Today is the feast of the Exaltation of the Holy Cross, and marks the sixth anniversary of the coming into effect of Summorum Pontificum. It is perhaps a good time to review what has been achieved over this period.
In September 2007, when SP came into effect, there was just one Latin Mass each month in the Diocese of Middlesbrough. This took place at the church of St Clare of Assisi on the first Friday, and was celebrated by Mgr Heslin.
Today, we have two regular Sunday Masses, one taking place at the English Marytrs Church in York and the other at the Sacred Heart Church in Redcar. We also have an annual pilgrimage in honour of St Margaret Clitherow.
Mgr Heslin, a retired priest of the Birmingham Archdiocese, says the one in Redcar, and the one in York is shared by three priests. These are Fr Stephen Maughan , Fr James Callaghan OSB and Fr David Smith. Of all these priests, only Fr Maughan is a priest of the Diocese of Middlesbrough. Fr Callaghan belongs to the Benedictine community of Ampleforth and Fr Smith is an army chaplain, currently based in Harrogate but incardinated in the Diocese of East Anglia.
So far as Mass provision is concerned, I think that we can say that progress in the Middlesbrough Diocese has been good, especially as we started with very little. For a relatively small diocese, Having two regular Masses each Sunday compares well with the national average, In the 22 dioceses of England and Wales, there are currently about 50 Latin Masses each Sunday, compared with about 25 in 2007.
Where we have not done so well is in the number of priests, particularly diocesan priests, willing and able to celebrate Mass in the usus antiquior. One of Bishop Drainey's first actions, after being appointed as Bishop of Middlesbrough in 2008, was to ask Fr Maughan to learn the older form of the Mass. So there is some progress to report on this front. However, in most dioceses, there would be six or more diocesan priests regularly saying the older Mass. We desperately need more priests that we can call on, especially as we are expecting Fr Smith to be posted elsewhere within the next couple of years.
The size of the congregations at Latin Masses is also not all that great in the Middlesbrough Diocese. In the case of the York Sunday Mass, this may have something to do with the time of day, 4pm not being particularlyly convenient for most people.
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