What Happens When a Priest Learns the Latin Mass

What Happens When a Priest Learns the Latin Mass

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by Rosa Kasper

Although the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass had always been the center of Father Paul Sumler’s priestly life, the truth is that he hadn’t considered celebrating Mass in the Extraordinary Form. That is, until one Sunday when John Morrell and Mark Holly from the Latin Mass Society of Beaumont, Texas approached Father to ask if he would be willing to do so.

 “At the time, I was still recovering from major surgery, so I asked them to call me in three or four months,” Fr. Sumler explained. “And then I promptly forgot about my brief encounter with them until they again approached me again three and a half months later.”

He invited the men to lunch with him at the rectory, so he could hear their story.

 “At this point I was perplexed as to why they wanted a Latin Mass, but I was willing to listen to their reasons,” the priest added.  “The luncheon meeting ran almost two hours as they spoke and I asked question after question. They told me they had approached a number of priests in the Beaumont Diocese and each priest gave various reasons for not wanting to offer the Traditional Latin Mass.”

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“I was perplexed as to why they wanted a Latin Mass, but I was willing to listen to their reasons. After they left, I wondered what I had gotten myself into.”

Impressed with their articulate, authentic Catholic spirituality and love for the Church, Fr. Sumler told the two young men that although 50 years before he had been an altar boy for the Latin Mass, he would now be starting from scratch if he should offer this Mass.

“After they left, I wondered what I had gotten myself into,” Fr. Sumler remarked.

As it turned out, the Latin Mass Society covered the expenses of training workshops, including his travel expenses so in June 2011, he spent five days with the Priestly Fraternity of St. Peter (FSSP) at Our Lady of Guadalupe Seminary in Denton, Neb., under the tutelage of Father Joseph Lee.

Father Sumler describes the time as a “spiritual boot camp,” involving eight and a half hours days for five days straight. He offered his first Sunday Low Mass one month later. He then attended a Missa Cantata High Mass training workshop in 2012. Since then he has been offering a Sung High Mass every Sunday at 9:30 am.

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Father Sumler describes his time with the Priestly Fraternity of St. Peter (FSSP) at Our Lady of Guadalupe Seminary in Denton, Nebraska as a “spiritual boot camp,” involving eight and a half hours days for five days straight.

 A small number of his parishioners attend the Extraordinary Form Mass, Sumler explained, but most come from various other parts of the Beaumont Diocese, including many young people and home schooling families.

“Thanks to the Augustinian Fathers who pastored my parish for 60 years, I inherited a beautiful church,” Fr. Sumler observed. “During my time as pastor, we have renovated a number of lovely statues and placed them back in the church, much to the happiness of the people. The interior is quite beautiful and conducive to prayer. The Rosary is prayed before each Sunday Masses.”

Fr. Sumler characterized his Latin Mass congregants as deeply spiritual, committed Catholics, the integrity of whose faith had been damaged by liturgical abuses so common in many Novus Ordo parishes.

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Father Sumler characterized his Latin Mass congregants as deeply spiritual, committed Catholics, the integrity of whose faith had been damaged by liturgical abuses so common in many Novus Ordo parishes.

“The spiritual impact of the Extraordinary Form has had a major impact on me as well,” Fr. Sumler noted. “I have learned to let Jesus say the Mass. I don't have to worry anymore if I'm holding people's attention. Jesus, through the Mass and liturgical actions, can speak for Himself, and the people do not have any need for my innovations.

“I cannot imagine my life without this beautiful Mass.  In addition to the Sunday Sung Mass, I offer a Low Mass Tuesday through Friday at 12:10 pm,” Fr. Sumler concluded. “I will always be indebted to encountering John Morrell and Mark Holly. To them I say ‘thank you.’”

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“I have learned to let Jesus say the Mass. I don't have to worry anymore if I'm holding people's attention. Jesus, through the Mass and liturgical actions, can speak for Himself, and the people do not have any need for my innovations.  I cannot imagine my life without this beautiful Mass.”

OUR LADY OF LOURDES CATHOLIC PARISH

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