A special Solemn High Mass for the Feast of St. Matthew will be sung in St. Joseph’s Cathedral, 1535 Third Avenue, in downtown San Diego, on 21 September, 2019 at 10 a.m. Music for the Mass will feature the Missa Papae Marcelli by Palestrina, sung by the Tomas Luis de Victoria Choir of San Diego, along with motets by Bruckner and Gabrielli; and full Gregorian propers sung by the Brothers of the Little Oratory in San Diego.

The Mass will draw on the resources of a variety of different Catholic organizations, including the Brothers of the Little Oratory; ushers from a variety of diocesan churches; the serving corps from Holy Martyrs Catholic Church of the Anglican Ordinariate, Murrieta; and the clergy of St. Anne’s Catholic Church, who are of the Priestly Fraternity of St. Peter (FSSP).  

This proposed series of Masses is being spearheaded by the Brothers of the Little Oratory in San Diego, a group of laymen who have been active in practicing Gregorian Chant in the San Diego area, and who for nearly twenty years have made it a mission to find liturgical application for the “song of the church,” and to become a resource for helping traditional liturgy to occur in places where such liturgies might not otherwise happen.

“We realized early on,” says John Polhamus, music director and precentor of the Brothers, “that to sing chant in a rehearsal setting was going to be interesting, but ultimately unfulfilling; like reading or reciting Shakespeare from a book, but never actually getting to walk through the play on stage, or see it acted in three dimensions.”

Polhamus continued, “But sacred music, whether it’s chant or polyphony, is also a prayerful part of a very real sacred-drama, so when we have Mass for our group we try to do it at as high a level as possible, sometimes at a level that is beyond the capacities of normal parish expression, but that demonstrates something of the rich cultural heritage that the traditional Latin mass can bring to any culture.”

With that in mind, the Brothers are actively soliciting donations to seed a music fund for future Masses in St. Joseph’s Cathedral. The Brothers are a California 501(c)(3) Non Profit Religious Organization who work only with Catholic Clergy, and donations are tax-deductible. Donations can be made at mass or at Solemn Sunday Vespers on the 2nd Sunday of each month at the Cathedral; through Pay-Pal on the Brother’s Blog (sandiegooratorians.blogspot.com), or by mail. Cheques should be made payable to: 

“Brothers of the Little Oratory in San Diego,” and mailed to

1804 Garnet Ave. #634

San Diego, California 92109 

Monies collected will be earmarked for the Brother’s St. Joseph Mass-Music Fund, and will be accounted for in a monthly Mass bulletin, on the Brother’s blog, and on the Brother’s Facebook Page.

To date $800 has been collected for the September Mass, with several hundred needed to break even. “The generosity of the faithful will be rewarded by occasions of spiritual uplift for people of all social and economic strata,” says Polhamus. “There is a bodily hunger for beauty that cannot be satisfied by food alone; it’s a hunger for a transcendent vision and sensation of God that only mankind’s best cultural efforts can satisfy, a particular blending of the emotion and the intellect in worship. That’s what we do…or at least, it’s what we strive to do.”

Follow the Brothers of the Little Oratory in San Diego by joining their mailing list at mass or 2nd Sunday Vespers; on their blog sandiegooratorians.blogspot.com; or on Facebook (search “Brothers of the Little Oratory in San Diego”).

California Catholic Daily exclusive by John B. Polhamus.