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Catholics outside Washington, D.C.'s Cathedral of St. Matthew after the first Summorum Pontificum pilgrimage Twitter / @tlmpilgrimage

ARLINGTON, Virginia (LifeSiteNews) – The second semi-annual Summorum Pontificum Pilgrimage from the Diocese of Arlington to the Archdiocese of Washington, D.C. – two jurisdictions with some of the harshest restrictions on the Traditional Latin Mass in the U.S. – will take place on March 25, 2023, the feast of the Annunciation.

Pilgrimage organizer and Arlington Latin Mass Society (ALMS) President Noah Peters spoke to LifeSiteNews about the March 25 procession, the work of ALMS, and the future of the Traditional Latin Mass in the Diocese of Arlington.

LifeSiteNews: What plans are underway for the March 25, 2023 pilgrimage? 

Noah Peters: On March 25, 2023 we will have the Second Semi-Annual National Summorum Pontificum Pilgrimage. We will have a large Marian procession between St. Thomas More Cathedral in Arlington, VA (the main cathedral of the Diocese of Arlington) and St. Matthew the Apostle in Washington, D.C. (the main cathedral of the Archdiocese of Washington, D.C.) to show our support for the Traditional Latin Mass. We will be praying the Rosary and singing Catholic hymns as we walk. We encourage people to bring processional crosses, Catholic flags and banners, statues of Our Lady, and icons.

The main purpose of the walk is to show our support for the Traditional Latin Mass, and the devotion it inspires, at a time when it is under attack from Rome. In September, the Traditional Latin Mass was cancelled en masse throughout the Diocese of Arlington and the Archdiocese of Washington, D.C., going from 27 locations to a mere 11, with some of those in off-site locations like converted parish halls and school gymnasiums. The Latin Mass was thriving and served as a source of inspiration for many thousands of Catholics throughout Washington, D.C., Maryland, and Virginia, as it had for numerous saints throughout the centuries who were devoted to the Traditional Latin Mass and even died to celebrate it. Its sudden cancellation was cruel and destroyed or split up many thriving and growing parishes. This type of cruelty demands acts of prayer, sacrifice, and reparation in response.

In addition, Marian pilgrimages are a beautiful part of Catholic tradition. It is especially appropriate to hold one on the Feast of the Annunciation of the Blessed Virgin Mary.

Marian processions are also great for evangelization. Marching through the streets singing hymns and praying the rosary is a powerful witness to the beauty of Catholic tradition. The walk itself takes about two hours, as St. Thomas More is only 5 miles from St. Matthew the Apostle. I can tell you that the pilgrimage is a beautiful and profoundly spiritual experience.

'This type of cruelty demands acts of prayer, sacrifice, and reparation in response.'

We will set out from St. Thomas More at 8:30 AM after praying the hour of Terce. At St. Matthew, we will pray the hour of Sext before buses take people back to St. Thomas More. In addition, we will have shuttle buses to take people to the pilgrimage from Front Royal, VA, Gainesville, VA, Benedict, MD and Chinatown in Washington, D.C. and then back afterwards.

How are Latin Mass Catholics in the Diocese of Arlington doing?  

The decrees issued by the Diocese of Arlington and the Archdiocese of Washington, D.C. severely restricting the Traditional Latin Mass had a devastating impact on not only Latin Mass Catholics but the spiritual life of the dioceses as a whole. Many thriving and growing congregations where the Latin Mass peacefully coexisted with the Novus Ordo were cruelly split apart, with the Latin Mass attendees being moved offsite or having the Latin Mass cancelled entirely. In each diocese, Latin Mass attendees are separated from ordinary parish life. Even in the three parish churches where the Latin Mass may be celebrated until June 2024, the Latin Mass cannot be advertised in the parish bulletin.

For example, the large congregation at Old St. Mary in Chinatown, where the Latin Mass had been celebrated for three decades, has been forced to worship at the Franciscan Monastery and moved away from the beautiful church that their contributions had helped renovate over the course of 30 years. At St. Francis de Sales in Benedict, MD, the Latin Mass was formerly celebrated seven days a week and the congregation financed the construction of a new altar. Now, they have been moved to a mission church that is much too small, and restricted to just one TLM on Sunday. There have been similarly devastating impacts at St. Peter in Little Washington, St. Francis de Sales in Northeast D.C., St. Anthony of Padua in Brookland, and St. Thomas the Apostle in Woodley Park.

Catholics at the first Summorum Pontificum Pilgrimage in support of the Traditional Latin Mass

The restrictions have had the largest impact on the most vulnerable – especially older people in Washington, D.C. and Arlington who lack transportation options and face the loss of Latin Mass within easy distance of the Metro. It has also had a deleterious impact on evangelization, as the Latin Mass can no longer be advertised in parish bulletins. Moreover, priests and parishes often have unnecessary difficulty informing their congregation of changes to Latin Mass schedules. We have filled the gap with our webpage collecting Latin Mass times, but it isn’t the same. Families and couples have also had extreme difficulties in obtaining the sacraments – particularly confirmation and marriage – in the Old Rite. Quite disturbingly, there have even been difficulties getting funerals in the Old Rite.

In addition, with the angry rhetoric from Rome and the cruel reality of being separated from parish churches, there has developed a sense of fear that the Latin Mass might be cancelled entirely, and that those who love it aren’t welcome in the Church.

Despite these horrible setbacks, the TLM has continued to thrive. In each location, the overwhelming majority (80%+) of TLM parishioners at each location have stuck with the Latin Mass. In the most recent census from the Diocese of Arlington, the Latin Mass posted the smallest percentage decline of any type of Mass, with nearly 90% of the attendance that it had in 2019. This was especially impressive because, unlike other forms of the Mass, the Latin Mass was cancelled at several locations throughout the Diocese of Arlington.

In addition, parishioners have renovated the Latin Mass spaces that we have been provided, often at their own expense. The local priests have shown enormous dedication and flexibility in ministering to their Latin Mass flocks, often at great expense and inconvenience. The communities have banded together to support one another. At a time when the Church is facing rapid decline and indifference, the enormous determination of Latin Mass Catholics to make the best of the situation we have been given has been truly inspiring.

The Arlington Latin Mass Society (ALMS) just received its 501(c)3 status. What is your involvement with the group, and what are some of its future plans? 

I am the President of the Arlington Latin Mass Society, and indeed we just received 501(c)(3) status. We support the celebration of the Latin Mass in the locations with the Arlington Diocese and the Archdiocese of Washington where it is offered, especially by collecting and posting Mass times. We host numerous events, including our ALMS speaker series (we are hosting a lecture by Father John Perricone at Holy Family Academy in Manassas at 7:30 PM on March 15), our weekly Rosary Rallies in front of the Papal Nunciature, and our Summorum pilgrimages. We are also sponsoring a group to attend the Chartres pilgrimage in France in May. This has all come about just in the last six months.

As for our future plans, we hope to support the maintenance and renovation of the offsite spaces where the Latin Mass is currently offered, and to be able to support the continued celebration of the Latin Mass if it is moved out of the three parish locations where it is now offered (St. John the Beloved, St. Rita of Cascia, and St. Anthony of Padua in King George, VA). We hope to train priests in seminary who may be interested in learning the Latin Mass.

'The Latin Mass was thriving and served as a source of inspiration for many thousands of Catholics throughout Washington, D.C., Maryland, and Virginia, as it had for numerous saints throughout the centuries who were devoted to the Traditional Latin Mass and even died to celebrate it.'

We think our group can serve as a model for TLM communities that are facing restrictions across the country. As the TLM is forced outside of the diocesan structure and parish churches, non-profits like ours are essential to support its maintenance and continued growth. Throughout history, the TLM has been an unstoppable force for growth and evangelization, and starting a group like this is an extremely powerful way to support it.

You can support us here.

You are a convert. Tell us a little bit about your conversion to the Catholic faith and how you discovered the Traditional Latin Mass. 

I was raised in a secular Jewish family and had very little experience of faith growing up – or as an adult. I started attending RCIA in 2019, but was a bit lukewarm and hesitant at first. It was only when I regularly began attending the Latin Mass in 2020, during the COVID epidemic, that things really clicked for me. The indescribable beauty and holiness of the Traditional Latin Mass inspired me to become passionate about the Church and its history and traditions. My wife and I fell in love attending the Latin Mass in 2020, and were married in a TLM wedding in October 2021. I am fearful that converts like my wife and I might no longer have the experience of falling in love with Catholicism through the Latin Mass any more. I believe that the Latin Mass is a powerful tool for evangelization – I have heard so many stories of people like me who were inspired to come back to the faith because of the Latin Mass.

Will there be a third pilgrimage in September (or fall) 2023? Has a date been set? How long do you plan to continue the pilgrimages?

Our third pilgrimage will be Saturday, September 9. We had first planned to continue the Summorum pilgrimages until Traditionis Custodes and the corresponding restrictions in Arlington and Washington, D.C. were completely lifted. But the pilgrimages provide a powerful spiritual and evangelizing experience in their own right. I get chills watching the video of us crossing the Key Bridge.


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