Bethel, Alaska – TLM

From a reader:

From the January 11th parish bulletin of the Immaculate Conception Catholic Church in Bethel, Alaska –

"Father Chuck will celebrate a Latin Mass on Saturday, January 31st at 7:00 pm. However, those who wish to participate in the Mass must attend "practice" sessions each Saturday at 5 pm. These sessions will last approximately 1 hour."

Father Chuck Peterson, S.J. is a missionary priest to the primarily Yup’ik Eskimo of western Alaska. We are the last missionary diocese in the United States. When Father first arrived here in the mid-1960’s travel between villages was still by dog team in the winter. He is a wonderful priest full of love for God and his parishioners. Yet, like all people he is also a product of his times and his order, and I suspect was a bit resistant or possibly concerned about the requests he was receiving for a Mass in the Extraordinary Form. However, the requests were polite and came from more than one person and in time he became quite agreeable and enthusiastic.

We had our first meeting last night where we practiced our Latin, discussed at length the meaning and importance of the priest’s and server’s prayers and discussed what seem to be some of the positive and negative ramifications of the interpretation of the Novus Ordo.

We’re all pleased and thankful.

I bet your are!


I am sure WDTPRSers will appreciate photos.

Ice block by ice block!

About Fr. John Zuhlsdorf

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

    Fr. Chuck Peterson, SJ!

    Wow, this gravitational pull is even stronger than anticipated! :-)

  2. Jonathan Bennet says:

    Excellent news, of course, though I am curious about these “practice sessions”. Are these meant to teach the parishoners about the Mass, or will they serve as a way of giving people the idea that the old Mass is more of a burden then it is worth?

  3. Wow! Bethel Alaska, the arm pit of the world, gets the Mass…yet in cosmopolitan Anchorage, we still wait….

  4. Tom Lanter says:

    Please give this faithful Jesuit the benefit of the doubt, he has been there for forty years and is agreeable and enthusiastic about this project. Although I too am often very skeptical. In this case I think “Classes” are a good idea, all Masses should be offered as well as is humanly possible. In other words in doing and saying in union with the intentions of the Church.

    I dare say most parishes could use a few sessions on the N.O. Mass.

    Keep the faith
    Tom Lanter

  5. Breier says:


    Classes are a great idea, but are people going to be turned away from Mass if they don’t go to a class?


  6. “[T]hose who wish to participate in the Mass must attend ‘practice’ sessions each Saturday at 5 pm.”

    I’m a little concerned about the appearance of making the practice sessions a requirement. Are they going to check IDs at the door? While a class may be of great benefit, there is no precedent for passing a course to be able to attend Mass.

    I don’t care what they meant. That’s what it says.

  7. chironomo says:

    Perhaps they could hold practice sessions for those who attend the NO as well….

    I think the words “must attend” are a bit out of place here. How about “classes will be held on Saturday at 5PM for those who wish to better prepare themselves to attend the Mass in the Extraordinary Form”.

    Whatever his reason (he HAS been there for forty years, maybe we can assume he knows his people well… perhaps he knows that attending such classes will not be seen as an undue burden… perhaps they enjoy attending events at Church!), this is a great development.

  8. AlexB says:

    It’s not entirely surprising that this effort is happening in the Diocese of Fairbanks. That is where Alaska’s only approved EF Mass has been held for years, in the House of Prayer at Sacred Heart Cathedral. And that Mass, too, has long been celebrated by a Jesuit, Fr. Normand Pepin, SJ.

  9. StatCrux says:

    Maybe Alaska is where the Society ships off the renegade orthodox?

    Gravitational effects have an effect on everyone whether they want it or not.

    God bless Pope Benedict!

  10. Andrew, UK and sometimes Canada says:

    Classes are a brilliant idea! I first grew to really love the Mass (N.O.) in elementary school when a kind priest taught us the meaning of the Mass. Rather than celebrating the Eucharist he walked through each part of the Mass teaching us about its history and symbolism. After this he celebrated a real Mass, which suddenly held a lot more meaning.

    Classes for the TLM can only be good because they will serve to show that it is NOT inaccessible or indeciphrable but, instead, ineffable.

  11. ED says:

    What else is there to do but go to the practices in Bethel Alaska, geezzzz

  12. TerryC says:

    I’m shocked…shocked that a priest is actually engaged in catechesis of the faithful! What a horrible example. Next thing you know someone might actually expect Catholics to know what the Catechism of the Catholic Church says, or actually read Humanae Vitae before the criticize it.:-)
    It sounds like Fr. Peterson is a awesome priest. The Society Of Jesus still has a way of forming awesome men, who they then consign to the back end of civilization. Just look at their history. Some of their best men have always been in South America, Japan, the Southwest U.S., all when those were the backend of European civilization anyway, while their brethren more “civilized” places, including Rome, did nothing but managed to get the order almost disestablished under suspicion of heresy time after time. Looks like they’re still working at it.

  13. Darin says:

    I’m very impressed! My family and I are entrenched in our faith. Sadly, in my dioceses, Peoria, the Novus Ordo is only said at the Cathedral with any regularity. We’ve gone a few time, but it’s a 2 hour drive so it’s not very convenient.

    The reason I respond though is because I’ve recently applied for a position in Bethel and one of our concerns has been the impact on our faith. The web sites we’ve found lead us to believe that Mass isn’t said there every weekend let alone daily. But having read this posting, we are very encouraged. Is the Mass offered every Sunday? Is there daily Mass there? Thanks for any responses you can give!!


    Darin Ries

  14. supertradmom says:

    Great news, and a change from the “frozen” response of the Bishop of Anchorage, who has been openly anti-

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