How to revive a dying parish

For your Brick By Brick file.

I had this through email so I can’t vouch for this 100%.  But as Preserved Killick would say, ‘Aye aye, sir. Rectory it is.’

I thought you might enjoy this bit of info. St. Anne church in San Diego was scheduled to be closed. A long-established and solid group (200 families) were attending the TLM at the chapel of the local Catholic cemetery since the indult days and the bishop offered the church to us when FSSP promised us a priest. In three years we went from one priest and two Masses a Sunday to 500 families, 3 priests, and six Masses each Sunday. In acknowledgement, the bishop made the parish rectory a canonical house, so priests may go but the parish is here to stay!

Let’s think.

Dying parish, soon to be closed, merged, sold off. Everyone unhappy, lot’s of inconvenience and shame.

Trying something new, which is actually something old.

Reason #8 for Summorum Pontificum.

About Fr. John Zuhlsdorf

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

    I went to that Mass at the cemetery chapel once. It was overflowing with people. Glad to hear they are thriving.

  2. James Joseph says:

    It always amazes me how expensive that neighborhood in San Diego is. If I remember correctly that building is physically oriented to the East.

  3. Fr AJ says:

    This is great, how blessed they are to have a Bishop who who offers support to a TLM group!

  4. Bruce says:

    “Trying something new, which is actually something old.”

    Strange, but as soon as I read that line I thought of G.K Chesterton !

  5. The Masked Chicken says:

    Everything old is new, again.

    There’s a song lyric in that.

    The Chicken

  6. Sixupman says:

    In certain diocese in England, it has been known for the bishop to close down a successful traditionally minded parish – TLM and NOM with appropriate decorum. The diocesan clergy association were embarrassed by its existence. The priest was rendered a vagrant, as it were.

  7. unavoceman says:

    I have been to TLM at St. Annes several times while visiting the west coast. So impressive and highly recommended. James, I know you say it’s an expensive area. I felt it was kind of an edgy neighborhood on my first visit – and an unlikely place to find Latin Mass – but the FSSP has done an amazing job here. I don’t know what it was like before they got on the scene but if you go now, get there early. You cannot find a seat and it is standing room only with people lining the walls. They also have a great open air coffee and refreshments after Sunday Mass.

    I know there was a petition recently to get an FSSP parish going in Hollywood (Seriously! Is there any place in America where it’s more desperately needed?). As I understand it was submitted to the powers that be but nothing has happened. Hopefully this will change. If you are in LA you might also want to check St. Therese in Alhambra for their Sunday 1 p.m. TLM with full Gregorian Choir. Celebrant is usually Fr. Bishop FSSP- a great man and dedicated priest. Well worth the drive of 30 to 40 minutes.

  8. brhenry says:

    Well, assuming St. Anne’s was a territorial parish when it “died,” the parish
    itself was not “revived” but a “personal parish” was established and uses the
    dead parish’s building. To revive “St. Anne’s parish” the pastor(and others) would have had to
    hold “missions” or “revivals” in order to get the Catholics of the parish(geographic) back
    to the Sacraments and convert non-Catholics. As I understand Pope Francis, this is the “revival” he is
    promoting. The Church will not be revived with “personal parishes.”

  9. onosurf says:

    St. Anne’s is awesome. It is also an indictment on all the Catholic parishes surrounding it. Lot’s a kids, families, it is growing, has and inspires vocations (young) and most important, faithful/believing Catholics (of course, I’m not talking about outliers).

    By their fruits…

  10. From Fr. Christopher Smith’s NLM reflection on last week’s Sacred Liturgy conference in Rome, where he’s commenting on the fact that there now are numerous TLM’s celebrated at various altars in St. Peter’s Basilica every day:

    “Many of the kids from the Preseminario San Pio X have now learned to serve the Extraordinary Form, which some of them call, irony of ironies, la Messa nuova.” [That is, for Rush listerners in Rio Linda, “the new Mass”!]

  11. Pingback: After Architectural Modernism -

  12. rtjl says:

    ‘The Church will not be revived with “personal parishes.”’

    You mean the church will not be revived by parishes attended by parishioners who actually and fully believe what they profess to believe? You mean such a parish will not, in the end, attract locals who are intrigued by what’s going on there. I’ve got to wonder – has the church ever been revived any other way?

    Perhaps a better way to characterize such a parish, instead of calling it a “personal parish”, would be to call it a missionary parish.

  13. Scott W. says:

    Perhaps a better way to characterize such a parish, instead of calling it a “personal parish”, would be to call it a missionary parish.

    Exactly. Read it again: “In three years we went from one priest and two Masses a Sunday to 500 families, 3 priests, and six Masses each Sunday”. I can’t imagine what kind of axe one has to grind to argue with that kind of growth and success.

  14. ‘The Church will not be revived with “personal parishes.”’

    Although an FSSP devoted and supporter, a one-time member of an FSSP personal parish, an early member of the associated Confraternity of St. Peter, etc, I realize what this means. That the revitalization of the Church requires the restoration of traditional faith and liturgy to the great majority of regular parishes and among the great mass of mainstream Catholics attending them, not just within a miniscule number of personal parishes, as important as they are as traditional seed-beds in this early stage of the post Summorum Pontificum era.

    I recall remarking to a traditional young man discerning his vocation that, as attractive as a traditional order might be personally, he might well make a more significant contribution as as orthodox diocesan priest moving up through the clerical ranks. For the restoration of the Church in the foreseeable future depends less on popes and bishops than on current and upcoming generations of faithful priests and seminarians spreading throughout it.

  15. brhenry says:

    Likely the personal parish is filled with fervent faithful Catholics from
    many parishes(geographic) in the Diocese. Now the parishes(geographic) are
    further weakened and subject to the same death St. Anne’s experienced.
    Consequently, the root problem is not addressed.

    As Pope Francis seems to be preaching, the only answer is for the pastors to get out of the Church
    and into the parochial mission field. The days of “breeding” Catholics is over, except for the fervent faithful Catholics who are now be segregated into personal parishes.

  16. DetJohn says:

    To unavoceman, Fr. Bishop is truly a great man and a dedicated Priest. I have been to many of his masses at St. Teresa’s. Fr. Bishop is CMF (Claretain) not FSSP

  17. onosurf says:

    “The days of “breeding” Catholics is over, except for the fervent faithful Catholics who are now be segregated into personal parishes.”

    Ouch. That is painful to read. Moreover, I don’t think its true. If priests actually taught what was in store for folks that weren’t open to “breeding”, I’m sure the laity would be much more receptive to “breeding”. It worked for me. The only place I heard it in 3 decades was on AudioSancto. It would’ve been a marvel to hear it from the pulpit, like the priests do it on AS!

  18. brhenry says:

    Clarification; In many “dying” parishes, save miraculous conceptions,
    the majority of the parishioners are the respected silver headed ones who are past the
    age of producing candidates for baptism. And, yes, absolutely, the truth must
    be preached from the pulpit for those who are still able to conceive.

    So the answer is twofold for the pastors; preach the Truth to those who are there
    and take the Truth to those who are not.

  19. Anchorite says:

    Brhenry and Mr. Edwards,
    Francis may be missing the point and misinterpreting reality.
    The experiences of, for instance, Orthodox churches (Greek or Russian) show us that the new territories settled are always treated as “missionary” and a mobile itinerant population simply cannot sustain a regular “territorial” parish. We now all live in such missionary territory – we are all largely mobile and commute from suburbia to metropolitan centers – rarely do we walk to church.
    The days of breeding are restarting and the mobile faithful put the money where they are served better – at solid NO or TLM parishes. Period.
    Young men should chose orders and societies they feel attracted to, rather than on the merit of a perceived and unreal future career.
    Want to save the Church and its single churches – do good NO as well as TLM. Period.

  20. Sword40 says:

    I’m silver-headed but most of my contemporaries are not respected in the OF church because of their adherence to the “spirit of V2” and the guitar Mass. I’m one of many that have left the OF church for the EF. Our little EF parish is filled with young families. The silver haired set doesn’t want to join us. They like their Kumbaya Mass.

  21. brhenry says:

    Sword40: Looks like your canonical parish is now missing a vital member.
    Go back and offer up the”cross” of the Kumbaya Masses ;)

  22. NancyJ says:

    We were members of St Anne’s until the Navy moved us to the East Coast in February. I cannot say enough good things about this parish! This week they are holding their 3rd annual Chant Camp. Their amazing music director Mary Ann Wilson has spent the week teaching over 80 children (ages 7 – 18) to sing a Solemn Mass. The Mass will be this Friday at noon with Bishop Flores in attendance. All are welcome. They sound like angels and always bring me to tears.

  23. eulogos says:

    brhenry-Are YOU offering up the cross of the Kumbaya Masses?
    I am silver haired and of THAT generation, but I was a convert at age 21, and have never been one of them. I had from about 1977 until 2004 to offer up such masses. ( on the whole. Daily mass was often much better, although, not always. Sometimes the priest said a dignified mass but the music was still pap.) My input was never desired or accepted. I did try to volunteer for RCIA, I did try to start a chant group. For the first, they already had a group and a program. The second the pastor vetoed.
    I now belong to a Ruthenian rite parish. Sometimes I also attend the EF. I have some ties to an Anglican Use parish and attend there a few times a year. In any of these places, I know I can really worship. I can’t get to daily mass any more and I really need to worship on Sunday. I am not a charismatic figure, I don’t have much in the way of leadership skills. My territorial parish was not going to change because of me.

    And I think those big Catholic families at the EF parishes will eventually infiltrate the church, as their children grow up and move all over the US. I think the few faithful Catholic colleges have already had an impact. There is hope.

    But please, don’t judge those of us who can’t attend our territorial parishes, without knowing us and our situations.
    Susan Peterson

  24. The Masked Chicken says:

    “I don’t think its true. If priests actually taught what was in store for folks that weren’t open to “breeding”, I’m sure the laity would be much more receptive to “breeding”. It worked for me.”

    I, recently, heard a talk on EWTN radio about the concept of vocation. The zeroth-order vocation of every person is union with God in Heaven. The primary vocation is to marriage, priesthood, or vowed religious life. Being single is not a primary vocation, but a secondary one. In theory, it should be put at the service of the primary vocations. In theory, single people should be helping the married people by watching their kids, they should be helping the priests by doing the grunt work around the parish, and they should be helping the religious by doing the same at their convents and monasteries. I am sure that it would be a great relief to have a mature baby-sitter for some parents to watch the kids or people who will clean the church for free. Single people should be trained in apologetics, because they cannot do apologetics within the living of their primary vocation, but can go out into the fields.

    That being said, many married couples do not understand the vocation of marriage. They aren’t having children because, at some point, their teaching about marriage has broken down. Catholic couples are not having kids (health reasons, excluded), largely, because they have bought into worldly expectations of happiness and bliss and no one has effectively challenged them as to why this is, I would go so far as to say, a mortal sin. Couples who are not open to children should not be permitted to be married in the Church, in my opinion. It should be sternly drilled into them that the primary good of a marriage is children. Some will, selfishly, argue that they can’t afford children, but, in reality, what they mean is that they can’t afford children and afford their extravagant lifestyle. Especially in the West, there is so much waste of goods that it makes one wonder if people understand anything of how good they have it. Did you know that the average U. S. household has 2.5 people, but 2.96 tvs? They have more tvs than people. I ask you, how can such a family make an argument for not having kids? My household, growing up, had one tv and one telephone.

    The reason Catholics are not breeding is for one simple reason: greed. Greed is one of the vices opposed to marriage, which is a sacrament of self-giving. I am convinced that psychiatrists have been so toxic to the definition of marriage and its expectations, that, soon, a self-giving marriage will be regarded as a mental illness. The mental health profession, with their unsupportable concepts of self-esteem, have made entitlement thinking the norm. Catholics don’t have children because they have been told by supposed, “professionals,” that they don’t have to have any more than they want to. Having kids has become a diagnostic tool for insanity, in their opinions.

    Assuming these Catholics go to church, they should hear discussions of the theology of marriage from priests from the pulpit and, especially, during pre-Cana sessions, but, many pre-Cana sessions are worthless.

    Parishes will not revive until the concept of what community means is stated clearly and forcibly to those in the pews and those fallen-away Catholics who are still listening from the outside. The whole concept of a, “Faith Community,” as is the modern tendency to call parishes, is really very silly, since the gift of Faith is received at Baptism and one does not baptize communities. Certainly, breeding parishes are not even communities of faith (and, certainly, not, “Faith Communities”), because, clearly, they have no faith – at least not in the future, which is what a baby is – a living growing expression that God has chosen the future to go on.

    Historians spend years agonizing over whether or not a particular historical phenomenon is due to multiple causation or a single linchpin. There may be multiple sources for the current malaise in parish life, but the largest feeding stream, by far, is plain old simple selfishness. The Pill is nothing more than chemical selfishness; much psychology is nothing more than emotional permission for selfishness; most business practices are in-your-face, run-over-the-buyer selfishness; much of prayer (I say this with great pain) is nothing more than spiritual selfishness.

    Greed, greed, greed. Greediness is nothing more than martyr spelled backwards. We have raised two generations of backward martyrs in this country – martyrs who are martyrs for the cause of themselves.

    You want to start reviving parishes wholesale? First, revive yourselves – literally, re-vive, to make alive, again. To bring an old parish back to life is easy. First, bring yourself back to life (but it must be in Christ, for only his life contains life). The parish will soon follow.

    The Chicken

  25. BakerStreetRider says:

    Br. Henry, I appreciate the point you are trying to make, but parishes exist for the faithful, not the faithful for the parish. If a Catholic person or family is in a bad parish, and a good one becomes available, they should get the heck out of the bad parish. I am tired of Catholics being guilt-tripped because they leave a bad situation and go to a good one instead. If inept or malicious clergy want to run their parishes into the ground, it certainly is not the obligation for the laity to go along with that, nor do we have the ability or duty to try to save the parish. The best response is to take oneself and resources elsewhere, and support the good places. There are several reasons for this.
    First, I think that Catholics have a moral obligation to eschew services where there is flagrant Eucharistic abuse, which is almost every parish in the world. They certainly have the obligation to avoid supporting them. Not only is it wrong to willingly choose to support churches that encourage such atrocities, but it is also damaging to the devout Catholic as well. If Mass has to be torture because there is no other option, then so be it, but that is not a good environment and it will have negative effects on the person’s faith and could even endanger his soul.
    Second, in many dioceses (certainly not all, but many) the bishop and most priests care nothing about their faithful whatsoever. The only way to get the attention of these people is to vote with one’s feet and one’s pocketbook. Furthermore, the small personal parishes need the financial assistance much more, since they certainly will not be assisted by the diocese, since they are too busy wreckovating churches or paying vast sums of money in sex abuse settlements.
    Finally, that attitude places something of minute importance, a building, over the individuals’ immortal soul, not to mention the souls of the children that Catholic may have. The parish is valuable because it teaches the faith. If it no longer does that, but instead attacks the faith, it should be reformed or shut down.

  26. Jack Hughes says:

    This story reminds me about a Ukranian friend of mine (a missionary who alternates between Europe and the US), the Bishop sent a Priest to minister to 5 elderly women who had begged for a Priest so that they didn’t die without the Sacraments. 20 Years later the parish is 500 members strong, has six guys in Seminary and has already had 12 men from that Parish ordained.

    There was also the case of a french priest whose bishop despaired of him being useful to the Church so he was sent to a small out of the way town called Ars………………….. and the rest they say is history

  27. almagne says:

    For the record:
    1. The old St. Anne parish was closed, then the next week the EF Mass was moved from Holy Cross Cemetery to St. Anne’s the following week in October of 2008 and entrusted to the FSSP.
    2. The new St. Anne Parish is personal parish. The rectory is also a canonically erected house for the FSSP.
    3. The parish went from 1 priest and 350 attendees in the Fall of 2008 to 3 priests and 700 attendees weekly by the summer of 2013.
    4. There are now 5 Masses every Sunday, because the church only seats about 220. Two of the Masses are Sung Masses and there is also a Low Mass with Spanish Hymns and Homily.
    5. The Spanish EF Mass has about 80 to 90 people per Sunday.

  28. brhenry says:

    BakerStreetRider: Ah yes, The parish “free market” approach.

  29. Scott W. says:

    BakerStreetRider: Ah yes, The parish “free market” approach.

    Respectfully, Baker gave a lengthy, thoughtful, and non-hostile response that I think deserves a little more consideration than a curt retort. Let’s all work under the assumption that all of us here want to see increased Mass attendance, parish and school openings rather than closings, and plenty of vocations, even if we don’t agree on the means.

  30. brhenry says:

    That is the point. The “free market” approach is not a righteous means.

  31. wcampbell78 says:


    In an ideal world, the “free market” approach is bad because it supports an itching-ear mentality that allows people to go to a parish just because they like the priest, or because one pastor is more lax than another.

    In this case, I think Father Z is on track with his title. This example is a great HOWTO for local ordinaries to re-inspire life in dying parishes. If you are correct and people from other parishes are flocking to St. Anne’s, then that would be a great argument for the local ordinary to encourage the EF at parishes where attendance appears to be dying off. The graces to be obtained from reverent celebration of the EF is producing the fruits of faith and God willing will produce fruits of future vocations as well.

  32. Scott W. says:

    That is the point. The “free market” approach is not a righteous means.

    First off, can his point be fairly characterized as a “free market” approach? And if you can establish that, second, show your math and demonstrate exactly how it is unrighteous.

    But tell you what, let’s try a different approach since we seem to be hung up on the “personal parish” thing. Let’s say a new bishop comes into a languishing dioceses and wants to turn things around. He doesn’t want to start any “personal parishes” and bring in the FSSP, but he decides to imitate them in many ways seeing as how they produce growth. So he makes more EF Masses available and he tightens up the OF Masses by curtailing abuses, making sure priests preach on the “hard teachings” and do so with 100% orthodoxy, etc. So let’s say in our hypothetical example that this diocese follows every real example of dioceses that go unswervingly and authentically Catholic and Mass attendance increases as does vocations, and schools actually start opening up rather than closing. All of this done without resorting to personal parishes. Would you be satisfied in this case?

  33. chantgirl says:

    brhenry- With all due respect, if it were only my soul that I had to answer for, it wouldn’t matter as much at which Mass or parish I assisted. However, with the souls of children to answer for, I have to take them where they can grow in an orthodox religious environment. When they are grown and, God-willing, have a strong faith, they can go out and evangelize.

    The demographics of many NO parishes are going to force them to reform or die. Several fertile families per parish will not save them. I can’t thank Cardinal Burke enough for establishing two oratories here so that families could register in an EF parish no matter where they lived. I’ve already seen EF Masses in this archdiocese come and go because of changes in the hierarchy, and it’s nice to have some stability.

  34. Athelstan says:


    The Church will not be revived with “personal parishes.”

    Not by personal parishes alone.

    But they’re one step on the path to restoration.

  35. Priam1184 says:

    I think, Chicken, that the toxic attitude toward marriage started with the Troubadors of medieval France and their idolization of romantic love. How sly and patient the enemy of mankind is…

  36. Priam1184 says:

    @brhenry I have suffered through a ‘Kumbya’ Mass pretty much every Sunday of my life and I have no desire to keep crucifying Christ on earth all over again. The Mass is not about me it is about Christ. And the insult of an abusive liturgy is not directed at me but at Him.

  37. kristen says:

    This week at St. Anne’s we have our chant camp going on. We have over 80 children (with more we had to turn away because we did not have the room) learning Gregorian chant from our amazing choir director (also a Fr. Z reader). To hear their beautiful voices spilling out into the streets of this neighborhood is inspiring and uplifting. Watching our children run around playing soccer or frisbee with our priests, in their cassocks, is a sight to behold and likely increasing future vocations. It has been a fun, busy week at our parish, and ends tomorrow with the children singing a High Mass (with our diocesan bishop in attendance). I am filming a documentary about the camp and our special parish, and we would be honored if you would post it or link to it when its completed. It is a parish where people enjoy being together and I am grateful that we have it.

  38. kristen says:

    Oh, and NancyJ, you and your boys are sorely missed. I can’t wait for you to see the video!

  39. Athelstan says:

    One more thing, Brhenry:

    Now the parishes(geographic) are further weakened and subject to the same death St. Anne’s experienced. Consequently, the root problem is not addressed.

    I think that chantgirl has a point here, and you’ve missed the one that Bakerstreet was trying to make: The parish exists for the faithful, not the other way around. The faithful are obligated to build up the Body of Christ, but they are not obligated to build up any particular parish. You dismiss that as the “free market approach.” I grant that the ideal *is* normal, traditional Catholic parish life, not personal parishes and oratories where we siphon off many of the zealous, more tradition-minded Catholics in a diocese (your fear). But what it often is – perhaps not in every case, but in many cases – is Catholics simply going where they feel spiritually safe. And I don’t think many of us made that choice lightly. Some of us really tried to rebuild our geographic parishes.

    Am I really obligated to have my children, my family held hostage to a parish which has degenerated to the point where its spiritual life is actually harmful? Where open heresy is being promulgated in CCD and from the pulpit? Am I obligated to send them to a school that actually turns Catholics into agnostics in large numbers? Really? Surely you don’t mean this. As chantgirl says, it’s not just our souls we have to answer for.

    Don’t misunderstand me. I am not arguing from a high octane SSPX “the entire Conciliar Church is rotten and can’t be saved short of the Parousia” position, where we retreat into Catholic-Amish Land. If a parish is salvageable that a traditional Catholic feels safe enough to take the plunge and take the risk, that’s certainly desirable. But often it’s very difficult even when you have a committed, orthodox pastor, as Fr. Timothy Sauppe recently wrote in a column that I think is worth reading:

    “I don’t claim to have answers on how to turn around a dying parish or diocese. In fact, I am more at a loss as to what to say than ever before. To defend the Church’s teaching against contraception and sterilization is like going back to ancient Rome and warning them about the dangers of indoor lead plumbing. No matter what you would say their only response back would come in various levels of volume, “But it’s indoor plumbing!””

    And I’ve seen this situation play out first hand in parishes I have had contact with. Sometimes, a personal parish is a viable and even necessary answer for the spiritual feeding of Catholics in a diocese where they’ve run out of options, and run out of energy to fight the opposition that erupts whenever they try to build up something better. It’s not enough by itself to rebuild the Church. But right now what most of us are concerned about is what will save our families.

  40. Kathleen10 says:

    This is a hopeful story. If we can’t have it, I’m glad someone is enjoying the Holy Mass we all long for.

  41. Hidden One says:

    brhenry, please let me put one argument against your position as briefly as you have asserted said position:

    Is the Catholic’s first duty to go to his local parish church or to go to Heaven?

  42. BigRed says:

    When travelling for business or liesure I always prospect for a TLM. Some years ago I attended the TLM in San Diego and Mass was celebrated in the mausoleum at the cemetery by a Norbertine priest and the homily was preached by the superior. I remember the celebrant wore a white biretta.

    A mausoleum is not a bad place to help one be mindful of what the faithful are all about.

  43. prisoner says:

    “The Church will not be revived with “personal parishes.””

    The Church can only be reformed by God’s grace. Seeing a “personal parish” for the EF is absolutely wonderful and the fact that seeing that it is growing quite well is even more encouraging. It will hopefully raise more vocations to a more traditionally minded priesthood which will sanctify more souls. Soon, this “personal parish” will probably need a bigger “personal parish”.
    God will raise his saints who will “revive” the Church; in the meantime I’ll turn to a “personal parish” for the sacraments because the Bishop of our diocese has allowed us to.

  44. brhenry says:

    ScottW: Acceptable, provided the faithful do not regularly cross parish boundaries.

  45. SegoLily says:

    Whenever in San Diego I attend Mass at St. Anne’s. I’m a bit perplexed at someone’s observation that it is in an expensive neighborhood. The parish is almost underneath the Coronado Bridge on the mainland side. It appears to be a very rough neighborhood with bars over the windows of many homes. Yes, real estate there is probably expensive, as it is everywhere in San Diego but the neighborhood truly is crumbling,. I asked a parishioner where most of St. Anne’s families live and I believe he said around Mt. Helix, several miles away, and probably relatively affordable. Too, I met families from Coronado, very wealthy, indeed. It is a gem of a parish, and my first experience with the TLM in 50 years!!! I last attended in 4th Grade when I would sing my heart out in Latin. It was like returning “home”.

  46. UncleBlobb says:

    “Phoenix ain’t in it!”

  47. Gratias says:

    Unavoceman says that a Personal Parish was requested in Hollywood of all places. Well yes, there was a petition from Una Voce Los Angeles with 1200 signatures sent to Archbishop Josè Gomez. We would need the FSSP so much here. Fr. Bishop, who gives the Alhambra mass is about 80; a Holy man.

    St. Anne’s has sent its FSSP priests for at least three masses in St. Victor’s in the heart of Hollywood. We attended two of them. After mass wife and I went for dinner a block away in the center of the Sunset Strip; the contrast between Heaven and Hell was an interesting experience.

    I do hope Archbishop Gomez gives a Parish to the FSSP rather than closing it down. He is said to be favorably disposed but so far nothing. We have 4,000,000 baptized Catholics in this Archdiocese, so room for a traditional order could be found.

  48. The Sicilian Woman says:

    St. Anne’s is in something of a rough neighborhood. “Expensive” depends on your perspective. Most of us who would find, let’s say, a 3BR/2BA house in move-in condition in a nice area reasonable at $150-200K would find housing in and near San Diego to be anything from expensive to insanely priced. In fact, that would describe most properties within a 100-mile radius of major CA cities. Ha, most properties in California, period.

  49. Ygnacia says:

    I remember hearing that they prayed the rosary for a parish of their own for 20 years before they finally got one – God bless them. I pray our own Latin Mass community, that also has a cemetery chapel as a Mass site, gets a church of our own in far less time.

  50. Marlon says:

    The Church will not be revived with “personal parishes.”

    I think this is exactly the way the Church will be revived. Many parishes are dominated by powerful people who have their “ministries.” It is my experience that trying to reform these parishes is nearly a lost cause. These parishes will either fail or break away–I think the possibility of an American Catholic Church exists–and the remnant of faithful Catholics will be in the personal parishes. The Church will shrink, grow strong again, then go out and evangelize.

    I also think this will happen in Catholic parochial schools. Those schools will fail, and the home-schooling co-ops and small private classical/liberal arts schools will be the base on whic a real, solid Catholic education will grow.

  51. Supertradmum says:

    check out the NACPCIS schools for real communities…which in turn strengthen the local parishes…

  52. “Acceptable, provided the faithful do not regularly cross parish boundaries.”

    But if one’s local parish does not offer worship that seems worthy of God, might it not be spiritually salutary–and perhaps even morally obligatory in some cases– for one to cross the parish boundary every time he attends Holy Mass?

  53. brhenry says:

    We are canonically(by the Will of God) “wed” to a particular parish by virtue of the geographic
    location of our home. Even if we decide to “consort” with another woman (parish) we are
    always “wed” to our territorial parish. Our Pastors are assigned to us canonically( by the Will of God).
    We do not pick and choose our pastors. Even if we personally decide to avoid our (territorial)Pastor on Sunday, in the eyes of God(the Church), he still remains our Pastor. We do not pick and choose our natural fathers, why supernatural? The obsession, especially in the Country, is with “choice” and “rights.”
    Disorder breeds disorder.

  54. rtjl says:

    brhenry – this is to add some perspective.

    I recently left a parish because I could no longer take it there. This was the state of that parish.

    One of the priests in this parish was an active practicing homosexual who was openly living with his homosexual lover. He was a very popular preacher. He delighted in using the major feasts of the year as opportunities to demonstrate how the teachings of the church were not true. I give you some examples.

    Christmas – “we celebrate the fact that God becomes present in human flesh every time a child is born. This isn’t Jesus’ story, it’s our story. There is no real difference between the way God was present in Jesus and the way he is present in us. The only difference is that Jesus believed it and we don’t”

    Easter (preaching on the resurrection appearance in the gospel of Luke where Jesus bend over backwards to demonstrate that he was not an illusion or a ghost) – “When the author of the gospel tells us that Jesus appeared to the disciples he doesn’t mean that he was actually there visibly present. What he means rather is that the disciples experience the reality of his teachings and mission being alive in their hearts. It’s not that he really rose from the dead. He lives on in the sense that we keep his memory and mission alive whenever we strive to live out his teachings.”

    Corpus Christi – “When we say that the Jesus is really present in the Eucharist we don’t mean that the bread and the wine actually become the body and blood of Christ. Rather we mean that, when we gather together using the symbols of bread and wine, Jesus becomes present in the gathered assembly, in the people who honor his memory and seek to live his teachings.”

    Feast of the Holy Trinity – “When we say that God is three persons in one God, we don’t mean that God is really three persons. We mean rather that God has three ways of expressing God’s being in the same way that one man can be a father and a son and a brother. There is only one man but he is defined in different ways by the relationship he has with different people. The same is true of the trinity. There is only one God/person but that person can be viewed as a creator, a redeemer and a sanctifier.”

    Prior to a penitential celebration, this same priest leaned over to me in the sacristy and whispered “Should we tell them they don’t really need to be here (referring to the parishioners), Jesus forgave their sins a long time ago and they don’t need absolution from any priest.”

    Now – are you seriously telling me that my obligation was to remain in this parish and allow my children to grow up believing this is authentic Catholicism? The truth was, that I felt alone and isolated in the parish with no hope of effecting any positive change whatsoever. Even now, two years after leaving I have not completely recovered from the demoralization this parish has caused me and I am reluctant to trust any clergy in my area at all.

  55. BakerStreetRider says:

    BrHenry, Marriage is clearly a misapplied analogy. It is a mortal sin to “consort” with other women; there is absolutely no law against attending a personal parish. Canon law allows their creation for many reasons. Canon law also says that the faithful have a right to worship God according to their own rite. This would include the Extraordinary Form, or a decently celebrated Ordinary Form. You are imposing a much stricter law than the Church does, and that is wrong.
    I agree that typically, a person should remain in their territorial parish. However, considering the situation we have now, with flagrant Eucharistic abuse, serious liturgical abuse, heresy from the pulpits, absolutely appalling CCD, and so on, it is certainly possible that the territorial parish will harm and destroy the Faith. In such a situation, charity (love for God, ourselves, and our dependents) demands that we seek out a better situation if possible. The salvation of souls is paramount and the worship of God is paramount. The parish exists to support the Faith of Catholics. Church law allows Catholics to attend personal parishes. If a personal parish builds up the faith and a territorial parish tears it down, it is clear where the faithful should go. Why on earth would a territorial parish be more important than the salvation of souls and the Catholic Faith?

    Also, personal parishes allow for healthy parish life. It is unhealthy to be constantly “parish-hopping”, but with a parish that is orthodox, the faithful can benefit from the stability personal parishes allow. Personal parishes allow the faithful to have the stability of a parish without having to worry about their faith being undermined.

    I grew up in a fairly bad parish. There was no other option for me. Thankfully, through home schooling and then good Catholic colleges, my siblings and I were able to keep the Faith, but it was normal for me to hate attending Mass; to experience strong temptations to doubt the real presence because no one, even the priests, acted like the Eucharist was Christ’s Body and Blood; and to constantly feel defensive by having to brace against ridiculous or heretical statements that would come from the pulpit or from our CCD teachers. Of all of my peers in my Confirmation class, not a single one that I know of is still Catholic. Not a single one. That is a scary sign for the future of the Church. Also, it is not psychologically healthy for Catholics to feel constantly defensive at their established parish. This leads to cynicism and sometimes temptations to despair.

    There is nothing “free market” about this approach. I would be thrilled if the Church was in a moderately healthy state that would allow people to settle down at their territorial parish. However, that is not the world we live in now. We need to avoid that legalism that places the external building above the worship of God and the salvation of souls.

  56. brhenry: “We are canonically(by the Will of God) “wed” to a particular parish by virtue of the geographic location of our home.”

    I’m not sure what this claim regarding the “Will of God” means or is intended to imply. But as I understand the claims of canon lawyers that I recall, the 1917 obligation of territorial parish Mass attendance was removed in the post-Vatican II canon law revision of 1983. Apparently, what remains is mainly the obligation of the parish to its territorial members, rather than their obligation to it. For instance, one living within the territorial boundaries of a parish has a right–but no obligation–to attend Mass there.

  57. brhenry says:

    Has anyone ever thought about what it would have been like for
    Jesus, Mary and Joseph (GOD, GOD’s Mother, GOD’s Foster Father)
    to attend the local Synagogue in Nazareth? What a cross they
    must have bore!

  58. brhenry, one presumes that at the synagogue at Nazareth the rabbi did not teach the nonexistence of God, or that the Messiah to come was no more “special” than everyone there, or that the Ten Commandments were actually the ten suggestions, and all of them, the fifth possible excepted in certain circumstances, optional. In that time and place, to do so would mean that that rabbi would not have been the rabbi (or, well, ALIVE, what with Judaic laws vis-à-vis blasphemy), for long. An inspiring preacher he may not have necessarily been, but certainly not heretical.

    Mind you, I do see significant changes in that regard for the better in nearly every NO parish I’ve attended for the last ten years, so I think such concerns are slowly and gradually becoming a thing of the past. Unfortunately, they aren’t all there yet, as seen by some posts above.

  59. *possibly, not “possible”

  60. BakerStreetRider says:

    Well said Pie and Palestrina!

    The most striking (pun intended) scene of Jesus seeing abuse of the synagogue resulted in him knotting together a whip, violently driving the bad people out, and overturning their tables.

    We also know what Jesus said about religious leaders who abused their authority. Just check out some of his statements to the Pharisees. They are some of the harshest in the Gospels.

    And brhenry, you are basing your assertions about horrible and heretical conditions at the Nazareth synagogue on…what exactly?

  61. BakerStreetRider says:

    Btw, I think one point needs to be clarified. A pastor is assigned by the will of his bishop, not the Will of God. Just because a man is given pastorship of a parish does not mean that it is God’s Will. (That would certainly put the abuse scandal in a sadistic light.) Catholics have an obligation to obey lawful superiors in all things that are not sinful.

  62. Interesting that this is how our Latin Mass began in our Diocese–in a closed Parish, with a Diocesan Priest. We haven’t had the big draw that is indicated by this article, but the Latin Mass has continued for 10 years beginning in Norvus Ordo, and now TLM for the last 2+ years.

  63. Panterina says:

    …and as shared by a reader recently, there are folks that travel as far as Arizona to attend the TLM in this parish:

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