The traditional Latin Mass has been discontinued at St. John the Baptist Catholic Church in Chico, the only parish-based TLM north of Sacramento in the entire diocese. Fr. Tim Nondorf published this letter in the bulletin:
“In 2007, our Church issued Summorum Ponificum, by which Pope Benedict allowed the use of the Tridentine Mass in an effort to encourage ALL people in the Catholic faith heritage to worship as ONE Body, His Church. The use of the Mass before Vatican II (using the missal, ritual and readings, from 1962) is now called the Extraordinary Form of the Mass. It always was envisioned as a means to serve a community that could support itself and inspire the local church, in and through this Mass form. For these most recent years, our parish has made an effort to provide a support for this form.
“And yet, despite the efforts of Fr. Blaise Berg, Fr. Michael Baricuatro, Fr. Al Kaster and myself, after four years, the community praying in the Extraordinary Form has not developed into a stable community, not only able to support itself in ministry and stewardship, but also at contributing to the parish as a whole. Recognizing this fact, I entered into a discussion with the Diocese regarding our efforts, and it was agreed that, in spite of our worthy effort, that we would end the Latin Mass here. Accordingly, the last Sunday-scheduled Extraordinary Form of the Mass will be on November 17th at 1pm. As was always the hope too, we hope (and want) our brothers and sisters who have celebrated the Mass in this form to now participate in any of our other six Sunday Masses a weekend. ”
– Fr. Tim Nondorf
There is much I could say about the contents of this letter, but prudence suggests restraint. However, without getting into specifics, I will say this: even in the best of times, when we had willing priests who had respect for this rite, there was never any effort on the part of the clergy to promote the Extraordinary Form to the rest of the parish, or even to educate people about it…. There was never any attempt to create or support an integral Catholic devotional life centered on this liturgy – or even an awareness that such a thing exists. There were few extra-liturgical events for the TLM community, and those few were all organized by the laity, though our priests did sometimes participate. In other words, the TLM was always treated as a pastoral concession to a tiny special interest group, with entirely predictable results. The latest administrative shuffle resulted in an extremely liberal priest who could barely disguise his contempt offering the TLM out of sheer obedience. Even minimal traces of Catholicism disappeared from the homilies and, tragically, from the ordinary discipline of parish life. We stopped attending months ago.
Chico has long been home to a small independent chapel, founded by early refugees from St. John’s, where the Latin Mass has been offered by various traditional priests over the years, including a priest of the F.S.S.P. a couple of times. Today, the St. Therese Chapel is seeking to affiliate with the S.S.P.X., which has thus far committed to sending a priest on the 1st and 3rd Sundays of the month. For the first time this chapel is now listed in the S.S.P.X. directory. The chapel is said to be in the process of turning its administration completely over to the Society, which is a very positive development. Otherwise, for Catholics in Chico, the nearest Latin Mass remains 1 hr and 50 minutes away in Sacramento – a long drive both ways, but worth every minute.
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