Sub tuum praesidium confugimus, Sancta Dei Genetrix: nostras deprecationes ne despicias in necessitatibus nostris: sed a periculis cunctis libera nos semper, Virgo gloriosa et benedicta.
Every year for the past twelve years, Mater Ecclesiae Chapel in Berlin, NJ, has held a Mass of Thanksgiving (in gratitude for our erection as a Latin Mass mission within the Diocese of Camden) on the Feast of the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary. Due to the small size of Mater Ecclesiae’s church building, it has been held at various churches in the region — at Camden’s Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception; at St. Peter Church in Merchantville, NJ; and last year at St. Peter the Apostle Church (National Shrine of St. John Neumann) in Philadelphia, PA.
This year we returned to St. Peter in Merchantville and, because of scheduling conflicts with our host parish, anticipated the feast and celebrated Mass on the evening of Tuesday, August 14, 2012 A.D. My family and I have assisted at this Mass since 2004, missing one year, so this year’s Mass was our eighth. However, thanks in no small part to the kindness and leadership of our rector, Fr. Robert Pasley, this was the first time I was able to participate directly in the Mass, as a member of the Federation of North-American Explorers (for European readers, the Federation of North-American Explorers are affiliated with the UIGSE-FSE, a Catholic faith-based youth movement and scouting organization prominent in Europe), whom Fr. Pasley graciously permitted to take part in the procession before Holy Mass.
We were among the first groups in procession, following the Knights of Columbus and the acolytes who would be serving at Mass.
We processed in to the strains of “O Sanctissima” as arranged by Dr. Timothy McDonnell, one-time music director and long-time friend of Mater Ecclesiae.
Both boy and girl Timber Wolves took part (most of our boys were required for service at the altar) as well as some of our Otters (the youngest members of our movement). To our great joy we were reserved seats just a few rows from the sanctuary, behind members of the Knights of Malta, the Knights of the Holy Sepulchre, the American chapter of Tradition, Family, and Property, and our large corps of altar servers.
The celebrant of the Mass was Fr. Pasley, the deacon was Fr. Brian Woodrow (the “Diocesan Liason to the Extraordinary Form”) of the Diocese of Trenton, and the subdeacon was Mr. Joseph Heffernan, FSSP who, God willing, will be ordained to the subdiaconate and the diaconate next year.
A broad selection of sacred music was employed for Mass. Aside from the special setting of “O Sanctissima,” Anton Bruckner’s Mass in E Minor was used for the Ordinary, and works by Lassus, Aliseda, and Caldara were sung during the distribution of Holy Communion.
We closed, as is our custom for this Mass, with a special version of “Hail Holy Queen,” with verses alternating between the congregation and choir.
Please remember the 1st North Star Group, the broader Federation of North-American Explorers, and our international movement in your prayers. We need them! In return, we offer you our prayers — we pray for our friends and supporters every day.