QUAERITUR: My teen wants to attend the Extraordinary Form. How to ask the parish priest?

From a reader:

My teen daughter loves Gregorian chant and has been asking me to take her to an Extraordinary Form Mass. We found out today that an associate pastor at a nearby parish has celebrated Extraordinary Form Masses in the past (he is currently on a mission to teach chant responses to the parish community, which we love). She would like to ask the pastor to allow this associate pastor to celebrate Extraordinary Form Masses, but worries that she won’t be listened to because she is a teen and because it seems there is lack of interest in the Extraordinary Form Mass in this parish. We’re not registered in the parish, so we don’t know whether anyone else is interested in the Extraordinary Form Mass there; our acquaintances and friends in that parish are not.

Would an email from a teen carry more or less weight than an adult’s email with a friendly, welcoming pastor? How can we find out whether other people (parishioners or not) would want an EF Mass or would be willing to purchase the necessary items so that the Extraordinary Form Mass could be offered regularly? Thanks for any advice you can share – we don’t want to be stalkers, but can’t figure out how to gauge the level of interest in the Extraordinary Form Mass.

I am more than willing to accompany my daughter to Extraordinary Form Masses, but it’s been a long time for me (45+ years), so if you could point me toward an Extraordinary Form Mass 101 blog post on your website, I’d appreciate it.

Thank you for all you do in support of our Holy Mother Church. Your thoughtful blog posts are so very helpful to me, and, by extension, to the rest of my family. I will continue to remember you in my prayers.

I think that a request coming from a teen, better yet a group of teens, would make the priest stop in his tracks and listen.

She and her friends who want the same, should go to the parish priest, the pastor, and present him with a letter – signed by all of them and identifying themselves as a stable group – formally requesting such.  There could be an additional letter presented by adults.

I will repeat what I have written elsewhere.

When you make the request, you have to make it clear that you are willing to do all the work necessary to get it going, set up, clean up, … everything.  You have to be willing to pay the expenses.

Think of kids who want the puppy: they have to be willing to take care of little Fido.

That goes for the grown-ups, too.

As for you, kind writer, take a cue from your child and start going to the older form as often as you can.

I hope readers will chime in with their own experiences and useful, well-considered suggestions.

About Fr. John Zuhlsdorf

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

    For resources, I recommend starting small (in other words, there is no need to be diving into Father Fortescue books yet). Perhaps on the reader’s next Amazon order the parent could order a couple of these:

    For online resources, also start simple. One can’t go wrong with some Archbishop Fulton Sheen:

    While working to get the local traditional Latin Mass started, maybe a road trip with the teen to hear an existing High Mass on an upcoming Sunday?

  2. TopSully says:

    I will be attending a high Mass this Sunday for the first time. I wish it were closer so I could go often.

  3. pvmkmyer says:

    Fr. Z didn’t answer one important question from the original inquirer, and I’d appreciate any help anyone reading this thread can give: Any suggestions for locating like-minded people in the parish who also want Mass in the EF? In my own parish I am sure there are others besides myself who would welcome the EF Mass, but I don’t know how to locate them. I am sure that I would not be able to place an announcement in the Sunday bulletin because our pastor, I am sure, is not going to be cooperative, let alone our liturgy director, Sr. Pantsuit. Any suggestions would be greatly appreciated.

  4. Bob B. says:

    After a couple of years of trying, I was able to take a couple of classes to a relatively nearby Norbertine Abbey. These students participated in Sext with the community (who were impressed by my students’ basic knowledge of Church Latin). I wanted to keep this a yearly event, but my the principal “disliked” the field trip, though the students and parents from the previous trip all stated how it was the best field trip they had ever attended! (This principal disliked saying the Rosary, the Angelus, etc, – which should say a lot.)
    Tried to convince the pastor, who was old enough and had, indeed, learned the Mass in Latin. He declined and I asked if I couldn’t get another priest to come over to say Mass there or we visit his Church. Nope.
    This is among the many difficulties one can encounter as a Catholic school teacher and it’s so unfair to the students that they may never see the EF of the Mass.

  5. Jackie L says:

    You might ask the associate if he knows of anyone in the parish that is interested in the EF, perhaps others have asked him. Rather then ask for a regular EF mass, you may consider the approach of asking for a single EF mass, perhaps on the feast day of the saint for whom the parish is named. This has the advantage of not requiring much other then a yes from the pastor and associate. Vestments, altar boys, musicians etc in this case may be able to be “borrowed” for a one time event, rather then bought or trained. A reception after mass will allow you to gauge how well this was received and who might be interested in forming your group to help organize and share expenses for a more regular EF mass.

  6. pvmkmyer says:

    Thank you, Jackie, for your suggestion. I will see what I can start to do. I know this will be done in baby steps. I don’t think our associate will be much help, either. But I do know a few people in the parish who would be interested, including one “mover and shaker”, so that’s a start.

    Bob, I feel for you. Our parish school is, by all accounts, similar to yours. Fortunately, we also have a fairly new private Catholic school in the area that is loyal to the magisterium and far more traditional. Keep fighting the good fight.

  7. Sword40 says:

    We started out identifying about 5 people who had an interest. We then held a meeting at our house and designed a “petition” to the local pastor. We made enough copies so each person had at least two copies. Each of us set out to try and get 5 people to sign. That was easier than we had imagined. Next month we held another meeting with about 90% of the folks who had signed. We selected a name for the group, and continued to circulate the petition. Once we got 56 signers we presented the pastor with copies of it. He promptly told us he knew nothing about the TLM. So we told him that we would like to present the petition to the Archbishop. He said that was our right. So we developed a cover letter for the copies of the petition with a copy to the pastor and mailed it off. For a month we heard nothing, so we mailed a second copy, and marked as such with copies to the pastor. Another month passed, and nothing; so we made a third request and sent it to Ecclesia Dei Commission with copies to the Abp and pastor. Now THAT got some action. Within 4 months the Diocese had an FSSP priest and a location to say Mass plus we were allowed to bring in a Dominican from south of us for a monthly Dominican Rite Mass. Since then at least two other parishes have begun the EF Masses. Lapse time from start to present…. 5 years and one month.

    Was it worth it? You bet!!!!!!!

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