Students Promote Desire for Tridentine Mass on Facebook


Rev. Joseph Terra faces the altar during a mass at St. Mary of the Assumption Roman Catholic Church in Fort Worth, TX on June 10, 2007. A Facebook group has been created to have this mass at Fordham. (Emily Hughes/MCT)

FCLC – Students at Fordham College at Lincoln Center (FCLC) are determined to have the recently revived Latin Mass, called the Tridentine Mass, celebrated at Fordham. Tyrell Northcutt, FCLC ’08, who created a Facebook group in order to generate interest in the Tridentine Mass at Fordham, said that the university has much to gain from the periodic celebration of the mass.

On July 7, Pope Benedict XVI issued a reform in the Catholic Church, relaxing restrictions on the use of the Latin Mass, allowing all priests who are proficient in spoken Latin to say the mass without receiving permission from their bishops. During the Tridentine Mass, the extraordinary rite, the priest faces away from the congregation and prays in Latin, often in a whisper.

Northcutt said that Pope Benedict’s specific mention of the younger generation in his letter, which accompanies his motu proprio, or  his personal revisions of the Church, is one of Northcutt’s reasons to have the Mass celebrated at Fordham. “The Tridentine Mass is a mass that enshrines certain transcendental themes that are lacking in our postmodern generation: solemnity, silence, mystery, wonder,” Northcutt said. On a more cultural plane, Northcutt said that much of Western culture is “the paraphernalia of this liturgical rite.”

According to the description of the group, “Its intent is to assess how much interest there is in having the Tridentine Mass at Fordham.” Northcutt said that it is a better way to keep tabs on how many people are interested in the goals of the group.

Brit Tatko, FCLC ’08, who is one of the six students currently in the Facebook group, said that the current goal is for the mass to be performed four times a semester, or about once a month. “The Tridentine Mass is simply another option to pray—it is a beautiful mass that we are entitled to experience,” Tatko explained.

Not only did Northcutt create the Facebook group, he has also made a request to the university. The Rev. Damian O’Connell, S.J., assistant director of Campus Ministry, said that he anticipates that the Mass will be celebrated at Fordham. “My feeling is that Pope Benedict wanted to make accessible to the people the treasure of liturgical tradition,” O’Connell said.

According to the motu proprio, “In parishes, where there is a stable group of faithful who adhere to the earlier liturgical tradition, the pastor should willingly accept their requests to celebrate the Mass according to the rite of the Roman Missal published in 1962.”

O’Connell said that there are some Jesuits at Fordham who are fluent in the extraordinary rite. However, he said there are prerequisites needed in order to hold the mass at Fordham. “There is no reason why we should not celebrate [the mass], though we do need the availability of the person,” he said, in reference to a Jesuit who will be able to perform the mass. It is also likely, he said, that the mass would be held in the chapel at Lincoln Center, as opposed to St. Paul’s, due to the small number of students who are expected to participate.

“Fr. O’Connell has been very encouraging, and I hope that he will be a staunch ally,” Northcutt said. “I would also like to emphasize that we have no intentions to displace or replace the current rite, the so-called rite of Paul VI.”

O’Connell noted that the introduction of the Latin mass would be a positive and educational move for the Fordham community. “It is a way of introducing and educating the community of liturgical diversity in the Catholic university,” he concluded.