Latin Mass set to move to Newton

BRIGHTON -- The Archdiocese of Boston announced April 4 that the traditional Latin Mass, currently celebrated at Holy Trinity Parish in the South End, will find a new home at Mary Immaculate of Lourdes Parish in Newton beginning April 22.

The transfer of the Tridentine Mass comes because Holy Trinity, a German national parish, is slated to be closed as part of parish reconfiguration, though the actual closing date has not yet been announced.

The Latin Mass community at Holy Trinity was notified of the date of the relocation on March 25. Parishioners say they plan to appeal the move.

In a letter to the community members dated April 4, Cardinal Seán P. O’Malley said, “Mary Immaculate of Lourdes Parish offers a central location in the Archdiocese of Boston, with a full-time pastor capable of celebrating in both forms of the Roman Rite. I am fully committed as your archbishop to see to it that a strong community be built at the parish to celebrate the Lord’s Paschal Mystery in the beauty of the liturgy as expressed in both missals and to face the challenges to which the Gospel calls us to in the future.”

The letter gives the permission for the Tridentine Mass to be celebrated at Mary Immaculate on Sundays, Holy Days of Obligation and special feast days.

In the Archdiocese of Boston, there is only one parish with the special permission to celebrate the pre-Vatican II Mass. This permission, called an indult, was established by Pope John Paul II in 1984 and must be given by the local bishop.

Cardinal O’Malley noted in the letter that all members of the Latin Mass community will become full parishioners of Mary Immaculate with all the rights and duties of parishioners.

The archdiocese also announced that the Latin Mass community has permission to worship at Holy Trinity on May 20 for the previously scheduled celebration of First Holy Communion.

Holy Trinity, founded in 1844 as a German Catholic parish, was named for closure in May 2004. As New England’s only German parish, Holy Trinity began hosting the Tridentine Mass in 1990. With weekend Mass attendance just over 250, Holy Trinity has one Mass in German and English as well as the traditional Latin Mass each Sunday.

Originally, Holy Trinity parishioners were to go to St. James the Greater Parish in Boston since the two parishes already had the same pastor. The date was delayed twice to accommodate two charities are run out of the parish’s rectory, according to Father Mark O’Connell, assistant for canonical affairs of the archdiocese.

“We weren’t going to close Holy Trinity until we settled what would happen to the two charities in there,” he said. “In the meantime with the delay it was thought about whether St. James was the best place.”

The archdiocese chose Mary Immaculate for the Latin community sometime last year. The parish is a historic church, financially stable, and will give the Latin Mass community a permanent pastor, Father Charles Higgins, who can celebrate the Tridentine Mass. Holy Trinity has not had a full-time pastor since 1973. Mary Immaculate is also located in the center of the archdiocese with ample parking, he added.

“This is a place to expand. This is a better place to grow,” said Father O’Connell. “The pastor has been in place. He’s anxiously awaiting the Latin Mass.”

Many parishioners who attend the Latin Mass say they will appeal its relocation.

“The community is very upset,” said Christine Quagan, media coordinator for the Committee to Preserve Holy Trinity Parish. “People have many concerns about the move.”

Those concerns include the fact that the sanctuary at Mary Immaculate has a fixed table altar which obstructs the view of the high altar. The church building would need extensive renovations to make it suitable for the Latin Mass, she said.

Latin Mass community members are also concerned that taking public transportation to Mary Immaculate will be too difficult for some regular attendees who live in or near downtown Boston. The train station is a long walk from the church and bus service is infrequent, she added.

The one thing parishioners do look forward to is their new pastor, said Quagan.

“People do welcome having Father Higgins as pastor,” she said.

Currently Holy Trinity has no closure date, and the archdiocese seeks to move the two charities before announcing a date of suppression. After closure, the German community at Holy Trinity will likely join the community at the Cathedral of the Holy Cross, located a half mile from Holy Trinity, Father O’Connell added.

So far in reconfiguration, 59 parishes have closed and 16 parishes have merged into eight.