Brian Mershon
Pontifical Commission Ecclesia Dei asks Charlotte bishop to provide weekly Sunday Latin Mass
Initial group of 50 families grows to nearly 200 in 2 years
By Brian Mershon
December 27, 2013

Original story appeared in a Summer 2013 issue of The Remnant.

Charlotte, N.C. – Eighteen months after an initial request by lay Catholics in the Diocese of Charlotte, a regularly scheduled Traditional Latin Mass began in March 2013 every Sunday at 12:30 p.m. at St. Ann's Church by Father Timothy Reid. As previously, the Traditional Latin Mass will also continue to be offered on Wednesday evenings at 6:30 p.m.

Outside of a regularly-scheduled Traditional Latin Mass at 9 a.m. every Sunday in Mount Holly, N.C, offered for more than 20 years by dedicated priests of the Society of St. Pius X, this is the first time a regularly scheduled Traditional Latin Mass is being offered in Charlotte on Sundays since the promulgation of Summorum Pontificum in July 2007. A stable group of Catholics based in Hendersonville, N.C., and associated with Una Voce America had petitioned the previous bishop multiple times for a regularly-scheduled Traditional Latin Mass throughout the 1990s and 2000s to no avail.

Recently, a group of about 50 families led by Chris Lauer made a formal request to their pastor on the Feast of the Assumption 2011. Since then, the stable group has grown in two years to nearly 200 families representing about 700 Catholics. "When I first reached out, I was expecting to gain interest from 30 or maybe up to 50 people," said Chris Lauer, who heads up Coetus Fidelium, a Charlotte-based apostolate developed specifically for Catholics attached to Tradition. "Then the responses started pouring in from people whom I had never contacted," he said.

Both their pastor and Bishop Peter Jugis declined their initial request, but Lauer said both were open to fulfilling their request, but didn't see how it could be done at the time, and the priest and bishop encouraged Coetus Fidelium to seek recourse to the Vatican as outlined in Summorum Pontificum. Among the reasons offered in the initial denial was the lack of a sufficient number of priests to attend to the needs of the burgeoning Catholic population. Indeed, Father Reid is the sole pastor of a growing parish and offers all the parish's daily and Sunday Masses.

However, a letter from Archbishop Augustine DiNoia, vice president of the Pontifical Commission Ecclesia Dei (PCED) in early 2013 to Bishop Jugis encouraged him to provide for the legitimate desires and rightful aspirations of the stable group of families who petitioned for regular access to the Traditional Latin Mass. In a brief telephone interview, Father Reid said he "loved offering the Latin Mass," and indeed, he had been regularly offering it on most Wednesday evenings and on first Saturday evenings for some time now.

"The desire of many of you for a Sunday Latin Mass was made formally to me more than a year ago, and I considered the request very carefully with the aid of our parish council and our staff," Father Reid wrote in a letter to his parishioners in Feb. 2013. "While we decided that if we were to implement such a request, we would change the 12:30 p.m. Mass, it was our consensus a year ago that our parish was not ready for such a change," he said. "However, Roma locuta est! (Rome has spoken). Therefore, I trust that this directive from Rome is an answer to the earnest prayer that I personally made that our Lord show me if and when He desired that I make such a change here at St. Ann's," Father Reid said.

Lauer indicated that the lay group used the formal process seeking recourse as outlined by Summorum Pontificum, but they also offered a spiritual bouquet of 4,700 rosaries for their pastor and bishop. Following the news of a positive result of their petition from the PCED, the lay faithful provided 12,000 rosaries in thanksgiving to Father Reid and Bishop Jugis.

Lauer relayed a story familiar to traditional Catholics. He said he and his wife had been told by numerous priests that they should simply be content with the Novus Ordo Mass, parish and catechesis and that they should not seek the traditional devotions and liturgy, but instead should be "salt in the world" of the average Catholic parish.

"This argument never made sense to me," Lauer said. "The notion that somehow the sheep are somehow supposed to be the shepherds is quite disordered."

The 12:30 p.m. Latin Mass time replaced a bilingual English-Spanish Mass geared toward the growing number of Spanish-speaking parishioners. Father Reid invited them to continue to frequent the Latin Mass at that time and said the parish would provide Spanish-Latin guides in the pews to assist them in their worship.

Lauer said that attendance has been more than 200 for each of the Sunday Masses with more than 300 for their first Palm Sunday Mass. Lauer also said that Coetus Fidelium raised funds for full sets of Roman vestments for priest, deacon and subdeacon for Solemn High Masses for diocesan priests.

Recently, Father John Berg, Superior General of the Priestly Fraternity of St. Peter, offered St. Ann's parishioners an evening of reflection, confessions and Low Mass over two days May 2 and 3.

The Diocese of Charlotte did not respond to requests for comment from Bishop Jugis on PCED's positive intervention on behalf of Charlotte-area Catholics.

© Brian Mershon


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Brian Mershon

Brian Mershon is a commentator on cultural issues from a classical Catholic perspective... (more)


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