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Thursday, July 4, 2019

Requiem for a Latin Mass Community

By:   John Andra
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TLM at St. Anthony's in Witchita TLM at St. Anthony's in Witchita

The Latin Mass Community of the Diocese of Wichita, Kansas, will cease to exist on September 1, 2019. Ending just shy of its twenty-fifth birthday, it will be replaced by a parish community which celebrates both Novus Ordo and Vetus Ordo Masses. The following is an anticipated obituary of the event:

"The Latin Mass Community was born on Sunday, September 6, 1992, when the Vetus Ordo Mass was celebrated in Wichita with episcopal approval for the first time since the advent of the Novus Ordo Mass. The celebrant was the late Bishop of Wichita, his Excellency Eugene J. Gerber. The service was held at St. Anthony's Church.

Since that time, diocesan priests have served as chaplains to the Latin Mass Community, which in turn has supported weekly celebrations of the Vetus Ordo at St. Anthony's. The parish is also home to a community which celebrates the Novus Ordo in Vietnamese and another which celebrates the Novus Ordo in English. These communities are served by the pastor of St. Anthony's. 

The current arrangement will end on September 1, 2019. By direction of the Bishop of Wichita, his Excellency Carl A. Kemme, no chaplains will be assigned to the Latin Mass Community, the name 'Latin Mass Community' will be suppressed, and the Vetus Ordo will no longer be celebrated at St. Anthony's.

Instead, the parochial vicar of another parish, St. Joseph's Church, will celebrate a Vetus Ordo Mass on Sundays as an addition to the Novus Ordo Masses already celebrated there. One feature of the current arrangement will apparently remain:  The Mass at St. Joseph's, like the existing Mass at St. Anthony's, will be the only public Vetus Ordo regularly celebrated on Sundays in the Diocese of Wichita with episcopal approval. 

Bishop Kemme explained his rationale in a letter to St. Anthony parishioners:

Since my arrival here as bishop, I have desired more and more to make Pope Benedict XVI's vision a greater reality in our diocese in which the two forms of the one mass, the Ordinary Form and the Extraordinary Form enrich each other and becoming fully integrated into a parish community rather than one co-existing with the other. This will not happen overnight but it is my conviction that this can happen more deeply with the change I am announcing, providing a possible model for full integration of both forms of the mass.

In line with the bishop's rationale, a priest overseeing the change informed members of the Latin Mass Community that a distinct parish for the Vetus Ordo, such as one staffed by the Priestly Fraternity of St. Peter, is not a possibility in the Diocese of Wichita.

The pastor of St. Joseph's has invited members of the Latin Mass Community to register in his parish if they so choose, but he has also assured them that all who attend the Vetus Ordo on Sundays will be treated as members of the parish community. Additional benefits are promised, such as two weekday Masses and other Sacraments in the traditional form. However things turn out, the passing of the Latin Mass Community will mean the Vetus Ordo is no longer a sufficient basis for community formation in the Diocese of Wichita."  

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Last modified on Thursday, July 4, 2019