18 August 2015
Personal Parishes for the Extraordinary Form
We have in England three dioceses, where the bishop has designated a church specifically for the use of the faithful attached to the older form of the Mass. In each case, care of the church has been passed to one of the traditional orders of priests. They are in New Brighton (Diocese of Shrewsbury), Preston (Diocese of Lancaster) and Warrington (Archdiocese of Liverpool). In the first two cases it is the Institute of Christ the King that is in charge, and the Priestly Fraternity of St Peter will soon be taking over in Warrington. However, none of these are parish churches. In each case, two or more parishes have been merged, so that the church in question is within the boundaries of a larger parish with its principal church and parish priest located elsewhere. At New Brighton and Preston, the churches have been designated as shrines to the Blessed Sacrament. So far, no English Bishop has designated a parish that is mainly or exclusively for those who adhere to the traditional forms of the Mass. This is not the case in other parts of the world. Bishop Olsen of Fort Worth has recently erected the Parish of St Benedict in Fort Worth as a Personal Parish exclusively for the extraordinary form. The term personal parish means that the parish is not defined by geographical boundaries, but rather open to anyone within the diocese who choses to attend. The parish priest has all the same duties and privilages of any other parish priest. Fort Worth is not the only diocese to have a personal parish devoted to the extraordinary form. There are about 40 personal parishes in the USA, and they also exist in Australia, Benin, Brazil, Canada, France, Gabon, Italy, Mexico and Nigeria. Although three English bishops have taken a bold step in handing over churches to the FSSP and the ICKSP, bishops in other parts of the world have bee even bolder. No doubt, the time will come when we will have personal parishes in England.