"It is...Our will that Catholics should abstain from certain appellations which have recently been brought into use to distinguish one group of Catholics from another. They are to be avoided not only as 'profane novelties of words,' out of harmony with both truth and justice, but also because they give rise to great trouble and confusion among Catholics. Such is the nature of Catholicism that it does not admit of more or less, but must be held as a whole or as a whole rejected: 'This is the Catholic faith, which unless a man believe faithfully and firmly; he cannot be saved' (Athanasian Creed). There is no need of adding any qualifying terms to the profession of Catholicism: it is quite enough for each one to proclaim 'Christian is my name and Catholic my surname,' only let him endeavour to be in reality what he calls himself." -- Pope Benedict XV, Ad Beatissimi Apostolorum 24 (1914)

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

New Home for Ottawa's Old Mass

With Latin mass, a parish secures its future by drawing from the past


Rev. Philip Creurer, pastor of St. Clement's, inside the parish's new home, at refurbished St. Anne's Church, on Old St. Patrick Street. The move is to take place in June.
Photograph by: Kelly Egan , The Ottawa Citizen

OTTAWA — Ste-Anne’s in Lowertown was built in 1873, in the classic form: stone walls, stained glass, a central spire, beautiful lines — what a kid would draw with a crayon if you said, “Hey kid, draw a church.”

Much happened in the next 135 or so years. But nothing like the events of April 2, 2009, when a wall very nearly fell in.

Only an hour before the church was to be occupied, a portion of the upper west wall collapsed, sending a beam hurtling onto the church floor, crashing through eight rows of pews. On the way, an antique chandelier, later replaced for $50,000 in insurance funds, was destroyed.

Repairs would take months, cost close to $1 million; the congregation would have to vacate, eventually disperse.

Could anything save Ste-Anne’s, the francophone parish on Old St. Patrick Street that had always lived in the shadow of nearby Notre-Dame Basilica?

Well, two years later, we have the answer. Latin. Yes, Latin. Carpe diem.

Early in June, the parish of St. Clement’s, on nearby Mann Avenue in Sandy Hill, will move in.

It is the only church of its kind in the archdiocese: masses are still said in traditional Latin, with the priest facing the front of the church, back to the worshippers, the so-called “Extraordinary Form” of the Catholic rite that was largely abandoned in 1965. To make it even more distinct, homilies are done in English and in French; one after the other, possibly Ottawa’s only trilingual mass.

St. Clement’s has been operating in a much smaller building erected in 1955. But, all told, it needs about $1.5 million in repairs.

That seems to be the constant with older churches — no repair is cheap; no repair is ever the last.

At Ste-Anne, meanwhile, insurance covered the broken ceiling but now the church, a designated heritage building, was empty. What to do?

In June 2011, the archdiocese asked St. Clement’s to move; in essence, solving two problems at once.

It was not an easy decision, says pastor Rev. Philip Creurer. The traditional-rite community had been together since 1968, almost 20 years on Mann Avenue, and had put down roots and set up programs.

Two big problems were evident. Ste-Anne was too big — about twice the size they needed — and it has no church hall.

Not only that, but operating costs were higher: about $4,600 a week at St. Clement, versus $5,300 at Ste-Anne.

“Obviously, to move there is a stretch for our community,” said Rev. Creurer, a member of the Priestly Fraternity of Saint Peter, “but it’s a stretch everybody thinks is feasible and worth taking.”

The plan is to sell St. Clement, probably for re-development, and to use the proceeds to help with the ongoing restoration of Ste. Anne — at a projected cost of $2.4 million, a figure that includes a new parish hall.

In the short term, the parish needs to deal with how to make Ste-Anne’s “old again”, in the sense of restoring the sanctuary to something approximating its original look. Two smaller side altars will also be brought from St. Clement’s.

Perhaps the most remarkable part of the whole story is that a church, in a real sense going back in time to use a so-called dead language has managed to draw 400 on a typical Sunday, grow its congregation, attract three priests and young families and put its future on stable footing.

“It’s not unusual to have people drive two hours to come to our mass,” says Barry McMahon, 63, a parishioner for about 14 years.

He was raised on the old rites: high and low masses, Latin, chants, priests in flowing black cassocks.

He sees Ste-Anne as the ideal location for a traditional service. “I’m excited for the move. It’s a beautiful, beautiful church and it fits very much with the way we practise Catholicism.”

He arrived here almost by accident. McMahon tells the story of visiting with his father, who asked if he could still recite the Our Father prayer in Latin. He couldn’t, but the elder man rhymed off every word.

The next day, he says, he was noodling on the Internet, checking the Latin version, when he came across a reference to St. Clement. The next week, he stopped by to attend the Latin mass.

“I was hooked.” McMahon says he likes a setting and a service that is full of symbols, reverential, with a serious tone.

“It just felt comfortable.” Not that he’s beyond modernization. He admits to using an iPad to keep track of the changing responses.

The first service at Ste-Anne’s is June 3; the walls yet are strong.

To contact Kelly Egan, please call 613-726-5896, or emailkegan@ottawacitizen.com

Read more:http://www.ottawacitizen.com/life/With+Latin+mass+parish+secures+future+drawing+from+past/6562537/story.html#ixzz1uNKYHHZx

No comments:

Post a Comment