TRI-CITIES TRADITIONAL LATIN MASS
As the faithful experience the Tridentine Mass every other week here in Johnson City, the steps to get here have been decades in the making. It all begins with James Bailey seeking the Traditional Latin Mass starting 28 years ago! Now as you know, the radical changes from the clergy made it very difficult to attend any Mass in the Extraordinary Form over the last 50 years, but the fortitude of the laity, and grace from the Holy Spirit, is proof positive of what prayer and dedication can do for any Catholic community. The following emails and letters are posted here as a historical reference, and as a guide to help other Traditional Latin Mass communities.
In my personal journey, I had no idea just how profoundly positive the Traditional Latin Mass would become in my life. After all, the last time I heard any Latin in a Mass was in 1970! I was only four years old. As I look around the country and witness with my own eyes the enormous shift back to the Traditional Latin Mass, I am also curious to know why we are treated as a “ministry”, and not “main stream”? The following emails and letters provided by James and Nancy Bailey will open your eyes to just how difficult this process can be for any faithful Catholic.
For this article, I requested an email from James and Nancy Bailey, and they outlined what they did together to bring the TLM back to our community.
I will do my best to remember what I can and provide you the letters I wrote. If I were in Tennessee I would be able to scan you the letters from the Pontifical Commission of the Ecclesia Dei, but I do not have them in North Dakota.
The sought after Latin Mass started with parishioners of St. Mary’s requesting a Latin Mass from the first Bishops of Knoxville O’Connell, Bishop Kurtz, and Bishop Stika. My husband, James Bailey, was the first to request the Latin Mass from the first Bishop some 28 years ago and was told it was not needed lexapro 5mg. He also requested the Latin Mass when Bishop Kurtz was assigned and he was told he could attend Atlanta’s Latin Mass in Georgia. When Bishop Stika was assigned, Eugene Handza, who was part of the parish council at St. Mary’s, sent numerous emails requesting the Latin Mass to our parish priest, Fr. Peter Iorio, a letter to Bishop Stika, and he even appealed to the parish community at a parish council meeting to gain more interest in the parishioners to appeal to our Bishop. In the meantime, James also wrote another letter to our current Bishop. (Documentation again, is in our house in Tennessee).
A year after my marriage to James, who introduced me to the importance and love of the Latin Mass, and made our Sacrament of Marriage happen in the Extraordinary Form of the Roman Rite, I had a desire for the Traditional Mass. So after many unfruitful requests and unanswered prayers I appealed to the Supreme Pontiff at the time, Pope Benedict XVI. I wrote the Pope a letter (attached) December 14, 2010 and prayed for an answer to our prayers. It took somewhere between approx. 6 to 7 months when I got the first response back from the Pope’s messenger, the Pontifical Commission of the Ecclesia Dei. They wrote that they had received my letter and understand my request, but they would need additional information to address my concern further. That information being: a number of those who are interested in the Latin Mass and any letters of communication between our priest and Bishop.
After the first letter from the Ecclesia Dei asking for documentation, I sought after Barbara Cliffton who had a list of 20 parishioners interested in the Latin Mass. I got copies of James’ letters to and from Bishop Stika. I got copies of emails and letters from Eugene to and from Fr. Peter and Bishop Stika. After gathering this information, I sent the same letter I initially wrote to the pope, a copy of the letter from the Ecclesia Dei, and all the requested documentation and mailed it to the address on the letter I received from the Ecclesia Dei.
It took anywhere from approx. 10 months to a year when the next letter came from the Ecclesia Dei in the beginning of October of 2012. The Pontifical Commission informed us that “Your Bishop has been notified that he has one month to inform you when Latin Masses will begin in your Parish.”
Eugene Handza was instrumental at helping acquire the needed liturgical altar pieces, etc. for the Latin Mass Community to purchase. Kendra Dowlatshahi at the time was treasurer (now director of our Latin Mass) who had contacts with some of those who set up the Knoxville Latin Mass Community. Once news got out, Lisa Krekelberg and her mom, Jeanne, were interested in setting up a choir for the Latin Mass and James and I wrote an article and sent it out to all regional newspapers.
The first Mass was celebrated by Father Christopher Riehl (who traveled from another parish approx. 2 hours away), and altar servers, Eugene and Deacon Riehl, Father’s Dad, on November 25, 2012. The first Latin Mass attendance consisted of 90 people and was a Low Mass. The first High Mass was celebrated near the time of Easter. Father Riehl remained traveling to St. Mary’s Parish until June of 2013 when Father David Carter from Knoxville was assigned. Father Dustin Collins was assigned to do the Latin Mass for our Parish I believe sometime at the beginning of 2014 (maybe March?) and that is when the Low Mass of the Roman Rite was said instead of the High Mass. There is still hope one day that the High Mass can be said again and a Latin Mass be said weekly instead of biweekly.
So from December 14, 2010 (the date of the first letter) to November 25, 2012 (the celebration of the first Latin Mass at St. Mary’s) is the time it took to form the Tri-Cities Latin Mass Community (nearly 2 years). Since that time we’ve had our first priest, Fr. Christopher Riehl, next Fr. David Carter, and presently Fr. Dustin Collins celebrate the Latin Mass for us. And this November we will celebrate 4 years of the Tri-Cities Latin Mass Community, Thanks be to God.
We prayerfully continue to hope for a “weekly” Latin Mass which is still not realized (letters to the Pope and Bishop for that prayer to be answered attached as well).
Nancy and James Bailey
As you’ll read, the Bailey’s encountered resistance from our local Diocesan Bishop’s and had to plead with the Holy See to help encourage the creation of the Tri-Cities TLM community.
Dear Holy Pontiff,
My name is Nancy Bailey and I live in Johnson City, TN with my husband, James Bailey, of 3 months. We got married in a low Tridentine Mass of the Roman Rite. This was my second Mass attended in the Roman Rite and I am very thankful that you are hopeful for this Mass to be continued. The priest who allowed this Mass in his parish has been a friend of our family for some time. This was the first time he attended the Roman Rite Mass and got to see its rich traditions. I am only 26 years old and I am saddened that such traditions have been buried, unseen, and unheard of by many priests and fellow parishioners.
My husband introduced me to the knowledge of much of the Roman Catholic faith. Having been grown up in a very soft teaching of the faith, by my father and many priests, I was not aware of the rich traditions and history of the Roman Catholic Church.
Since having become an avid petitioner for the Roman Rite along with my husband, we have been met with such disdain from priests for having a desire for the Tridentine Mass. We have heard responses such as, “Having a Latin Mass would cause divisiveness in the church,” or “That would be setting the church back 50 years,” or “I’ll prayerfully consider it.” What’s to consider? The Roman Rite should not be a foreign Mass that is disdained or even considered for permission to be held. I feel ostracized every Sunday when I kneel for communion or when I wear a veil.
I find myself becoming distracted going up for Holy Communion because I am aware that I may be denied communion and told to stand, as I have been told in the past. I become distracted by the agendas of so many priests trying to appease a majority in the church by not speaking out on our Catholic principles: the deposit of faith that defines us as Roman Catholic. I become distracted by the contemporary Christian music that I hear on the radio that has found its way into our church. I become distracted when rules and regulations of the church are broken, such as when a layman reads the gospel.
I am distraught by such vandalism in the church that has not only happened to the insides of churches (the stripping and gutting of the statues and icons), but has also happened to the inside of the church’s clergy. I am distraught that my husband is looked down on for his zeal for the Tridentine Mass. I am distraught that I have to fight for my faith even among what should be images of Christ’s presence on earth.
Many St.Mary’s parishioners, my husband and I, have been petitioning for a Tridentine Mass in the Johnson City area. The closest Tridentine Mass is two hours away and is not practical to drive to in the state of our finances. Our Bishop Father Richard Stika is prayerfully considering the Mass. However, we need some commitment that our near future will not continue in week after week of mindless distractions, but instead, leave us with the graces that should flow from the Mass and be our week’s nourishment. I do not want to believe that a Greek Orthodox service can leave me better nourished without receiving communion than a Roman Catholic Mass can with the reception of Holy Communion.
Help us Holy Father to better stay prepared and zealous to fight the temptations and snares of the devil; that we may better serve and worship our Lord Jesus Christ. Help us Holy Father in our thirst and need for the Roman Rite to be held in our parish.
With the love of God I pray to be heard by you,
Nancy’s powerful words are well received, and Pope Benedict XVI makes clear that he will make the command decision to go forth with the Tridentine Mass here in the Tri-Cities.
In the process of setting up the Tri-Cities Latin Mass community, The Bailey’s also wrote to the Pontifical Commission of the Ecclesia Dei. The development and purpose of this Pontifical Commission can be reviewed on the Vatican website. Click here for more information on the vital role they play in the Traditional Latin Mass.
Now that Pope Benedict XVI commanded the Knoxville Diocese to initiate the Tridentine Mass, the next step was to secure a priest for permanent assignment to the St. Mary’s parish. Unfortunately, keeping priests has not been easy, and getting one permanently assigned has never been granted. Again, is this a problem from the local diocese? Father Christopher Riehl, our first TLM priest, requested permanent assignment to Johnson City, but was turned down. He later requested a transfer out of the Knoxville Diocese. This prompted Nancy to write another letter to Bishop Stika.
Dear Bishop Stika, May 30, 2013
I am writing in regards to the Latin Mass at St. Mary’s in Johnson City, Tennessee.
The day I found out that there was going to be a Latin Mass at our Parish, I knew prayers were answered; not only my prayers, but many others who have been long awaiting the Latin Mass to come to our Parish. The list that started out with 40 families wanting the Latin Mass turned into an attendance of anywhere between 50 – 90 people when installed. The highest attendance head count has been 93 and the numbers are expected to be higher if offered on a weekly basis. There is also an email list of people who have signed up to receive future Latin Mass announcements. There are 60 emails that receive information about upcoming Latin Masses.
We have had several new attendees; people coming to see what the Mass is like. Two organists heard about the Latin Mass and came to see if they would be interested in playing the organ for the choir. They loved our choir and the Mass. And in mentioning the choir, we have had several comments that the music is beautiful, and one man told me it brought tears to his eyes.
Our music director has a lot of talent and has even prepared the choir to begin the sung Mass (Missa Canta). Last Sunday was the fifth sung Mass held. Many people have volunteered to sing in the choir or serve as altar boys.
The Latin Mass has truly become a success and thanks to the assignment of Father Riehl, we have been able to continue to offer the Latin Mass to the growing need of the parishioners here and all over the Tri-Cities. There are people coming from Johnson City, Kingsport, Elizabethton, Unicoi, Bristol, and Greeneville (guests also from Kentucky, North Carolina, and Virginia) every second and fourth Sunday when the Mass is offered here, as the Latin Mass is not available to them elsewhere.
The Latin Mass at St. Mary’s is truly a success. With our average numbers in attendance exceeding that of Knoxville’s on a weekly basis, it shows the growing need in our parish to serve the Tri-Cities and outlying areas.
Having become aware that Father Riehl is leaving the Diocese, I am writing to request the permanent placement of a Priest at St. Mary’s in Johnson City who will celebrate the weekly Lain Mass.
This is an opportune time, while still deciding the placement of Priests, to keep our Latin mass a success and continue to see the Latin Mass build and fulfill the needs of the Tri-Cities Lain mass Community.
Nancy and James Bailey
Nancy went on to write the Pontifical Commission of the Ecclesia Dei to help secure a permanent Traditional Latin Mass priest for the St. Mary’s parish.
June 9, 2013
Third Sunday of Pentecost
Dear Pontifical Commission of the Ecclesia Dei,
Our St. Mary’s Parish in Johnson City, Tennessee, USA, thanks you for your directive to our Bishop of the Diocese of Knoxville to provide our Parish with the Latin Mass. The Latin Mass at St. Mary’s in Johnson City was only granted the Latin Mass on 2nd and 4th Sundays of each month. I am writing in regards to update you with our current situation regarding the Latin Mass and to seek the Commissions further assistance in obtaining the Latin Mass weekly (if not daily).
Upon the installation of the Latin Mass at our Parish, those waiting over 25 years to see this day come, stepped right up by volunteering in ways that were needed. Parishioners without experience volunteered their time to participate as either altar boys or sing in the choir. The parishioners with experience came forward to help with directing the choir, playing the organ, giving time to attend to administration and financial duties, organizing pot luck dinners, and compiling a list of emails to send out to Parishioners. Currently we have 12 choir members, some days more, who have volunteered to practice and sing for the Missa Canta, The Mass of the Angels music (Sunday May 26, 2013 was our 5th Sung Mass). As of now, we have had donations that supplied us with everything we needed for the Extraordinary Form of the Roman Rite. Parishioners here have purchased all the required essential needs to properly do the Latin Mass.
Father Riehl, who was assigned to travel a 4 hour round trip from Knoxville, Tennessee every second and fourth Sundays to celebrate the 3 pm Latin Mass at St. Mary’s in Johnson City, Tennessee, was willing and wanting to come to our Parish permanently. Father Riehl had several conversations with Bishop Stika, where Father Riehl made it known to the Bishop that he wants to celebrate the Latin Mass for our Parish. With no hope of seeing Father Riehl’s request granted, we are now without our Latin Mass Priest, as the Bishop has given his permission for Father Riehl to leave the Diocese of Knoxville for a neighboring Diocese. As of July 1, 2013, Father Riehl will be officiating as Pastor in the Charlotte Diocese (North Carolina).
As soon as we heard that Father Riehl would be leaving our Diocese and not returning to the Parish to do the Latin Mass, Parishioners wrote letters to the Bishop to request a permanent placement of a Priest to celebrate the Extraordinary Form of the Roman Rite at St. Mary’s Parish weekly (if not daily). I have attached the letter my husband and I wrote to the Bishop, along with Bishop Stika’s response. I have also attached the list of emails of Parishioners attending the Latin Mass. These are a portion of the people who attend and would also like to see the weekly Latin Mass offered.
New Placements for Priests are already assigned and we are without a Priest for our Latin Mass come July 2013; and again, with new assignments already made, a Latin Mass Priest has not bee assigned. Since Bishop Stika’s installation as Bishop, for the last many years, when assignments are made, no assignments have been made with a Priest to our Parish with Extraordinary Mass experience, even though they are available within the Diocese. We are only given the ‘possibility’ that the Latin Mass will be available in the future under the current schedule. Though granted the Latin Mass only twice a month, we have from its conception asked repeatedly in person, in writing, and through Latin Mass Priests to grant the Latin Mass to us on a weekly basis. We have at least 4 Priests in the Diocese that can celebrate the Extraordinary Form of the Roman Rite, but the Bishop refuses to assign one to our Parish on a permanent basis; yet where they are assigned, most of these Priests are not doing the Latin Mass.
With the success of the Latin Mass in the Tri-Cities Community, we want to be assured this Latin Mass will continue, and even continue in the future on a weekly and/or daily basis. With attendance of 55 – 90 people and increasing for the Latin Mass, I am writing on behalf of St. Mary’s Parishioners in Johnson City to seek assurance and permanency of the Latin Mass in our Parish on a weekly (and even daily basis) by being given a permanent Priest to say the Latin Mass. We expect our numbers to perhaps even double or more if granted a weekly (even daily) Latin Mass, as there would be a sense of permanency and not a scattered calendar offering of the Latin Mass.
I wrote our Bishop a letter to ask for a permanent Priest to do the Latin Mass in our Parish on a weekly basis (see letter to Bishop Stika attached). With the uncertainty (and perhaps even resistance) of what the Bishop wants in our Parish, we do not want our community to suffer and we pray that we will be able to continue to build our community in the future.
Nancy and James Bailey and the St. Mary’s Parishioners of the Tri-Cities Latin Mass Community.
As of today, Father Dustin Collins is our bi-weekly Tridentine priest, and we are thankful for his devotion. He has put so many miles on his old car that it finally broke down and he had to buy a new one. Please pray that Father Collins will be granted a permanent assignment to St. Mary’s and that the Knoxville Diocese will be more open to the advancement of the Tridentine Mass.
As a community, our hope is that these letters, and this journey, will inspire you to setup your local Traditional Latin Mass community. We ask and pray that local diocesan clergy come to realize that the laity are entitled to the Tridentine Mass. They will drive for hours to seek our Blessed Lord in the Extraordinary Form, and they will return again and again.
Should your Novus Ordo parish find itself collapsing from poor attendance, the answer to your problem lies in the orthodox form of the Tridentine Mass. We encourage all Novus Ordo Bishops, Priests and Deacons to focus their daily lives on bringing the Tridentine Mass to their parish. The warm reception you’ll receive, and the many grateful souls you’ll bring back to the pews, is our Lord’s way of praising you for your courage and faith.
I want to thank the Bailey’s, Pope Benedict XVI, the Ecclesia Dei, and of course, Bishop Stika and all his faithful Tridentine priests. Without them, I would be struggling to continue my attendance in a Novus Ordo Mass. My faith has been profoundly strengthened by just a couple years of Tridentine Mass attendance.
May God Bless all of you!