Rorate Caeli

Three 1sts for one U.S. diocese this year

We have written several times about the Diocese of Arlington, Virginia, as it is a fascinating example of post-Summorum Pontificum accomplishments led by young, traditional-leaning priests.  Founded in 1974, the traditional Latin Mass was "prohibited" in the diocese until 2006. In April 2006 one TLM was permitted and in August 2006 a second Mass was authorized by the bishop.  The announcement was coupled with permission for female altar boys to serve at novus ordo liturgies.

After Summorum Pontificum in 2007 removed local bishops from the TLM decision-making process, several priests immediately scheduled traditional Latin Masses in the diocese, including one on the day the motu proprio became effective. Today the Diocese of Arlington has 14 locations (13 parishes and the chapel of Christendom College) where the traditional Latin Mass is offered, a relatively staggering number considering the diocese has only 68 parishes. A diocese where the TLM was banned until eight years ago now features a regularly scheduled TLM in one out of every five parishes.  Eight of those parishes offer the TLM every Sunday, with a ninth soon on the way.

The bishop of the diocese, His Excellency Paul Loverde, has granted permission for a traditional ordination, scheduled for Saturday, 14 June, at 9 a.m. at Saint John the Apostle church in Leesburg, Va. The two Priestly Fraternity of Saint Peter deacons to be ordained priests are the Rev. Mr. Daniel Heenan, FSSP, and the Rev. Mr. Zachary Akers, FSSP -- 2005 graduates of Christendom College in the diocese.

The ordination is open (no tickets necessary) to the public, with light refreshments to follow in the church hall.  It will be two weeks after seven other FSSP deacons will be ordained in Omaha, Nebraska.  The Most Reverend James Conley, bishop of Lincoln, Nebraska, will ordain Deacons Heenan and Akers and celebrate a pontifical High Mass from the faldstool.  Bishop Loverde will be in choro -- the first time a bishop of Arlington has ever attended a traditional Latin Mass in the diocese. (Readers may recall Bishop Loverde, who turns 75 next year, attended one TLM outside of his diocese two years ago for the wedding of a former employee.)

The ordination Mass will be the red-vestment Pentecost Ember Saturday Mass, in full, with its many lessons before the Epistle.  The assistant priest will be the Very Rev. Fr. Josef Bisig, FSSP, the rector of the Fraternity's North American seminary; the deacon will be the Rev. Fr. Matthew McNeely, FSSP; and the subdeacon will be the Rev. Fr. Paul Scalia, the bishop's delegate for clergy in the Diocese of Arlington.  The assistant priest for Father Heenan will be the Rev. Fr. Rhone Lillard, FSSP; and the assistant priest for Father Akers will be the Rev. Fr. John Brancich, FSSP.

Over twenty priests from the Fraternity of Saint Peter and likely that many, if not more, from the Diocese of Arlington and elsewhere, will attend the ordination in cassock, surplice and biretta. Two of the Fraternity priests newly ordained in Omaha will be there, which means four priests will administer First Blessings.  Around fifteen seminarians from the Fraternity will serve and chant.  A choir of local singers will sing polyphony by William Byrd and other early sacred music composers.

So, the first traditional ordination in the diocese and the first TLM attended by the bishop in the diocese.  The third first for the Diocese of Arlington this year?  Bishop Loverde will administer the Sacrament of Confirmation using the traditional Latin books, followed by Benediction, in his cathedral on 21 October at 7:30 p.m.