On birthing priests.

No matter how much we laity may long for it, until there are priests who are willing to learn, and say, the Latin Mass, we laity are just sitting in a circle talking to each other. Where are those priests going to come from? Two places, methinks.

First, and in my opinion, best: Diocesan priests would be willing to learn, and say, and offer every Sunday the Latin Mass. Sure, it takes a bit of time to learn it. Sure, priests are busy: I get that, for I am busy, too. But the ultimate solution is for Diocesan priests to be doing it in their own parishes. This topic is a post in itself, and perhaps soon I shall do it: one of my as yet un-realized visions for Una voce Maine is that it could become a source of financial aid for Diocesan priests and seminarians who want to be able to learn, and offer on a weekly (meaning every Sunday) basis, the TLM. Alas, UvM has no money, collects no money, and doesn’t even have a bank account. So, that vision must simply remain a vision, at least for now.

Which brings us to the penultimate solution: those orders, and their seminarians, that “specialize” in the Latin mass. There are three that do so, and I’ll give you a little survey of them. From smallest to largest we have these:

First is the Institute for Christ the King, Sovereign Priest (ICK) From their website:

The Institute was founded in 1990 by Monsignor Gilles Wach and Father Philippe Mora in Gabon, Africa, where we still have missions. Today, the motherhouse and international seminary of the Institute is located in Gricigliano, in the Archdiocese of Florence, Italy… after nearly twenty-five years of existence, the Institute counts 80 apostolates in twelve countries, 80 priests, and more than 90 seminarians is perhaps sufficient proof that the Institute is on the right path within the Church…

The mission of the Institute of Christ the King Sovereign Priest is to spread the reign of Christ in all spheres of human life by drawing from the millennial treasury of the Roman Catholic Church, particularly her liturgical tradition, the unbroken line of spiritual thought and practice of her saints, and her cultural patrimony in music, art and architecture…

There are about 15 apostolates in the US, they are listed here (scroll down the page, and look on the right: they are listed under “U.S. Apostolates”).

Information regarding ICK’s educational opportunities for any priest is here:

All priests who are seriously interested in learning to celebrate the Extraordinary Form of the Roman rite … are fraternally invited to contact the US Provincial Headquarters of the Institute of Christ the King in Chicago … we offer priests the opportunity to be introduced to the Rites of the Classical Roman Liturgy individually or in small groups while living with the Institute's community at one of our Oratories in the United States … No fee is asked (these guys are serious- TC); however, a fraternal donation to the household of the respective community would be welcome… Contact us.

Note well: the closest oratory to Maine is in Bridgeport, CT. I can spit further than that.

ICD also has an Adopt a Seminarian program. Check it out. I was recently contacted (via the UvM website) by an ICD seminarian, if anyone out there is interested in taking this on I can give you details. Please note: you would be gifting the Seminary, NOT the seminarian directly, but the gift would be in his name, and designated for his support. Contact me if you are interested in the details.

Here is the ICK seminary in Gricigliano:

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Next up is the Priestly Fraternity of St. Peter (FSSP)

Considerably larger, although only a couple of years older than ICD, we have this from their "Who we are" page:

The Priestly Fraternity of St. Peter (FSSP) is a clerical Society of Apostolic Life of Pontifical Right, canonically erected by Pope St. John Paul II in 1988. Their priests serve in apostolates across the world, with the faithful celebration of the traditional Mass and Sacraments (Extraordinary Form of the Roman Rite) at the center of their charism…

With more than 300 priests and 150 seminarians from 30 countries, the Fraternity serves in over 130 dioceses on 5 continents. International headquarters are located in Fribourg, Switzerland and North American headquarters in the Diocese of Scranton, Pennsylvania. Fraternity seminarians receive training at one of two international seminaries: Priesterseminar Sankt Petrus in Wigratzbad, Germany (for German and French speakers) and Our Lady of Guadalupe Seminary in Denton, Nebraska (for English speakers)…

In the US, there are 112 priests in 54 Apostolates in 39 dioceses in the US, and 7 in Canada. The map is here. As some of you know, one of the most recent Apostolates is that established in Nashua, NH in July, 2016. FSSP Apostolates are in full communion with the Holy See, and they exist in dioceses with the permission and full approval of the local ordinaries (this is important to understand when we get to the discussion of the SSPX down below).

The U.S. Seminary is the still abuilding Our Lady of Guadalupe Seminary in Denton, Nebraska (Diocese of Lincoln). Go check it out. Although I don’t know if they have an “adopt a seminarian” program like the ICD, certainly it’s easy to gift the seminary. The Donations page is here. PS: they also have a great bookstore.

Regarding priest training, in the past they have offered week-long “boot camps” for Diocesan priests wanting to learn the TLM. The cost was quite modest, the main expense was airfare to Nebraska (as a personal aside, some years back I offered our Bishop, in writing, to fully fund any diocesan priest who wanted to do this. I never received a reply…)

I can vouch for the FSSP and their priests – we attended (and help build) one of their Apostolates, I discussed it a little bit in my very first Una voce Maine post, here.

Here is the Our Lady of Guadalupe Seminary in Nebraska:

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Thirdly, we have the Society of St. Pius X (SSPX).

Some of you will have never heard of the SSPX, others will have heard all too much! I cannot hope to unpack the long and complex history of this Society. Suffice it to say that the first, and still extant, seminary was originally founded by Archbishop Marcel Lefebvre (d. 1991) in Econe, Switzerland in 1970 under the auspices of the local bishop, and officially approved by Rome in 1971 (cf. SSPX's own "Short History part I" and Part II). It grew. In 1988, Archbishop Lefebvre consecrated four bishops without the permission of Pope John Paul II, which resulted in the excommunication of all the SSPX bishops, including Lefebvre, under the 1988 apostolic letter Ecclesia Dei. This same letter, by the way, led to the formation of the FSSP, discussed above. Anyway, SSPX continued, and continued to grow worldwide. In 2009 the Vatican remitted the excommunications of the Society’s bishops, since then the discussions between the Vatican and the SSPX have been, to use the phrase from the Wikipedia page, “complex”.

Their current status is murky, to say the least. Catholic News Agency has an entire series of recent articles regarding the current relationship between the Holy See and the SSPX here. Best for you to go read up on it for yourself. Keep in mind that SSPX chapels are at this time NOT recognized by the dioceses in which they reside: therein lies many of the practical questions and problems. There are no SSPX chapels in Maine. This is a profound practical difference between the FSSP and the SSPX.

All that said, the SSPX continues to grow, with some 650 priests in over 70 countries, the two largest presences being in the US and France. They also have a fairly extensive network of schools (26 in the US, 47 in France) and a publishing house, Angelus Press. They have no fewer than 6 seminaries, including the original seminary in Switzerland, and the US St. Thomas Aquinas Seminary, originally in Wisconsin but now in transition to the massive new seminary in Dyllwin, VA. That’s the Blue Ridge mountains in the background, home of my coal-mining ancestors.

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Whatever opinions some of you may hold regarding the SSPX, it is a simple fact that were it not for the sacrifices (yes, sacrifices, the greatest being that he died “excommunicated”) of Archbishop Marcel Lefebvre, Tradition as most of us understand it would have decades ago disappeared down the memory hole.

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So, what are some take-aways from all this?

1. All of these orders are growing: they are the only ones building new seminaries.

2. All of these orders are ordaining men in double digit numbers.

2. All of these orders understand that the Mass is the nidus of the Church, and that if the Mass is done poorly, so too is the rest of the Church done poorly.

3. Most (not all) bishops in the US absolutely refuse to try to learn anything from them, and most pretend they don’t exist and fervently hope they will just go away.

4. Not one of these orders is without problems. They are, after all, comprised of mere mortal men. Fallible men. Like the Church.

But the Church needs these orders, all three of them, and more besides. But even more, the Church needs diocesan priests to learn, and to say, the Mass of All Time.

Curate, ut valeatis.

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