Latin Mass community celebrates first solemn high Mass at new chapel
by Joe Bollig
WESTWOOD — The joy was palpable as the St. Rose Philippine Duchesne Latin Mass Community gathered for the blessing of its new church here, immediately followed by a solemn high Mass on Jan. 12.
The community had been guests of Blessed Sacrament Parish in Kansas City, Kan., for the last 15 years.
Members were grateful for Blessed Sacrament’s hospitality but, as every true Kansan knows, there’s no place like home.
“When you’re a guest, you’re a guest,” said chaplain Father John J. Fongemie, a member of the Priestly Fraternity of St. Peter. “Now, we’re not guests. We have our own home. There’s a certain liberty and freedom of spirit that comes with that.”
The community was founded in the archdiocese in 1989 and has been under the spiritual care of the Priestly Fraternity of St. Peter since 1995.
There are two Latin Mass communities in the archdiocese, although the Priestly Fraternity offers the Mass in Latin in three locations: in Maple Hill, in Westwood and at St. Joseph Church in Topeka. Until Jan. 12, only the Latin Mass Community of St. John-Mary Vianney in Maple Hill had its own church.
Although now designated a chaplaincy, the archbishop will soon designate it a personal parish, said Father Fongemie. As such, it will be a parish without territorial boundaries.
The new St. Rose Philippine Duchesne Chapel is at 5035 Rainbow Blvd., located across the street from the Westwood Christian Church. The church was built in 1947 and was the Westwood Lutheran Church until the congregation disbanded. The church was purchased by the archdiocese in 2011.
Despite the wind and chill, a large crowd gathered in front of the church as Archbishop Joseph F. Naumann led a procession around the outside of the church, and then inside for the Mass.
Father Eric Flood, North American District superior of the Priestly Fraternity of St. Peter, was the celebrant. Archbishop Naumann was the assisting prelate. Father Fongemie acted as deacon, and assistant chaplain Father Justin Nolan, FSSP, acted as subdeacon.
Msgr. Gary Applegate and Father John Riley assisted Archbishop Naumann.
Approximately 20 priests were present — archdiocesan priests, members of religious orders, and confreres of the Priestly Fraternity of St. Peter.
In his homily, Archbishop Naumann said he was very impressed and edified by what the chaplains and community had done to remodel the church. He also thanked the Fraternity of St. Peter for making the Mass in Latin — officially referred to as the extraordinary form — available in the archdiocese.
“It’s important as a church that we always know our roots, and the ‘novus ordo’ (‘new order’) is rooted in this celebration of the Tridentine Mass,” said Archbishop Naumann. “And so it’s important that we keep and continue this celebration and [that it] be available to God’s people.”
The archbishop also said that the care Catholics have for their churches reveals the reverence the faithful have for the true presence of Jesus in the Eucharist.
“This community shows itself, like the wise virgins in the Gospel, in all that you’ve done to welcome the coming of the bridegroom into this sacred place,” said Archbishop Naumann.
“The beauty of the church represents our striving to give God our very best, as an expression of gratitude for the many gifts God has given us — especially his son, Jesus. The beauty of a church reminds us of our own dignity as living temples of God, and of the dignity of others.”
“Our churches should inspire us to assist those in need,” he said. “The same care we give to our buildings we are obligated to give to the poor and the marginalized, the sick and the suffering.”
Much had been done to convert the church from a Lutheran to a Catholic configuration.
The nave and the sanctuary of the church were extensively remodeled. The choir loft was extended and a pipe organ was moved to the loft. The sanctuary was given a new high altar, two side altars and a Communion rail.
A baptismal font and baptistery rail was installed at the back of the church. The floor was installed with tile, and the sanctuary and baptistery floors were adorned with marble, polished stone and tile. Confessionals were installed. Total seating in the nave and choir loft is slightly over 200.
A few things need to be done, including installation of Stations of the Cross, stenciling the walls, installing additional statues, and tuning the organ. Many of the liturgical furnishings are at least 100 years old and come from churches that have been remodeled or closed.
“I’ve seen a great transformation into what is a very beautiful and artistically unified church,” said Father Flood. “The altar is definitely the primary focal point, and everything assists and points to it. The Blessed Sacrament on the high altar is the center of our church and should be the center of our lives here on earth.”
The social hall in the basement was extensively remodeled. The total cost of purchase and remodeling was about $1.9 million.
Father Flood said the community would benefit in many ways from having a new home.
“It gives a stability to the community, much like a home gives a family,” said Father Flood. “So with the home, a family has a place they can be with each other . . . and share their lives together.”
This stability will become stronger as the community engages in social activities as well as worship. It will be a “spiritual home” that members can return to, he added.