Rorate Caeli

The Francis Effect: Old St. Mary Before and After Traditionis Custodes


Old St. Mary in Chinatown is a beautiful historic Church in Washington, D.C.'s Chinatown neighborhood. Built by German immigrants, it fell on hard times in the 1980s. But when it obtained an indult Latin Mass in the mid 1980s, it sprang back to life. 

Many rediscovered the TLM-- and their Catholic faith-- at the Latin Mass at Old St. Mary. It routinely attracted 400 people to Sunday Mass, as seen below.

The Traditional Latin Mass parishioners also helped finance the restoration of the Church, provided roughly two-thirds of the parish's income, and provided its volunteer base (including its schola and altar boys). 

When Traditionis Custodes was announced, no one thought that it would affect Old St. Mary. Such a move would be all too destructive and unnecessary. When word came that the Latin Mass was in danger, its priest and parishioners wrote worried letters warning of the dire consequences of ending the Traditional Latin Mass.

The pleas of the parishioners and priest were ignored. The Traditional Latin Mass at Old St. Mary was ended in September 2022. 

Yesterday, Cardinal Gregory came to celebrate Mass at Old St. Mary. Almost no one attended-- not out of disdain for Gregory, but because the TLM community has moved to new locations for Mass. Barely 30 people came for Mass with Cardinal Gregory at this beautiful, restored Church where previously 400 had worshiped at the TLM.

It is said that liberal Catholicism empties the churches. Traditionis Custodes must be understood as an acceleration of that process. A beautiful historic Church- a vibrant parish that had sustained and revitalized the faith of hundreds- now sits empty and idle due to the cruel, ideological desire of some in Rome to crush the Traditional Latin Mass and those who love it. Pray for Old St. Mary!