An additional five parishes may offer Latin Masses at off-site locations. They are:
St. John the Baptist Church, Front Royal, in Chelsea Academy, Front Royal;
Sacred Heart of Jesus Church, Winchester, in Sacred Heart Academy;
All Saints Church, Manassas, in Renaissance Montessori School, Nokesville;
St. John the Apostle Church, Leesburg, in the historic chapel, and
St. Patrick Church, Fredericksburg, in the former church building.
‘Pushed to the side’?
For some Catholics like Sean and Jennifer Nelson who prefer the Traditional Latin Mass, Burbidge’s new policy came as a shock.
The Stafford, Virginia, couple, both adult converts, began attending Latin Masses at St. Patrick’s in Fredericksburg a year ago, drawn by the liturgy’s timeless, sacred beauty.
“I can’t think of any greater countersign to the world than the liturgy of the old rite,” said Sean Nelson, 34.
“The interior participation, the beauty of the words, everything about it signals that this is a foretaste of heaven, that this is where you should be, this is the world of God,” he said.
“And I think that’s especially important nowadays where we’re losing so much of that sense of God’s presence … to be in a place where that’s so abundantly clear,” he said. “It just opens your heart up to the salvation that Christ and the Church offers.”
In January, Burbidge prohibited the use of the Extraordinary Form for baptisms, weddings, and other sacraments, in conformance with the Vatican’s directives, but he allowed the then 21 parishes offering the Traditional Latin Mass to continue doing so for the time being.
Nelson said his family has been praying for the preservation of the Latin Mass at St. Patrick’s since Pope Francis issued his motu proprio a year ago. Their hope was that any additional policies the diocese might implement to conform to the pope’s directive would not result in dramatic changes.
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Instead, Nelson learned Friday night that nearly two-thirds of the parishes in the diocese that now offer Latin Masses can no longer do so after Sept. 8. Also, St. Patrick’s Latin Masses must move from the parish’s new, classically styled church to its former, more modern-looking worship space, which no longer has pews and functions mostly as a “fellowship hall,” Nelson said.
“And so it was just sort of a shock and disappointing,” he said. “I felt like we’re being pushed to the side.”
Nelson believes the diocese’s new policy may spark additional interest in the old liturgy. Even if that doesn’t happen, he wonders how just eight approved parishes and alternate sites will accommodate the diocese’s flourishing Traditional Latin Mass community.
As for Nelson and his family, they’ll squeeze into the alternate worship space or stand outside on the sidewalk if it comes to that.
“As long as we’re allowed to have it, we’re going to be there, however difficult it is,” he said.
“We’ll just just pray harder and hope that people see that we’re working to build the church and spread the Gospel, and do it the best way that we can.”
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