A Journey with the Archbishop
Superior of the South-West District in America,
by Reverend Hector L. Bolduc,
The Society of Saint Pius X
Superior of the South-West District in America,
THE ORDINATION of the first subdeacons of the Society of Saint Pius X in this country in May 1981, at St. Vincent's Church in Kansas City, filled us with great anticipation for we knew that these same young men would be ordained to the diaconate the following year. Therefore it was with great jubilation that we received word of Archbishop Lefebvre's visit to the United States during April and May, 1982.
Late in April, priests and seminarians of the Society met at the major seminary—St. Thomas Aquinas Seminary in Ridgefield, Connecticut—where His Excellency had arrived from Europe. On April 24th the seminarians and priests accompanied His Grace to Oyster Bay at Long Island, where the ordinations were to take place. Priests of the Society had come from far and near to be with the seminarians and Archbishop on this joyous occasion. Relatives, friends, and parishioners filled the chapel and participated in the conferring of major orders to three deacons and five subdeacons. As always, the liturgy performed by the seminarians and staff of St. Thomas Aquinas Seminary was impeccable and inspiring. Foremost in the minds of all those who witnessed the ceremony was that we could look forward to the ordination of three new priests next year!
During his conferences, which took place almost every day during the Bishop's visit, Archbishop Lefebvre made mention of the fact that there are presently two hundred and fifty seminarians in the Society's major seminaries. Because an extra year has been added to the seminary course of study, the ordination class of 1982 was small. However, beginning next year the Society will be ordaining thirty to forty priests each year, with the number growing steadily as time goes by.
On April 26th tonsure and minor orders were conferred in a morning ceremony at the Society chapel at Ridgefield. Once again, the comments most frequently heard from the laymen who assisted were those of joy and anticipation over the fact that these young men represented the future of the traditional Catholic priesthood in America.
April 27th found us driving to Pittston, Pennsylvania, for an evening dedication of a chapel of the Society, the Chapel of the Holy Name of Jesus. The congregation is living proof of what a small group of dedicated traditionalists can accomplish when they pool their resources and work together. The Chapel is not only exceptionally beautiful, it is very practical and serviceable. We all enjoyed the beautiful chants and Mass sung by
When traveling with His Grace one becomes accustomed to living out of a suitcase. All of us who accompanied him during this most recent visit could not help but marvel at the stamina of this seventy-six-year old dynamo!
After a restful night in Pittston, we drove to New York and then flew to Fort Lauderdale, Florida, where we were greeted by Father Gualberta Pinto and Mr. Tom Anth. Father Pinto came to us from India and has had much success in galvanizing the laity of the Society chapel in Davie, Florida. Called Our Lady of Fatima Chapel, it was dedicated on April 30th. The dedication was attended by some five hundred people. Following the High Mass, sixty received the Sacrament of Confirmation. Our Lady of Fatima Chapel in Davie is the only permanent property of the Society in Florida. Since Fr. Pinto's arrival much has been done to beautify the buildings and the grounds and the congregation has shown steady growth. Father Pinto serves other Society chapels in Florida, including congregations in Ft. Meyers and Jacksonville.
Much credit must be given not only to Fr. Pinto but also to Mr. Tom Anth and the many laymen of the parish in Davie who work so hard and with such devotion in preparing the chapel and in making it one of the most functional of the Society in the southwest.
On May 1st we flew to New Orleans where we went directly to Our Lady of Grace Church and celebrated Mass. While Archbishop Lefebvre rested we met with Monsignor Robert Philippe DeMouliere to plan the ceremonies for the following day. From New Caledonia, Msgr. Demouliere is pastor of Our Lady of Grace in Kenner (a suburb of New Orleans). He also assists in the operation of a school there. Traditional Catholics came from all over Louisiana and surrounding areas to attend the dedication of Our Lady of Grace Chapel. The church was filled to overflowing and the Archbishop went about following the ceremonies, greeting the laymen and bestowing his blessing upon the faithful.
Later on that Sunday, May 2nd, the Archbishop and his party flew on to Houston, Texas, to visit the Queen of Angels Roman Catholic Church, the first church property of the Society in America. As reported in last month's issue, the Angelus Press facilities are headquartered at Queen of Angels.
That evening, May 2nd, a banquet commemorating the fifth anniversary of The Angelus Press was held in the Queen of Angels Parish Hall. A full report of the occasion can be found in the previously mentioned issue.
On Monday, May 3rd, His Grace celebrated a Solemn Mass in the morning, gave an interview to Louis Moore, Religion Editor of the Houston Chronicle (full text in last month's issue), and in the afternoon again conferred the Sacrament of Confirmation.
Also on May 3rd, Archbishop Lefebvre toured the Angelus Press printing offices and facilities, where he was given a demonstration of all the equipment which is utilized in publishing The Angelus and the full length books and pamphlets for which The Angelus Press has become well known. He congratulated the staff on its work in providing printed material for Catholics throughout the world. His Grace emphasized the importance of putting the printed word into the hands of Catholics so that they may be educated as to the difficulties presently existing within the Church and to help them understand their true position as regards the traditional Catholic movment, their position with the Society, with Rome and the Holy Father.
On May 4th, Archbishop Lefebvre and his party flew to Kansas City, Missouri, where they were met at the airport by Fr. Douglas
On May 6th, Archbishop Lefebvre visited the schools where he stopped to talk with teachers and ask questions of some of the children. We at St. Mary's are all proud of the fact that His Grace praised the manner in which the classes are conducted and the behavior and decorum of the children. He utilized his visit to St. Mary's to visit the various offices and especially to meet with the Sisters of the Society of St. Pius X who are housed at the College.
One of the most outstanding ceremonies held by the Archbishop during his visit to America was the May Crowning and the blessing of the crowns of the Blessed Virgin Mary at St. Mary's. Over the past few years, traditional Catholics from around the world have donated gold, silver, precious and semi-precious stones for the purpose of making a crown for Our Lady. Two crowns were made as a result of the generosity of donors. One crown is a replica of the crown of St. Louis of France and the other a copy of a medieval crown of Our Lady. These precious objects were solemnly blessed by Archbishop Lefebvre who personally crowned the statue of our Blessed Mother in the Assumption Chapel. The entire school, staff and parishioners of St. Mary's participated in the crowning of the statue of Our Lady in the circle at the entrance of the College property. Forty-five girls, dressed in beautiful gowns, processed to the statue led by the Archbishop, the priests, brothers and sistsrs of the Society. The girl selected to crown the Blessed Mother was Patricia Isermann, a student at the Academy. St. Mary's Choir provided music and hymns and the Litany of the Blessed Virgin Mary was recited. Archbishop Lefebvre rededicated St. Mary's College to the Blessed Mother. It was a fitting tribute in honor of Our Lady, she who has played such an important part in making St. Mary's a truly Catholic institution. The Archbishop was much impressed with the devotion to the Blessed Mother that he saw practiced during his brief visit.
One of the most important meetings of the Archbishop's visit was his address to the members of the Third Order of the Society of St. Pius X at St. Marys, the first group of its kind in the world. Over the months, the Third Order at St. Mary's has grown steadily until it now encompasses more than forty individuals. A new group of members was received into postulancy on the feast of the Queenship of the Blessed Virgin. During his talk to the Third Order the Archbishop stressed the importance of their work to the Society. He reminded the members how important it is for them to assist the priests of the Society with the work of the Church. In particular, he pointed out that support of seminarians should be one of the major goals of the Third Order.
Archbishop Lefebvre also took time from his busy schedule to visit the site of the new cemetery of St. Mary's College and to bless the site. Because traditional Catholics frequently meet opposition in being buried in Catholic cemeteries, St. Mary's College had decided to develop one for use to all traditional Catholics throughout America. The cemetery is located on the grounds of the College, not far from the original historic cemetery of St. Marys. More information may be obtained by writing to the College.
Late in the day on May 6th, the Archbishop and his party flew to Vancouver, Canada, where Fr. Yves Normandin was waiting to meet them at the airport. The first stop in Canada was Nanaimo where eighty-six received the sacrament of Confirmation. A dinner attended by some four hundred was given in honor of the Archbishop. We also had a lengthy question and answer session which enabled the faithful to ask pertinent questions concerning the Faith, the traditional Catholic movment, and especially the Society of St. Pius X. Many of the faithful approached us afterwards to thank us for taking the time to address ourselves to their questions.
Saturday, May 8th, we flew from Nanaimo to Vancouver to Toronto. Three hundred and fifty people were present for Mass on Sunday, May 9th. In Toronto, six received Confirmation. The faithful were privileged to hear the Archbishop give an excellent talk on the sacrament of Confirmation. Again, a question and answer period followed. Fr. Normandin, otherwise known as the "Apostle of Canada," travels constantly from one Mass center to another bringing the Mass and sacraments to the faithful. The Society is indeed fortunate to have a priest of his dedication associated with them!
On Monday, May 10th, we all flew to St. Paul, Minnesota. Father Pierre Vignalou of Canada accompanied His Grace on this trip. A host of priests had gathered at St. Paul to assist the Archbishop in dedicating the new chapel of Sts. Processus and Martinian. In addition to the Archbishop, Father Normandin and Father Vignalou, Fathers Collins, Kelly, Cekada, Dolan, Jenkins, Sanborn and Bolduc were also present. Two hundred and fifty people attended the dedication.
On Tuesday, May 11th, His Grace celebrated Mass, after which Confirmation was conferred.
Later that same day, we flew to Green Bay, Wisconsin, where we were hosted by Mr. and Mrs. Henry Beemster. At Green Bay on May 12th, the Archbishop celebrated Solemn High Mass and conferred the sacrament of Confirmation to one hundred and thirty-nine. This was the largest group we were to encounter during our trip. Archbishop Lefebvre then flew to Winnipeg, accompanied by Father Vignalou. The hundreds who gathered at Green Bay came from every part of the country.
In Canada, His Grace visited Ottawa and Montreal, finally stopping at Shawinigan, headquarters of the Society of St. Pius X in Canada. Father Vignalou and Father Freddy Merry are the Society priests who staff the headquarters at Shawinigan.
During his visit, the Archbishop made several topics the focal point of his conferences. The most noticeable was his plea for unity among traditional Catholics. He asked that an end be put to those individuals who consistently publish long tracts attacking one another's viewpoints.
The Archbishop also was adamant in his complete and total condemnation of the recent consecrations of so-called "bishops" by the Vietnamese bishop, Pierre Martin Ngo Dinh Thuc. The Archbishop's condemnation included the supposed ordination of an American priest by those "consecrated" by the Vietnamese bishop. His Grace urged all Catholics to totally reject these individuals and to have nothing whatever to do with them. He looks at the act as being an act of schism which, if carried to its logical conclusion, will lead to heresy. This is based on the fact that several of the "bishops" and a number of the priests with whom they have met have openly declared that their intention is to select a "pope" from among their group. The Archbishop predicted that these individuals would attempt to lure unsuspecting traditionalists into their schismatic schemes. He also said that eventually the movement will be a discredit to traditional Catholicism and would be used by the enemies of the Church as a means of trying to discredit traditional Catholicism. To emphasize his condemnation of these individuals, Archbishop Lefebvre specified that none of the chapels of the Society are to be made available to either these individuals or to those who support them.
Everywhere he went Archbishop Lefebvre encouraged the faithful to pray for the Holy Father, Pope John Paul II. He also made a point of praying publicly for the Pope. During his visit, His Grace announced that he had recently met with Cardinal Ratzinger, who is the emissary between the Pope and Archbishop Lefebvre. Notable in this meeting is the fact that Cardinal Ratzinger informed Archbishop Lefebvre that the Vatican is now willing to accept his (the Archbishop's) position concerning the Second Vatican Council, i.e., the documents would be accepted insofar as they are consistent with Catholic teaching, truth, doctrines