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Ancient Latin Mass to be heard again in Sarnia church

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Troy Shantz

For the first time in nearly 50 years a traditional Latin Mass will be heard in a Sarnia Catholic church on Friday.

A handful of parishioners from the area have been requesting its return, and on Oct. 7 the ancient ‘Tridentine” Mass will be conducted at St. Joseph’s Church by Father David Johnston, at 7 p.m.

“We find it’s more prayerful, it’s more reverent, it’s just more beautiful,“ said Deidre Collins, one of those who lobbied for its return.

A traditional Tridentine Mass, also known as an “Extraordinary” Mass, is conducted entirely in liturgical Latin by a priest who leads it with his back turned to the congregation.

It also requires a tall altar and a communion rail. St. Joseph’s has retained those classical features, which are becoming rare in Sarnia’s Catholic churches.

The decision to switch from the Latin Mass to one conducted in local languages was made at the Second Vatican Council, which ended in 1965.

Nevertheless, there has been a slight resurgence of interest in the old rite, even from parishioners not old enough to remember it.

“We understood that if you want the Tridentine Mass, you just have to ask for it,” said Collins, who admits that she doesn’t know much Latin but said she does understand the prayers.

“It’s a purer language and it’s considered the language of the church,” she said.

Collins and her 12-year-old daughter Maria currently attend a Latin Mass offered weekly in Lakeport, Michigan at St. Edward on the Lake Church.

They hope interest in the local worship Friday will help it become a regular event.

The Tridentine Mass was made mandatory throughout most the Roman Catholic Church in 1570 and was the standard until it was phased out in the late 1960s.


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