Dallas, TX: A new church for the old Mass. Fr. Z rants.

Here are some excerpts from a brick by brick success story in Dallas.  From dallasnews.com:

Dallas Diocese’s only Latin Mass church, Mater Dei, celebrates opening of Irving sanctuary

By SAM HODGES / The Dallas Morning News

Jack Schmidt converted to Catholicism about a decade ago and never learned Latin. But that’s the language he prefers for Mass.

“I really feel like I’ve been to Mass when I come to the Latin Mass,” the Irving man said.

Andrew Davis does know Latin and struggles in English to describe how much the traditional Latin Mass means to him.

“The liturgy is so beautiful and inspiring,” the Corinth college student said. “It’s something that really raises my heart and mind to God.”

For Schmidt, Davis and a few hundred other North Texas Catholics, this is a big day. Mater Dei Catholic Church, local home of the traditional Latin Mass, will be in its own sanctuary for the first time.

Bishop Kevin Farrell of the Diocese of Dallas will come to Irving this morning to bless a former Korean Methodist church building that had a $600,000 makeover to become Mater Dei’s worship space.

The location would seem unlikely for the only Diocese of Dallas church where Latin liturgy is the norm. Tractor-trailer trucks grind their gears on nearby East Highway 356. Neighbors include a Waffle House and a body shop.

But Mater Dei has doubled attendance to 600 at two Sunday Masses since buying the property last December and beginning to meet in the fellowship hall.

Mater Dei leaders believe the sanctuary will only boost the pace of growth.

“It’s going to be too small, very fast,” said the Rev. Thomas Longua, pastor.


In 1991, the Mater Dei (Latin for “mother of God”) community formed in Dallas in connection with the Priestly Fraternity of St. Peter in North America, which is committed to the traditional Latin Mass. That group met in borrowed space, including for more than 17 years in the chapel of a local convent.

Last year, Farrell gave Mater Dei permission to buy the Irving property. Longua said he got the keys on Dec. 6. Church members had the fellowship hall ready for Mass in less than 24 hours.

At Easter, Farrell established Mater Dei as a “personal parish,” meaning Catholics from around the diocese are free to be members there or just attend.


At our church, people go to confession a lot,” said Julie Dougherty, who has been part of Mater Dei almost since its beginning.

Mater Dei’s approach to Catholicism is, in fact, comprehensively traditional.


Longua noted that nearly all Mater Dei parishioners are involved in anti-abortion efforts. Many parents home-school their children. Adherence to the Vatican’s teaching against contraception is high.

That means big families.


For some photos and insider observations, check the blog Ut videam.

As I read this, what flashed through my mind was that there are many bishops and priests out there who are just fine with any number of liturgical abuses of the Novus Ordo, all manner of shabby preaching, loss of Catholic identity resulting in shrinking congregations, closing schools and loss of hospitals.

But remember! …  It’s the old Mass that’s dangerous and has to be contained.

About Fr. John Zuhlsdorf

Fr. Z is the guy who runs this blog. o{]:¬)
This entry was posted in Brick by Brick, New Evangelization, Our Catholic Identity, Wherein Fr. Z Rants and tagged , . Bookmark the permalink.


  1. chironomo says:

    This is a good description of our local FSSP Parish as well… younger families with children… lots of home-school families… and a greater participation (actual participation!) in representing the Church OUTSIDE of Mass.
    There is the very strong impression though, if you visit the FSSP Parish on one Sunday, and a local NO Parish on another Sunday, that you are seeing two distinctly different faiths. Much of this might be due to how the NO is celebrated, granted, but I still find it hard to see the OF and EF as simply “two forms” of one Rite. I wish it were so, but I think the continued opposition by the Bishops and Priests you refer to is because of the sharp distinction. I would go so far as to say that there is some form of “jealousy” that has developed…. many “NO Priests” see the strong faith of the EF communities and have to write it off as some kind of fake piety or nostalgia because they don’t see that strength of faith in their own communities and are left wondering what can be done to acheive it. The fear is that if they “try” a return to tradition, even modest steps, and it actually works, they end up betraying everything they have worked for up to now and will have to answer for why they wouldn’t listen for all these years. Nobody likes having to hear “I told you so…”.

  2. Scott W. says:

    Yes, the poo-pooers of the old Mass want to have it both ways–“The old Mass is irrelevant and nobody cares about it!” then five minutes later crying that allowing the irrelevant old Mass more leeway will single-handedly destroy the Church.

  3. Emilio III says:

    The News article is a bit misleading in saying that Mater Dei has the only Latin Mass in the Diocese. St William Parish in Greenville celebrates the Novus Ordo Mass in Latin (as well as in English and Spanish).

  4. Konichiwa says:

    I was there for the blessing of the Mater Dei Blessing and Reception. It was a great experience. As part of his homily, Bishop Farrell reminded the congregation not to criticise other Catholics’ way of worship. I’m not sure to what degree that message is needed there, but it’s a good reminder.

  5. TJerome says:

    I guess there are similarities between some US bishop and some French bishops. Never mind that these are faithful Catholics and they are coming to Mass. These bishops somehow seem to view that as the problem rather than looking in the mirror.

  6. Flambeaux says:

    In fairness to the author of the piece, he’s simply repeating the classification provided by the Diocese of Dallas which refers to Mater Dei as the only Latin parish in the (Latin Rite) Diocese of Dallas.

    But, yes, this was a joyful event. My wife and some of our children made it and it has left a deep impression on our oldest.

  7. ghlad says:

    Fr. Z – thanks for posting about this. I’m in Houston, but one of my friends and I will occasionally go to Mater Dei when I visit in Dallas. It’s been a while since we’ve gone, and I didn’t know that the renovation of the, ahem, “worship space” had been completed. We’ll have to see what it’s like, but from the photos it looks like it’s very nice, and a good addition to the Diocese.

    It is interesting that (much like Cardinal Levada, during his consecration of the major FSSP chapel in Nebraska earlier this year), the bishop decided to talk about traditionalists in at least a bit of a limiting manner. Cardinal Levada said that “priests are not ordained for a specific book” (or something similar) and Bp. Farrell said that supporters of the Tridentine Mass should not be overly critical of the N.O. While both are true, it seems odd to bring up such matters so conspicuously. It gives the impression that the bishops first thought regarding the FSSP is one of worry. However, the very creation of the society was a rejection of the SSPX schism (sorry, I am not meaning to start one of those discussions with such a label, but there it is), an unwillingness to disobey the Curia, and that, as well as the healthy and hale success of the society’s apostolates, should be the fruits by which the FSSP is known.

    That might sound overly cynical, and it may in fact be overly cynical. I have a high opinion of Bishop Farrell and of his predecessor, Bishop Grahmann, who welcomed Mater Dei to Dallas as the first North American apostolate of the FSSP in the early ’90s. So, thanks to those Bishops, Mater Dei exists as it does. My comment was mostly just to wonder at the public hints of worry from the bishops that seem to follow the FSSP.

  8. restoration says:

    Once again we see a bishop using a joyful moment for a traditional community in order to make a pitch for the Novus Ordo. Wrong time — wrong place, excellency. Cardinal Levada’s rudeness at the FSSP seminary should not have been emulated. Can’t traditionalists enjoy a special moment without mention of the ordinary form? These are the most loyal Catholics in diocese. They don’t contracept and they keep the ancient traditions alive. Instead of a pat on the back for their perseverance, the bishop reminds them not to question the worship choices of other Catholics. I wonder if he gives the same advice to his Novus Ordo parishes?

  9. ghp95134 says:

    NB: The caption under the photo of the Holy Water font, “Holy Water Font (to remain full during lent),” links to WDTPRS: https://wdtprs.com/2010/02/dumb-liberal-idea-3464-removing-holy-water-during-lent/

    –Guy Power

  10. ASD says:

    The location would seem unlikely for the only Diocese of Dallas church where Latin liturgy is the norm. Tractor-trailer trucks grind their gears on nearby East Highway 356. Neighbors include a Waffle House and a body shop.

    That weird paragraph might be worth thinking about. It seems to suggest an association between Mass in Latin and highbrow culture? Like, surely nobody eating at Waffle House or working the in the body shop would be interested in Mass in Latin?

    I don’t think that’s true. But, I think it would be subtle, effective way of discouraging ordinary Americans from trying it out.

  11. RichR says:

    Jeepers, can’t we count our blessings here?

    My bet is that the good Bishop has read many sour letters by ultra-trads who were critical of the OF, and he is addressing that problem in the parish he knows the problem exists…..and he’s doing it anonymously to let them save face.

    I love the TLM as much as anyone, and I pray that it will come to my neck of the woods. But does anyone here really think that you don’t get “anti-OF Mass” people in these types of situations? They are almost always there in the mix…and are usually the most vocal. That doesn’t help build up trust between the chanceries and the traditional parishes. What are needed are leaps of faith on the part of everyone involved….even if there have been past episodes of betrayal (on the part of either side).

  12. nanetteclaret says:

    I don’t have a high regard for former Bishop Grahmann. He may have welcomed the FSSP into the diocese in the early ’90s, but the community had to worship out at the convent, which is in west Oak Cliff. My opinion is that he stuck them in the middle of nowhere and hoped that the community would fail. In addition, Bishop Grahmann “wreckovated” the Cathedral. He took out the Tabernacle (behind the altar) and replaced it with the Bishop’s Throne – front and center. That told me everything I need to know about him. As for Bishop Farrell, why did they have to resort to buying a former Methodist church? It’s mega-ugly on the outside (but it is typical of Catholic churches in Northeast Texas, which look like Protestant auditoriums). Why couldn’t he have given them a beautiful church? All one has to do to “get the message” which the various Bishops are giving, is to look at the churches the EF communities are given. Compare this one to the one given the St. Louis community by Archbishop Burke. As different as night and day!

  13. mpolo says:

    Have to echo RichR here. I feel sure that Bishop Farrell is responding directly to attitudes he has witnessed. We are one rite with two forms, and all priests are ordained for both of them.

  14. ghlad says:

    @nanetteclaret – The location in Irving is actually not too bad. It’s not in a ritzy neighborhood (if that would matter), but it’s near many highways. And it’s location somewhat towards the middle of the Metroplex makes it easier for them to travel to Fort Worth for Sunday evening TLMs for even more area residents. Other than having them move in next door to my house, I’m not sure I’d know of a better spot for them.

    As far as their founding goes, I’m not sure anybody except the FSSP and the Dallas Chancery know exactly why they went to the convent, however, they first met in St. Jude’s chapel in downtown, and had daily masses at Christ the King (http://www.ctkdallas.org/) – so I don’t think it’s the case that they were ostracized or purposefully marginalized by Bp. Grahmann. Do you know of anything to contrary that you could share?

  15. Brian2 says:

    (My apologies if this is a double post)
    nanetteclaret writes: “As for Bishop Farrell, why did they have to resort to buying a former Methodist church? It’s mega-ugly on the outside (but it is typical of Catholic churches in Northeast Texas, which look like Protestant auditoriums). Why couldn’t he have given them a beautiful church? ”

    there are two points to make about this.
    (a) We don’t have empty churches laying around in the diocese of dallas. In fact, our problem is a shortage of churches. Many (OF) parishes have five or six masses each weekend, standing room only. I spend most Sunday’s standing in the Narthex myself. So there are no empty beautiful churches to give to Mater Dei. I am sure that +Farrell would love to have the money or resources to give Mater Dei a church, and about a dozen other parishes, but that is not the way things work. Each parish has to pay its own way — my own has been fundraising for 4 years to build a new church

    (b) Architecture: here you are right. The diocese of Dallas experienced a great deal of growth in the 70 and 80’s, an ugly time in church architecture. But the trend now is towards more traditional designs, I suspect that +Farrell likes traditional churches better, based on some heresay.

  16. templariidvm says:

    On a side note, the term “worship space” sounds so incredibly cold and clinical to me. Why has the term gotten so very popular?

  17. Konichiwa says:

    I agree with mpolo. I was bothered upon hearing the bishop’s message about not criticising others the way they worship, but I just ignored that part of what he said. It didn’t pertain to me, but there are likely some who had to address in a general manner to allow room for saving face. I must add that I feel very blessed to have Mater Dei.

  18. Having a family restaurant close to church, and one that serves breakfast, is not a bad thing. The opposite, in fact.

  19. BenFischer says:

    I was at the Mass and Bishop Farrell’s comment about criticizing other Catholics didn’t seem rude or out of place. Indeed, just before the Mass, while waiting in line for the blessing to start, I talked to a few people who … let’s just say they could use such a reminder.

    Bishop Farrell spoke of the great need to educate the faithful, something that the fine priests at Mater Dei excel at. In that time and place, the message was clear: “I wish there were more places like this that really teach the faith.” And it seems that he’s trying to do something about it. At my regular (OF) parish, we recently changed pastors and the catechetical content of the sermons/homilies increased dramatically.

    Fr Longua was on the local EWTN station last week and mentioned that one Joseph Ratzinger supposedly made a personal phone call to Bishop Grahmann to “urge” him to invite the FSSP to Dallas. If true, that’s another reason to love our Pope!

  20. marthawrites says:

    God bless Fr. Longua in his new church. We met him a few years ago at St. Gregory’s Academy near Scranton, PA, where he taught our Capuchin friar the TLM. He is a perfectionist in his training of priests and altar boys whom he teaches to advance to Master of Ceremonies. He was very generous with his time, coming to our church (a three-hour trip) more than once to critique our friar’s offering of the TLM and to increase the servers’ reverence in following the rubrics. He is a stickler for saying the black and doing the red. Consequently, our parish now has a TLM six days a week at dawn preceded by adoration and Benediction, because of his inspiring insistence on giving one’s best in worshiping the Lord. Our good friar was so-o-o ready for this, and Fr. Longua recognized the eagerness of his pupil. May his parish thrive and be a beacon in that area.

  21. paulbailes says:

    Why is it “a good reminder” that “Bishop Farrell reminded the congregation not to criticise other Catholics’ way of worship?”. If other Catholics worship in whatever inferior kind of way, then that criticism is prima facie charitable (unless the Bishop claims to be able to read hearts?).

    And nowadays, many Catholics do worship in inferior ways (Clown masses, etc etc etc as well-documented in this blog and elsewhere). So why not say so?

    Perhaps his Lordship means to stifle exactly one kind of criticism, i.e. of the NOM per se? Of course he would not be alone, but he and his ilk will need all the luck of the devil to get that result. Prelates’ continued Orwellian obsession with imposition of “NOM-is-good” pseudo-dogma, as well as being an abuse of power, reflects I wonder a fascinating psychological case study in denial. What’s so bad about saying the NOM is valid but inferior to the TLM?

  22. Vincenzo says:

    Bishop Farrell: “It is my intention to establish a committee of four priests who have knowledge of the Tridentine Rite to assist me in reviewing all requests from priests and laity to establish public Masses in the Extraordinary Form. It will be the responsibility of this committee to assess the Pastoral needs of the people as well as the capacity of our priests and parishes to celebrate the Mass in this Form…”


  23. Ringmistress says:

    I was in attendance at the blessing and reception. I took Bishop Farrell’s reminder not to criticize in the tone of encouraging us to not be trapped in the mode of outsiders. The community was the red-headed stepchild of the diocese for a long time. Much healing has occurred with the establishment of a parish under Bishop Farrell. I think it was more in the sense of asking us to not allow the difference in mode of worship be a barrier to being full members of the Diocese. It was clear that he desired this parish for the diocese, that he has high hopes for us, and that our community has a lot to offer. He was extremely gracious in his remarks to the community.

  24. paulbailes says:

    Thanks Ringmistress for that clarification.
    I guess that pretty well points out the tragic key division among those who favour the TLM:
    – those for whom the TLM is the preference, but for whom the NOM is in the long run tolerable
    – those for whom the NOM is intolerable.

    Sounds like the latter category are the object of his Lordship’s remarks.

    Now the FSSP, as I am given to understand, exists for the exclusive celebration of the TLM. Wouldn’t that suggest some kind of attitude towards the TLM vs NOM more than mere preference, indeed an intolerance of the NOM? (NB in my book, that’s paying a compliment to the FSSP; but I wonder what others closer to the Dallas action perceive, e.g. Ringmistress?)


  25. PeterK says:

    @Vincenzo several weeks ago I contacted the Dallas Chancery about Latin Masses in the Dallas area. The respondent (a nun) never once mentioned that the Mater Dei Church would be soon consecrated and open for business.
    I am bothered though that bishops such as Farrell and the bishop of Richmond believe they are meeting the intent of the motu propio by establishing these parishes. The bishop of Richmond when asked about the EF shortly after the motu propio was issued basically said no need for having the EF said at other parishes because the Diocese as a Latin Mass parish that people can intend. I don’t remember the good bishops establishing Spanish Language Mass parishes and saying we didn’t need to have Spanish language Masses at individual parishes because we had such a parish

  26. The Bishop’s remarks also focused on Faith and Works. How some do plenty of “works” but have no knowledge of the Faith. He also stressed that Faith without Works is dead, so having all knowledge and no works isn’t good, either.

    I, too, was at the Mass and the reception following. It was a joyful day!

  27. skellmeyer says:

    I was at the Mass that day. The homily began and ended with compliments, with the chastisement in the middle – a typical homiletic sandwich. Bishop mentioned that only 3% of Catholics knew about the Real Presence (he said this was according to the recent Pew survey, although I didn’t think the number was that low), then mentioned that it is appalling when only 3% of Catholics know the names of the Twelve Apostles.

    He mentioned the second point several times.
    I thought it an unusual point to make – the necessity that Catholics know the names of the 12.
    Out of all the points of doctrine a Catholic might need to know, why would the names of the 12 feature so prominently? Put another way, you can stress the need to know almost any point of Catholic doctrine to an OF audience, but, when you’re talking to a traditional EF community, what point of doctrine can you stress that they don’t already know?

    His homily on the importance of unity was good in most respects, but there was one rather odd omission.

    I know many people were looking forward to Bishop Ferrell leading the congregation in the sacrifice of the Mass. In the event, he simply chose to bless the Church and give the homily on the importance of unity.

    I couldn’t help but think that the homily would have been so much stronger if it had been given in the context of his leading the sacrifice of the Mass at which he chose to speak. We would all have been able to follow the bishop as he led us in unity. Sigh…. lost opportunities…. but a good event overall.

  28. Brian2 says:

    “Fr Longua was on the local EWTN station last week and mentioned that one Joseph Ratzinger supposedly made a personal phone call to Bishop Grahmann to “urge” him to invite the FSSP to Dallas. If true, that’s another reason to love our Pope”

    I;ve heard that story too. It is pretty believable. +Grahmann comes from the German part of Texas where back in the day, people spoke German at home. I believe his parents came from Germany. As a native speaker of German, he probably had more of a raport with then-Cardinal Ratzinger than other US bishops at the time.

    Grahmann, for all his misteps, was good at taking in and helping out to the extent he could, marginalized communities in the Church. A number of eastern-rite parishes in DFW, not technically under his jurisdiction, well help immensly by him in their start up days as well.

  29. Brian2 says:

    ‘Marginalized’ was probably not the best term to use. I think ‘minority’ or ‘fledgling’ would have been clearer.

  30. Brian2 says:

    Wierd, my first post — that the above post was correcting — didn’t appear. So the above makes no sense.

  31. BenFischer says:

    Where’s the Sour Grapes Award for all these comments? A year ago, the Latin Mass community was in a beautiful, but overcrowded Carmelite Chapel. The monastery was surrounded by businesses with razor wire fences, and in fact had one of it’s own, I might add (but it was a gem inside). Now they have their own building(s) in a better, if not genteel, part of town and they have their own parish. Now all the young children can get their sacraments in the EF and people can officially be part of a growing, vibrant parish dedicated to the Latin Mass. And the priests are on the inside and can attend diocesan wide functions and possibly have an influence on their OF peers.

    But, since Bishop Farrell had a few “hard teachings”, and since he didn’t excommunicate the entire chancery office AND evicted the congregation from one of the few churches built before 1970 so the Latin Mass parish could use it, this is seen as Mater Dei being marginalized?

    I think there needs to be a Catholic (or at least a Traditional Catholic) version of the Godwin principal: eventually someone will bring up “clown mass” and as soon as he does, he’s lost credibility unless he has personally attended such an event recently (in the past year). One which was not, in fact, held for clowns in a traveling circus. I grew up in the 1970’s and I know all about them, but get real. There are no clown masses that I know of in Dallas, and I’ve been around. We have too many EMHCs and altar serverettes and some of the priests are a little nervous about preaching on moral issues, but that doesn’t justify the implication that all other parishes in Dallas are run by the NCR crowd.

    I wish things moved faster in Dallas. I wish there was more than one EF Mass in the Diocese, but I’m happy for the new parish. Whatever happened to “brick by brick”?

  32. Agnes of Prague says:

    Ben Fischer is quite right, especially the first few sentences characterizing the Carmelites’.

    My favorite part of the past few weeks was Fr. Longua’s apology beforehand that some might have to sit in the Parish Hall and watch the blessing by video feed (I guess some did, but it seemed like a good portion of the crowd fit into the church): “Well, I promise that the NEXT time we bless a church, it will be BIGGER!”

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