko says:

    Still no evidence that the Eastern Province is stepping up to the plate. What’s the hold-up, fellas?

  17. A Random Friar says:

    Dear Boko: you must be confusing our Dominican order with one that is fast and efficient. ;) I can’t speak for the logistics of the East, but part of the problem, I imagine, is to find a proper venue with enough rooms for guests and classes, and seeing if this will mesh with the schedules in that province. I’m not familiar with the East, but I imagine their house of studies would be the only site suitable for such a conference. Give them time.

  18. Andraea says:

    Can the Western Province Dominicans send an invitation to Cardinal Schoenborn OP of Vienna to go to Alaska so he can see the beauty and reverence of the Dominican Latin Rite?

  19. cordelia says:

    i wouldn’t hold my breath waiting for the eastern province.

  20. Mila says:

    Thank you, Fr. Thompson. You answered my question regarding the Carmelite rite before I posted it. My late uncle was a Discalced Carmelite, and as a little girl in Cuba we lived across the street from the Carmelite church. My whole family was very friendly with the friars. One of them gave my mother a Roman-Carmelite Daily Missal, as she attended 6 a.m. Mass daily at the church until shortly before she died. Correct me if I’m wrong, but I recall that either before the final blessing or before the last gospel, the priest came down to the foot of the altar and recited the Salve Regina. I assumed it was part of the Carmelite rite. I have been racking my brain about this for awhile, and can’t seem to find it anywhere.

  21. Dear Mila,

    The recitation of the Salve Regina was part of the Carmelite Rite. Although the Discalced used the Roman Rite, I would not be surprised if they added the Salve at the end of Mass, even though they used the Roman Rite.

    And to all the Norbertines who might be readers. I am sorry that I forgot to include your order as one of those who preserved one of the medieval order rites.

  22. Sacerdote says:

    Father you or friends of yours might be interested in this Dominican Rite Missal:

  23. Matthias says:

    ” question of rites

    Within the universal Catholic Church, there are 22 different rites, such as the Roman, Byzantine and Coptic, that incorporate different traditions into the Mass.”

    I beleive this is confusing the term rite with sui irus churches. There are more then 22 Catholic liturgical rites if you include all the western rites (though I am personally of the opinon that many of these are more properly known as uses rather then rites) and there are only 7ish Eastern rites (depending on whether you include Coptic with the ethiopian or Maronite with the West Syriac). Other then that great article. I hope the Dominicans continue to recover their liturgies and other religious orders in the Latin Church recover their liturgical heritages. Now perhaps if we can get the Sarum use back in England(and maybe even New England)??? ^_^

  24. John R. says:

    Correction, Latin is the traditional language of the Latin Church, not the Catholic or Universal Church. The Eastern Catholic Churches have NEVER used Latin in their liturgies. Syriac, Coptic, Slavonic, Ge’ez, Greek and Armenian are as much traditional languages of the Catholic Church as has Latin.

    The Latin Church is NOT synonymous with the Catholic Church.

  25. Gareth says:

    The Dominican rite is quite beautiful and I remember it with great fondness. There are many notable differences from the Gregorian rite (EF). In Low Mass, the chalice is prepared at the beginning of Mass. The Prayers at the foot of the Altar , particularly the Confiteor are notably different; (I quite like “salvet et confirmet in omni opero bono” – save and strengthen us in every good work). There is a cross-bearer at the head of the Gospel procession in High Mass. The rite is a joy to serve and it’s with great joy that I remember the days I did so in the 90s. They were the days I really learnt how to use an amice!! The Dominican solemn tone for the Salve Regina, sung at compline is truly magnificent (bias detector – highly likely :-)

  26. Diego Jose says:

    I read somewhere that the Dominican Rite is schismatic — claiming ‘sede vacante’. Is this true? You see I’m one of those Catholics that is always so afraid of attending a parish with whom I am not intimately familiar. I just got creeped out this week when I learned a local group of priests here (New Hampshire) reject the Church’s position on baptism of desire.

    Fr. John Zuhlsdorf, if you would, please e-mail me about this.

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