From the Oratory of SS. Gregory and Augustine
3 June 2018
I want to begin by thanking Father Blake and the whole parish family for welcoming the Oratory of SS. Gregory and Augustine to be in residence here at Saint Luke the Evangelist. It is a welcome invitation and it is hoped by everyone involved that this will be a permanent residence for the Oratory family. Of course, this move necessitates change in both communities and the more information we all have moving forward the easier it will be to weather the changes. In this first article I would like to offer a general understanding of what an oratory is and what my role as rector of this particular Oratory will be. In future bulletins I will address the history of the Oratory and provide some basic information on the Extraordinary Form known also as the Old Mass and the Tridentine Rite.
The use of the term oratory according to the norms of the Church “describes a place for divine worship designated by permission of the ordinary for the benefit of some community or group of the faithful who gather in it” and often times does not have actual territorial boundaries. An oratory, like a parish church, is a sacred place set aside for worship. However, unlike a parish, an oratory makes up its membership from outside the geographical boundaries that are used to designate a parish. Concretely, this means that members of the Oratory of SS. Gregory and Augustine come from all parts of the Archdiocese of Saint Louis and because of their relationship with the celebration of the Extraordinary Form are allowed to be members even though they don’t live in the area. In addition to the territorial reality that designates an oratory, the Oratory of SS. Gregory and Augustine has received this designation because all of the sacraments are celebrated according to the liturgical norms in existence at the time of the Second Vatican Council. The members of the Oratory for various reasons have chosen to celebrate the sacraments in the Extraordinary Form and represent a cross section of the Church: there are great many younger members and young families; there are older members who have living memory of the Tridentine Ritual; our members are married, single, and come from all parts of the Archdiocese of Saint Louis some travelling over an hour to be present for Holy Mass.
The priest who has the pastoral care of an oratory is normatively termed the rector of that community. In all ways the rector of an oratory is like a pastor, except that the rector does not exercise authority over a territory of people. Instead, the rector has the pastoral care of those members who choose to become a part of his oratory. As the rector of the Oratory of SS. Gregory and Augustine, I will celebrate Holy Mass, baptize, anoint, and perform marriages and funerals for the members of the Oratory. In the same manner that Fr. Blake cares for the souls of the people of Saint Luke, my sole responsibility will be for the faithful who are members of the Oratory. I officially become the rector of the Oratory on 26 June 2018 with the official transfer date of the Oratory to Saint Luke on Friday, 29 June 2018 – the Solemnity of SS. Peter and Paul. The First Holy Mass will be celebrated on 1 July 2018 at 8 am and 11:30 am with confessions prior to both Masses. I am honored that Archbishop Carlson has entrusted me with this wonderful experience in the faith and look forward to the presence of the Oratory here at St. Luke.
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