A Turn in the North

This last weekend I spent in the twin cities of Minneapolis-St. Paul, metropoli filled with beautiful churches, of which the Cathedral of St. Paul and the Basilica of St. Mary are probably the best known, and the late, lamented Anglo-Catholic bastion of St. Paul-on-the-Hill the most tragic.

On Friday night, I took in Benediction and gave a lecture on the Vendee at St. Paul’s church of St. Agnes, whose legendary music programme was begun by the late pastor, Richard J. Schuler. Msgr. Schuler (whom I had the honour of knowing) was instrumental in the foundation of the Pastoral Provision; his meeting with Canon Albert Dubois and Frs. W.T. St. John Brown, Clark Tea, and our own Jack Barker during the catastrophic General Convention of 1976 was the catalyst that led to those reverend gentlemen contacting Cardinal Seper of the CDF. Happily, Monsignor’s legacy is very much alive and well at St. Agnes.

Saturday afternoon I gave a lecture on the place of the Faith in French-Canadian culture at Minneapolis’ French Canadian national parish of Our Lady of Lourdes (the very first church in the entire world to bear that title), attending Mass afterwards. The church has been beautifully restored since my last visit of over a decade ago, and the musical programme likewise. St. Paul also has such a parish – fittingly named St. Louis, King of France – but I did not manage to visit there this time.

Sunday morning was given to a beautiful Extraordinary Form High Mass at the FSSP parish of All Saints; in the evening we went to the Ordinariate Community of St. Bede’s, meeting at Holy Family Church. Mass was offered in the pastor’s absence (Fr. Treco was en route to the Chrism Mass with Bishop Lopes) by Latin Rite retired priest Fr. William Brenna, and was preceded by something new to me – the Litany chanted in Procession. This St. Bede’s does on the first Sundays of Advent and Lent, and Passion Sunday. It was very beautiful, as indeed,was the whole High Mass. The Kyrie, Sanctus, and Agnus Dei were from  the Missa cum jubilo, as adapted by Charles Winfred Douglas. Afterwards, the parisioners were extremely welcoming during the coffee hour in the undercroft. Adding to the wonderful atmosphere was the English Gothic styled Holy Family church itself; one couild well imagine that it is precisely the kind of church an Ordinariate community would build. Moreover, HF boasts its own schola cantorum specialising in Latin chant and polyphony. It is a group which exemplifies the best in the patrimony.

Before returning to LA the following day, we went back to All Saints for the High Mass of St. Joseph’s Day. As it happens, Minneapolis and Los Angeles are the two FSSP parishes in the United States that have been authorised to use the pre-1955 Rites of Holy Week this year. This writer is very much looking forward to seeing them – and in seeing the other church in St. Paul, St. Augustine’s, where the EF is offered. In any case, I am grateful to my sponsors and hosts in the Twin Cities for this adventure; regardless of whatever difficulties the Church is facing as a whole, it is essential to remind ourselves  of how many good things are happening across the globe in countless local scenes.



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