Rorate Caeli

Bishop Athanasius Schneider in Hungary

"Our friends at the John Henry Newman Center of Higher Education in Hungary asked us to post this, along with a few photos, of their recent event with Bishop Athanasius Schneider:

It was the first time that MONS. Dr. ATHANASIUS SCHNEIDER O.R.C., titular bishop of Celerina and auxiliary bishop of the archbishopric of the Blessed Virgin Mary in Astana, Kazakhstan, had visited Hungary as a guest professor of John Henry Newman Center of Higher Education

The teaching of the bishop, who is world-famous for his books Dominus est and Corpus Christi on the Eucharist and the worthy reception of Holy Communion, published by Szent István Társulat and Stella Maris Alapítvány, was well received by the Hungarian public, too. From 4 to 6 March 2016 the Central-Asian bishop held lectures and celebrated traditional (usus antiquior) Pontifical High Mass with the participation of the faithful in Hungary.

The Bishop was awaited with great interest. In Budapest he held two lectures in a packed university hall full of – several hundred – people on 4 and 5 March. The first one entitled Unchangeable Truth was about the sacrament of marriage, the second about Faith and Martyrdom. On 5 March the Bishop visited the headquarters of the Newman Center in the town of Sümeg and held a third lecture on The Holy Communion and the Renewal of the Church. In Sümeg Bishop Athanasius received a guest professor certificate from the Newman Center, which was delivered by Prof. Ferenc Kertész-Bakos and the mayor of the town, László Végh.

Crowning his visit on Laetare Sunday, Bishop Schneider celebrated Pontifical High Mass in the Franciscan Shrine Church of Sümeg on 6 March according to the usus antiquior. There was a huge attendance, with many from Romania, Slovakia, Italy and Austria, too. The Holy Mass was organized by the Newman Center alone. It was the first time in over 45 years, i.e. since the introduction of Novus Ordo, that a bishop had celebrated the Sunday Mass in Hungary according to the traditional form of the Roman Rite (usus antiquior).

Sümeg is one of the largest and oldest spiritual centres of the archdiocese of Veszprém and of Catholic Tradition, which is enriched by the presence and activity of the Newman Center. Thanks to the radiation of the Franciscan shrine as well as the personal example, spiritual impact and prophetic teaching of the famous Hungarian preacher, P. Dr. Balázs Barsi OFM, most priests and parishes committed to the old rite are found in this region of the country. Hence, the assistance of Bishop Schneider consisted almost only of the local clergy and the altar servers of their Tridentine rite groups. The Presbyter Assistant was Zsolt Grujber, the parish priest of Böhönye, with Gábor Simon, the parish priest of Városlőd, as the Deacon and Gergő Cséry, the parish priest of Nemesgulács, as the Subdeacon. All the altar servers came from the religion classes of these fathers. The Master of Ceremonies and the First Assistant was Dániel Fülep, Director of the Newman Center, initiator and main organiser of Bishop Schneider’s visit. Musica Sacra was provided by one of the best Gregorian choir of Hungary, Schola Sancti Pauli from Pécs, headed by Gabriella Fodor DLA. The organist was Domonkos Farkas.

After the Holy Mass, the Bishop, accompanied by the Ministri Sacri, the assistance, the clergy and the faithful, paid a visit to John Henry Newman Center and blessed the newly completed building of the library and the full figure bronze statue of Blessed John Henry Newman, the very first Newman statue in Hungary ever. Finally, we went to the Franciscan cloister garth, where he blessed the bronze statue of St. Francis of Assisi, a gift of the Newman Center and the town of Sümeg to the cloister.

To close his program in Hungary, on 7 March Athanasius Schneider, accompanied by Prof. Ferenc Kertész-Bakos and Dániel Fülep, visited the Hungarian Parliament, too, where he was received as a guest by secretary of state Miklós Soltész responsible for church relations. At their meeting they talked about the past and presence of Catholic Christianity in Hungary, as well as the efforts of the Hungarian Government to protect Christian values both in Hungary and abroad. Bishop Schneider outlined the position of the Catholic community in Kazakhstan. Taking a tour in the building, he visited the Chamber of the Parliament and bowed before the Holy Crown of Hungary in the vaulted hall. Both the secretary of state and the bishop expressed their hopes for expanding their relationship. Finally, Bishop Schneider went to see St. Stephen’s Basilica in Budapest, where he prayed for Mary’s Land before the Holy Right Hand of St. Stephen. 

The faithful in Hungary will always remember Bishop Athanasius Schneider’s authentic Catholic teaching and deeply touching Holy Mass. The Newman Center hopes to see him again.