After 50 Years, There’s a TLM in San Fran

by Roseanne T. Sullivan

That famed beauty, America’s City by the Bay, now has a new jewel in her crown. His Grace Salvatore Cordileone, archbishop of San Francisco, has established a Traditional Latin Mass (TLM) at Star of the Sea Parish. While there have been TLMs in the archdiocese for some time , this is the first to be made available in a centrally-located San Francisco parish during normal Sunday morning Mass hours.

Father Mark Mazza, pastor of the parish, celebrated his first TLM there on Trinity Sunday, May 26, 2013.  His Low Mass was the first TLM celebrated publicly at the parish in nearly 50 years. 

“The last Latin Mass was probably celebrated here the week before the first Sunday of Advent in 1964,” Father Mazza surmises. “The last Christmas Masses in the extraordinary form were then celebrated in 1963, fifty years ago. After this, the TLM sort of went undercover, save for exceptional circumstances.”

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“Before 2013, the last Latin Mass was probably celebrated at Star of the Sea Parish the week before the first Sunday of Advent in 1964.”

Fr. Mazza was trained by Fr. Joseph Previtali, currently the assistant Chaplain to the Traditional Latin Mass Society of San Francisco, based at Star of the Sea. (Editor’s Note: For more on the Society, see sidebar below.)

The old rite wasn’t totally new to Fr. Mazza, however. When he was a parochial school student in Pittsburgh, he attended a Latin Mass every weekday. Fr. Mazza became an altar server in 5th grade, learning enough liturgical Latin to facilitate his later celebrating the Mass in the Extraordinary Form. 

“When the Archbishop called to say he wanted a weekly TLM to be scheduled at Star of the Sea, I asked him, ‘Who is going to celebrate the Mass?’  He told me, ‘You are!’ When I explained that I had never celebrated it publicly, his reply was ‘Well, you’ll have to learn.’ I thought it was exciting really to learn it and have the opportunity to do it — now almost every day.”

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When the Archbishop called to say he wanted a weekly TLM to be scheduled at Star of the Sea, I asked him, ‘Who is going to celebrate the Mass?’  He told me, ‘You are!’

Fr. Mazza celebrates the TLM Sundays at 11 a.m., weekdays at 7:30 am and First Fridays at 6:30 pm, in addition to a full schedule of Masses offered in the Ordinary Form.  All of the Sacraments are also available in Latin, as well. 

Star of the Sea is in San Francisco’s Richmond district, where the majority of the population is Chinese. 

“The Latin Mass is actually at the same hour at which we used to offer the Chinese Mass. I met with the Chinese people in the parish, and they seemed to agree the Latin Mass would be a good thing. They are in the process of putting together a Mass booklet with Latin and Chinese,” Fr. Mazza explained.

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“I met with the Chinese people in the parish, and they seemed to agree the Latin Mass would be a good thing. They are in the process of putting together a Mass booklet with Latin and Chinese.”

Fr. Mazza’s progress has been swift. On October 2, 2013, in honor of Fr. Mazza’s 33rd Ordination Anniversary, he celebrated his first Solemn High Mass.  Archbishop  Cordileone attending (in choro). The Golden Gate Catholic Boys Choir sang. Canon Olivier Meney (Deacon) and Abbe Kevin Kerscher (Subdeacon) of the Institute of Christ the King Sovereign Priest assisted.

“The choir — that was the hard thing,” Fr Mazza says with a laugh. But the daunting problem of how to get together a competent choir was resolved when he found a young Hungarian organist, Peter Ujj, schooled in the classical tradition of church music. Ujj now directs the Stella Maris Schola, which sings at high Masses.

“I’ve gained a greater sense of reverence and tradition, and an understanding of where the liturgy has been for so many centuries. One challenge is a lack of understanding. Some see the Traditional Latin Mass as disobedient, as a going backwards.”

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“I’ve gained a greater sense of reverence and tradition, and an understanding of where the liturgy has been for so many centuries.”

Fr. Mazza teaches his parishioners in the bulletin and from the pulpit that the old Mass is “part of the Church’s living tradition,” and that he is not “resurrecting something from a museum. There is one Roman Rite of the Mass, but with two forms, the Ordinary Form and the Extraordinary Form.   In other words, the Traditional Latin Mass is fully the Roman Rite of the Mass but in its extraordinary form,” Fr. Mazza explains. “The Mass introduced by Pope Paul VI is the Roman Rite but in its ordinary form.   Therefore, there is no longer an old rite or new rite of the Mass.  There is the Roman Rite with two forms.”

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Fr Mazza teaches his parishioners in the bulletin and from the pulpit that the old Mass is “part of the Church’s living tradition,” and that he is not “resurrecting something from a museum.”

“I don’t see there is anything lost at all. Nobody is leaving the parish because there is still a full schedule of Ordinary Form Masses for those who prefer the new Mass. The parish has lots of choices. I believe in the option.  We’re trying to provide the TLM as a service to the work of evangelization.”

Star of the Sea Church is located at 4420 Geary Boulevard, San Francisco, CA 94118, (415) 751-0450

Sancta Trinitas Unus Deus: The Traditional Latin Mass Society of San Francisco

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Based at Star of the Sea parish, the Society says they are looking for new members who want to help build up a community to support the Extraordinary Form.

The Traditional Latin Mass Society of San Francisco is an association of Roman Catholic faithful dedicated to the preservation of the Extraordinary Form of the Roman Rite, as a legitimate use of Holy Mother Church’s great liturgical patrimony.

The Society includes lay faithful drawn from every age, group and walk of life as well as clergy and religious members. Based at Star of the Sea parish, the Society says they are looking for new members who want to help build up a community to support the Extraordinary Form.

Photos of Traditional Latin Masses in the SF Bay area can be viewed here. For more information contact TLMofSF@gmail.com or call Jay Balza at 707-319-7549.

“How wonderful to find a Latin Mass in San Francisco. I’ll go tomorrow, Sunday, for the first time in this city. Mass, Holy Communion, and confession beforehand! To all who made this possible, much gratitude and many prayers.”

(Above from the combox at http://sanctatrinitasunusdeus.com/about/)

 MAIN PHOTO CREDIT: The Traditional Latin Mass Society of San Francisco

ALL OTHER PHOTOS: Roseanne T. Sullivan


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