CORPUS CHRISTI, Texas (LifeSiteNews) — Eleven weeks after Bishop William Michael Mulvey of Corpus Christi, Texas, eliminated the Traditional Latin Mass (TLM) at St. John the Baptist Church, the parish’s collections are down 29 percent as Catholics flock to the nearby Society of St. Pius X (SSPX) chapel.
“The homeschool co-op and children’s choir are currently in limbo,” said Libby Ibanez, a former parishioner who attended the TLM faithfully on Sundays and weekdays, integrated as part of her children’s daily homeschool routine.
“Youth ministry is in limbo. We are waiting on the newly-assigned priest who starts July 5 to determine the fate of these programs due to the lack of funding,” she added.
The figures bear that out. According to bulletins on the parish website (with two missing in June), the average collection at St. John the Baptist has dropped 29 percent since the final TLM this Easter Sunday. The first 15 weeks of the calendar year showed an average weekly collection of $14,357, while the post-TLM weekly average has just been $10,152 for the nine bulletins showing since April 9.
The projected parish intake for the year – which was originally $746,564, based on the first 15 weeks of collections – is on pace to yield only $527,904 for 2023, a difference of $218,660.
The apparent beneficiary is the nearby SSPX chapel, which was averaging about 30 Catholics each month and now has swelled to more than 200, with plans for added weekly Masses beginning in July. “We did have to buy bigger collection baskets, so that has been very encouraging!” Ibanez said.
Andrew Greenwell, a former St. John the Baptist parishioner, offered his insights regarding the sudden growth of the SSPX chapel.
“Because of the influx of people that formerly attended the diocesan Latin Mass at St. John the Baptist, the Society of St. Pius X, starting next month, will be providing Mass every Sunday except for the first Sunday of the month, and that is where I will be attending with my family,” said Greenwell.
“While I cannot speak for all of the former parishioners of St. John the Baptist, there are many of us there,” he continued. “I think there may be a few who are wary of the SSPX because of misinformation being spread about them, but I am happy they are here.”
“I went back once to my former church. I do not plan to return.”
Greenwell and his family are not alone.
“The abandoned Catholics have mostly been attending Mass at the mission chapel of the SSPX here in Corpus Christi at Our Lady of the Blessed Sacrament,” said Ibanez. “Some have been attending various Novus Ordo parishes, but over half of our Latin Mass community is now at the SSPX, totaling more than 200 consistently.”
Greenwell said that the diocesan TLM began in 1985 thanks to an indult granted to former Bishop René Gracida by Pope John Paul II. Appeals to Bishop Mulvey requesting that he continue providing for the pastoral needs of traditional Catholics went unheeded.
“Unfortunately, it looks like the suppression is total, and any hope for its resurgence will have to await another bishop and another Pope,” he said.
Greenwell noted how social media postings for the parish have been purged of photographs showing the TLM. Furthermore, the parish apostolate that promoted the TLM (St. Michael Latin Mass Apostolate) has been suppressed, traditional practices such as male-only altar servers and kneelers for Holy Communion have been abandoned, and the priest appointed to the parish has no interest in the TLM.
“The loss of the beauty and noble simplicity of TLM was a huge loss for the parish, for the persons who attended the TLM and for the diocese,” Greenwell said. “Those devoted to the TLM were doing nothing wrong, the parish was burgeoning and lively, and was, using any objective metric, experiencing a revival that was contagious.”
Lieutenant Jameson Millspaugh, U.S. Navy, explained that he and his wife’s nuptial exchange and Mass of matrimony were affected by to Bishop Mulvey’s decision. They were scheduled nine months in advance, and in February 2023, he and his wife met with the former pastor to ensure the original date for their traditional-rite marriage was secure.
“While Father Vasquez was not confident at the time, he thought that any restrictions wouldn’t occur until May at the earliest,” Millspaugh said. However, changing circumstances accelerated those plans quickly.
“I had a phone call with Father Vasquez on March 31, who had been notified by the Bishop that the Latin Mass would end on Easter for the diocese, with no exceptions or accommodations for our scheduled wedding,” Millspaugh said. “After serious consideration and prayer, my wife and I decided to get married that Sunday, Palm Sunday, three weeks early.”
Due to the sudden change of plans, Millspaugh said that while his wife’s immediate family were able to attend, his entire family was unable to make the trip from Georgia. The couple renewed their marriage vows later on their originally scheduled wedding day and had a reception.
“It was incredibly frustrating for us to be forced into such an uncomfortable situation,” he said. “Our situation was not viewed or considered with any sympathy, with the only solution that was provided to us was to just pivot to a Novus Ordo wedding and be happy about it.”
Ibanez is very hopeful that God has provided some clarity to Catholics attached to Tradition in the Corpus Christi area.
“Overall, our burgeoning chapel is thriving,” she said.
“We are attracting new families, baptizing babies, and continuing without much of a hitch,” she continued. “I suppose that’s the beauty of Catholicism. You can try to snuff out the grace, but there are always embers – embers that will eventually catch flame and burn brighter than before. That’s where our community is. We are growing, thriving, and are being cared for by careful, loving pastors who love the traditional faith as much as we do. It has been a joy to suffer, and we are looking forward to what God has in store for us here in Corpus Christi!”
A diocesan spokeswoman referred LifeSiteNews to Bishop Mulvey’s previous statement, which claimed the TLM was canceled because of the former pastor’s resignation and a lack of other priests able to offer it. LifeSiteNews followed up by asking for newer information suited to the current situation, but our request went unanswered.