by Joe Bollig
WESTWOOD — This summer, the Latin Mass Community of St. Philippine Duchesne here received an important recognition of its stability and long-term future.
On Aug. 4, the feast of St. John Vianney, Archbishop Joseph F. Naumann elevated the community’s chapel in northeast Johnson County to that of a “personal parish.” It has been under the pastoral care of the Priestly Fraternity of St. Peter (FSSP) since its founding.
“Traditionally, parishes are territorial entities in which Catholics residing within the confines set by the diocese are said to belong to that parish,” said Father John Fongemie, FSSP, the former chaplain, now at Queen of the Holy Rosary Parish in Vienna, Ohio.
“Canon law provides for diocesan bishops to erect other types of churches and parishes,” he added, “and among those are personal parishes in which the bishop sets criteria by which Catholics may join personal parishes under the auspices set by the diocesan bishop.”
A personal parish is under the direct pastoral care of the bishop and does not have territorial boundaries. Catholics may belong to a personal parish even if they reside within the boundaries of another parish.
Personal parishes can be established for immigrant or language groups. During the 19th and 20th centuries, the Archdiocese of Kansas City in Kansas established ethnic or “national” parishes for immigrant communities of Belgians, Croatians, Germans, Irish, Mexicans, Poles, Slovenes and others. More recently, the archdiocese has recognized Burmese (Myanmar) ethnic groups, Koreans and Africans.
In this case, the personal parish is for those Catholics who have an affinity for the Mass and sacraments in Latin celebrated according to the 1962 Roman Missal.
Prior to the decree, the current parish was designated a chapel and was part of St. Agnes Parish in Roeland Park. A copy of the sacramental registry was kept at St. Agnes, according to Father Joseph DeGuzman, FSSP. He succeeded Father Fongemie on July 1. Previously, Father DeGuzman served at St. Francis de Sales Parish in Mabelton, Georgia.
“We’re within the boundaries of St. Agnes Parish, and usually [the archdiocese] wouldn’t build another parish that close,” said Father DeGuzman. “But most of our parishioners don’t necessarily live around us. Their average drive is 30 to 45 minutes, and some drive an hour or more.”
The elevation of St. Rose Philippine Duchesne to the status of parish shows the confidence the archdiocese has in the community’s stability and future, said Father Fongemie. It is a recognition of the parish’s spiritual maturity and financial health.
Currently, the parish has more than 800 members. It is served by three Priestly Society of St. Peter priests. The society also serves the Latin Mass Community of St. John-Mary Vianney in Maple Hill, on the western side of the archdiocese.