ON THE COVER - Bishop Fabian W. Bruskewitz leaves the Chapel of Saints Peter and Paul at Our Lady of Guadalupe Seminary in Denton March 3. Bishop Bruskewitz celebrated the consecration Mass for the newly completed chapel of the Priestly Fraternity of Saint Peter, an order of priests dedicated to preserving the Extraordinary Form of the Latin Rite. (SNR photo by S.L. Hansen)
DENTON (SNR) – After 12 years of preparation and construction, Denton’s Our Lady of Guadalupe Seminary, the second seminary of the Priestly Fraternity of Saint Peter (FSSP), has a new chapel.
On Wednesday, March 3, Saints Peter and Paul Chapel was consecrated by Bishop Fabian Bruskewitz of the Diocese of Lincoln, in the presence of Cardinal William Levada, prefect for the Congregation of the Doctrine of Faith.
Cardinal Levada read a letter from Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone, secretary of state of Pope Benedict XVI, commending the completion of this long-desired chapel.
In his homily during the Pontifical High Mass that immediately followed the Solemn Consecration, the cardinal encouraged all to follow the example Zachaeus exhibited in the Gospel reading (Luke 19:1-2) in giving all one’s heart in worship through the sacred liturgy preserved by the Priestly Fraternity of Saint Peter.
He urged unity in the Church. “These different rites, East and West, testify to the diversity of the Church, yet as Saint Paul said, there is one Lord…” he said. “Whatever rite is performed it is always the same mystery.”
The chapel itself was built according to traditional Romanesque standards, providing an ideal setting for the Priestly Fraternity of Saint Peter, which was established by Pope John Paul II in 1988 for the express purpose of preserving the Extraordinary Form of the Roman Rite.
In keeping with this apostolate, the Solemn Consecration of the Chapel was celebrated in Latin according to ancient rubrics that have been observed since the sixth century, possibly earlier. Indeed, the first step of preparation was to translate the instructions from Latin to English, since there were no English instructions available. Months of planning and many hours of rehearsal ensued.
As Bishop Bruskewitz noted, such consecrations “are a very rare thing, even in the old days.” He said that Solemn Consecration is typically reserved for cathedrals unless a church has a large enough endowment to ensure its perpetual operation, because a consecrated church cannot be used for any other purpose. Most churches and chapels are simply dedicated.
Co-consecrating bishops included Bishop James Timlin, bishop emeritus of Scranton, Penn., Bishop Edward Slattery of Tulsa, Okla., and Bishop Robert Finn of Kansas City-Saint Joseph, Mo. Co-consecrating priests included the Right Reverend Philip Anderson, O.S.B., abbot of Clear Creek Monastery in Oklahoma, and three priests of the Priestly Fraternity of Saint Peter, including the Very Reverend Father John Berg, F.S.S.P, the Very Reverend Father Joseph Bisig, F.S.S.P, and Reverend Father Charles Van Vliet, F.S.S.P, who was deeply involved in the design and construction of the chapel.
Numerous priests from the Priestly Fraternity of Saint Peter and religious orders were in attendance, along with priests and religious sisters of the Diocese of Lincoln, architect Thomas Gordon Smith, and many other guests. Fourth Degree Knights of Columbus and Knights and Ladies of the Holy Sepulchre served as honor guard.
The Solemn Consecration is comprised of several parts, beginning with the vesting of the bishops and a procession from the seminary’s small former chapel (destined to become a conference room) to the front doors of the new chapel.
After praying for the Lord’s assistance in this rite, the entire gathering processed around the chapel for the aspersion of the exterior of the church while the seminary’s Schola Cantorum maintained the prayerful focus with Gregorian chant.
Bishop Bruskewitz used a branch of hyssop dipped in specially mixed and blessed Gregorian Water to sprinkle the walls.
Returning to the doors once more, he knocked three times with his crosier while singing, “Attollite protas, principes, aeternales, et introibit Rex Gloria.” In English, “Lift up your gates, O ye princes and be ye lifted up, O eternal gates, and the King of Glory shall enter in.” After identifying the King of Glory as the Lord of Hosts, the bishop was admitted with his entourage and all other attendees.
The rite continued with the litany of Saints, aspersion of the interior walls and floor, and purification of the altars. The chapel has eight altars in all, because the Extraordinary Form of the Roman Rite does not accommodate con-celebration of the Mass. Multiple altars enable large numbers of priests to celebrate Mass in a single day when they gather at Our Lady of Guadalupe seminary.
Seminarians then laid a Saint Andrew’s Cross in sand at the foot of the altar. As the Schola Cantorum intoned Psalm 47, “Great is the Lord and exceedingly to be praised…,” the bishop took possession of the chapel in the name of the Lord, using his crosier to write the Latin and Greek alphabets in the sand.
Bishop Bruskewitz then entreated the Lord to bless and guard the chapel, considering it to be God’s own house.
Then, the bishop and co-consecrating bishops and priests exchanged their purple vestments for gold and returned to the former chapel, where the relics of a number of saints were kept. These relics include Saints Peter and Paul, Saint John Vianney, and eight priests who were martyred in Mexico.
The relics were brought into the chapel in a second solemn procession, carefully transported on a bier by four FSSP seminarians. The relics were “buried” in each of the eight altars, in accordance with church tradition.
Bishop Bruskewitz then anointed the walls of the chapel and was joined by the co-consecrating bishops and priests in anointing and incensing the altars. On each altar, crosses made of incense were topped with wax crosses at each of the four corners and in the center, and then carefully lit as the Schola Cantorum sang, “Veni Sancte Spiritus…” (“Come, O Holy Ghost…”) With the consecration complete, the sacred ministers departed to change their vestments for the first Pontifical High Mass ever to be celebrated in the chapel, while seminarians carefully prepared each altar. The faithful who had been watching the consecration on channel EWTN in the overflow rooms eagerly gathered outside the chapel, kneeling on the pavement to await their turns to receive Communion.
Father John Berg, Superior General of Our Lady of the Priestly Fraternity of Saint Peter, called the event, “the crowning achievement of a lot of years of preparation and planning.” Located in rural Denton, Our Lady of Guadalupe Seminary is the second training institution of the Priestly Fraternity of Saint Peter. The first was built in Bavaria, Germany.
Our Lady of Guadalupe Seminary is the center of the world’s largest provider of training resources and materials for priests who wish to learn the Extraordinary Form of the Roman Rite. Men from all over the world, come to study for the priesthood in the seminary’s seven-year program. Since June of 2007, priests from more than 70 dioceses in the United States have been personally trained.
For more information, please visit www.fsspolgs.org.