Sunday, 12 July 2009

Tenth Monthly Mass in the Diocese of Kildare and Leighlin


The tenth monthly Mass organised by the FSSP took place this afternoon in Cill Mhuire, Ballymany, Newbridge, Co. Kildare, Ireland. A congregation of 13 was present, including three young children with their parents, that is, only joint second lowest attendance with February.


The FSSP's English newsletter for Summer 2009 (pages 12/13) presents an optimistic outlook on their journeys in the "Irish Republic" of "Eire", including stopping off at "Ballimany" along the way. No doubt Erse will become ever more commonplace on its pages in years to come.

58 comments:

Mark said...

Thomas, why must you be so negative about all of this!?

Convenor said...

Mark, find me the positive!?

old believer said...

Interesting figures. Do you have similar information for other dioceses? Forgive me if it is on your site but I cannot see it.

Convenor said...

old believer, we don't collect similar information for other dioceses.

To be honest, the only reason that it is possible to collect these figures is that the numbers in question are so very small.

For example, with our own occasional Masses, we don't have precise figures for the local/blow-in split - we have precise figures for total numbers and estimates of the local/blow-in. On this, see the post of 4th July with an average of 58 attending each of the occasional Masses, of whom about 45 were locals. There is a margin of error of about 3 on the figure for locals because we have varying estimates on the local/blow-in split, although the different counts of overall figures are generally fairly close.

Regarding the Ballymany tables, there were problems with the figures represented. For example, for the first Mass (October '08), the figures given in the tables were 57/26. The figure of 57 included 11 in the choir and 6 in the sanctuary but I don't prepare the tables, so there was a lack of clarity about the ranges to be displayed in the first table.

The figure for all subsequent Masses excluded the Priest and server but it was decided to leave the start of the table as it was. In fact, the correct figure was probably 51/24 or 40/24, which would not look so impressive but, on the other hand, would have made the fall in attendance less dramatic. The confusion was created by the secrecy in which the running of the Masses is carried on.

Likewise, there is an error in the representation of the February figure, which shows a 15/13 split, whereas the real figure was 13/11. The two sacristy staff are usually not counted, although they were mentioned on that occasion.

I hope that makes the picture a little clearer. However, I think you can understand that, without an immense amount of trouble, it would be impossible to give this much detail on numbers any higher than these.

On the question of positivity/negativity, I think the comparison, while odious (and not really comparing like with like), is necessary to balance the poor figures for Ballymany - quite obvious to anyone on the ground - with the better figures elsewhere in the Diocese.

The contrast has been taken by some to be an inditement of the situation in Ballymany but, hopefully, it is a defence of the cause of the Latin Mass in general, despite a little localised difficulty.

Last Trad Standing said...

It has to be said that the monthly turnout is very small and all this blog is doing is reporting that. Would it be better to lie and pretend there is a huge congregation every month? I don't think so.

Don't kill the messenger because the news is bad.

I have been to these Masses and the Church is nearly empty.

Mark said...

Then get more people to go, or stop the Masses... after all, there is, surely, some expense attached!?

Anonymous said...

Just moving it to Milltown at 5 pm and only haveing it every other month isnt going to help

Convenor said...

Anonymous, do you have any reason to believe that this is correct?

Jim'll Fix It! said...

I agree with Mark (both times). Negative comments help nobody. On the other hand these Masses need to be cancelled not moved. Who does it help to move the Masses from a town to a small village or to move it from a normal Mass time to an afternoon? Only the few hacks who have run these Masses into the ground. They've had their chance and they lost it.

Mark said...

Well, I'd rather see situations improved than Masses cancelled, though. The trick is to work out why people aren't attending and then get those causes sorted. Wrong times, and wrong locations, can actually be quite contributory. Equally, 5pm isn't always wrong; I know of a new 'old' Mass at 5pm on a Sunday that is doing very, VERY well indeed!

Convenor said...

I've received information that there is a serious proposal to transfer the monthly Masses in Ballymany to the Church of St. Brigid, Milltown (see post in July '08), to change the time from 1 p.m. to 5 p.m. and to change the schedule from monthly to every second month. Can we have a SERIOUS discussion based upon the situation on the ground?

Comments in general terms and comments in offensive terms have been posted. I would prefer not to have to delete comments so please be pertinent and polite.

God bless you!

Anonymous said...

The whole atmosphere in Newbridge was strange. I don't know why other people are not attending and I don't know who the 'hacks' are but that is the place to start asking questions.

Anonymous said...

What role has the St Conleth Association had to play in the loss of support?

Semper Eadem said...

The (first) October Mass and the (fourth) January Mass were my only experience of this group. There was a massive contrast between the polyphonic choir and the busloads that came for the first with the handfull who came to the fourth. The bishop must have seen it too.
I heard some very negative comments outside after the first Mass and I was unsurprised to discover that it had turned out like this. No doubt the bishop also saw this coming. Nobody organises a Traditional Rite Mass except for the best of motives but this provision needs to be completely re-evaluated.
If there is a genuine desire for the Traditional Rite in Newbridge why should it be moved elsewhere?
Is the Diocese consulting the people who requested the Traditional Rite as to what should be done? Consultation should be the first step. It's obvious that the people running this Mass Centre did not consult.

Last Trad Standing said...

There has been little if any engagement with local traditionalists and this is reflected in the feeling of 'disconnectedness' surrounding this Mass. There is a sense now that the Mass just drops into Newbridge once a month to no great interest and then drops out.

I don't think that changing time or location is the answer. The Covenor is right, engagement with the people on the ground is what is needed, even if some of them ate perceived as 'difficult' by others.

Anonymous said...

When was this ever about 'connectedness'? These guys dont want to be in Kildare but if you cant create your own luck use someone elses. I can see why nobody else will take them in.

Jim'll Fix It! said...

Serious question. Does the Institute of Christ Sovereign Priest have the same problems in Limerick? The Latin Mass Association is the common factor.

Jim'll Fix It! said...

How interested is the Diocese in keeping this Mass alive? A select few is easier to handle than another St. Audoen's. Call me suspicious but an isolated unknown little Mass occasionally on a Sunday afternoon is a great excuse not to give anything better.

Anonymous said...

Gratitude to the trustees is in order here. They got this Mass for the people. Why can't you people just support them?

Doc Hannon said...

"There is a sense now that the Mass just drops into Newbridge once a month to no great interest and then drops out."

Fault finding isn't going to help anything but did the organisers intend anything else? They have even whitewashed their strong local connections in the report in their newsletter. I mean the strong local connections they severed the moment they ceased to need them. Then the slow but essential task of creating factions, as the English always do, began.

There is no sense of disconnect. There is deliberate disconnect. Cynical partition by another name. The only people to suffer are the natives. I wish I had a solution but you can't deal with neo-colonials.

Donnelly's Hollow said...

Everybody knows why this is a failure. Why dont' they just say it? I told all my neighbours about the first Mass only to be told that we had been lied to about when it was starting. I was one of the men who trained to serve so that these Priests could come from abroad and find everything ready for them. Then they didnt want us. They hired a choir to sing music that none of us knew. What did they expect to happen? They dont even pray for our dead when they come. I was at the meeting of the Catholic Heritage Group that they are calling a meeting of the St. Peter's Confraternity. I thought this was the end of all the hardship but it was only the beginning. Nearer to the church but farther from God.

Biffo said...

It seems to me that the problem in Ballimany is not about what is or is not being done but about personalities. Everyone needs to take a step back and look at the problems with the eyes of eternity. There is very little to fight over but a lot to be done.

Anonymous said...

Doesn't that graph say it all? It isn't a problem it's an inevitability. The only question is who are the last few remaining people. IMHO they consist of the ones who created this little feifdom for themselves and a few stragglers. They have driven out everyone else. Outside the click there is no salvation...

Anka said...

I went to the Anniversary celebrations of the FSSP in Rome. It was crazy. They changed Mass times without telling the lay people. It was really badly run from that point of view. I flew all the way to Rome from Sweden and the group I was with came from all over Europe and America but they don't seem to care how they treat the laity.

Convenor said...

I can see how the perception of a personality clash could arise - there is certainly a 'them and us' problem. However, why we should have become 'them' is a mystery to me - we certainly are not an 'us'.

Donnelly's Hollow makes a valid point about what went wrong. Unfortunately, our hospitality "leans certainly towards the more than generous", although you would hardly guess that St. Conleth's CHA had established communications with the FSSP soon after Summorum Pontificum when the prospects for the Gregorian Rite in Kildare became more promising.

You would never guess that we had been paying for air fares, arranging accomodation and facilitating their Priests for over a year. Certainly, you would hardly believe that a visit to Newbridge and Carlow was funded and organised by St. Conleth's CHA but you could be forgiven for wondering how a meeting of St. Conleth's CHA became a meeting with "CSP members and other interested persons". I can't be sure but it appears to have arisen because "about seven" members of St. Conleth's CHA joined and promoted their Confraternity as a gesture of solidarity.

Hospitality is a difficult virtue. Mind you, gratitude is more difficult yet.

If anyone knows what the problem is with offering money, opportunities and practical service to the FSSP that would give them reason to ignore us, by all means share it.

So what went wrong? Simply, I don't know. Our services were not required. We were told that they couldn't give us any information - although that didn't impinge upon "good relations with the Latin Mass Society of Ireland".

That said, the people organising the Gregorian Rite in the Diocese can choose their friends and collaborators. At the same time, if they intend to choose people with no background in the Diocese - and to choose to exclude those who have - there is a risk that the enterprise will fail, either fail altogether or fail in the pastoral purpose for which it is provided. The organisers make those choices and assume those risks.

A rather nasty campaign was begun, even before the Masses started, by people remarkably well informed about communications between St. Conleth's CHA and the FSSP, saying that we were boycotting the Masses.

That was quite a turn-around from paying for air fares a few weeks earlier. Gratitude, as I say, is a difficult virtue. It is difficult to boycott Masses that haven't started, especially if you have no idea when they will start (or if, come to that).

That seemed to be the start of the new departure. What changed is difficult to say.

What can be said without any doubt is that we NEVER boycotted the Masses. We never asked anyone to stay away. We never worked against the Masses. In fact, we stopped arranging our occasional Masses when the monthly Masses started and we never have an occasional Mass on the same weekend.

Active support, while it was accepted, and passivity, when our help was no longer accepted, these don't seem enough for some critics.

I won't labour the mistakes of the organisers. Their outlook was decidedly alien to the local feeling. Their approach was exclusive of local interest. Their choices had consequences. I, myself, privately warned the FSSP that these choices were mistakes and that they would put off local people. I take no joy in being proved correct.

The Gregorian Rite should be a blessing to a Parish. In proposing publicity to the FSSP, St. Conleth's CHA proposed inviting people to Mass and telling them both about the Gregorian Rite Masses and the New Rite Masses. In publicising our Masses we don't advertise in Churches. Where is the benefit to a Parish in bringing people from one Mass to another? We advertise in pubs and shops. There are plenty of people going to no Mass who might go to a Gregorian Rite Mass - and we always announce the New Rite Mass times in that Church, in case they don't know. It's a small thing but an important one because it makes the Masses a blessing and not a financial drain and a source of conflict.

Convenor said...

There are a few questions that I would invite you to consider.

To whose benefit is the continuance of these Masses? Hardly to the locals, who do not attend them.

Is there a better way of running the Masses? Certainly, since there can hardly be a worse.

Can the situation be improved by the present organisers? Myself, I doubt it, but they have ample opportunities to prove me wrong - if 10 months has been insufficient.

Above all, what will please God and save souls? I leave the answer to you.

Jim'll Fix It! said...

Let me try to give an answer to the four questions you suggested:

"To whose benefit is the continuance of these Masses?" If not the locals then who? Is it really possible that people could run a Latin Mass into the ground for self interest? What do they gain by driving everyone except their own families away? They must have some sense of responsibility.

"Is there a better way of running the Masses?" Only if there is a different objective to the objective that has motivated the organisers for the first year.

"Can the situation be improved by the present organisers?" Never rule out the grace of God or the stubbornness of man.

"Above all, what will please God and save souls?" The only answer to that is a full church but that is the question we need an answer to.

Most of this is just speculation anyway. The Diocese needs to step in and stop the controversy. At the back of it all it is the Diocese that is responsible for the Liturgy. Do they want to provide a chaplaincy for a few families who can't get on with anybody else or do they want to provide the richness of the church's liturgy for all their people?

Anonymous said...

Convenor are you able to offer an alternative to what is there now? If you introduced the FSSP to the situation are you not to blame in some way?

How do you expect to attract people to the modern Mass through the traditional Mass?

Flintstoner said...

Is there that much on offer there that y'all can fight over it? Where are the eyes of eternity when folks are tussling over the Holy Mass?

Semper Eadem said...

1. To whose benefit is the continuance of these Masses? It must be to everyone's benefit or they should be stopped.

2. Is there a better way of running the Masses? The Traditional Rite in Dublin is a model. There is a very large congregation including many Kildare people.

3. Can the situation be improved by the present organisers? Not in my opinion. Who appointed them? I assumed that they were the ones that the Bishop praised at the first Mass or am I wrong?

4. Above all, what will please God and save souls? More prayerfulness and charity are a good start. I am impressed by the idea of bringing people back to the practice of the Faith. The Masses in Newbridge are the opposit of evalgelizing. They feel like they are designed to be exclusive. Perhaps the reason people don't attend is that they feel that these are private Masses for the inner circle.

Anonymous said...

"If anyone knows what the problem is with offering money, opportunities and practical service to the FSSP that would give them reason to ignore us, by all means share it."

Obviously somebody just offered them more.

Anonymous said...

The difference in Dublin is that the Priests are local and the organisers are people of substance. That's why these people come down from Dublin because they dont rate there.

Anonymous said...

10 am in the Parish Church was what we always asked for. The 10 am Mass was cancelled years ago and they still have a 9.30 Mass at Christmas. Why couldn't they have that instead?

Anonymous said...

My husband and I attend the Latin Mass whenever we can but we decided to stop attending the Masses in Newbridge after a few months because it was mainly for people from Dublin. We wanted to go to Mass where our own family and neighbours were prayed for.

Last Trad Standing said...

God forgive me, but it's getting embarassing attending this Mass.

Anonymous said...

If changes are being made it should be changes of management not time or location. A lame duck is a lame duck whereever he is. The Diocese should take back the running of these Masses. Why weren't they put on a 1 year trail?

Convenor said...

Let me make one thing clear. St. Conleth's CHA is in competition with nobody. There is no reason why there shouldn't be many locations for the Gregorian Rite and many groups supporting/organising it.

We introduced the FSSP into the mix in Kildare and Leighlin back in 2007. When we were offered the opportunity to run these Masses ourselves (paying all the expenses and giving two collections to the Parish) we maintained that the Diocese had the responsibility for providing the Liturgy for the people. Thus, we were able to assure the FSSP of an invitation from the Bishop.

The Gregorian Rite is not the possession of any Association or Group. It is the possession of the whole Church - governed by the Bishops.

To the extent that we brought the FSSP to the Bishop in 2007 and that we brought them to his attention again in 2008, we are partly responsible for the mess that has been created. However, from the point at which they ceased to take our advice or our assistance (about June, 2008) I think that our share of the blame ceases.

On the other hand, as interested parties, I think that everyone is entitled to express an opinion, particularly the people who requested the Mass and for whose benefit, to a large extent, it was provided.

It is not up to us to tell the Bishop how to govern the Liturgy but clearly this group have lost the confidence of the people they were brought in to serve.

God bless you!

Biffo said...

I'm getting a better picture of this situation now. Communication and cooperation should be the way forward but it looks like the lads running the show don't do cooperation. Time to call a halt. There's no sorting that out.

Biffo said...

Is it time for an Bórd Snip (Droichead) Nua?

Convenor said...

I think Biffo deserves the prize for an Bord Snip (Droichead) Nua!

I have also just received very definite information that there is a definite plan to move the monthly Masses to Milltown on Sundays at 5 p.m. but not to have any during the months of August and September. Slightly mystifying but very definite. It would be nice to let the congregation know, don't you think? Perhaps there is 'the congregation' and then there's 'the real congregation'.

Views and comments most welcome.

God bless you!

Jim'll Fix It! said...

Move to Milltown? 5 in the evening? Do not have Mass for two months? Who are they kidding? This is just messing about. Come back Vera. All is forgiven.

Anonymous said...

Cancel it in August and September and then keep going. We can do better then this.

Anka said...

I just resigned from the CSP, which I joined because of St. Conleth's CHA, after reading the latest issue of Dowry - it had a report on Ireland which I found completely ridiculous - it's more like a travel brouchure than a serious report.

Anonymous said...

The Dowry article was just trying to kick up some dust and say something when there was nothing to say. Would it sound so bad if it was in any other context?

Anonymous said...

The best that can be said about these plans is that they realise there is a problem. Do they realise that there is also a solution?

Milltown is fine for me and I dont mind a Sunday afternoon but nobody is going to take it seriously. It is a solution for the empire builders who want smaller targets to meet but nothing else.

Cancelling for two months only makes sense if the Masses are for the organisers. If the Masses are for the people they should continue until they are cancelled.

Either way this is an inditement of the people responsible for the failure of the Masses.

Anonymous said...

Can your group do any better? If these Masses are cancelled what then? Do you think they will ever give another one?

Anonymous said...

Is it even safe to bring a priest from Britain with Swine Flu ongoing? Can't they arrange for an Irish priest for a few months until the pandemic has receeded?

Mark said...

Anonymous:

That is a daft comment. Swine 'flu is as dangerous as normal 'flu. People die from it just like normal 'flu. Sorry to sound so boisterous, but I live in the UK and it's not that bad really...

Anka said...

Their actions, and the article, speak volumes of how "highly" they regard their groundlings. Portraying the Irish as a jolly tribe and not even bothering with the correct spelling of "Céad Míle Fáilte" - when a simple google search would have been enough for them to get it! I have a very hard time seeing anything like this happening here in Gothenburg - our priest is here all the time, he's involved in what goes on in the church, he doesnt just pop in once a month. We have regular latin masses. http://www.kristuskonungen.se/fastamassor.htm

Anonymous said...

If English Catholics can stop using holy water and communion from the chalice to stop the spread I don't think it's "daft" for Irish Catholics to reduce the risks.

Mark said...

Who said I was English!? (there's more to the UK that London) ;-p

...but as I said, the 'pandemic' is just as serious as normal 'flu. You can survive it, or not, just as you would other influenzas.

Local voice said...

I have gone to every Traditional Mass in Ballymany but I won't go to any more if they move to Milltown. I don't see why they should move. We were the ones who requested the Mass and now they will just move the Mass to suit themselves. The 12.30 Mass in the Parish Church is full so the problem isn't the time. Just because a Mass at 5 pm in Edinburough is full doesn't mean the Mass time should be changed. The problem has been from the start that they keep treating the Mass like it's in Edinburough and not in Newbridge.

Mark said...

'Local voice', who said anything about Edinburgh? I wasn't talking about a 5pm Mass there.

Besides, your Mass is supplied by the FSSP is England, not Scotland.

An Auld Dubliner said...

Actually, 'Mark', the Mass was supplied by FSSP Rome for the first few months but it makes it clear in the English newsletter that FSSP Scotland was involved in the set up from the start.

Even if we disagree with local voices we should listen to them and maybe take them seriously.

From what I know of the situation in Newbridge nobody was insisting on a "local Mass for local people" but an apostolate in a diocese shouldn't degenerate into an apostolate to your pals from another diocese who can't organise themselves properly in their own place.

Better still, can we get off the subject of who is from where and get back to the question of what the Latin Mass is for?

Convenor said...

I don't think Mark was paiting Newbridge as another Royston Vasey. Auld Dubliner's point about getting off the subject of where people are from is well taken.

However, to the extent that the Church establishes a territorial relationship between Clergy and People; since the Church imposes a duty to provide the Liturgy 'pro populo' upon the Clergy and a duty to seek the Sacraments from their own Clergy upon the People, the issue is a valid one.

From a practical point-of-view, and as circumstances in Newbridge readily show, any plan based upon parachuting in not only the celebrant but also the inner circle is daft. Positively excluding the locals is a recipe for disaster.

I can't but agree that an apostolate in one place that degenerates into "an apostolate to your pals from another diocese who can't organise themselves properly in their own place" seems to me to be spiritually and practically unsound. As if there wasn't enough questioning of the ecclesiology of trads without adopting dodgy ecclesiology.

It has been suggested that: "Sadly many traditional faithful
have lacked the common experience basic to Catholic life
and taken for granted by the majority; and that is, simply,
parish life... The
aim of building stable communities of traditional faithful
is very much one which the Fraternity embraces."

Certainly, St. Conleth's Catholic Heritage Association (and the people of Kildare more generally, it seems) reject the notion of an FSSP Parish of Ireland. Likewise, they reject the notion of knocking down stable groups of traditional faithful in order to build up personal power-blocks.

My parish is my canonical Parish. That's why I campaigned long and hard for the provision of the Gregorian Rite in my Parish. I don't want empire building. I don't want great white chiefs who are distainful of the natives. I want my Parish to provide me with the fullness of my Catholic heritage.

If the FSSP doesn't understand that, as Biffo asks: "Is it time for an Bórd Snip (Droichead) Nua?"

Doc Hannon said...

Sorry to keep on about this but I couldn't figure out where "Ballimany" came into the FSSP's head(s). Even good old google will ask "did you mean Ballymany". Probably, I thought. Then I scrolled down...

In 'The life and errors of John Dunton, Citizen of London' and 'Dunton's Conversations in Ireland', published in 1818, we find:

"...Nothing would satisfy me now till I was on another Ramble and the next I took was to Ballimany to see the Curragh and the running for the King's Plate. Madam by this speedy rambling again you see the toil of keeping accompts was a labour too tedious for my mercurial brains... We set out for Ballimany with the early sun yet we had his company but a little while..."

It will tell you something of the tenor of the book if you know that he had an earlier work entitled 'Teague Land: or A Merry Ramble to the Wild Irish' first published in 1698.

Is there such a thing as a coincidence? Three hurrahs for the Ballimany Mission!

Anka said...

I've been exchanging e-mails with both of the FSSP Priests in England for the past few days, trying to terminate my membership in the CSP.
They both insist on using "Ballimany" no matter how many times they are corrected.

An Auld Dubliner said...

The "Ballimany" issue seems fairly typical, both of their patronising attitude to the locals and their lack of interest in acclimitising. I just don't understand why the Bishop of Kildare is keeping them there. Why are the FSSP bothered either? Let's face it, the laity are surplus to requirements except as breeders and financiers. In Kildare they don't even need financiers it seems. Any time I was there there wasn't even a collection for the upkeep of the Church.