The purpose of this blog is to provide an open forum for discussion of the aims of the society; news from the wider Church and details of Masses and events of interest in the diocese. The Latin Mass Society in the Roman Catholic Diocese of Middlesbrough expresses its full filial devotion and loyalty to Holy Mother Church, Pope Francis and Bishop Drainey.
REGULAR TRADITIONAL MASSES IN THE DIOCESE OF MIDDLESBROUGH
12 Noon. Every Sunday MissaCantata at Church of St Wilfrid, Duncombe Place, York. YO1 7EF
11:30am. (Winter months) 6pm. (Summer months) Every Sunday Church of the Sacred Heart, Lobster Road, Redcar. TS10 1SH
6.30pm First Wednesday of each month at Church of St Charles, Jarratt St. Hull. HU1 3HB
Wednesday 2nd November is the Feast of All Souls. It is also the first Wednesday of the month, so there will be a Requiem Mass for the faithful departed in St Charles Church at 6.30pm. The celebrant will be Fr Peter Mulholland.
I usually take the collection at the noon Mass on Sundays at St Wilfrid's Church in York. As part of that job, I have to count the congregation each Sunday in October. I presume that the figures are added to the figures at the other Sunday Masses and passed on to some department in the Diocese of Middlesbrough, which in turn passes them on to to the bishop's conference. Regrettably, neither diocesan or national figures have been published in recent years. I understand that this is because many parishes either fail to make their return, or make one that is incomplete, or make one that contains figures that are obviously far from correct.
In contrast, the Church of England publishes very detailed figures. Although the accompanying press release attempts to to present them in a very positive way, anyone wishing to delve into them can do so. The statistics for 2015 have just been published, and I have extracted what I believe to be the key figures.
Average Sunday Attendance October 2014 829,100
Average Sunday Attendance October 2015 810,600
Or expressed as a percentage 2.2%
This figure must be fairly worrying for the CofE, as they have many churches that are Listed Buildings and are difficult to close. Also, with so many churches, they need to maintain the number of their clergy.
When one comes to look at individual churches, there is even more to worry about. Of the 5% of churches with the smallest average October attendance, the average size of the congregation is 4. The average size of the October congregation at the smallest 25% of churches is just 14. One womders how long this can be sustained.
I notice that Rt Rev Alan Hopes, Bishop of East Anglia, has been nominated by Pope Francis as a member of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith and the Discipline of the Sacraments. Bishop Hopes should be congratulated on this, especially as he has proved to be well disposed towards the traditional form of the Mass.
Less good news is that Archbishop Piero Marini, the former papal Master of Ceremonies has also been nominated.
Last Sunday, there were about 40 in the congregation attending Vespers and Benediction at St Wilfrid's Church in York. I am fairly sure that this is the largest number yet, and compares with an attendance of about 90 at the Latin Mass earlier in the day.
It seems that Vespers has a pulling power all of its own, as there are almost always new faces in the congregation, some of whom have travelled huge distances. Many are visitors to York who have stumbled on Vespers by chance. Others have made the deliberate decision to travel to York specially for Vespers.
To anyone who has never attended Vespers in the traditional form, I recommend giving it a try. Essentially, it consists of the chanting of five psalms, followed by a hymn and the singing of the Magnificat. There is also a short reading and a collect. The chief attraction for me is the music. Each psalms is to a different chant mode, which keeps you alert, although the verses within each psalm all follow the same pattern, which simplifies matters.
I also find attending Vespers a great help in improving my understanding of Latin. Because certain unusual words come up time and again within each psalm, I find that my Latin vocabulary improves with each time I attend. It is also improves one's fluency in reading Latin.
Another bonus is being able to stay on for Benediction.
I read today that eight former Anglican clergymen have commenced their studies to become Catholic priests in the Ordinariate of Our Lady of Walsingham. They join another one who is in his second year of studies. In view of their experience in the Church of England, former Anglican clergy are able to follow an accelerated course of training.
In addition, there are two men training to become priests of the Ordinariate at Oscott College. Since these two were not formerly Anglican clergymen, they have to do the full seminary course of six years. I understand that both of them are half way through their training.
If all goes well, the Ordinariate will have 11 new priests to add to the 90 that they have at the moment. This will mean that the Ordinariate will have more priests than many of the dioceses of England and Wales.
I also keep reading of of lay people being received into the Church and joining Ordinariate groups. Unfortunately, like the Catholic Church in England and Wales as a whole, the Ordinariate does not publish figures for its general membership, but there is no doubt that it is growing at a steady, albeit slow, rate. An educated guess is that it has about 2,000 members.
Many people dismiss the Ordinariate as insignificant or irrelevant, but the fact is that it is growing and here to stay.