Kelmscott responds to Benedict XVI

08 Feb 2008

By Matthew Biddle

Assisted by Mark O’Callaghan, Fr Michael Rowe, Rector of St Anne’s Centre for the Extraordinary Form of the Latin Rite in Belmont, blessed throats on the Feast of St Blaise on February 3. Photo: Matthew Biddle
Fr Michael Rowe, Rector of St Anne’s Centre for the Extraordinary Form of the Latin Rite in Belmont. Photo: Matthew Biddle.

Good Shepherd Church in Kelmscott has become the first parish in WA in respond to Pope Benedict XVI’s Summorum Pontificum released Motu Proprio in July 2007 allowing priests to celebrate the Trindentine Rite Mass of the 1962 Missal without the prior consent of a Bishop.

Up to 100 people gathered at Kelmscott last Sunday as Perth’s Latin Rite chaplain Fr Michael Rowe started the High Mass of Quinquagesima Sunday by singing the Asperges and blessing the congregation with holy water.

After Mass, Fr Rowe gave the traditional ‘Blessing of the Throats’ individually to all parishioners to mark the feast day of St Blaise.

The Tridentine Rite will continue to be celebrated each Sunday at 2pm by Fr Rowe and other priests.

The Kelmscott celebration could be just the beginning as Fr Rowe is confident more parishes will request the Tridentine Mass in the future, saying there has been interest from other priests “who are obviously interested in the Mass and they’re starting to learn the Mass and how to say it”.

“The main problem we’ve got is that a lot of people haven’t really been exposed to it and don’t really know what the Latin Mass is. Once people hear about it, I think there will be more requests for the Latin Mass,” he said.”

“The Latin Mass was said for thousands of years, and for the Church to recognise that and to realise that it’s something the Church should love and treasure will help the Church ultimately.”

It has been a long journey for the Kelmscott parishioners, with the acquisition of vestments, sacred vessels and altar furnishings, as well as formation in Latin, requiring much patience.

Kelmscott parishioner John Rencontre said it had taken several months of preparation to eventually enable the Mass to be celebrated.

“It’s been a mammoth task, taken on by very few,” he said.

The process began almost as soon as the Pope’s letter was released, with over 120 parishioners registering their support for the Latin Mass.

In preparation for the celebration of Sunday Mass, several weekday Masses were said to train servers in the rubrics and responses of the Latin Mass.

“The Latin Mass hasn’t been said in most churches for 40 years, so a lot of the things that used to be there like altar cards and missal stands are no longer there,” Fr Rowe said.

Parish stalwart Marie Gasper, a Kelmscott parishioner for 40 years, was staggered at the big turnout given the circumstances, saying it brought back memories of her childhood.

“I think it will take off from here in our parish,” she said.

The traditional Latin Mass dates back to the sixth century and the Tridentine Mass was the only form of the Catholic Mass until the Second Vatican Council in the 1960s permitted the Mass to be said in the local language of the people.

Fr Rowe explained that this resulted in a virtual abandonment of the traditional rite – as it could only be said upon approval from the bishop – and barely a handful of parishes in WA offered the Latin Mass.

“There was an understanding that once the English Mass came in the old Mass was forbidden, but it never was,” Fr Rowe said.

“The priests stopped saying it and started saying the new Mass out of a sense of obedience to the Pope, thinking the old Mass was banned, but it wasn’t.

“A few priests who could see its beauty and its soundness kept saying it … and they kept it alive.”

One of those priests was Fr Dario Brunetti, parish priest of Kelmscott for two decades, who celebrated the Latin Mass in his private chapel for many years after retiring from parish duties.

“He’d be happy to see that the Latin Mass is back at Kelmscott,” Fr Rowe said. “Now that, please God, Fr Brunetti’s in heaven, he’s probably interceding for the parish that he set up.”