San Diego’s Beacon of Tradition
This article originally appeared in the June 2009 Fraternity Newsletter. To receive our free newsletter by mail, please click here.
October 7, 2008, the Feast of Our Lady of the Holy Rosary, was a special day for the San Diego Traditional Latin Mass
Community. On that day, the Most Reverend Robert H. Brom, Bishop of San Diego, erected St. Anne Catholic Church as a Personal Parish for the San Diego Traditional Latin Mass apostolate and entrusted the new parish to the Priestly Fraternity of St. Peter.
In six months, St. Anne’s has become a fully-functioning traditional parish. How this occurred reveals a remarkable partnership between the San Diego families who have long supported the Traditional Latin Mass and their new Pastor.
Beginning in 1985, San Diego families and those visiting San Diego had gathered once a week at a cemetery mausoleum chapel to share the blessings of “the most beautiful thing this side of heaven.” Nearly every Sunday after Mass many of the congregation remained to pray a second Rosary imploring the Immaculate Heart of Mary for her help that they might be granted their own traditional Latin Mass parish. Recognizing the need for priests committed to the Traditional Latin Mass, in 1994 the San Diego community initiated a Seminarian Burse, a monthly collection to support the formation of priests at the FSSP North American seminary. By 2008, more than $300,000 had been donated to Our Lady of Guadalupe Seminary. In 2007, efforts began to relocate the Traditional Latin Mass in San Diego to a parish church. St. Anne Church, a small church in the Logan Heights community, would in all likelihood be closed due to declining attendance and the lack of priests. It soon became the focal point of interest. At the urging of the community’s chaplain, the daily Traditional Latin Mass, which was begun on September 14, was moved to St. Anne’s in February 2008.
May 30, 2008, the Feast of the Sacred Heart of Jesus, was another special day for the San Diego Traditional Latin Mass Community, for it was on that day that one of its own—Fr. Jared McCambridge, FSSP—was ordained to the sacred priesthood. The following month Fr. McCambridge returned to the cemetery mausoleum chapel to offer the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass. It was during Fr. McCambridge’s visit that the idea of inviting the FSSP to assume responsibility
for the San Diego apostolate was nurtured. Subsequently, on July 31, Fr. Eric Flood, District Superior, met with Bishop Brom and accepted the Bishop’s invitation. In early September Fr. Carl Gismondi, FSSP, arrived and assumed responsibility for the San Diego apostolate.
Under Fr. Gismondi’s leadership events quickly unfolded. St. Anne’s was a very old church, built in the early 1920s and in need of a great deal of repair and renovation. A bold plan was quickly developed and, in less than six months, major repairs including relocation of the altar, installation of a new marble floor and communion rail, and a new hardwood floor in the nave were completed. The physical changes to St. Anne’s were impressive, yet even more impressive was the rapid development of parish life— liturgical, catechetical and social.
A full parochial observance of the Sacred Liturgy, including three Masses on Sunday and at least one Mass each weekday, was provided. To extend a welcoming hand to former parishioners, Fr. Gismondi added a third Sunday Mass and made special arrangements to provide the Epistle, Gospel and Sermon in Spanish. With the assistance of the Brothers of the Little Oratory, the hours of the Divine Office are chanted as the occasion permits.
The parish’s first Christmas was made all the more joyful when San Diego’s Auxiliary Bishop, the Most Reverend Salvatore J. Cordileone, celebrated our first Christmas Midnight Mass. The first Easter brought with it the blessings of the Sacred Triduum in the Extraordinary Form—the first time in 40 years the San Diego community was able to observe the events of Our Lord’s suffering, death and resurrection in the Traditional form.
Recognizing that liturgical music is an indispensable part of the liturgy, under the direction of Fr. Gismondi and the parish Music Director, Mary Ann Carr Wilson, a liturgical music program involving Gregorian chant, sacred polyphony and other traditional hymns previously established was expanded to include the St. Anne Choir (the adult choir) and the St. Anne Choristers (a children’s choir).
Under Fr. Gismondi’s direction and with the help of Deacon Jose Zepeda, FSSP, a religious education program was begun including classes for adults, young adults and children. In June, the first class will receive their First Holy Communion.
Under Fr. Gismondi’s direction, the parish devotional life was expanded to include two Holy Hours each week, a Sunday Rosary, a May crowning, First Saturday devotions to the Immaculate Heart of Mary, and monthly St. Padre Pio devotions. Parish life includes several lay organizations including the St. Anne Altar Society, the ladies of the parish who help maintain the parish facilities; St. Anne Youth Group; the St. Stephen’s Guild for Mass
Servers; and the parish Pro-life group, the San Diego Chapter of the Helpers of God’s Precious Infants.
December 21, 2009