At Our Lady of Belen Chapel in West Miami, roughly 350 people — young and old — show up weekly for services, an old-style Catholic Mass that had been celebrated for centuries before the Second Vatican Council reformed the Catholic Church in the 1960s. One look around the picturesque Belen chapel and it’s clear that this Mass, though grounded in tradition and conducted mostly in Latin, is not just for older Catholics. Amid the sacred chanting and echoing organs, babies fuss and parents distract their toddlers with toys and coloring books.
There is no designated childcare room, but parents of crying babies are never shamed, said Eleonora Cacchione, a mother of four and Latin Mass regular. Cacchione is a lifelong Catholic, but says she did not fully understand what was happening during Mass until she started attending Traditional Latin Mass.
“People wearing their Sunday best, seeing the priest facing the altar rather than the congregation, the solemnity and reverence of the liturgy — including the way people receive Jesus in the Eucharist — reminds one that something special, something supernatural and beyond human explanation is taking place,” Cacchione said in a text message.
Traditional Latin Mass, also called the extraordinary form of the Roman rite, or the Tridentine Mass, has been celebrated in the Archdiocese of Miami for the past 40 years, beginning under former Archbishop Edward McCarthy. In recent years, Miami’s community has steadily grown, relocating to five different chapels in the past 10 years to accommodate the growth.
But, the most recent move to the Belen chapel — which is aligned with the Jesuits, and not an Archdiocese of Miami church — was made after Pope Francis restricted where groups can celebrate Latin Mass. He also required priests who wanted to celebrate the Mass to get permission from their bishops, and for bishops to get approval from the Vatican. The pope was concerned the Church was going backward, rather than looking forward.
But Miami’s Latin Mass community has more than doubled in the past five years — up from an average of 112 congregants in 2017 to 320 in 2023 — according to records taken by Frank Andollo, who’s been going to the services for 10 years. People drive from as far north as Palm Beach County and as far south as the Florida Keys to make it to Latin Mass at Belen on Sundays.
Why the growth?
“It’s bound to attract people because I believe they are attracted to authenticity,” said Jose Ballon (28), the choir director. “They don’t want something watered down or compromised.”
Read the rest at the Miami Herald.
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