Revival of the Latin Mass in Port Richmond Philadelphia, by Jon FREY
On March 1, 2014, for the first time since the reforms of the Second Vatican Council, the Tridentine Mass was offered at the Nativity of the Blessed Virgin Mary Catholic Church in the Port Richmond section of Philadelphia. As this first Low Mass was being planned, early expectations hoped for 20 to 30 souls to attend. To the shock, surprise and awe of those who planned this Mass, close to 90 souls came to hear what will now be the first of many Latin Masses offered in this baroque-style church.
Thanks to the strong showing of interest at that first Mass, the pastor of Nativity BVM has extended his permission for the Latin Mass to continue. The pastor at St. Adalbert’s Church, one block to the east of Nativity BVM, has also opened the doors to have its first Latin Mass on June 27 of this year on the Feast of the Sacred Heart of Jesus (and will be a High Mass).
Port Richmond is a unique neighborhood in that it still boasts 5 functioning Catholic Churches within its small borders. Nativity BVM is flanked by two neighboring parishes, each one city block apart: Our Lady Help of Christians to the West, which once served German immigrants; and Saint Adalbert’s Church, which continues to serve the thriving Polish community. As with most parishes since Vatican II, all of these parishes have seen steep declines in Mass attendance, the closing of schools and convents, and shortage of priests. Starting in 2015, the Archdiocese of Philadelphia will examine these parishes to determine their vitality and opportunities for cost-cutting consolidation given Mass attendance numbers and number of clergy at each parish. 27 churches were closed in 2013, and 46 are up for review this year.
As the Archdiocese prepares to pull out the proverbial scalpel next year, the Holy Ghost has sent this community a young priest who is dedicated to the Latin Mass and has already earned himself the nickname of “The Phantom of Port Richmond” for his strict adherence to dressing in the traditional black cassock, biretta and cloak while walking the neighborhood. It did not take long for many to recognize Father’s piety and strict adherence to the rubrics of the Novus Ordo Mass, and to learn that he was one of several priests in the archdiocese that knew the traditional form of Mass.
From May 1st thru July 1st, five Latin Masses have been scheduled at two of the churches on Allegheny Avenue. Due to Father’s commitments to offer the Latin Mass at Holy Trinity Church in Center City (an Apostolate dedicated only to the Latin Mass on Sundays and Holydays, including Holy Week), Sunday Latin Masses are not possible at this time. Time will tell if enough interest and resources will permit a wider use and support of the Latin Mass in Port Richmond. However, the pastors here now know: if the Latin Mass is offered, the faithful will come. Will it be enough to rebuild the faith and parishes? Only time will tell.
Schedule of Masses in Port Richmond, Philadelphia May 1 thru July 1 2014
Thurs May 1 - 7PM - St. Joseph the Worker - L
(with hymns from choir of Our Lady of Port Richmond Regional Catholic School)
Tues May 13 - 7PM - St. Robert Bellarmine - L
Thurs June 5 - 7PM - St. Boniface – L (with hymns)
Fri June 27 - 7PM – Feast of the Sacred Heart of Jesus – H
+++at St. Adalbert’s Church+++ 2645 E Allegheny Ave
Tues July 1 – 7PM – Feast of the Most Precious Blood - L
*L – Low Mass H – High Mass