From the Oratory of SS. Gregory and Augustine
10 June 2018
The history of the Oratory of SS. Gregory and Augustine reveals the blessings of God’s favor and the profound graces that flow from a life of faith and confidence in the Father’s Divine Providence. In 2004, the Oratory began with only a few families celebrating the Extraordinary Form in the Chapel of the Passionist Nuns Convent in West County. This small community grew through faith and perseverance and wanting to respond to this growth, in 2007 Cardinal Burke, then Archbishop of Saint Louis, entrusted the care of this fledgling community to the custody of the monks of the Abbey of Saint Mary and Saint Louis. Fr. Bede Price, OSB was the first rector of this community placing it under that patronage of St. Gregory the Great and St. Augustine of Canterbury. During his almost ten years as rector, Fr. Bede oversaw the growth of the community from 35 families to nearly 120 and offered three Sunday Masses in addition to daily Mass and the availability of all the other sacraments in the Extraordinary Form. Succeeding Fr. Bede, OSB as interim rector was Fr. Aidan McDermott, OSB who continue the good work already begun. In early 2017 in mutual conversation and agreement between the Abbey and the Archdiocese, Archbishop Carlson relocated the Oratory to All Saints Church in University City with Msgr. Michael Witt as rector. The relocation reflected the commitment of the Archbishop to providing for the needs of the Oratory through a dedicated priest and eventually a permanent home. During the course of this past year, Msgr. Witt has faithfully sought to fulfill his obligations as rector along with several other major responsibilities in the Archdiocese. He realized that the Oratory would be better served with a rector fully dedicated to their needs and a place of prayer and worship that would accommodate the traditional celebration of the sacraments. Again, in conversation with Msgr. Witt and the Archdiocese, it was decided to relocate the Oratory to St. Luke as a permanent home and to appoint me as the fulltime rector of the community.
The term Extraordinary Form has been used in this article as well as last week’s insert in the bulletin. The term refers to the celebration of the Holy Mass and the sacraments that existed prior to the reforms implemented at the Second Vatican Council. The phrase itself was given to the Church by Benedict XVI when he was Supreme Pontiff of the Catholic Church. In a document entitled Summorum Pontificum Pope Benedict encouraged the Church to reflect on the old and new ways of celebrating Holy Mass as different forms of one Roman Rite, hence the use of Ordinary (the one most familiar to the faithful) and Extraordinary Form (less familiar to the faithful). In this document the Pope removed all restrictions from celebrating the Extraordinary Form. It is a misconception that the restrictions were lifted solely to accommodate those of an older generation attached to the Tridentine liturgy. In truth the Extraordinary Form attracts a large number of younger people and families who would have no nostalgic attachment to it; rather, they are drawn to the celebration through the language, gestures, music and solemnity that are hallmarks of the Extraordinary Form. My own experience with the Extraordinary Form began when I started teaching liturgy and sacraments at Kenrick Glennon Seminary over 15 years ago. I celebrated my first Holy Mass in the Extraordinary Form four years ago and cannot express enough how it has changed my priesthood. I have come to a deeper experience of the nature of the Holy Mass as sacrifice, a true sense of the transcendence of the liturgy and have grown in my own reverence and respect for sacred space. Next’s week reflection will take a closer look at the structure of the Extraordinary Form.
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