On March 9, Fr. Alvin Yu celebrated Mass in the Extraordinary Form (also called the Traditional Latin Mass) at the Church of the Nativity in  Menlo Park – the first of what will be a monthly offering at the parish.

A large number of people attended and participated, including many from the parish.

Nativity’s pastor, Monsignor Steven Otellini, commented after Mass that a parishioner had donated funds to provide fifty Latin/English Mass booklets, but at least twice as many more could have been used. The parochial vicar, Fr. Patrick Driscoll, counted 120 people in attendance.

“It shows the hunger that people have for the beauty of this form of the Mass,” said Charlene Dorman, one of the parishioners who originally requested that the traditional Latin Mass be celebrated there. “So many came, many more than we ever expected.”

People of all ages filled the pews at Nativity, including many families with several young children.

“What draws me is rather the time for deeper sense of pure penitence, and consequent deepened receptivity to receive the Lord’s Holy Presence,” explained Mrs. Dorman. “And, through the extended transubstantiation. the time we have with Jesus is longer and fuller, and the holy silence within us deepens and extends prayer in a productive and beautiful way – a holy mystery, extraordinary in every way.”

Nina Heereman, assistant professor of Sacred Scripture at nearby St. Patrick’s Seminary, said celebrating the TLM also has benefits for the celebration of the Ordinary Form of the Mass. “Pope Benedict wanted to bring about ‘the reform of the reform.’ I am convinced that being acquainted with our own tradition will deepen the way we celebrate and participate in the Ordinary Form and eventually contribute to bringing about its hoped-for reform,” she said.

Nativity Church started as a mission chapel in 1872 under Joseph Alemany, the first Archbishop of San Francisco, and was later established as a parish in 1877. The church’s architectural style is called Carpenter Gothic, a common style around the end of the 19th century, when skilled carpenters were able to craft ornate Gothic pointed arches and pinnacles out of abundantly available wood instead of stone or masonry.

Masses in the Extraordinary Form will continue to be offered at 9 a.m. every second Saturday of each month, beginning again on May 11. Fr. Yu and other local clergy will celebrate the Masses. Information about future Masses in the Extraordinary Form at Nativity church can be obtained from their website at www.nativitymenlo.org or by calling the parish at 650-323-7914.

A California Catholic Daily exclusive by Roseanne T. Sullivan.