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Roman Latin Mass returns to Tri-Cities

staff report • Dec 6, 2012 at 8:00 AM

JOHNSON CITY — Tri-Cities area Catholics will have a chance to experience worship in a way they haven’t had the opportunity to in nearly 50 years.

The traditional Roman Latin Mass will be celebrated at 3 p.m., Sunday at St. Mary’s Church, 2211 E. Lakeview Drive, following 25 years of appeals to the diocesan bishops and with the recent assistance of Rome.

The vernacular Mass, spoken in the language of the people, was introduced in the years following the Second Vatican Council. It has been nearly five decades since the traditional Roman rite (Latin Mass) has been made available to Catholics in the Tri-Cities area. The Latin Mass will be held at 3 p.m., the second and fourth Sundays of each month.

This addition to the St. Mary’s Sunday schedule follows Pope Benedict XVI’s recent restoration of the Latin Mass for regular usage as the “extraordinary form” of the Roman rite of the Catholic Church. The Pope decreed that parish priests no longer need special permission to use the older form of Mass, and he has urged that the Latin Mass be made widely available to those Catholics who desire it.

The Latin Mass can be offered at several levels of ceremony and solemnity. The “low Mass” is recited without a great deal of music. The “high Mass” (or sung Mass) is chanted by a priest and choir with music and congregational singing. At a high Mass, the actions of the priest and servers at the altar are elaborate, and the fragrance of incense combines with sight and sound to provide an enveloping atmosphere of reverence and worship.

In response to numerous requests from Tri-Cities Catholics, this Sunday’s and subsequent Latin Masses at St. Mary’s Catholic Church will be celebrated by Fr. Christopher Riehl, who has been assigned by the Bishop of Knoxville, to come twice monthly to Johnson City for this purpose. Riehl is associate pastor of St. John Neumann Catholic Church in Knoxville.

St. Mary’s will initially present a low Mass with hymns, while the resources for a high Mass are being developed. There are hopes that as the word spreads about the availability of the Roman Latin Mass in Johnson City, that this could become a weekly Mass.

Anyone in the area is welcome to attend and view the Latin liturgy of the Catholic Church in the form that was celebrated for nearly 2,000 years (since the fourth century of Saint Ambrose) prior to the 1960s changes that introduced the vernacular Mass.

For more information, call (423) 282-6367 or visit www.stmarysjc.org/contactus.html for driving directions. Those who wish to e-mails from the Tri-Cities Traditional Latin Mass community, may e-mail tricitieslatinmass@hotmail.com.

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