Latin Mass Attendance Soars in Charlotte


The 1989 classic film Field of Dreams showed audiences that “if you build it, they will come.” While the movie may have been referencing a baseball diamond in the middle of an Iowa cornfield, we could apply that same principle to the Traditional Latin Mass. For evidence of this we need look no further than St. Ann Catholic Church in the Diocese of Charlotte, North Carolina.

Beginning in March 2013, only a few weeks after the resignation of Pope Benedict XVI, a weekly Sunday Latin Mass returned to St. Ann’s. This followed nearly five years of a mid week Low Mass, a once a month Saturday evening Mass, and quarterly High Masses for specific feast days such as the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary.

The above chart, courtesy of the Charlotte Latin Mass Community, shows the growth in attendance for the Sunday Latin Mass over the last 18 months. The data is very impressive:

  • Sunday Latin Mass attendance grew from a weekly average of 204 in March 2016 to an average of 322 people a week by April 2017. That’s an increase of 58%!
  • 5 of the last 22 weeks the Latin Mass exceeded 300 attendees, even exceeding 500 one Sunday.
  • On four separate occasions over the last five months the Latin Mass was actually the highest attended Mass of the weekend for St. Ann’s.

Looking at the great story currently underway in Charlotte, it’s important to highlight some of the factors contributing to this success.

First, from Bishop Peter Jugis to pastor Fr. Timothy Reid, the diocese and St. Ann’s have demonstrated great support for the Latin Mass. Both men have been true shepherds for the faithful who desire this liturgy.

Secondly, Fr. Timothy Reid has ensured that Charlotte’s Latin Mass has something that so many others around the country lack: stability. In the four years since he began offering the Traditional Mass every Sunday, Fr. Reid has ensured that not a single week has been missed. Not one.

This effort has been greatly assisted by the fact that so many priests of the diocese have learned how to offer the Latin Mass. No less than 15 other priests have offered St. Ann’s weekly Latin Mass over the last four years, with at least 5 of those being priests of the Chatlotte diocese itself.

Thirdly, St. Ann’s has been committed to offering the faithful a weekly High Mass every Sunday. On some occasions, when possible, Solemn High Masses have even been offered. While Low masses are celebrated several days during the week, Sunday has always been an occasion to offer the Holy Mass in all its glorious splendor.

Finally, St. Ann’s committed at the outset to a consistent time for the Mass every week (12:30PM). While not the “prime time” of 9:30 or 10:00AM, the early afternoon time has been more conducive to growth than the late afternoon time commonly slotted for Latin Masses elsewhere.

“If you build it, they will come.”

At St. Ann’s in Charlotte that’s exactly what has happened. A weekly Sunday Latin Mass was “built” with all of the foundational ingredients to succeed, and the faithful have indeed responded. And they continue to attend, in ever increasing numbers, because ultimately, beauty attracts and authenticity is appealing.

[Chart courtesy of the Charlotte Latin Mass Community]

Posted on May 18, 2017, in liturgy and tagged , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 21 Comments.

  1. So tempting to relocate to a diocese such as this. Continued prayers for the hearts of those clergy fighting against TLM, and also the faithful who are being deprived. May we find comfort alongside the Blessed Mother at the foot of the Cross.

  2. And, as an offshoot, I’d like to add that after a few years of having our stable, weekly Sunday TLM, we most recently now have TLMs on Monday and Friday mornings, which makes for five opportunities at our single parish each week. There are some other TLMs cropping up at other parishes in our diocese, which means that a determined individual could make it to a TLM *daily* in Charlotte. What a blessing!

  3. What do you think would happen in Charlotte, if, liturgically, they did everything as they are doing it now, but instead had everything in English rather than Latin? It’s unusual, but it’s happening in Texas.

    • Well, you cannot celebrate the 1962 missal in the vernacular – that’s strictly against the rubrics. The most you can do is to repeat the readings in the vernacular before the homily (which is pretty commonly done).

      I am not sure what you are referring to in Texas, but all I can think of is the several [Anglican] Ordinariate parishes in the state. The Ordinariate missal on its most traditional options *does* resemble in many respects the traditional Rome Rite, but there are some noteworthy differences, too. In any event, only Ordinariate priests have permission to use the Ordinariate missal, unless some special permission is granted.

  4. I’m curious to know how many of the Latin Mass attendees are recent converts (or reverts), versus how many simply prefer it to their regular Novus Ordo parish. In my opinion the more traditional and reverent liturgy nourishes practicing Catholics seeking to deepen their relationship with Christ, but I’ve had no luck attracting family or nominal Catholics to join us.

  5. Michael F Poulin

    We moved to the Charlotte area in April 2016 for a new job: During the weekend of my interview I also visited St Ann’s to check it out – and it was and still is a beautiful Mass, reverent with a great vocal choir, and friendly people. I would not have moved here had there not been a Latin Mass in the area. The priests seem aware of the idiocy going on in the Church and seem to want to protect us from it. My only reservation is that I have yet to hear any direct criticism of Islam, or of the falsehoods coming out of Rome.

  6. We live in the Charlotte diocese (out past Asheville) but I feel like I’m in a different diocese! Our priest is wonderful but it’s a very liberal church (perhaps because it’s mostly retirees?). And I feel like a bit of a missionary out here in Baptist land. Perhaps God will bring us closer to Charlotte one day. Give thanks for the blessing you have at St Ann!

  7. I pray for this to spread all over the world, again.

  8. St. Alphonsus National Shrine in Baltimore has seen an increase of 85%+ in four months (!) since the arrival of the FSSP. Sunday EF Mass attendance has gone from the low- to mid-100s to the mid- to high-200s between August 2017 (when the new pastor was installed and the parish entrusted to the Fraternity) and today — and counting.

  9. One of the many things about the Tridentine Mass that I find myself greatly CRAVING, is the music. I find the sappy lyrics of the Mass of today–talking of “bread, wine, and ‘Spirit'” consistently DE-EMPHASIZING the True Presence of Christ in our Eucharist…and generalizing the HOLY SPIRIT. I was raised a Baptist; and during my first Lenten experience in the Catholic Church, I continued to fall in love with Benediction and its music. That deepened with Holy Music. And silence. And the Holy Reverence. On a trip to Kansas City, MO a couple of years ago, I went to an FSSP Mass just over into Kansas. I was amazed that honorable teen boys in suits opened the doors. Then in the Confession line before Mass, I worried that I would not make it before Mass began. A young man encouraged me to go ahead of him. I was so worried when Mass time arrived and I was next in line! The young gentleman told me to go ahead into the Confessional. No one seemed worried. I realized that ONE Priest was in the Confessional, and ANOTHER was saying the Mass! How wonderful to have the Sacrament of Confession so available! If we have a need for extra Priests to do this EVERYWHERE (and we DO)–God will provide. 😊+

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