Our Own Church At Last!
Traditional Parish Established in Vancouver

John Lambert

GUEST COLUMNIST, Burnaby, B.C. Canada


(Posted 8/18/08 www.RemnantNewspaper.com) A few years ago when Bishop Rifan celebrated a Solemn Pontifical Mass in Vancouver’s Holy Rosary Cathedral, the consensus was that it wouldn’t get any better than that. Well, it has! After 19 years of waiting in the wings, we finally have our own parish church. For 19 years the traditional congregation of Holy Spirit Church celebrated the holy mysteries in a tiny church shared with a congregation dedicated to the Ordinary Form of the Roman rite. On July 1, 2008, the Feast of the Precious Blood, Archbishop Raymond Roussin of Vancouver erected a new parish for the exclusive use of the Extraordinary Form of the Roman Rite.

In the decree establishing the parish for this Rite, the Archbishop wrote, “I hereby decree as follows: For the greater glory of God and the salvation of souls, by virtue of my pastoral office, I do hereby establish canonically a personal parish (canon 516, #1) to be known as ‘Holy Family Parish,’ to serve the faithful of the Archdiocese of Vancouver who remain attached to the Roman Missal promulgated by Blessed John XXIII in 1962”.

Although we had been attending Masses for special occasions at Holy Family for over a year, July 1st was a red-letter day for another reason. That was the first time a Solemn High Mass had been celebrated in the church for as long as anyone can remember. At this Mass, our parish priest, Father Erik Deprey, FSSP, was celebrant; Father William Ashley was the deacon, and our new priest, Father Daniel Geddes, FSSP, the sub-deacon. For the first time in 19 years there was enough room for the congregation. Although this church was so much bigger than Holy Spirit Church, it was nearly packed. During the sermon, Father Deprey summed up our gratitude and joy:

We thank Divine Providence not only for establishing this Church for the liturgy of our forefathers, but also for making it possible to continue providing the sacraments; a church built by the dedication and labour of the German community of Vancouver, which, when it was first established, gathered together to worship the Lord in this ancient form.  We would also like to thank those priests and laity who laid the groundwork and helped to make this possible, notably Monsignor Donald Neumann, the Vancouver Traditional Mass Society, Fr. Lawrence Favotto, Fr. Patrick Tepoorten, Fr. George Edattukaran, Monsignor Angelo Sacchi, and our beloved Fr. William Ashley. Special thanks to Fr. Charles Ryan, of the Priestly Fraternity of Saint Peter, first Pastor of Divine Mercy Parish, under whose leadership the community grew and extended with a mission in the Fraser Valley. I would also like to give special thanks to Fr. Benno Burghardt, who, in seeking to provide a future for this church, saw an opportunity in us and accommodated us for Mass and Vespers on a regular basis.

We heartily endorse Father Deprey’s comments.  We have been granted a church built by the efforts and sacrifice of the German community of Vancouver over 60 years ago, many of whom had first attended Mass in the same rite we now celebrate. We are profoundly grateful to the Archbishop and to the German community who have so generously taken us to their hearts.

For the first time too, there was enough room in the parking lot. No longer will we have to park on the street, blocks away from the church, and slog to Mass in the mud and rain of a Vancouver winter, or plod along in the humid warmth of a Vancouver summer. Many of the faithful in the congregation were new to this rite, but one would have thought they had been used to it for years. As Father Deprey said, “This is a great day.”

Until November, Sunday High Mass will be at 9 a.m. After November, Sunday Mass will be celebrated at 10 a.m. Vespers and Benediction will be sung at 4:30 p.m. every Sunday. But wait, there’s more. On a trial basis at first, there will be a second daily Mass at 7:30 pm. and on Saturday at 7:30 a.m. Is there no end to the riches that are being poured upon us? Only a year ago came Summorum Pontificum, liberating the use of the traditional Mass.  And now, from celebrating Low Mass once a week in a tiny church located in a remote part of the archdiocese, we have been catapulted into a major city church with a growing congregation, two priests, two Masses a day and a thriving mission church. Judging from the numbers of the faithful at Mass every day as well as on Sundays, we have found fertile ground for the Word of God. Those of us who kept our eyes on that tiny candle of faith burning in the darkness have now been blessed by the full light of day. Can it really get any better than this?

Instead of the numbers of the faithful declining as their interest waned, at Mass the following Sunday there was truly standing room only. Folding chairs had to be set up at the back of the church and down the side aisles to accommodate the faithful. And it seemed as though everyone knew what to do. There must have been three times as many people crowded into Holy Family Church as there used to be at Holy Spirit Church. Where did they all come from? How did they know? It was almost as if they had been waiting for this day, just as we had. There was no unnecessary talking. Everyone bowed their heads at the right time, and their responses were loud and clear. In some strange way, even the young people seemed to know what to do. How could they? For many of them this was the first time they had assisted at the Extraordinary Form of the Roman Rite. At the Salve Regina everyone sang out as if they had been doing it for years. No confusion at the improvised altar rails, either. Everyone knelt to receive the Body and Blood of Our Lord on the tongue.

An analogy comes to mind. A hot tired swimmer is trudging along the burning sand on the beach. He is longing for the tide to return so he can plunge into the cooling water. He can see the huge breakers far out to sea, but nearby are just a few rock pools, which are interesting enough, but the distant boom of the surf is in his ears. Gradually he becomes aware that tiny ripples are lapping at his feet. Can this be a sign? The ripples become wavelets and he looks up. The breakers seem closer now. Then the water rises around his knees and he feels the invigorating freshness. Suddenly the whitecaps are breaking all around him. He plunges in and the water bears him up. In his ears now is the boisterous roar of the surf crashing on the shingle. The sound of the breakers becomes the thunder of a great pipe organ. He closes his eyes in blessed relief as his soul is refreshed by the living waters of the Mass of the Ages.