I am saddened to report that Mary Immaculate of Lourdes Parish in Newton, Massachusetts, a suburb in the Archdiocese of Boston and the only parish to offer a daily Traditional Latin Mass, is in danger of closing, and its pastor, Fr. Charles Higgins, the holiest priest in the archdiocese, will most likely loose his pastorship under the heretical Disciples in Mission reconfiguration plan.
Fr. Higgins is the best diocesan priest whom I have been lucky to be served by, and he has held the bark of Peter together parochially even in the most poorly run Catholic archdiocese in the United States. He has been a Boston priest for 25 years now since ordination. He is most likely one of the only priests in Boston who actually believes in the dogma that "Outside the Church there's no salvation," infant baptism immediately after birth, the need for frequent confession, the gaining of indulgences, Holy Communion kneeling on the tongue from the anointed hands of a priest, the Sacrament of Extreme Unction, and that every Catholic who dies in good standing is entitled to the Requiem Mass.
Father demonstrates that he is a priest externally by wearing the cassock and biretta all the time. He will bless rosaries and leave them on the back table in the church for one to take. He will bless sacramentals upon moments request. There are also free pamphlets donated by a parishioner on Traditional Catholic topics. After the 10:30 Mass on Sunday, the Angelus (or Regina Caeli during Paschaltide) is chanted, and the bells in the tower toll to signal the end of the worship program. Afterwards, parishioners will often meet in the basement reception hall for lunch, which is free, but donations are accepted.
On the liturgical side, there are about 15 boys and young men who serve Sunday Mass, which is the most I have seen ever serve in my lifetime just for a Missa Cantata in a small parish church. There are no hymns sung written after 1900.
On the parishioners' side, most of them are young families with several children. Three families have at least 10 children. Pregnant women are more than welcome, and even little babies come to Mass and crying is expected, without complaint.
For the parish church itself, it was consecrated on Nov. 24, 1910 (Thanksgiving Day) by then-Archbishop William O'Connell, replacing an older wooden Gothic structure named "St. Mary's." It is in a Neo-Renaissance Italianate Style designed by Boston architect Edward T.P. Graham. Since Fr. Higgins was appointed pastor in 2007 to house the former "indult" Mass at Holy Trinity German Church in the South End (which closed), he has made every effort with limited resources to restore the church to it's original condition, which he almost achieved (with the exception of the mural on the wall behind the high altar).
The one caveat that I believe has been a weakness in our parish life is the interference of the heads of the Archdiocese for forcing the Novus Ordo upon Fr. Higgins in a primarily Latin-oriented parish. Cardinal Sean made sure that the regular "Novus Ordo" people who live in Newton were catered to, so he limited the TLM to one on Sunday, while there are 3 Novus Ordo Masses, albeit reverence is observed in these as a "compromise" with the Cardinal. Father will say a Low and High Mass on a Holy Day of Obligation, but the diocese limits him to one TLM on a Sunday. (For the record, I have never attended a N.O. at Mary Immaculate.)
In addition, the Eastern Liturgy of Syro-Mabar is said for an Iraqi exiled Catholic community from Baghdad monthly.
The canonical status of the parish is at issue here, not so much the future. In 2007, Cardinal Sean (who is against Tradition) made Mary Immaculate a "canonically-open" parish, which meant that anyone who regularly attended the TLM there could register as a parishioner, regardless of where they live. When I first started to go there in 2010, Father asked me to register even though I live 30 miles away in a different diocese. Eventually, some Novus Ordo people outside the neighborhood took advantage of a more reverent celebration and this canonical provision.
Now, when Cardinal Sean approved the Disciples in Mission program, Fr. Higgins was upset about the whole thing (which I don't blame him). Many people have written to the Archdiocese asking them to keep Mary Immaculate a "stand-alone" parish, whereas it would not be clustered and the canonical status would stand. But the Pastoral Planning Committee has told Father "no," and Mary Immaculate will be clustered, then closed upon the affixment of the Cardinal's signature.
I have written three letters to the Holy See regarding the poor leadership and mismanagement of both Cardinal Sean and Worcester Bishop Robert J. McManus (who won't allow the TLM within the city limits of Worcester), asking for both of them to be removed. At this time, I not only encourage you to not only write letters to the Holy Father regarding Mary Immaculate of Lourdes Parish, but to go on a Rosary Crusade to:
- Save Mary Immaculate of Lourdes Parish from closure and possible sale to heretics or demolition.
- The Holy Ghost, that he may counsel the Holy Father to remove Sean Cardinal O'Malley from his ministry as Archbishop of Boston, and to appoint a new archbishop who will exclusively celebrate the Traditional Latin Mass and Sacraments, and make all his priests and parishes do the same.
- Pray for the health and safety of Fr. Higgins if and when he is to start a new assignment. Wherever he goes, we hope that he is not sent to a catacomb, but rather to a public place where he can offer the Traditional Latin Mass daily.
- Pray for the parishioners of Mary Immaculate. Make sure that they will be able to have a place to go in the future.
- Pray to Venerable Archbishop Fulton J. Sheen for someone Catholic to purchase the property and religious items so that Catholicism may continue in this place.
- Pray to Archbishop Marcel Lefebvre that the religious order that he founded, the SSPX, may purchase the Mary Immaculate property from the Archdiocese, if they God willing to stay in the Archdiocese.
- Pray for the 4 seminarians from Mary Immaculate, that they may be ordained to all minor and major orders using the ancient rites of the Church.
- Pray for any engaged couple who was planning to have their wedding at Mary Immaculate, that the wedding may continue as planned.
- Pray for those who are preparing for death, may whom were planning a Requiem Mass at Mary Immaculate may have a priest somewhere in the world pray for the repose of their souls.
- May the parish cemetery not accept non-Catholics nor cremains in the future.
Something like this is nothing new. A similar case happened in El Paso, Texas in 2011, when Fr. Michael Rodriguez, who was exclusively offering the TLM at San Juan Bautista Parish, was transferred 200 miles away after he testified at a city council meeting against homosexuality. The Bishop made an excuse that "the IRS was after them" and ready to revoke the tax-exempt status of the Diocese, so as a "precaution", Fr. Rodriguez was transferred. The parish closed, and the faithful where praying the Rosary daily in front of the chancery. A few months later, Pope Benedict XVI removed the Bishop (for whom he has been since replaced), while Fr. Rodriguez continues to offer the TLM at his current parish.