The traditional Latin Mass will be celebrated in Roman Catholic parishes in Portsmouth and Nashua this month in response to the Pope's recent directive relaxing restrictions on the use of the pre-Second Vatican Council liturgy.
The pastor of St. Patrick Parish in Nashua will celebrate a Latin Mass this Sunday, making it the first time the extraordinary form of the Latin Rite liturgy will be used in the church in nearly 40 years.
"I don't know what to expect," the Rev. Martin T. Kelly, the pastor, said yesterday.
The Rev. Michael Kerper will celebrate a Latin Mass at Immaculate Conception Church in Portsmouth the following Sunday.
Kelly, a professional classicist who speaks Latin and taught it at Nashua High School in the late 1970s and early 1980s, said the initial Latin Mass will be celebrated in St. Patrick's at 4 p.m. He expects to continue offering the liturgy as long as parishioners ask for it.
"I've had requests for as soon as possible and as often as possible," Kelly said. "I think the presumption is the requests will keep coming."
Kelly said he is offering a Latin Mass as an accommodation to a group of parishioners who requested it. It will not disrupt regularly scheduled Masses currently celebrated according to the ordinary form of the liturgy in effect since the Second Vatican Council, Kelly explained.
Kerper, pastor of Corpus Christi Parish in Portsmouth, also said he will celebrate the Latin Mass according to the 1962 Roman Missal in response to parishioners' requests.
"It's wonderful. The Holy Ghost has come in and blessed our parish," said Portsmouth resident William St. Laurent, who is president of Una Voce-New Hampshire, a group that seeks to restore the Latin Mass.
In his July 7 apostolic letter, Pope Benedict XVI said the Latin Mass should be made available in every parish where a stable group of parishioners asks for it without first having to get permission from their bishop. The directive takes effect tomorrow.
Before the Pope's directive, a local bishop had to grant special permission to allow a Latin Mass to be celebrated in his diocese. None were granted in New Hampshire, according to members of Una Voce-New Hampshire.
The Latin Mass at Portsmouth's Immaculate Conception Church will be celebrated at 11 a.m. Sept. 23.