We celebrated our second Saint Gregory’s Day as a community with a Solemn High Mass, the first of the “special Liturgies” which would become a regular feature of our community’s life in Stoneham: the beautiful upper church at Saint Patrick’s parish provided a large, attractive, and suitable space for our liturgical style and we were blessed and gratified by the large turnout — midweek, immediately after Labor Day, and in the evening on a workday — not only by friends and supporters from the traditional Latin Mass communities in Massachusetts and New Hampshire (most of whom have become regular servers at our Altar for such events) but by the clergy and laity in the pews as well. Our first Feast of Title and Dedication in Stoneham was a gracious and Spirit-filled welcome for our community and the project of the Ordinariate as a whole.
The image selected for use on the poster and other advertising for this Mass was taken from the important and beautiful set of tinted engravings by Martin Travers published in 1916 as Pictures of the English Liturgy [High Mass] by the Society of Saints Peter and Paul. Travers was one of the most important ecclesiastical designers between the World Wars and — while not an Anglocatholic himself, or indeed (it seems) much of anything, religiously — he did a great deal of his work for such parishes and was strongly associated with the “Back to Baroque” movement, hallmark of the twentieth century “Roman” wing of Anglocatholicism (as opposed to the “English” wing’s steadfast mediævalism, under the leadership and influence of Percy Dearmer‘s The Parson’s Handbook).
The Prayers of Preparation (Prayers at the Foot of the Altar) at the beginning of Mass. Our founding Pastor, Fr. Jürgen Liias was Celebrant; to his left is Fr. Patrick Armano, a dear friend of this community, serving as Deacon; to the right is then-Seminarian Brian O’Hanlon, serving as Subdeacon. Fr. Hal Obayashi — a former Episcopalian Priest received into the Church through the Pastoral Provision (who was unwittingly responsible for giving this community Saint Gregory for our Patron) — can be seen standing in choro at left.
Though all aspects soon became very familiar, preparations for this first Solemn High Mass were stressful for all concerned: not only the liturgy itself (in the new interim Ordinariate form approved 9 months earlier) but the personnel, the ceremonial, and the sanctuary were all new — nothing, and no one, had ever worked together before. It is a credit to all concerned — especially the two devout, hard-working, and learned Masters of Ceremony David Allen and Ray Chagnon — that this Mass was celebrated with such beauty and dignity. Several rehearsals preceded September Third: here is a picture of the very first showing some of the participants. From left to right: Mr. Ray Chagnon (Master of Ceremonies); Fr. Jürgen Liias (Celebrant); Fr. Patrick Armano (Deacon); Mr. David Allen (Master of Ceremonies); Mr. Joseph McLellan (Thurifer).