Tuesday, November 3, 2015

Pastor on Broadway Leads Souls to Immemorial Mass

Edit: this appeared in September and is being showcased now on the European blogs. It's nice to bring it up in case you missed it, how the Immemorial Mass of All Ages is leading to a rekindling of people's faith in New York:


The church of the Holy Innocents was erected as a parish in 1866 in south Manhattan, at the heart of what was then the red-light district of New York and has since become the Garment District. It has long been considered as the actors' parish because of its proximity to Broadway and its theaters. Attendance declined in that business and entertainment district where there were few residences, and the parish was recently under threat of being closed down during a diocesan restructuring plan-until Cardinal Dolan, Archbishop of New York, acknowledged the parish's value as a spiritual oasis in the area. The parish offered the extraordinary form of the Roman rite since 2009 in addition to the ordinary form. Indeed, Sunday Mass attendance has tripled since then. As a result, the Cardinal not only confirmed the status of Holy Innocents but also assigned a new pastor there, even though there hadn't been one since 2013. 

The main attraction of this 1870 neo-Gothic church is its altar fresco of the Crucifixion by Costantino Brumidi, the artist responsible for the Washington Capitol rotunda. This fresco recovered all of its luster in 2013 after Fr. Kallumady, pastor 2007-2013, restored it. It was that priest, who was ordained in his home country of India in 1973, who reintroduced the traditional liturgy to the parish. He explained in the diocesan paper: 
"It is a commuter church and I was looking for a supporting community on Sundays. We now have anywhere near 100 people attending Sunday Latin Mass. They are very active and supportive of the parish and that’s what I was looking for. They come from all over: Long Island, New Jersey, some from as far as 80 miles away. They are all welcomed here. And so this is a parish with a difference."

After Fr. Kallumady's departure the parish was administered by Fr. Rutler, the famous New York preacher and evangelist, who knows the traditional liturgy and kept up its renewal until Fr. Villa's nomination last winter. Fr. Villa had served in the U.S. Navy prior to his entrance to St. Joseph Seminary. During his seminary years he served the homeless and alcoholics in New York's Bowery as an apostolic assignment. Fr. Villa served in St. Eugene's parish for twenty-two years in Yonkers, the fourth largest city in New York State north of the Bronx. He introduced the extraordinary form of the Roman rite there on 14 September 2007, the very day Benedict XVI's motu proprio took effect. A leader of men at the service of the salvation of souls, Fr. Villa showed the way in his very first sermon at Holy Innocents: Consecration to the Sacred-Heart of Jesus and to the Immaculate Heart of Mary; devotion to the Blessed Sacrament; and confession. Indeed Fr. Villa is convinced that before bearing witness to Christ through words, one has first to live in His presence, just as the Blessed Virgin Mary and Saint Joseph did.

1 comment:

Marie said...

I read that the Holy Innocents' Scola Cantorum is called "Vox in Rama." Nice, clever, and very appropriate.

God bless Holy Innocents.