Monica and Sarah Gleason, sisters, participate in a Latin Mass at St. Peter Catholic Parish in Kenosha, Sunday, March 14. Last May, the parish revived a centuries-old Catholic tradition, and began offering a monthly Tridentine Mass. (Catholic Herald photo by Allen Fredrickson)

Dominus vobiscum
(The Lord be with you)
Et cum spiritu tuo
(And with your spirit)
Oremus (Let us pray)

It’s been more than 40 years since the words of the Latin Mass consistently echoed through most Catholic churches. But, this last May, St. Peter Parish in Kenosha revived a centuries-old Catholic tradition.

The ancient rite, set aside after Vatican II in favor of a new, vastly different Mass, is a welcome return for some Roman Catholics, thanks to a July 7, 2007 apostolic letter titled “Summorum Pontificum,” from Pope Benedict XVI, which permits any priest in the Latin Rite to offer the Traditional Latin Mass without permission from his bishop.

This expanded upon the pastoral concern expressed by the late Pope John Paul II, who in 1984 authorized the Traditional Latin Mass of the Roman Rite, but with specific approval of the local bishop.

According to Coalition Ecclesia Dei, an organization promoting the Traditional Latin Mass, the number of weekly Tridentine Masses in the United States has grown from nearly zero in 1988 to more than 300 in 2009. In the Milwaukee Archdiocese, the Tridentine Rite, also known as the Extraordinary Rite, is offered daily at St. Stanislaus, and monthly at Holy Name of Jesus Church in Sheboygan and most recently at St. Peter Parish.

Although Fr. William Hayward, pastor of the parish attended the first Tridentine Mass, the celebrant is Fr. Olivier Meney, from the Institute of Christ the King and St. Stanislaus Parish in Milwaukee, who also travels to Holy Name of Jesus to celebrate Mass.

“We were approached by a group of families to have the Mass on our site,” said Fr. Hayward. “The archdiocese encouraged it and I am very interested and impressed with people like Kamela Gleason who have done wonderful work to get this started here in Kenosha.”

For Gleason, a member of St. James Church, bringing the Tridentine Mass to St. Peter has been nothing more than Divine Providence.

“Many dedicated Catholics have been involved in its initial coordination and planning,” she said. “This journey to bring the Traditional Latin Mass has unified many Catholics in our community. Supporters can be found from many different local parishes and come from all walks of life. Even young people are asking for and desiring this sacred liturgy. Catholic home-schoolers have also shown an interest. They feel that this is an educational opportunity and wonderful way for their children to appreciate and experience the fullness of the Catholic Church’s teaching.”

When the Vatican released the 2007 motu proprio in which Pope Benedict XVI reached out to alienated traditionalists, and relaxed restrictions on the use of the Latin Mass after the reforms of the Second Vatican Council, Pope Benedict also said the priests who celebrate according to the Tridentine rite cannot, as a matter of principle, exclude celebrating the new Mass.

While some parishes have added a Latin Mass, the differences between the Tridentine Rite and the Novus Ordo Rite are substantial. Someone entering a Catholic Church and discovering Mass celebrated in Latin might wonder if they are celebrating the Tridentine Rite, but quite often, it is the same New Order of the Mass that is celebrated daily. The only difference is that the Vatican II Novus Ordo Rite is celebrated in Latin.

Latin Mass locations

St. Stanislaus Oratory
524 W. Historic Mitchell Street
Milwaukee, Wisconsin 53204
(414) 226-5490
Sundays 8 a.m. (low Mass)
10  a.m. (high Mass)
Holy Days 7 p.m.
Daily Mass: times vary

Holy Name of Jesus Church
807 Superior Ave.
Sheboygan, WI 53081-3442
(920) 458-7721
Fourth Sundays 3 p.m.

St. Peter Catholic Church
2224 30th Ave
Kenosha, WI  53144
Second Sundays at 3 p.m.

For more information and Mass dates and times

For more information on other
Traditional Latin Mass locations:

The Tridentine Mass requires the priest to face the altar and tabernacle and turn away from the congregation to demonstrate unity with the parishioners in worshipping God together. Members kneel to receive holy Communion on their tongues, and more women and girls wear a lace veil called a mantilla on their heads. Missals with Latin on one page and English on the other allow those attending Mass to follow along.

With the exception of readings for the feast days of individual saints, the Tridentine Mass has a one-year cycle of Scripture readings. The Vatican II liturgy has a three-year cycle for Sunday readings and a two-year cycle for weekday readings.

The entire congregation recites the penitential rite in the Novus Ordo Mass, but in the Tridentine Mass, priests and other ministers recite the penitential prayers at the foot of the altar before Mass.

Since his ordination in 2000 in Florence, Italy Fr. Meney has celebrated the Traditional Latin Mass daily and has found a great increase among Catholics throughout the world in praying in this ancient ritual.

“This Mass is a treasure of the church and any time you have a chance to go into your grandparents’ attic and find old pictures or other old stuff from them, you want to discover more about how they lived and what life was like before, and that is similar to the interest now in the Latin Mass,” he said.

Admittedly, for Fr. Meney, this nostalgia for a Mass most Catholics never experienced, is not only surprising, but also joyful.

“It is really neat and excellent and I think it helps a lot to understand that what is done today in remembering the past, speaks a lot about the present,” he said. “Everywhere I see the same joy and unity and love, and it is becoming more obvious.”

There are six Kenosha boys trained in the procedures of the Mass. The boys, Thomas 16, Charlie 15, Michael 12, John 11, and 9-year-old Joseph Maurer and their cousin Peter Stephens, all members of Our Lady of Mount Carmel Parish prepared thoroughly for the experience.

According to Charles and Donna, parents of the Maurer boys, Mass in Latin for their three oldest wasn’t too difficult, as the children are all homeschooled and have been learning Latin for a few years.

“This helped a lot,” said Donna. “They also all went to St. Stanislaus Parish for some training in the Latin High Mass. They were very excited and think the traditional Mass is pretty cool.”

For nearly 1,400 years, the Traditional Latin Mass was the liturgy of the Roman Catholic Church and some believe its return is bringing more Catholics to the pews.

“One question I have received multiple times from people in the community is, ‘Why can’t we have it at my parish?’ This tells me that there is a longing and great need for the Latin Mass. I guess it is time to start training more priests so it can be more readily available,” she said. “I have personally spoken to a few local active priests who are interested in learning the old form of the Mass. These priests are not only young, but energetic. They can see its peace, serenity and beauty.”

Offering to officiate when needed, retired priest, Fr. John Richetta is happy to be part of the return to the traditional liturgy.

“We see the unbroken continuity of apostolic times from this time to the last four centuries,” he said. “We have a continuity with the past and I think people are longing for a return to the order and dignity of the Mass, as well as a sense of the sacred.”