Featured Image
Our Lady of Lourdes Church in Park Hill, KentuckyYouTube

(LifeSiteNews) — The bishop of Covington, Kentucky removed from public ministry two beloved priests who offer the Traditional Latin Mass.

Parishioners at Our Lady of Lourdes in Park Hill were recently informed by Father Shannon Collins that he and Father Sean Kopczynski, who served as Parochial Vicar, were stripped of their faculties by their ordinary, Bishop John Iffert.

Collins and Kopczynski belong to the Missionaries of St. John the Baptist, a “public association of the faithful” that was erected by Iffert’s predecessor, Roger Foys, in the Covington diocese in 2019. The group is currently training several young men for the priesthood.

Aside from preaching retreats, Collins and Kopczynski provide the traditional sacraments to laity at Our Lady of Lourdes and at the Oratory of the Holy Family, located 28 miles southwest in Union, Kentucky.

Our Lady of Lourdes was established as a “quasi-parish” reserved for the exclusive celebration of the Traditional Latin Mass in 2016. In 2017, Foys conducted a dedication ceremony of the property. In 2018, he elevated it to the status of “personal parish,” writing in a public statement that “its members have distinguished themselves by their piety, generosity, and love for the Lord and His Church.”

LifeSite has learned that Collins was removed for preaching a “divisive sermon” several months ago that the diocese says undermined “unity” in the Church. LifeSite has learned that the sermon below is what prompted Collins’ removal. In it, Collins refers to the Novus Ordo liturgy as being “largely against the old order of things.” By “definition” the “Novus Ordo Missae and the new Rites’ sacraments are a protest, sort of, against the Traditional Latin Mass and the more ancient sacramental rituals,” he observed. “Not only was the Mass changed but every single sacramental ritual was changed. Every one.”

LifeSiteNews has also learned that Collins refused to concelebrate a Novus Ordo Mass with Iffert.

LifeSiteNews emailed Laura Keener, the Diocese of Covington’s communication director, to inquire about other details related to the removal of Collins and Kopczynski and about the future of the Missionaries of St. John the Baptist. She directed LifeSite to a diocesan statement released on January 17. In the statement, Iffert said that “Fr. Collins had preached” that the Novus Ordo “is ‘irrelevant,’ preserves ‘literally nothing of the old,’ and that the reform of the liturgy was motivated by hatred toward traditional Catholics and the ancient liturgies of Rome.” Iffert then said that Collins and Kopczynski “maintain these errors and refuse the opportunity to renounce them.” He then declared that this “disqualifies them from being granted permission to publicly celebrate” the Latin Mass.

Foys retired in 2021 at age 75. Iffert, 53, previously served as the vicar general for the Diocese of Belleville, Illinois. In his statement, he said that both Collins and Kopczysnki may offer private Masses for themselves, immediate family members, and members of the Missionaries of St. John the Baptist. Iffert also announced that the group owns Our Lady of Lourdes and will not allow the Diocese to use it, therefore he is seeking “an appropriate location for the parish liturgies.”

As news about Iffert’s crackdown broke on social media Wednesday, many Catholics took the opportunity to praise Collins for his forceful, spiritually rich sermons. They also decried the move as yet another attack on Traditional Catholicism under Pope Francis.