QUAERITUR: we want the TLM, but no priest, no parish

From a reader:

I must drive 1.5 hours minimum (in good driving conditions) to attend an EF mass.  There is only the […] offering it before noon.  I have 7, soon to be 8 children.  There are easily 12 parishes within 1/2 hour drive.  My own pastor refuses to offer latin mass in either form.  He isn’t at all prepared and he would likely get lynched.  I and others in the area have written to Archbishop […] requesting easier access.  The clergy in the area have no interest and some have contempt for anything latin.  Do I have reason to write to Ecclesia Dei or am I being unreasonable?   How would I go about it? 


You always have the right to write directly to the the competent office of the Holy See at any time.

That said, it is best to get involved locally before writing to the Holy See.

What you describe is not an easily solved situation.  If there is no priest who is capable of using the 1962MR, what can be done?  You can’t have that Mass without a priest who know how to do it.

I suggest that you keep working on your local Archbishop, saving copies of all your correspondence.

In the meantime, if there is a priest within a reasonable distance, perhaps you and others could arrange to bring the priest to you for a private Mass from time to time at a local parish where the pastor is disposed at least to help you that way. Be ready to give a donation to both the parish and the priest.

Keep a chronicle of everything that happens and urge others with your interest to do so as well.  Things written on paper remain, and they can be useful in future correspondence in case you need to write to the Holy See.

But the key here is a) find a priest willing to say that Mass and b) find a local priest willing to host it, it not do it himself.

You may need to apply some real diplomacy. 

In the meantime, keep going to Mass on days of obligation, even if you must go to the Novus Ordo.

About Fr. John Zuhlsdorf

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

    And pray for the priest who will be sent. He may not even realize yet where our Lord is sending him.

  2. It certainly wouldn’t hurt to scatter around copies of the instructional DVDs among your local priests. [Good idea.] I mean, it’s not as if they were born knowing how to offer the OF. They can’t be expected to magically pull the EF out of their hats if nobody helps them learn.

  3. Bornacatholic says:

    Dear Sister. God Bless your heart and your family. I have added you, your family, and your intention, to my daily prayers.

    Bishops will have many things to answer for, not the least of which will be denying to their sheep legitimate spiritual requests, such as The Extraordinary Rite.

    So what if nobody else in your Diocese desires the Rite. God does. And whom ought we fear more?

    Women like you, families like yours, and the sacrifices you make, will become part of the very foundation being laid by Our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ as he rebuilds a smaller but stronger Church.

  4. lacrossecath says:

    I am very blessed to have local(less than 30 min drive) options open. We have two orders who say the TLM and one local order who does a Latin NO. I wonder if moving is a possibility? Don’t forget to pray & offer sacrifices for your priests!

  5. Tim Ferguson says:

    I would also recommend getting involved in the local parish as much as possible – even if you go elsewhere for Mass. [See the Rules!] Volunteer to help with the parish festival, teach CCD, supply hot dishes for funeral luncheons, join the St. Vincent de Paul Society, etc. Take the older kids into the Church for adoration, or a family rosary once in awhile – or just invite Father over for dinner now and again (not all priests are as talented as Fr. Z is in the kitchen!)

    When Father sees that his good, active parishioners are going elsewhere for Mass because they prefer the EF or a Latin Novus Ordo, he’s more likely to try to be accomodating than he would be for people who aren’t involved.

  6. Thanks, Tim. That is exactly the right advice. I know from experience that those who are involved in a parish get what they ask for, those who the priest has never seen before don’t.

  7. Salvatore_Giuseppe says:

    Depending on who offers the EF that you currently attend, you should ask if one of the priests there would be willing to train a priest, should you be able to find one willing to learn.

    At the same time, you should begin to form a group of people, from your parish, and from the several parishes you mention are close by(either by noticing they are at the EF Mass you assist at, or you could even try sneaking announcements in Bulletins that you are looking to see if there is any interest.

    Once you have a group, and a Priest willing to train, you should approach the various prish priests in the area and give your arguments, such as that you have x number of people who would attend weekly (not to mention others who may decide to come “just to check it out” and may never leave.) and that you have a priest that is willing to offer instruction.

    Keep in mind also that if you find someone, you may be in need of funds to buy things such as a chalice veil, maniple, altar cards, etc. Here too, a group of people would be helpful

  8. TravelerWithChrist says:

    We have a similar situation in our diocese. However, we have a priest eager and willing to celebrate mass but he is not allowed to do so by the bishop. He has been ordained about two years and is only the parochial vicar at a parish. One parish has TLM mass but is quite a distance, the priest was sent to the outskirts of the diocese as ‘punishment’.

    I’m glad this topic came up. It sounds as if we should now contact the competent office of the Holy See, as we have put forth effort otherwise in speaking with various priests and the bishop’s office.

    Thank you Fr. Z for your wonderful blog.

  9. Tradster says:

    We have just the opposite situation for which, quite understandably, most would wish they had that “problem”. The pastor of the NO parish where we spent nearly 25 years before switching to the EF steadfastly refuses to introduce the EF. He uses the excuse that the adjoining parish offers one each week (we travel to one about an hour away rather than the one a half-mile away for reasons not pertinent here). Now, other than the NO we very much like that pastor and the people of the parish, and even two years later are still disappointed in his refusal which keeps us from the parish. And, yes, my wife and I were for most of those years very active right up until we left (CCD teachers, lectors, Knights, Parish Council, parish website manager, etc. etc.).

    My point in bringing this up is that I’ve never seen any mention of the apparent problem that an EF within a reasonable driving distance (say 3 to 5 miles) seems to be a convenient excuse for the rest of the parishes to ignore it. If that continues then we’ll never have more than a sprinkling of them, even in the most TLM-friendly dioceses (which ours definitely is not). I’m at a loss as to how to address it.

  10. Cricket says:

    The good Lord helps those who help themselves, & action is certainly important. But you might also use this time of “waiting” as a kind of sacrificial prayer. You’ll have the EF before you know it! :0)

  11. Ef-lover says:

    Being involved in one’s parish does not mean the pastor will grant what you ask for, I have been involved in my parish for about 25years –as CCD teacher for 17 years now, lector for like 7yrs, usher for 17yrs , cyo ,worker at parish fair,RCIA teacher, president of the respect life, knights of columbus–my mother past away a week before Christmas and I requested a funeral in the Extraordinary Form which the local una voce would have provided the priest, vestments, liturgical books, altar boys, and music and my pastor knew the priest who would have offered the mass because he had taught this priest before his ordination. My pastor refused to allow an EF requiem — he said ” it would not be a good thing to have this mass”

  12. Flambeaux says:

    No, parochial involvement won’t guarantee anything. It certainly won’t guarantee that after “time served” the EF will be made available in a particular place.

    But it is a necessary component of our life as Catholics. And, perhaps, the Good Lord is asking a few of us to pour out our attachment to the EF of the Roman Rite as an offering to Him. That certainly seems to have been the case in my particular experience over the last decade.

  13. Christopher Gainey says:

    These comments are really encouraging. I agree that parish involvement is necessary anyway but irrelevant. Maybe that’s not a bad thing. Too many Catholics “use” the Church as it is. Forming a group is a great idea. And prayer, prayer, prayer. We can pray for our needs and for one another. Thanks Father Z. Anyone have experience/advice requesting an EF Baptism?

  14. Emily Lowe says:

    “Women like you, families like yours, and the sacrifices you make, will become part of the very foundation being laid by Our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ as he rebuilds a smaller but stronger Church.”
    Amen to that!

    Yesterday, on EWTN, they televised the Epiphony Mass in the Vatican, and it was either entirely the EF or atleast quasi-EF (I came into it more than halfway through, but I still got to see and hear a lot of it). This shows that Pope Benedict is trying to bring the two rites closer together– in other words, the pre-Vatican II and post-Vatican II worlds are slowly inching towards each other.
    The liturgy document of the Second Vatican Council actually called for many things– like Gregorian Chant and the Latin language– to remain in the reformed version of the Mass. Unfortunately, extreme liberals took the reform into their own hands and really turned it upside down. It appears that the pope may very well be trying to implement Vatican II in the proper way, thus leaning it more towards conserving the old liturgy.

    It’s just amazing for me to see this because I only joined an EF parish within the past 7 months, and it wasn’t because I had a deep love of it yet. Rather, it was because I got so sick of liturgical abuse everywhere else* and I felt like God was calling me to the EF parish. It seemed to be the only place that didn’t really have liturgical abuse, so it seemed like it would actually do good for my faith. It has done so much good and so much more!!!

    *except for my old parish, which is really conservative and good, but that’s the parish my parents are at and I wanted to join a new one anyway

  15. Edward C. says:

    Re: Baptism using the traditional rite. I simply spoke with my pastor about it. I’d already read the ritual and had a copy for him. He is a very orthodox priest, which was very helpful. Perhaps for you, however, that the ritual may be offered in the vernacular might be helpful in having your pastor agree to perform it. The rubrics are pretty easy to follow, and, as my pastor said, the prayers of the rite sound like…well…prayers.

  16. Father S. says:

    RE: Tradster

    While I appreciate your desire for a greater openness to the Church’s wondrous liturgical treasures, I am not sure that I disagree with the priest who says that Holy Mass is offered nearby in the Extraordinary Form. I do now know about the details of where you are, but this is a pretty standard practice for a wide variety of things we have and offer. For example, in most dioceses only selected parishes have resources available in Spanish. Very often, parishioners are asked to go where such resources are offered (from the Sacraments to staff members who are bilingual). It is also common to have parishes for those who are Vietnamese or Korean. The same is true for Catholic schools. While parishes should do their best to provide them, that is not always possible and sometimes people need to look around to other parishes.

    I think that it is also important to consider distance here. The closest parish to mine is eleven miles away. In some parts of the country, the distance between parishes could be nearly an hour away. If you only have to be in the car for a few minutes, that is incredibly convenient. I have farmers who have not been to Holy Mass now for two weeks simply because county roads are not yet cleared from the storm.

    I should also say that I am very open to the Extraordinary Form. I read Latin without difficulty and I love both the Novus Ordo and the Extraordinary Form. My parishioners have asked for the Extraordinary Form and we provide it. We do not provide it on Sunday simply because with 8,000 parishioners, if twenty or thirty people are interested, we will not replace the Holy Mass in English that draws 700. Also, we are at our legal limit with two priests. We have six Holy Masses on the weekend so we are not free to offer more.

  17. RosaMystica says:

    I suspect that I know the person who wrote in to Father Z, and if so, then I agree with her that the situation is dire. There is a local group which has already officially requested the TLM, and the local bishop has refused, claiming that there are “higher priorities” that he must attend to. If I know this woman, she is already doing all of the things which have been suggested (like bringing ALL of her kids to daily mass). What she has not said is that even the Ordinary Form of the mass here is available only in its most banal expression (lots of chatting, greeting, clapping, even dancing at the school masses). There are places (I suspect quite a few) where faithful Catholics are suffering with terrible liturgy and have nowhere to turn. Please pray for us. I offer the liturgy as penance every Sunday. The one good thing is that I have learned to see how great Christ’s mercy is, that he will condescend and come to us even when we refuse to treat him with the reverence he deserves.

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