REQUEST to readers – New priests and their first Masses (and maybe some of you older guys too?)

I have a request.  Let’s have some first Mass tales.

This is the season for ordinations to the priesthood in many places.

I would appreciate notes especially from new priests about their choices for their first Masses.

I am especially interested in your use of

  • Latin
  • Ordinary Form
  • Extraordinary Form

You might include what you would like to have done but – because of circumstances beyond your control – you were not able to do.

This is for my opportune knowledge.  If I talk to people about this (I get called and get email from reporters once in a while), I want to be able to give my sense of what is shifting and changing.  And as we know, the plural of “anecdote” is “data”.

I will not put anything on the blog (unless you say I can) and I will anonymize everything if you wish (even though most of your Masses are public).

I will keep the combox open here, but I am turning on moderation so that all comments go into a queue (i.e., they can’t be public unless I release them).  And you can send email using the CONTACT option on the very top menu.

Thanks, brethren, in advance.

BTW… for your own opportune knowledge, brethren…

I had faculties to say the older form of Mass from the Pontifical Commission “Ecclesia Dei” from the instant I was ordained, on 26 May 1991.  Since I worked in that office, I wrote my own “celebret” and His Eminence happily signed it with the knowledge of my bishop who was pleased that I had it.

After my ordination by Pope John Paul my first Mass was on 27 May 1991 in the little chapel immediately under the main altar of St. Peter’s Basilica up against the wall where the tomb of Peter is located.  The Mass was in the Novus Ordo, booklets provided the translations. The entire Mass was sung (no deacons, etc) in Latin.  The Gregorian chant choir I directed at San Nicola in Carcere – entirely of women – sang the whole Proper and Ordinary.  After that I had a Novus Ordo “solemn Mass” (deacons) at Santa Cecilia, again with my choir and the cloistered Benedictine Sisters.  I had served Mass there, in the cloister, for the late-rector of the basilica and, therefore, had ties there.  My third Mass was with the 1962 Missal in what is now the Extraordinary Form parish in Rome, Santissima Trinita dei Pelegrini.  When I got back to the USA, my first solemn Mass was at my home parish St. Agnes, in St. Paul, MN.  It was with the Novus Ordo, in the presence of two bishops (and with a future bishop in choro and another future bishop as my archpriest).  The entire Mass was sung in Latin except for English readings.  The Ordinary was in Gregorian chant by the excellent scholar of which I had been a member, and the 80 voice Twin Cities Catholic Chorale of which I had been a member.  We used Mozart’s Coronation Mass, with a full orchestra.  Since it was Corpus Christi, we had the Eucharistic procession around the grounds with altars set up for Benediction.

So… that was me and that was then.

What about you?

You older priests can chime in too!   And let me know if I can post it.

Please put in the subject line of the email:



About Fr. John Zuhlsdorf

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

    I have a pre first mass story.

    About 25 years ago I met a young priest from the St Louis archdiocese when I was visiting the Trappist monastery in southern Missouri. He told me that after ordination in StL he was headed back to Springfield, Mo, and was pulled over for speeding. After he mentioned that he was a newly ordained priest, the officer asked whether he knew Father So and So. He said, “Sure, in fact we just ordained together today. How do you know him?”

    The officer replied, “I gave him a speeding ticket too–about an hour ago.”

  2. FROM A DEACON SOON TO BE ORDAINED with my emphases:


    I decided to take your challenge. My first Mass is 16 days away, on the solemnity of Corpus Christi.

    It was my desire to really put #54 of Sacrosanctum Concilium into play and my pastor and the choir director really worked with me on it. As a result, there will be some Latin.

    This is an OF Mass offered with two deacons and four principle concelebrants and about five to seven additional concelebrants. We will have incense at the procession, gospel, offertory and elevation.
    There are bells at the epiclesis and elevation as well.

    The Gloria, Sanctus, Agnus Dei and Pater Noster will be chanted in Latin, the Kyrie in Greek. I will chant all of the Mass except the body of the Roman Canon since my concelebrants may or may not be comfortable with the chanting. My deacon will chant the Gospel as well. I will also chant the Institution Narrative.

    The parish is ill equipped for a procession, and since it is my first mass, the pastor and I have opted against a procession. There will be a rendition of Ave Verum Corpus during communion.

    I am very excited and have custom vestments, white with gold, chasuble and dalmatics for myself and my two deacons. Three or four additional deacons will sit in choir and there will be four or five seminarians as well as the altar BOYS.

    I hope that gives you some sense. Please pray for my and my three diocesan classmates who will join the presbyteral rank in 15 days.

    In Christ,

    Rev. Mr. ___

    I have no concern about these details being shared anonymously.

    I am sure that all the readers here will stop and say a pray for you.

  3. beez says:

    I will be interested to hear what my 2012 classmates from around the world do. :)

  4. Fr. Augustine Thompson O.P. says:

    I was ordained on Friday, June 7, 1985. My “first” Mass was a Dominican Rite Low Mass on the day following in one of the small private Mass chapels of our House of Studies. (I had received permission to use the Dominican Rite from my provincial under the 1969 Rescript before my ordination.)

    My first public Mass of Thanksgiving was the next day, that year Corpus Christi Sunday, in the main chapel of the House of Studies. That Mass was in the new rite using the Gregorian Ordinary (including Credo) and Propers. The rest of the Mass was sung in English, including the collects, readings, intercessions, and Eucharistic Prayer. The four principle concelebrants each sang his part of the Roman Canon. The identical printed program was also used for my 25th Anniversary Mass on Corpus Christi in 2010.

    P.S., yes you can post it. And I don’t think I need to be anonymous.

  5. From a priest with my emphases:

    I was ordained last year. My first Mass was a Solemn Mass in the Extraordinary Form (votive of the Sacred Heart), with coped priest assistant. I was ordained on a Thursday (OF), first Solemn Mass on Friday (EF). Private Mass on Saturday (EF). First Novus Ordo in my home parish Sunday. Private Mass Monday, Tuesday, Wed, and Thursday (all EF). Friday: Mass at a good convent (OF, English). Saturday: public Mass at parish I was involved with in seminary (OF, English). Sunday: public low Mass (EF) at a parish I frequented while in seminary. Monday: private Mass (EF). Tuesday: Private Mass (EF). Wednesday, start work at the parish having said 12 Masses: 9 EF, 3 OF (excluding the ordination Mass itself). Of course that proportion quickly changed!
    A couple of things really stand out. First, it was awesome to have the silent Canon and no concelebrants at my first Mass. There I was with God, about to change bread and wine into the Body and Blood of Christ and re-present Calvary. I would be the ONLY person to say or hear the Words of Consecration! There was an almost dizzying sense of aloneness before God and gravity, without any pressure to perform. Secondly, I had been rather anxious about how the presbyterate would react to my saying a TLM for my first Mass. As soon as I finished Mass, I had powerful sense of disbelief at my previous anxiety. I had just said Mass! It was MASS!! I am a priest, and I said Mass! How could anyone care or be upset that I had said Mass?!?! How could I have ever even taken seriously something so totally absurd as the possibility of priests being upset that a priest said MASS?!?!

    [And yet we know that sometimes they do get upset.]

  6. From a priest, Fr. John M. Vega:

    A very pleasant surprise to read your article on the First Masses of Priests and even more so to read of your first Mass at St. Agnes! [I can’t take credit for the choice. The schedule for the orchestral Masses (30 a year) was set loooong before. But it was a good one.]
    It seems we share the same taste, I also selected Mozart’s Coronation Mass, in latin of course! But back to the beginning, I was ordained on May 11, 1974 and celebrated my first Solemn Mass at St. Patrick’s Cathedral in Fort Worth, Texas Mother’s Day May 12, 1974 in the Novus Ordo in english as there was no other choice back in those days. This was in the days before the liberal element was in complete charge in the diocese and I was able to get away with a lot that would never have been possible a few years down the road. I had a very dear friend as my deacon and the pastor assisted as “archpriest” (his choice) in cope and we wore the old cloth of gold Roman “fiddleback” vestments.
    The Cathedral Choir sang the Coronation Mass with the assistance of musicians from the Fort Worth Symphony and 4 professional voices to bolster the choir and the Cathedral Pipe Organ. We also used music from Corelli with trumpets for processions, incensation and solemn moments with no singing and traditional Latin Hymns. I remember that the Cathedral censers were out on loan at the time and we had to use a huge old Mexican 12 pound sterling censer from the Cathedral treasury, boy was it heavy to swing! We used a composition by one of my seminary music professors for the recessional along with the choir, tympani and trumpets: Noel Goemanne’s “Great and Marvelous” from his Songs from the Book of Revelation. The Mass was glorious and triumphant and a memory that has sustained me for 38 years and it sure poked a stick in the eyes of the liberal element that thought it was a scandal! It was a mixture of the old and the new and yet Grand Liturgy! A.M.D.G.! You can publish any and all of this if you wish without editing names, I don’t care anymore. Keep up the good work and Ad Multos Annos to you on yours!

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