by Roseanne T. Sullivan
In a fascinating new development on America's West Coast, a fledgling San Francisco-based Order, the Contemplatives of St. Joseph (COSJ), has begun a major new assignment.
Archbishop Salvatore Cordileone has asked the Order’s founder, Fr. Vito Perrone, and Fr. Joseph Homick to teach other priests how to celebrate both the Traditional Latin Mass (TLM) and the Novus Ordo Mass with reverence, solemnity and Gregorian chant.
In addition, they are to provide spiritual direction for priests and offer retreats on contemplative prayer and other topics.
Archbishop Cordileone has asked Fathers Perrone and Homick to teach other priests how to celebrate both the Traditional Latin Mass (TLM) and the Novus Ordo Mass with reverence, solemnity and Gregorian chant.
Preparing for their task
Indeed, the two priests have been busy. They began learning the TLM in July 2013 at St. Margaret Mary Church in Oakland, with the help of Canon Olivier Meney of the Institute of Christ The King Sovereign Priest; he is the Episcopal Delegate for the TLM in the Oakland diocese.
They had already begun studying chanting the Divine Office, supported by William Mahrt, Stanford Professor of Early Music and Musicology, and director of the St. Ann Choir. Professor Mahrt drove from Palo Alto to their monastery at Mater Dolorosa parish in South San Francisco every other week. (Editor’s Note: For more about Prof. Mahrt and his Choir, see here: http://bit.ly/1bjTOpK). In June 2013 the two priests took up the study of Latin with Stephen Cordova, a San Francisco-based Latin scholar and medievalist.
On January 19, 2014, Fr. Perrone celebrated his first public Traditional Latin Mass at the Mater Dolorosa Church. Fr. Perrone and Fr. Homick will both continue to offer the Traditional Latin Mass at 5 p.m. every Sunday and at 12:00 noon from Monday through Friday.
The priests had already begun studying chant on their own, supported by William Mahrt, Stanford Professor of Early Music and Musicology.
The founding of a new Order
Fr. Perrone, ordained a priest of the San Francisco archdiocese in 2001, founded the Order on the Feast of St. Joseph, March 19, 2009. Fr. Homick was ordained in 1991 in the Byzantine Rite, and he was Abbot for twelve years at the Mt. Tabor Byzantine Ukrainian Catholic monastic community in Redwood Valley, CA before joining the Order. On August 15, 2013 the Order was established as a “Public Clerical Association of the Christian Faithful.” This decree gives the COSJ recognition throughout the United States.
As contemplatives who combine a deep prayer life with an active apostolate, the priests say there is “a vital need to strike a balance between the two.” They rely on the spiritual graces derived from their five hours of contemplative prayer to power their active apostolate.
Word is indeed getting out about the Contemplatives; in the last three months, nine men have inquired about vocations, with three passing all the initial criteria for discernment retreats.
Recognition by Rome
The opportunity to participate in the establishment of a new religious order in the Catholic Church doesn’t come around very often. The next step—of recognition by Rome—won’t happen for a long time. A community cannot be approved by Rome until it has experienced twenty-five years of growth.
“We don’t expect to see it,” said Fr. Perrone, in reference to the recognition issue.
“We will be like Moses,” Fr. Homick agreed, adding that it will likely be other men who will enter into this metaphorical ‘Promised Land’ — 25 years in the future if and when the Contemplatives of St. Joseph reach full status as a Catholic religious order.
The Contemplatives of St. Joseph: Mature, faithful and loyal to the Magisterium.
“We seek men who have a call to contemplative prayer and who are able to live the silence, but who are also able to serve,” Father Perrone observed.
“We believe this is a great life for men who are looking to know God, and who have a calling for prayer and to serve the Church. This is an exciting time to join, when each person’s gifts can be used.”
Because the Community is so new and in the process of gradually forming itself, new members have a “wonderful opportunity for each person’s personality to grow, develop, and flourish.”
Father Perrone also hopes that many who join the order “will be called to the priesthood.”
Roseanne T. Sullivan
Jose Luis Aguirre, for Catholic San Francisco, official newspaper of the Archdiocese of San Francisco