Saturday, August 20, 2005

Traditional Catholics on the Kansas Side

Kansas City is quite a place for Traditional Catholics. I'm no real historian of KC area traddies, so anything I say (particularly anything that has its basis earlier than the last year or two) should be taken with a grain of salt. Nor have a really talked to anyone who would know about traditional Catholics in KC currently or historically. This post is just me documenting my limited observations and uninformed opinions.

Since the early 1980s, I think, the Society of St. Pius X, the canonically irregular institute whose Superior and three other bishops were declared to be excommunicated in 1988 for accepting episcopal consecration without the mandate of the Holy Father, has had its North American headquarters here in a huge and magestic, if neglected, old church in a run-down part of Kansas City, Missouri, St. Vincent DePaul. They also have a large community in St. Mary's Kansas, about an hour and a half away.

Since I don't have JCL, JCD, STL, or STD after my name (or for that matter even an undergraduate course in canon law or theology on my transcript), I'm not going to weigh in on whether the SSPX was properly suppressed, whether the declaration that the SSPX bishops had excommunicated themselves latae sentiae was properly issued, or any of that stuff. At least not now. And this kid from Kansas City is certainly in no position to say whether Lefebvre and his men reasonably but subjectively felt there was an emergency that called for their irregular consecrations, and if so what effect that had on their status.

But whatever you think of the SSPX, they've served all Catholics of traditional sensibilities in this area fairly well by keeping a remarkable building from collapsing (unlike its neighbor, the old Holy Name church, which is now a ruin, of the non-picturesque variety) and in causing the bishops in Kansas (the Archdiocese of Kansas City) and Missouri (the Diocese of Kansas City-St. Joe) to feel some pressure for granting (some more generously, some less so) the concessions called for by John Paul II in Ecclesia Dei Adflicta (1988) to allow the old rites to be celebrated here under diocesan auspices. The opportunities for a traditional faith life are (compared to most spots in the country) rather abundant.

The Kansans have the community of St. Jean-Marie Vianney (I think that's what it's called) in Maple Hill Kansas, just west of Topeka (near the St. Mary's stronghold for the SSPX). It is served by the Priestly Fraternity of St. Peter. The folks in Maple Hill actually have their own building and a small school. I'm not sure which FSSP priest serves them now. We Kansas Citians have the community of St. Rose Phillipine Duschene in Kansas City, Kansas. For the last couple of years the KCK community has been served by a great FSSP priest--a recently ordained man and a terrific preacher. He's the sort of priest who acts like he doesn't want to burn in hell, nor does he want you to, either. The KCK community doesn't have its own church. It meets at Blessed Sacrament, a beautiful church from the 1930s or so, which is, unfortunately, at the corner of Graffiti Steet and Malt Liquor Boulevard (near 18th & Parallel Parkway). I know more about the KCK community than the Maple Hill folks, but both seem to operate like regular parishes with their own records, committees, separate finances, and so forth. Because the KCK community shares the church with the regular parish that meets there, there are some scheduling issues, and they have to work around the wooden table (sorry, it's just not substantial enough be what we think of as an "altar," whether freestanding or not) in the middle of the sanctuary to get to the beautiful high altar. The Latin Massers are the tenants; the novus ordo parish is the landlord. Most Sundays, there are perhaps seventy or eighty people at 7:30 am low Mass, and a full church (perhaps 400-500) for the 10:45 am high Mass. I've only around for the single Sunday novus ordo Mass there once (I had forgotten my Missal from 7:30am and had to retrieve it). The parish's attendance was only slightly above the Latin Massers' typical low Mass crowd.

For all the great attendance and growth in the Latin Mass community in Kansas City, they seem to have one problem--collections. I don't know why, but their collections are about half what I would expect them to be. One theory is that although the Mass is full, few people are actually registered and so few people feel the need to support it. One other theory is that folks are splitting their tithe between their geographic parish and the Latin Mass community. That second theory may be true in a handful of cases, but it's overall pretty flimsy. With the exception of a few parishes in town (e.g., a certain refugee parish in midtown KCMO), there aren't many parishes around which most Latin-Massers would deem worthy of support at the expense of a Latin Mass community. Theory #3 is that people just can't be more generous. This group of folks is, generally speaking, a group of serious breeders. If you show up with two kids, you feel out of place. You have to have four, five, six, seven to fit in. They may really not have the money after buying all that milk, clothing, etc., etc. This is the most satisfying explanation, for the fact that although these folks can't give much directly to the church now, but there are bound to be a number of priests and religious vocations come out of families like that, which are a greater gift to the church in the end than an extra fifty or hundred bucks a month in support. Theory #4 is the least satisfying, and probably true to some extent. People just don't trust each other, the FSSP, or the diocese with their money (more on mistrust among traddies later).

The Missourians aren't so fortunate. Or haven't been so until very recently (more in my previous posts).

1 comment:

Curmudgeon said...

Almost a year later, I learn that the SRPD community has the highest collections per household in Wyandotte County--and higher than many other churches elsewhere in the Archdiocese.