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Bishop of the Diocese of Savannah Stephen ParkesFlorida Catholic Media / YouTube

SAVANNAH, Georgia (LifeSiteNews) — Catholics in Savannah, Georgia, are sorrowfully preparing for an end to the Traditional Latin Mass in their community by next month.

The initial announcement of the end of the TLM in Savannah dates back nearly a year ago, when Bishop Stephen D. Parkes informed the faithful on July 15, 2022, that the Dicastery for Divine Worship and Discipline of the Sacraments was canceling the TLM at four locations in the diocese by May 20, 2023, and at the Cathedral Basilica of St. John the Baptist effective Sunday, August 7, 2022.

Now that the May date is approaching, local parishioner Alba Guerroro lamented to LifeSiteNews, “I wish we could have the Traditional Latin Mass every single day. God is the honor of our life. Our obedience is to God first, not to human beings.”

The Savannah community devoted to the TLM and traditional sacraments dates to 1998, when an initial petition was organized and sent to the Savannah bishop according to Felix Maher. After several attempts working under the Ecclesia Dei Adflicta indult issued by Pope John Paul II in 1988, Savannah Catholics were granted permission in late 2002 to have a quarterly TLM with the first TLM offered in February 2003, according to Maher.  

“We continued with a quarterly TLM for the next 2 years, and based upon the strength of our numbers, Bishop Boland allowed the TLM to expand to every other month,” Maher said. The quarterly TLM continued until 2007 when the bishop allowed for a monthly celebration of the Mass at Nativity of Our Lord church in Savannah. And after Summorum Pontificum was promulgated by Pope Benedict XVI, the TLM expanded to three other locations including to Macon, Waycross and Augusta (Georgia) on a monthly basis. 

Finally, in 2008, the TLM was celebrated weekly at the Savannah cathedral, presumably until May 20 as stated in the bishop’s most recent decree. 

With the May 20 shutdown date looming, Guerrero said that she and other Catholics are praying for those in leadership positions in the Church to “understand compassion and love for the poor.” 

“It is very sad what they are doing,” Guerrero said. “Why are they destroying our dedication to the Holy Eucharist and to the Immaculate Heart of Mary? Where is the justice?” 

In conversations with other Catholics who did not wish to go on record, there seemed to be hope that Parkes may be consulting with the Dicastery to work out ongoing celebrations of the TLM. And while Bishop Parkes’ July 2022 announcement did seem quite empathetic to those attached to the pre-Vatican II liturgy and devotions, there was no mention of any further celebrations of the TLM after May 20: 

I am grateful to the Dicastery for granting the above permissions so that Masses according to the Missale Romanum of 1962 may continue to be celebrated for another year. Since my appointment as your Bishop, I have been present at Masses celebrated with this Missal, and I recognize the reverence and beauty of these liturgies. I am also aware that the eventual cessation of these Masses will be difficult for many of the faithful in our Diocese. Please know of my pastoral concern for you. Along with Fr. Allan McDonald (Bishop’s Delegate for Mass in the Extraordinary Form), the Priests who celebrate these Masses will accompany the attendees in the coming months as the transition is made to Mass in conformity with the decrees of the Second Vatican Council.

Guerrero mentioned that today’s readings (Friday of third week of Easter) for Holy Mass (Novus Ordo) included, “’Saul, Saul, why do you persecute me?’  And I answered: ‘Who art thou, Lord?’ And he said to me: ‘I am Jesus of Nazareth, whom thou persecute.’”  (Acts 22)

“Nobody will steal our faith,” she said. “Through prayer, faith and forgiveness, God will show his justice and grace from his throne.” 

LifeSiteNews has reached out to the Bishop of the Diocese of Savannah for comment, but has yet to receive a reply.

Please call Jill Parks, Director of Communications, at (912) 484-2320 to respectfully express your views.