“Ad orientem” five years later. A pastor reflects on the effects.

You long time readers might remember that I posted photos of a “table” altar being hauled by some men out of a church and over the the rectory.

That was in 2013.  Five years ago.

That’s when St. Mary’s in Pine Bluff, WI, where Fr. Richard Heilman is pastor, went ad orientem.

Exactly five years later, Fr. Heilman has posted a brief reflection on the impact that this move has had on his parish.  HERE

In 2007…

Then, five years ago, the first Sunday Mass looked like this (before the Communion rail was installed)


A communion rail was installed HERE

And then we put in housling cloths.  HERE


A view from last October when The Extraordinary Ordinary pontificated for the 100th anniversary of the last apparition at Fatima.

Passiontide 2017

From Easter 2017


About Fr. John Zuhlsdorf

Fr. Z is the guy who runs this blog. o{]:¬)
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  1. PTK_70 says:

    Of course, ad orientem (aka versus CUM populo) is the way to go. It is the future of worship. And communion rails should be restored to our older churches, because there was no good reason to take them out in the first place. However, I don’t understand the desire to push the altar up against the wall. Surely there’s nothing wrong with a free-standing altar. Mass can be, and is, celebrated ad orientem at free-standing altars.

  2. gracie says:

    Now THAT is worth dying for.

  3. Kathleen10 says:

    Thank God for faithful priests. This would be a torturous slog without the knowledge there are still faithful priests and some bishops. I daresay even if there isn’t this level of faithfulness in one’s immediate vicinity, just knowing they are out there…

  4. Sword40 says:

    And yet, we see priests that are timid in beginning Ad Orientum worship. [-TEM… ad orienTEM.] I know of one in particular who has talked about it for at least five years. Still nothing. He has a parish council that think they dictate what happens as far as the liturgy is concerned. Still we keep up the good fight.

  5. jameeka says:

    I agree with gracie.

  6. Elly says:

    It took several years for me to understand that the beautiful structures I would see in old churches were actually the old altars. It was pretty horrifying to realize what the tables had replaced!

  7. ServusChristi says:

    This may qualify as wishful thinking on my part but I think the sheer majority of churches in my archdiocese could use this as a starting point. Though my Archbishop I think is open to the idea, I’ve been to enough churches around the archdiocese to say that, though this is not the case for the mass I attend, many of them are showmen who seem to add their personal touches ‘as it fit in their own eyes’. What I’m really praying for is that what this priest did becomes contagious because I believe that to get the laity to be less casual and be more reverent starts with the priest, and the solution is to bring in the revival incrementally. Ad maiorem Dei gloriam!

  8. Semper Gumby says:

    Amen. Congratulations to Fr. Heilman, his parishioners, and the Extraordinary Ordinary.

  9. Heaven on earth! Just beautiful. Our parish is small and humble but when one walks inside it resembles this Church. A person passing by the Church building would never in their wildest dreams expect to see this if they walked inside.

  10. VanSensei says:

    The Novus Ordo with polyphony and ad orientem should’ve been the norm from the start in 1969. God forgive us and be merciful to us, we have strayed. Glad that some places are turning the tide.

  11. James in Perth says:

    Fantastic!! Good news!

  12. AlanLins says:

    Kudos to Fr. Heilman and Father Z for all they do for St Mary’s in Pine Bluff, the Diocese of Madison, and the Catholic Church around the world….and to Bishop Morlino….a fine shepherd…

    I have a question: In an area which if fairly stable (from a population point of view), is increased Mass attendance one of the fruits of Ad Orientem worship? St Mary’s in Pine Bluff is on the outskirts of Madison. My understanding is that Madison (and West Middleton which is proximate to Pine Bluff) is growing rapidly. From that perspective, I can see how Mass attendance would increase at St. Mary’s in Pine Bluff. What is happening in areas which are not growing as rapidly or are relatively stable? Thank you.

  13. Giuseppe says:

    Pope Francis wants clergy to become more humble.
    What could be more humbling than to put one’s personality aside and take on the mantle of Christ, the High Priest?
    To celebrate the Mass with the goal to please an audience of one: God.
    To channel the apostles and doctors of the church as one preaches the story of Christ, given to us, crucified, buried, and risen.
    And to do so knowing that you are unworthy to stand in Christ’s place, yet He gave you this task when He made you His priest, and He commands that you do so.
    Pretty humbling.

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