Rorate Caeli

Note: Bad news from Long Island

We waited to post this note, sent by a reader in Long Island, in the hope that the situation might have changed since July 4th. It has unfortunately remained the same.

On Sunday July 4th, 120 people gathered for the 1:30 pm Latin Mass at Our Lady of Lourdes in Massapequa Park were informed that the pastor, Msgr. James Lisante, had decided to "suspend" the Latin Mass and replace it with an English Mass in the same time slot effective immediately.

In his letter in the bulletin, Msgr. Lisante explained that he suspended the Mass in order to alleviate the schedule of the present celebrant of the Latin Mass, Fr. Anthony Heinlein, who usually says two Masses on a weekend. Fr. Heinlein had recently taken over the 1:30 pm Latin Mass, and the pastor was concerned that offering three Masses on a weekend was too much for Fr. Heinlein.

Some parishioners are puzzled by this explanation since there will still be a 1:30 Mass, and it isn't clear how replacing the Latin Mass with an English Mass will reduce Fr. Heinlein's schedule, especially since Fr. Heinlein has made it known that he is more than happy to continue celebrating the Latin Mass.

In his sermon at the closing Mass, Fr. Heinlein described its cancellation as a "tragedy"; longtime OLL parishioners agree, but are quick to point out that this unfortunate decision by the pastor is the latest in a series of controversial actions by Msgr. Lisante since his arrival in 2008.

Some of the more egregious actions of the new pastor include:
  • the elimination of a popular traditiional Mass attended by many homeschooling families in the parish,
  • the removal of a beloved statue of Our Lady of Fatima from the sanctuary steps where it had been enshrined for twenty-five years
  • the removal of the crucifix from the altar
  • the removal of a "modesty" sign from its long accustomed place in the vestibule
  • the hiring of a gay-friendly music director who was known for directing a blasphemous pro-gay off-Broadway musical entitled, "My Big Gay Italian Wedding."
  • the elimination of half the confessions and Masses from the weekly schedule
  • the elimation of a decades-old monthly pro-life all-night prayer vigil
  • the elimination of a decades-old, immensely popular, monthly Fatima Holy Hour in honor of the saints
  • the banning of daily confessions in the chapel
  • the closing of the parish school, even though the former pastor had left a $2.8 million parish surplus and had set up a foundation specifically to aid the school to which the former pastor had donated $150,000.
All things considered, the elimination of this weekly EF Latin Mass at OLL parish, formerly known as a bastion of traditional orthodoxy and Marian devotion, is no surprise to anyone, though it is profoundly disappointing to the many regular attendees of this Mass. Many remember when the former pastor, Fr. Mason, instituted this Mass three years ago on the Feast of the Exaltation of the Holy Cross, after more than 400 signatures were gathered from parishioners requesting an EF Latin Mass in the parish.

To most traditional-minded observers here the sudden cancellation of the OLL EF Latin Mass appears to be the culmination of two-year campaign by the new pastoral administration to eradicate nearly all vestiges of traditional Catholicism from the last conservative parish in the Diocese of Rockville Centre.

(It should be noted that Bishop William Murphy, the Bishop of the Rockville Centre Diocese, has not only approved this decision, but has also consistently refused all requests to allow a personal parish for the traditional Catholics in this Long Island diocese of 1.4 million Catholics.)