Here in Tasmania, all are playing a waiting game, as news of the appointment of our next Archbishop is confidently expected. (I heard a very pleasing rumour as to the name only yester-day.) One matter that the new Ordinary must take in hand is that of making long-overdue provision for the legitimate aspirations of many Catholics in Tasmania, who wish for regular Extraordinary Form Masses to attend.
1. Currently, the Society of St Pius X is active in north-west Tasmania; a priest of the society flies down once or twice a month (1st and 3rd Sundays) and celebrates a Saturday evening (6 pm) and Sunday morning (9.30 am) Mass at Sassafras in the Village Church there, with confessions heard beforehand. Given the ongoing negotiations between the Holy See and the S.S.P.X., it is much to be hoped that their apostolate may be regularized, and for this all right-minded folk will pray, as the Pope would wish. In charity, I assume that in God’s good time this will come to pass (in the meanwhile, many of the faithful, including myself, would feel unable in conscience to attend their Masses), and so will mainly restrict myself to consideration of what may be done in the rest of the State.
2. For over fifteen years, there has been a monthly 11.30 am Sunday Mass, a Missa cantata, in Hobart, firstly celebrated by Fr (now Bp) Jarrett at Sacred Heart, New Town, and, since his departure to be Bishop of Lismore, by Fr Gerald Quinn, C.P., at St Canice, Sandy Bay. The laity have repeatedly indicated that there would be a substantial congregation for a Latin Mass every Sunday. However, their repeated petitions, made over several years, for a weekly Sunday Latin Mass addressed both to the Archbishop and to the Ecclesia Dei commission in Rome have had no result so far. Similarly, approaches to the Archbishop by the Priestly Fraternity of St Peter to obtain his approval for them to work in Tasmania have not been accepted. This is particularly unfortunate, given that, while the Archdiocese has a shortage of priests, men entirely suited to this work have been turned away. It is common knowledge in Melbourne that His Grace has gone so far as to forbid his seminarians (who study there) to attend Latin Masses anywhere! It is much to be hoped that the next Archbishop will find it in his heart to agree with the Holy Father’s express wishes in this matter, and concede what has been many times legitimately and politely requested.
Given that the present monthly Mass is celebrated at a late hour, and, being a sung Mass, puts off some by its length (just over an hour), if it could be paired with an early Low Mass, many more would come, just as, if Mass were offered in the Extraordinary Form every Sunday, a larger congregation would stabilize, since obviously people are more likely to come along each week and make it their habit, rather than have to remember to come along at a special time and place once a month.
To begin with, a Latin Mass Chaplaincy would offer:
- Sunday morning Masses (one Low, one Missa cantata) in Hobart (presumably at St Canice, as it is a worthy venue, easy to access, and otherwise unused most of the time, apart from for weddings and the private Mass of a retired priest who lives nearby);
- Daily Mass (usually) in Hobart;
- Monthly Masses (Sunday evening and Monday morning) in, say, Launceston (a 200 km drive from Hobart), or another central population centre in the north or north-west ;
- Confessions heard before and after each Mass;
- Sundry devotions and groups, as need and opportunity arise.
One priest could easily fulfil this plan (which reflects Fr Rowe’s schedule as Latin Mass Chaplain in Perth, W.A.); if there were two priests, of course, much more could be done.