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]