So fishies I would like to present my situation to you. Please be brutally
honest, but charitable. Please do not feel that whatever you say to me will be a negative on your part, like I will go off and do something imprudent. You are not being credited with any responsibility in this matter. I want you to be forthright in your opinion, whether for or against. I am writing this to bounce it off of you all, to get some perspective. (PM me if you want your opinion to be private.) This is probably the only time I'll extensively write about this, since I am a really private person, and do not wish any attention to my private life, beyond the ephemeral. I would be interested in scenarios too. Like you should leave if ..., or stay if ... Also note, I am presenting public info. There is nothing here that is not publicized by these priests already through the Remnant, etc..
I have worshipped at my chapel almost constantly for over 10 years now. My wife since she was a child. Let me give you a quick run down if you don't already know. The congregation for Our Lady Help of Christians began in the late 1970s, when Fr Frederick Schell, SJ, left his parish in the Archdiocese of LA the Sunday before communion in the hand was to be administered. He could not adopt this practice. Over time he built up a group of people who requested him to say the traditional Mass. He administered to them independent of the archdiocese. He probably was suspended, but I am not sure about that. This group established a school in 1983, Padre Pio Academy. It eventually grew to numerous congregations, and now stands with three congregations, Garden Grove (big), LA (medium), and Ventura (very small). This legacy was passed on to Fr Patrick J. Perez in 2002.
Fr Perez came to work with Fr Schell in the mid to late 90s. Fr Perez was ordained by Cardinal Stickler in 1993 for the Institute of Christ the King. He served them in Spain, France, and Italy. He has never said the New Mass, and has always said the 1954 Missal, which was the Missal of ICK when he was ordained. According to his account, they abandoned him by not giving him an assignment. He moved back to California to be with his parents. The story seems to present that the ICK was adapting their practices more to Ecclesia Dei's preferences, for example, by adopting the 1962 Missal. After feeling left out in a lurch (phone calls were not answered), he decided to help out Fr Schell. He said his priesthood was going to waste just living with his parents. Fr Perez is the current pastor, is staunchly anti-sedevacantist, but is a hard-liner. He seems to support Williamson more than Fellay. It remains to be seen who will do confirmations. in the past it was always SSPX, but we've never been an SSPX or an associate chapel. (We also have developed a strong relationship with the Silver City Benedictines, with two men there, and at least one more on the way.) He is highly critical of all the usuals, but almost never talks about them. He sees our situation as one of a "holding pattern" waiting for the hierarchy to come to its senses, and focuses on parish fellowship, basic core doctrine, and just keeping the old time Faith. Polemic doesn't factor highly in the sermons at this chapel. With that said, there is no talk about relations with the bishops, or attempts to be regular. The kicker is that he was made a Monsignor in 2011 by a Catholic
Syro-Malakara bishop, who did this to make him a chaplain of one branch of the Knights of Malta. Now Monsignor said from the pulpit that this bishops gave him faculties, but I have never pressed this question, thinking it rude to question his honesty from the pulpit. Apparently he was due to become a Monsignor before with the ICK, but was thwarted by politics and what-not.
Fr Paul B. Sretenovic came to us in 2005. He was ordained by Archbishop John J. Myers of Newark in 2002. He said the New Mass there until 2005. In that year he had a crisis of conscience, and decided he could no longer say the New Mass. The Archbishop offered an indult situation, but Father believed it had too many strings attached. He left his Archdiocese to come out to OLHC. For years he heard nothing from the Archbishop, but apparently he is suspended by him. Fr Sretenovic is a very holy priest. Somewhat a mystic. And he has developed by leaps and bounds in the last seven years.
Fr Cedrick Starbuck came to us in late 2006 or early 2007, very soon after his ordination as a Dominican from Archbishop Thomas C. Kelly of Louisville in 2006. He had spent previous years teaching with them. My understanding is that Father still keeps relations with some of his former brothers, but I do not know about his status. He does not identify himself as a Dominican anymore. Father worked in Madison and has seen some of the worst of the worst. Apparently he could not take being in that midst anymore, but I do not know the specifics. Father is a very Thomistic philosophical type. He is very humble, and is not partisan. He'll critique traditionalists as much as Novus Ordo types.
And finally, Fr Stephen Galambos came to us in 2010 (I think). He is a Franciscan ordained in the 90s. He is in good standing with his superior, has permission to be amongst us, and is from the Immaculate Conception Province. Originally Father went to the SSPX to "explore tradition". What led him to us, I have no idea. He is a fiery preacher. He is very serious about becoming holy. He is a great confessor, who applies justice and mercy is due proportion.
Now with this said, this mix of approbation, and censure, I have to say that this congregation has been spot on. Sure, there have been minor scares in terms of a visiting priest who turns out to be unsavory, or questionable, but throughout the years I've found it to be a bedrock of the Faith. Every once and a while Monsignor says something that makes me cringe a bit, but every congregation has this (we're human). The diocese seems more risky. Our previous bishop was very anti-traditional and reduced the Masses down to one, at like 6 or 7 am at a far side of the diocese. Relations with the bishop were severely strained. At one point he got bulletins in the diocese to call us schismatic, and dissuade people from coming, because they were coming to us from the places he shut down. But in the meantime, we have grown immensely, and most traditionalists, with exceptions of course, will visit us without much problem, including people who are prominent in the official diocesan situation.
Now, though, we have a new bishop, who seems to be much more conservative. So how does one approach this? How does one judge when a bishop is too demanding on the faithful to deny one justice? How much should law be favored over salvation of souls? I have young children, and they have grown in a stable situation. They have friends. We have friends. We go to each other's houses. Then there is the Mass situation. The diocese has about five locations, one Anglican Use Mass, and (I think) two eastern rite situations. None of the TLM are daily Masses. Each congregation seems to be somewhat disjointed, and not very cohesive in terms of parish life and fellowship, especially if one attends the TLM. It's like a disparate group of people who meet up. OLHC is very much like a family (not
in the cult sense!
So give me your thoughts please. Stay, go? I am justified, or out of my mind, disobedient? I am a hypocrite? Obey the bishop no matter what? Stay because the kids need stability? Stay because my wife was raised in this congregation? Everything's okay because of the Eastern Rite bishop's approbation? Petition/appeal to the bishop? Etc. Etc. Many trads have called us an "oasis of faith" and during the shakedown with the bishop, Michael Davies gave us his approval (http://www.remnantnewspaper.com/Archives/archive-perez.htm
), for what its worth. All thoughts are welcome. Please don't tell me to talk to a priest or confessor. I will do that. I am asking your
opinion and thoughts as an outsider with this limited info I gave you. Thank you and God bless you all!
Example of our Midnight Mass this year:
(The Mass starts around 50 minutes)