Another Novus Ordo Mass ad orientem

From a reader:

I believe that you occasionally publish news of liturgical interest from various churches.

If you would like, please publicize that the 10:30 am Mass on Sunday mornings at Old St. Patrick in Ann Arbor, Michigan, is now being offered Ad Orientem every week by Father Gerald Gawronski (as well as all weekday Masses).

Attached are some pictures if you want to include any of them.

Brick by brick!

About Fr. John Zuhlsdorf

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

    I’m glad to see the Altar Rail. Do they use it?

    When will they get rid of the free standing Altar?

    Brick by brick.

  2. Ed says:

    This is certainly a beautiful thing to see-and I had a great need! I try to speak as often as possible of the superiority of ad orientem celebration with my students. Perhaps one day I’l get to experience it (in the ordinary form, that is).

    Brick-by-brick! Deo gratias!

  3. Michael Thoma says:

    That little free standing altar-ette looks aesthetically ridiculous with that large beautiful altar behind it. How would anything fit on that altarette, for example the lectionary and the gifts? What was the thought behind whoever came up with that?

  4. Bridget says:

    Hey, there are my boys serving on the altar!

    Fr. Gerald is doing a great job!

  5. TJM says:

    Ah, the days are getting better. This wonderful priest is to be commended. Tom

  6. TJM says:

    They need to push the “credence table” back against the wall. Tom

  7. Victor says:

    @Michael Thoma: Probably \”Well we can\’t get rid of the old High Altar, but Vatican II proscribed the use of a freestanding altar and prohibited celebrating versus Deum, so let\’s put an alibi altar in there and let\’s not care how ridiculous it looks!\”

  8. Bridget says:

    You would not believe how far this parish has come under Fr. Gawronski. It has been a suffering, back breaking work for him to remove the “old bricks” as he slowly puts the new ones in place.

  9. Michelle says:

    As a student at a certain large university in Ann Arbor, this is extremely refreshing to hear.

  10. IS says:

    How on earth can you celebrate Mass on that tiny altar in front?

  11. Jonathan Bennet says:

    You think that looks ridiculous? I live in Ottawa, and whenever I go to Notre Dame Cathedral here I must stifle my laughter at the tiny square wooden table at the bottom of the steps to the massive marble High Altar. In no other church have I ever seen the new Altar look so out of place, so foreign to it’s surroundings, and so utterly pointless.

  12. vox borealis says:

    “How on earth can you celebrate Mass on that tiny altar in front?”


    Yet amazingly they do. The miracle of the Holy Sacrifice of the mass prevails.

    Jonathan Bennet,

    Really, stifling _laughter_ at mass?

  13. vox borealis says:

    To elaborate on my last post–it would be nice, for a change, when Fr. Z. posts a clear example of the restoration of our Catholic liturgical heritage and/or more appropriate liturgical praxis, that the comments thread not immediately fill up with snarky comments about the “credence table looking ridiculous,” or similar.

  14. John says:

    What great news! I worked for this priest for two years; he is a great man and a great priest. Please pray for him.

  15. Mitch says:

    To me with all the restoration taking place all over and beautiful at that, I am always saddened to read in a post that a new “table” is being installed or has been recently in front of the older High Altar..What is the point nowadays….Don’t they read the news or know what is happening with the grassroots movements to remove the altar tables or at least make them movable…But erecting new ones??? For every restoration I wonder how many new Altar tables are added..Any statistics anyone?? For example I believe, but could be wrong that the Altar table was removed from the Sistine Chapel or somewhere in the Vatican…THAT should have been highly publicized to indicate the ways things should be going..The more traditional events and restorations are a little too low profile to reach across the oceans…More information regarding why these things are being done is a good form of International Cathechis with a slightly louder voice…..These photos are wonderful but would love to see them in the New York Times…If I could rent a private two page add I would do it and include the Cathechis…LOL what are the chances???

  16. Central Valley Catholic says:

    Thanks be to GOD, priests following the lead of the Holy Father. Beautiful chuch and wonderful altar, that ugly lawn furniture( I would never let that on my patio) thing in front of the altar needs to be removed….yesterday.

  17. Kavi says:

    @vox – do you really find it that extraordinary to have to stifle laughter during Mass? Or is this sarcasm? The absurdity of some of our North American decor never ceases to amuse and delight me (to say nothing of the sermons!) Yes, it’s distracting, but for the sake of charity, ’tis better to nearly laugh than to grind the teeth and plot the demise of people who are generally well-meaning (just a little confused).

  18. Katherine Therese says:

    Father Gawronski was the parochial vicar for Immaculate Heart of Mary here in Lansing. He is a wonderful priest and I sorely miss him, even if he is a U-M fan ;)

  19. Ruth Lapeyre says:

    At our parish, which more often than not has an EF high Mass on weekdays and Sundays throughout the year, we still have a free standing table. Many have commented about this and wonder when Father is going to have it removed. My limited understanding of the situation is that there are pastoral reasons and some I suspect having to do with the diocese itself. Must a priest get permission from his bishop to remove an altar? I am pretty sure even our free standing altar has the bones of a saint so I ask another question; what happens to relics when an altar is removed… either the high altar or the other kind? I hope some more knowledgeable than I will be willing to answer these questions.

  20. Fr. AJ says:

    Hmmmm…why not just move the altarette? It looks to be very moveable. Seems silly to leave it in place.

  21. Maureen says:

    You’re supposed to save the stifled laughter for the stuff the kids in the pews two in front of you are doing! :)

  22. Dr. Eric says:


    I went to the website of La Cathedrale Notre Dame. That little altar stuck out in the middle of nowhere in that gorgeous Cathedral does look ridiculous.

  23. Mike says:

    Regarding the question about relics residing in free standing altar tables. Most altar tables have a removable square altar stone inserted into the table top. An altar stone can easily be removed. Although not all free standing tables have removable altar stones, most do.

  24. Mara says:

    While the free-standing altar can be physically moved, it is still used for the other 2 weekend Masses. Also, it is still a blessed altar, and while I don’t know all of the “rubrics” about things such as this, I have been given the impression that it would be innappropriate to move a blessed altar (with relics and stuff in it.) Plus there is the practical detail of where to store it when not in use (as you can see it is a small church, and there is not much storage space!)

  25. Mitch says:

    That small little altar might actually work great for a little Eastern rite mission or something where they need a small square altar. Just an idea if they ever decided to stop using it.

  26. Ann says:

    Oh that’s beautiful!!

  27. Mike says:

    From my understanding most novus ordo free standing altar tables are not consecrated as a whole. Perhaps the table itself is blessed (perhaps not – I don’t think it’s required) but I believe only the small inserted altar stone is consecrated by the bishop. Other than causing hurt feelings on the part of those who are enamoured with free standing altar tables, there is nothing wrong rubric-wise in removing a free standing table (unless the Bishop of the diocese expressly forbids it).

  28. very beautiful pictrues!!

  29. Boniface says:

    I go to this parish, and I can give you some input.

    1) The “tabellete” was installed in the 80’s during the tenure of a very liberal priest. This priest wore tie-dye and had dancers at the Masses waving streamers.

    2) Fr. Gawronski arrived in 2005 (I think) and promptly returned the Church to tradition – it is amazing the High Altar survived. The Mass is still said on the “tabellete” on Sunday at 8:00 AM and Saturday at 4:30, but mostly the High Altar is used.

    3) Fr. Gerald dug the altar rails out of the parish garage, had them refurbished and reinstalled in 2007. They are not used, but I think he hopes to one day. They have been used when visitnf priests offer the TLM.

    4) Notice how packed the Church is? I wish somebody would have taken a pic of the back to the Church…it was so crowded, there was no room even to stand. The vestibule had about twenty people crammed into it. His NO Masses using the tabellete, by comparison, are sparsely attended – lots of empty pews.

  30. David Palm says:

    [ Really, stifling laughter at mass? ]

    Laughin’s better than cryin’……..

  31. Edward Martin says:

    Great to see, but my question is how appropriate is it to take photos during the Mass?

  32. Boniface says:


    I don’t know whether it is appropriate or not, but nobody ever complains about all the pics of TLMs that are regularly posted on here.

  33. TJM says:

    It’s only inappropriate if it interferes with worship. Tom

  34. Marilee says:

    God bless this wonderful priest. Can we please have him in Seattle???? Fr Phillip Bloom of Holy Family Parish in White center is also a very wonderful Priest. He celebrated TLM when the Motu Propio was started in Sept. 2007, the only parish with weekly Latin Mass in the Arch of Seattle, thanks to Arch Brunett. Thanks God we now have a quasi-parish of the Latin Rite Community Northamericanmartyrs Parish ( with Fr Gerard Saguto, FSSP as Parish Administrator. This parish was established in October, 2008.
    I hope that all Parish priests learn to celebrate the Latin Masses so that parishes can have at least One(1) Latin Sunday Mass…. SO wonderful to attend this Latin Masses. THEY ARE SO UPLIFTING….. YOUR HEART WORSHIPS GOD AND YOU FEEL THE LOVE HE RETURNS TO YOU AT MASS.

  35. Vox Borealis says:

    Without trying to sound holier than thou, I try to focus on the sacrifice of the Mass, rather than on giggles about the no-doubt out-of-place table altars. I often pray during mass–novus ordo or TLM–with my eyes closed, or looking at the crucifix. If people are really having a hard time stifling laughter during mass, they are paying attention to the wrong things.

    This is not to say that I am blind to the silly tables that do look out of place in many a grand church. It usually makes me sad, rather than giggly. But in any case, my attention on such is reserved for times outside of the mass.

    And anyway, my main point is that it would be nice if occasionally, even once, when Fr. Z. posts a story about a hopeful sign such as this, the usually snarkiness not ensue.


  36. Joe says:

    Boniface, I would rephrase Edward’s question to ask whether it is appropriate to take pictures OF Mass. I especially wonder (and perhaps this is really the only thing that makes me uneasy at all) at pictures of people receiving Communion.

  37. Gabrielle says:

    I am a thirteen year old parishioner at Old St. Patrick’s.My family has tremendous admiration for Fr. Gerald and Deacon Papp, and I love the beautiful church and amazing music
    (especially the Gregorian Chant!) I find the Ad Orientum very helpful; you focus less on the priest and more on the Mass.

  38. Joseph Fromm says:

    I went on a Pilgrimage to Poland about 5 years ago. It was quite common to see a Novus Ordo Mass in an Ad Orientum style.

  39. Michael Thoma says:


    That is a “credence table”? From my (limited) understanding, a “credence table” is used in Latin Rite Churches to place the unconsecrated bread and wine and other items to be brought to the altar for the Liturgy of the Eucharist. This is not being used as a “credence table” but as an altar. I still wonder where Father has room to place both a Lectionary and the Chalice and Paten. That mini-altar is really tiny, if you look at the pics, it is almost exactly the size of the corporal.

    Someone suggest an Eastern Rite mission. Sorry, but I can’t think of an altar that tiny in any Eastern Rite, whether Byzantine, Oriental, or Assyro-Chaldean. Although, it would be perfect to use as a stand for the tabernacle in an Eastern parish.

  40. vox borealis says:

    Michael Thoma,

    The issue is NOT the tiny altar. I agree that the tiny altar is tiny, and that–ideally–it would be removed, and all masses would be ad orientem, etc. The point is why so many must focus on the mini-altar and complain about it, instead of focusing on what Fr. Z. has called our attention to, another brick in the restoration of Catholic liturgical practice.

    Moreover, if were assisting at that beautiful mass, I would not be hung up on or stifling giggles over the diminutive size of the small “versus populum” altar. I would, you know, be directing my thoughts towards more important matters.

  41. Jonathan Bennet says:

    Actually never have I stifled laughter at Mass. The fact is, I do not go to Mass at Notre Dame Cathedral. I do often go there to pray when I am in downtown Ottawa. And, admittedly, each time I am there the presence of that eye-sore leads me first to a stifled laugh and then to some reflection on the state of the liturgy today. Seeing a Mass celebrated on that tiny table, and the lectors in the choir stalls and such makes everything look so foreign to the beautiful Cathedral itself.

  42. BTW, in the interest of bursting customary stereotypes, my impression is that this priest is either charismatic or friendly to the charismatic renewal.

  43. TJM says:

    Michael Thoma, my comment was meant as a joke. When I was an altar boy decades ago, we had credence tables larger than this altar. Tom

  44. Dave Pawlak says:

    Perhaps the freestanding altar will be removed with time. St. John Cantius in Chicago used to have one, and Fr. Phillips eventually removed it.

  45. TJM says:

    Dave Pawlak, your memory is correct. I remember how much more elevated the Novus Ordo in Latin became once the priests there started celebrating ad orientem. Tom

  46. Joe says:

    In the first and second picture the congregation and servers are kneeling but not the Deacon. He is not obviously helping the Priest; presuming the kneeling is that prescribed by the GIRM, and taking into account the Deacon’s participation in the Doxology, should not the Deacon be kneeling too in the first two pictures?

  47. He looks more “seasoned” . Perhaps he has knee issues.

    If you watch mass on EWTN, the deacon on there I dont believe kneels anymore, most because I think he cant without assistance. Perhaps they make allowances based on health?

  48. Mara says:

    That was perhaps true in the past regarding Father, but I do not believe it is true anymore. (I would allow him to clarify this, but he is not very active in the blogosphere world! I think he is somewhere between “friendly” and “unfriendly” towards it. Perhaps “neutral,” or slightly less than.)

    The deacon does kneel during the consecration. I am not sure if it has anything to do with his knees or rubrics that he doesn’t kneel for the rest of the Eucharistic Prayer. I have a fourth picture that Fr. Z. does not have, posted on my blog with the consecration occuring, and he is kneeling.

    and to clarify part of Boniface’s comment, yes, this is the most packed Mass of the weekend, but I suspect that has to do more with the timing rather than the liturgy.

  49. Boniface says:

    First, to Oswald Sobrino-

    This priest is not charismatic, nor do I think he is “friendly” with the CR. There is absolutely no hint of charismatic stuff in this parish, and I think (me speaking, not him) that he thinks the charismatic stuff is a little bit too focused on emotions.

    Now, Joe:

    The deacon in the NO masses always elevates the chalice with the priest at the elevation – I don’t know if its legit, but that’s the way it was always done. He was in fact kneeling, as can be seen by this pic of the same Mass on another blog (second picture):

  50. Joe says:

    thanks to those who responded with more information. Boniface, according to the GIRM (by which I mean the old one, since we don’t have the new one in Canada yet) the Deacon elevates the Chalice, so this is appropriate.

  51. Brendan says:

    I have been a member of this parish my entire life (from the rainbow-streamer altar girls to the reinstallation of the altar rails.) To those criticizing the priest for having a freestanding altar or looking charismatic or whatever else, you have obviously never visited our parish and don’t know the history of it. You should join us for Mass sometime, instead of criticizing something you don’t know about.

    And Hi Mara and Boniface :p

  52. yeoldeacolyte says:

    Either pull the old altar out away from the reredos and get rid of the cube-shaped chopping block,or get rid of the old altar and substitute the “chopping block” with an antependium draped over or around it. But to have TWO altars in the same sanctuary?? Whatever happened to that old principle: one Christ, one altar, one eucharist, one bishop, etc???

    If the Roman Church can’t match its time honored liturgical principles with its practices, then our liturgical wars continue. When does Pope Benedict plan to end this civil war? If he can’t, maybe we should all simply cross the aisle to Eastern Orthodoxy where endless experimentation, adjustment, and readjustment to the liturgical trend of the moment seems minimal or non-existent.

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