Friday, July 03, 2009

Story of the First Weekly TLM in Fitchburg, Massachusetts

The first weekly Mass in the Extraordinary Form (Traditional Latin Mass) at Immaculate Conception Church in Fitchburg was held on Sunday, June 28th.  The Missa Cantata was very well attended by people of all ages.  The superb acoustics in the large  Romanesque Church accentuated the Latin prayers intoned by the celebrant, Reverend Father David Phillipson, as well as the traditional Gregorian chants and motets sung by the choir directed by Sam Schmitt, an organist, singer, conductor and composer who holds a Doctorate in musicology and other graduate degrees in liturgical music and music history.   The seven altar boys in attendance added much to the reverent and transcendent atmosphere of the Solemn Liturgy: the incense from the thurible, the candlelight from the torches carried by the boys, and the sound of the bells rung at key points.


The following impressions from one of the attendees are typical of the responses expressed:


        "I think it's fair to call this the beginning of the restoration of the immemorial Holy Mass codified by St. Pius V to the church of the Immaculate Conception. I'm glad to say that our (my family's) hopes were high, but we were entirely unprepared for the palpably sacred ambience that persisted in the church throughout the sacred liturgy and  which accompanied us right out the door and into the church hall (where I spent most of my time talking about the Mass, I think). It brought back a flood of memories of the best days I'd seen when I was a boy and the blessed years we had the privilege of going to Mass at Holy Trinity in Boston (where our two girls were baptized). I had the distinct impression that Father, the altar servers, and the choir were actually praying (not acting out roles) as they solemnly carried out their offices with unaffected reverence. I trust that everyone could plainly see how beautiful the church is with its French blue and gold, especially in the magnificent statue of Our Lady, and the organ filling every corner, at times with sounds of reflection, at others with those of majesty; but even now when I recall the ensemble of those impressions, I'm overwhelmed.  I think one cannot really overestimate the beguiling power of the truly sacred.

    "My family thanks you and all those who worked so long, so hard, and with such loving devotion to bring the truly extraordinary Holy Mass back to Immaculate Conception Church.  May Our Lord and His holy Mother and ours bless you abundantly with their most excellent graces here on Earth and forever in Heaven. 

With gratitude in Jesus and Mary, John and Connie Mick and family."


All are invited to experience worship in this Extraordinary Form of the Latin Rite which will be offered every Sunday at 8AM as a Sung High Mass when possible (or else as a Low Mass).   The Sacrament of Confession takes place before the Mass from 7:15 to 7:50AM, and the Rosary is recited at 7:30AM.    For more information, visit the website which is under construction at   


Father David Phillipson was trained to offer the Ancient Roman Rite by the Fraternity of St. Peter and has worked in traditional parishes for several years.  Father will also hold spiritual conferences and traditional devotions, and administer the Sacraments according to the Extraordinary Form.  "Together with the Latin Mass Community, I wish to thank Bishop McManus and Father Thien for making available the celebration of Mass in the Ancient Rite in this beautiful Church.  I look forward to serving the community and invite all to attend and experience Mass in the Ancient Usage.  I am happy to help anyone to learn to follow the missal or to answer any questions they may have.  Any priests who would like assistance in learning this rite are welcome to contact me:"


Contributions to help with the start up costs for this endeavor are very welcome and may be sent to the Church at 59 Walnut Street in Fitchburg 01420.  Please make your tax deductible donation to Immaculate Conception Church EF  (EF designating the Extraordinary Form of the Roman Rite).

Submitted by (and a Special Thanks to) Todd Tabbaa of Leominster, MA

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