Sunday, June 11, 2006

St. Mary's Shrine, Rockford, Illinois.

On of the great things about travelling through the rust belt is that it's easier to find an oasis in the great liturgical desert than it is in points west of Kansas City.

This morning, my family and I were fortunate enough to assist at Trinity Sunday Mass at St. Mary's Shrine in Rockford, Illinois, entrusted to the Institute of Christ the King by the no-nonsense Bp. Thomas Doran. It's a beautiful church (although hidden by ugly government buildings) that had a few hundred parishioners in attendance--a surprising number when you consider that the City of Rockford has a population of 150,000.

Wish I'd taken a few pictures of the beautiful sanctuary while I was there. If anyone from Rockford has some nice interior shots, do please forward them to me and I'll post them. Those of you who follow such things may recall
St. Mary's was originally faced with destruction when Winnebago County was looking to bulldoze that part of Rockford for it's nine-block jail complex, and after that, Doran, when faced with the threat of an historic building designation by the county, told the county, in no uncertain terms, that he would not permit Mass to be celebrated there any more if they attempted to interfere with the diocese's control of the building. And of course, Doran won; the county backed off.

BTW, I noticed, while waiting for the restroom, that Bp. Doran has a poster up with FORTY (40) diocesan seminarians on it. Golly. Forty seminarians in a little has-been industrial town like that? And all of them wearing Roman collars, too? I hear that wearing a cassock gets one kicked out of the college seminary that KC seminarians go to. Seriously (though we hope Bp. Finn has a change in the works for that one). Maybe after the good seminarians in KC got the boot for dressing like clerics-in-training, they all went up to work for Bp. Tom Doran?


kcpriest said...

Perhaps it was before my time, but I cannot recall anybody being kicked out of either of my two seminaries (Conception and Mundelein - save the heckling) on the grounds that he was wearing a cassock. To be fair, both institutions had policies that only clerics (those in Holy Orders - Bishop, Priest or Deacon) were allowed to dress as clerics. But I don't know that the violation of such law (in and of itself) ever resulted in expulsion of a single student.

I think one can make a good argument for seminarians wearing clerical attire - at the seminary and while involved in apostolic ministry - as many seminaries do.

On the other hand, one can make an equally valid argument against seminarians (those not in Sacred Orders) dressing so - especially on the undergraduate level.

That said, when the argument against clericals is made, a distinct dress code - even a uniform one - should also be established

I wouldn't look for the seminarians at Conception to begin wearing clericals to class anytime soon - though they have begun wearing the cassock and surplice when serving Mass for His Excellency.

As far as Mundelein goes, Cardinal George recently appointed a new rector, and I would guess that it is not beyond the realm of the possibility that those men will soon find themselves less concerned about "what to wear" each day.

Curmudgeon said...

No heckling to you about Conception and Mundelein, Father. One goes where one is told to go. If you made it through such places, I'm sure you proved yourself exceedingly capable in the virtue of perseverence, whatever else may have been lacking. Thanks for hanging in there!

The comment about getting kicked out for wearing a cassock was license of course . . . someone who wants the kind of formation generally doesn't want to be a priest in the KCSJ diocese--with the occasional exception, he moves to Lincoln or Rockford or Wichita or Peoria or (formerly) Arlington or wherever (although we hope that is in the process of changing). The guys who want to wear a cassock screen themselves out (or are screened out) before they arrive at seminary, much to the misfortune of our diocese.

There is a great advantage to taking the cassock early. At my quasi-parochial community, one occasionally sees four or five men in cassocks at Mass . . . our community's seminarian home from Denton for the weekend, with some classmates as guests. It's different I know: they're instituted in minor orders, which the newfangled seminaries dropped in the wake Vatican II. There's a benefit to the seminarians: they are reminded every minute they wear it exactly what they are in training for and what state they aspire to, and their cassock helps them form the habits of a cleric and gets them comfortable with the humble dignity of a cleric. There's a benefit to the community--the boys see, and are invited by the seminarians' manner and dress to consider, themselves studying for the priesthood. The rest of us, who don't have priestly vociations, are filled with hope and promise, because in those cassocks lies the future. The I know they say if one is adequately moved with the spirit of Vatican II, you don't need to surround yourself with such archaic materials and customs, but face it, few people are so moved.

Granted the cassock shouldn't be worn by non-clerics outside of the seminary of ecclesiastical functions--we don't need to see them in cassocks in Burger King or Home Depot or pumping gas--but it's quite a good thing. I'm all for cassocks.

I dream of the day when everyone who serves Mass is (a) male and (b) wearing a cassock and surplice. I immediately feel much more comfortable in a Mass in a strange place when the altar boys come out in traditional choir dress (rather than some sort of alb tied with a rope, or whatever the gals wear these days), and usually for good reason--the Mass is more faithfully celebrated than in other such places (one stop I made to a rural parish in the diocese of Lincoln notwithstanding).

I remember when we went from cassocks and surplices to the newfangled costumes when I served as a boy. For the first couple of months, I thought the new outfits, with the seasonally colored velcro hood and rope, were super cool. But it wasn't long before I realized that they lacked the dignity of the traditional dress and wanted to go back. Alas, it was too late, and by the time I dropped out of the rotation, they were asking my little sister to serve Mass. Yuck.

Curmudgeon said...

Less I be misunderstood, the "notwithstanding a stop ... in Lincoln" comment referred to the fact that the servers weren't in traditional choir dress, not to any noteworthy irregularity in the Mass.