ORLANDO, Florida (LifeSiteNews) – Bishop Bernard Tissier de Mallerais, of the Priestly Society of St. Pius X (SSPX) administered the Sacrament of Confirmation and offered a Pontifical Traditional Latin Mass from the foldstool over the weekend at All Souls Catholic Church in Sanford, Florida, in the Diocese of Orlando, for Confirmandi from the chapels of the Society, with permission from the local bishop.
Bishop Bernard Tissier de Mallerais, SSPX did indeed administer the Sacrament of Confirmation and offer Holy Mass this morning at All Souls Church (Sanford, FL), a parish in @OrlandoDiocese.
— Matt Gaspers (@MattGaspers) October 14, 2023
LifeSiteNews confirmed that the Confirmations and Mass, which took place on Saturday, October 14, were arranged to be held at All Souls with the permission of the Orlando Diocese. The Confirmandi were from St. Thomas More Church, run by the SSPX, as well as other chapels of the Society. The Confirmations were originally scheduled to be celebrated at St. Thomas More, but the nearby All Souls Parish Church, which also offers the Traditional Latin Mass at the parish historic chapel, was used to accommodate the numbers attending.
St. Thomas More became a priory of the Society of St. Pius X in 2010 after decades of being a mission of the Society with only weekend Masses. The Church building was completed in 2004, with a K through 8 Academy opening in 2010, and a high school in 2021 with an inaugural ninth grade, subsequent grades being added each year since.
Due to an explosion in the numbers of faithful attending the Traditional Latin Mass, the priory now offers four Masses on Sunday, with up to three Masses on weekdays. Since the Church’s seating capacity of 200 was far exceeded by attendees of Confirmations in the past, prior Confirmations had to be held either in the Sanford Civic Center or outside.
The immediately previous celebration of Confirmations at St. Thomas More took place two years ago with Bishop Bernard Felley, SSPX, and drew Catholics from all the chapels of the Society in Florida as well as from out of state. Including 100 Confirmandi there were around 600 faithful in attendance. The Mass had to be held outside to accommodate the crowd, but the Florida weather brought them a thunderstorm and large rainfalls. The Confirmation and Pontifical Mass continued despite the rain, but the inclement weather prompted the pastor of All Souls Parish to offer his Church for the occasion the next time around.
When Confirmations were scheduled for 2023 Father Jeremiah Payne of All Souls Church, only about three minutes by car down the road from St. Thomas More, offered the use of his Church for the Confirmation and Pontifical Mass, obtaining permission from the Orlando Diocese. A spokesman for the parish told LifeSiteNews that the use of the Church was offered as a “courtesy” “out of respect for their rite” of the Mass and sacraments.
Sixty-six candidates were confirmed by Bishop Bernard Tissier de Mallerais. The Confirmations were followed by a Pontifical Traditional Latin Mass, which was offered from the foldstool rather than the episcopal throne, in deference to the local bishop, John Noone, in whose See the Mass was offered. The attendees estimated around 500 to 600 faithful.
Brian McCall, editor of Catholic Family News and member of St. Thomas More Church, told LifeSiteNews, “As one of the parents whose daughter was confirmed in the downpour in 2021, I was very grateful for the offer of All Souls Church to use their spacious building for confirmations this year. I served as a coordinator between our sacristy, servers, and choir and All Souls and found everyone we communicated with to be very helpful and welcoming. We even learned the air conditioning system broke the morning before the confirmation and the All Souls staff had someone out to repair it before our ceremony so the building was comfortably cooled.”
On the webpage for the event, the SSPX highlighted the spiritual imprint or character conferred on the soul in Confirmation, quoting St. Thomas Aquinas, who wrote concerning the sacramental character of Confirmation, “A character is a spiritual power ordained to certain sacred actions. Just as Baptism is a spiritual regeneration unto Christian life, so also is Confirmation a certain spiritual growth bringing man to perfect spiritual age… In Baptism he receives power to do those things which pertain to his own salvation, forasmuch as he lives to himself: whereas in Confirmation he receives power to do those things which pertain to the spiritual combat with the enemies of the Faith.”
“This is evident from the example of the apostles, who, before they received the fullness of the Holy Ghost, were in the ‘upper room…persevering…in prayer’ (Acts 1:13-14); whereas afterwards they went out and feared not to confess their faith in public, even in the face of the enemies of the Christian Faith.” (Summa Theologica, IIIa, q. 72, art 5 – St. Thomas Aquinas)
Bishop Tissier de Mallerais, who administered the Confirmations, was one of the four bishops consecrated in 1988 by Archbishop Marcel Lefebvre without a papal mandate. The act incurred the penalty of automatic excommunication, which was confirmed by the Pope but contested by the Society. Pope Benedict XVI then lifted the excommunications in question in 2009.
Prior to his consecration as bishop, Tissier de Mallerais served as a professor, vice-rector, and finally rector of the International Seminary of St. Pius X at Écône, Switzerland, and from 1984 to 1996, he served as Secretary General of the Society.
Since the promulgation of Traditionis Custodes the Traditional Latin Mass has been severely restricted, with Cardinal Roche, prefect of the Congregation for Divine Worship, accusing traditional Catholics who love the old Mass of “becoming more Protestant than you are Catholic.” On the other hand, when widening access to the old liturgy of Rome, Pope Benedict XVI declared in the letter to bishops accompanying Summorum Pontificum that “What earlier generations held as sacred, remains sacred and great for us too, and it cannot be all of a sudden entirely forbidden or even considered harmful.”