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.