The Gregorian Rite in Chico, California

Fr. Blaise Berg, Pastor and Fr. Chris Frazer, Parochial Administrator

It’s no secret by now. St. John the Baptist parish in Chico is now home to two diocesan priests who have been trained by the F.S.S.P. to celebrate the Gregorian Rite. Father Blaise Berg, who was recently appointed pastor by Bishop William Weigand, has been offering the ancient Mass since May. Fr. Chris Frazer, one of the “Magnificent Seven” ordained just one year ago, celebrated this Mass publicly for the first time last Sunday. Both are excellent, orthodox men with a great love for the Church and for souls. I bring this up because I think it must be very unusual for a normal diocesan parish to have two resident priests trained and willing to offer the traditional liturgy. Also encouraging are the words of another priest in the area (who shall remain anonymous) who has told us of his interest in celebrating the Latin Mass.

Last year at this time, the idea that St. John’s Latin Mass community – a small and somewhat burdensome mission of the F.S.S.P. in Sacramento – would be served by not one, but two resident diocesan priests, including a very supportive pastor, was virtually unthinkable. Of course yesterday was the first anniversary of Pope Benedict XVI’s earthshaking Summorum Pontificum. How quickly things can change! In addition, we have been blessed with the services of a talented young man who is assisting us in the formation of a choir. Thus far the choir consists of four paid members of the Chico State University Chamber Singers and four volunteers from the parish, including my oldest son Jonathan. Our cadre of altar servers is also growing steadily.

The Latin Mass at St. John’s is scheduled at 2:30pm on Sundays. Attendance varies between 45 and 65 on most Sundays, and this has been the case for at least the last six months. The numbers are obviously much lower than we would prefer. The time is not the most convenient, for one thing – but perhaps now with two priests we will be able to schedule an earlier Mass. All in all, the future for Catholic tradition looks very bright in the northern part of the diocese of Sacramento.


5 thoughts on “The Gregorian Rite in Chico, California

  1. I hope this isn’t too OT, but I wondered what another traditional Catholic would think about something Dawn Eden posted the other day. Evidently her parish in Washington D.C. has these so-called “extraordinary ministers of the Eucharist” that aren’t really so extraordinary because they have them up there passing out the Sacrament every week. Laymen–and that includes women–distributing the hosts. I’ve seen this before at a wedding we went to a few years ago. So Dawn was asked by some guy (not even the priest, but just some guy who apparently organizes these things) in her parish if she’d be one of these. She said to him that she “doesn’t believe in” extraordinary ministers but would “do it for the church.” (That’s how she spells it, but I assume she means “do it for the Church” with a capital C.) She then goes into a riff about how freeing it is for her as a Catholic to agree to do this, since the Church allows it, though she hopes pretty soon the Church will stop allowing it. But as long as the Church allows it, she feels it’s part of her obedience actually to participate in it and help out the parish, even though it bothers her.

    I suppose I could make all of this logical if I tried real hard, but…

    Do you think a woman (especially a woman) or a layman in a Catholic parish has a duty to be a so-called “extraordinary minister” to show how obedient she is to the Church, given that the Church allows women to stand up front every week at the head of a line and distribute the Sacrament?

    I’m not Catholic, so this doesn’t come up for me, but it struck me as a somewhat extreme view. I guess the idea is that she would be tacitly criticizing the Church’s permitting this if she refused to participate.


  2. To share some good news from Colorado…Fr. Stephane Dupre has just been made Pastor of Immaculate Conception Parish in Colorado Springs. Bishop Sheridan created a personal PARISH for those attached to the extraordinary form earlier this year.


  3. Lydia, I share your puzzlement. “Extraordinary ministers” are these days almost always an abuse; female “extraordinary ministers” a double abuse. No one has a duty to be an extraordinary minister in a parish context, and a female has a duty not to be. If there is truly a shortage of priests and deacons, they can withhold the chalice. That would speed things up. If I were Dawn Eden, I would have refused.

    That said, it is unrealistic to expect most laypeople to get this. Good Catholics simply want to be faithful and obedient and do what is asked of them. So I’m not too hard on people like Dawn Eden. She genuinely wants to serve her parish. Her priest obviously wants her to do this, and her Church seems to approve. That’s one reason why I don’t simply join a Novus Ordo community and try to change things. It isn’t my place to change things, and even if it were, the abuses are too many, too institutionalized, and impossible to resist effectively.


  4. Thanks, Jeff. I sent this link to an old friend of mine who is now a member (at some stage–diaconate?) of the F.S.S.P.

    I’m glad to hear that Dawn’s position is not somehow normative for all of y’all–Catholics, that is. As far as I can tell, an “extraordinary minister” should really be involved only in some sort of genuinely “extraordinary,” and therefore highly improbable, circumstances: You know, a dying Catholic man drags himself into a church when the devout Catholic cleaning lady is the only one there…


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