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Monday, 22 December 2008


A brief history of the Traditional Latin Mass (TLM) in the Diocese of Wollongong since 1970.

Wollongongensis understands that the TLM has had a presence in the Diocese of Wollongong (DOW) for a number of years. We are uncertain exactly when, and under what provisions the first TLM was offered, but certainly not under the limited provisions of Quattor abhinc annos in 1984. It is more likely that because of the lack of response to the previously named document and indeed the excommunication of Archbishop Lefebvre in 1988, the TLM probably re-emerged in the diocese, after an absence of nearly twenty years or so, under the provisions of the decree Ecclesia Dei adflicta issued in 1988.

Rebuild build my church
Shortly after the decree Eccelsia Dei in the late 1980's the new parish church of St Francis of Assisi at Warrawong was built. Its design had taken into account the possibility of ad orientem celebrations at the behest of the young Conventual Franciscan friar Fr. Terence Mary Naughtin. Within weeks of its opening a Solemn Requiem Mass was celebrated according to the 1962 Missal. The TLM was then offered at regular intervals under a celebret which the young priest had received from the Ecclesia Dei Commission in Rome, the terms of which did not require permission from either local ordinary or superior. Needless to say the young priest was subjected to considerable pressure not to celebrate the TLM, particularly within his own Order.

Lion of the tribe of Judah
With Fr Terrence's departure in the early 1990's, Fr Leo Stevens celebrated the TLM at Villa Maria and then latter in Bulli, attracting up to a hundred people. It seems that Fr Stevens was a willing celebrant but plagued with ill health. The masses were not publicly advertised, and certainly not encouraged at a diocesan level and they were frequently cancelled at short notice due to illness. After his death there was a hiaties, and indeed a type of despair must fallen upon those who preferred the TLM.

In Exitu Israel...The wandering tribe
The DOW made no provision for what was effectively a stable community. A number were courted by the Society of St Pius X, and where indeed lost to them. Others travelled to attend approved masses in Sydney both at St Michael's College, Chapel of the Resurrection in Darlington and the Chapel of the Maternal Heart at Lewisham.

Benedictus qui venit...
With the coming of the new pope, Benedict the XVI and his desire to re-establish a "hermeneutic of continuity" the motu proprio "Summorum Pontificum" has given both to the clergy and the laity the opportunity to request and celebrate the TLM with impunity. Due, perhaps to episcopal obfuscation, in regard the previous provisions, reference to the local ordinary is no longer necessary, and organisation may occur at a grass roots level.

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