St. Henry Parish boundaries extended
By Tim Johnson
FORT WAYNE — Sacred Heart Parish in Fort Wayne will become a “personal parish,” serving the faithful who worship according to the extraordinary form of the Latin rite, and the boundaries of St. Henry Parish, Fort Wayne, will be extended to include the territory of Sacred Heart Parish. The announcement was made at both parishes at all Masses on Oct. 1-2. The changes take effect on Sunday, Nov. 6.
On that date, Father George Gabet of the Priestly Fraternity of St. Peter and chaplain of the St. Mother Theodore Guérin Latin Mass Community, will become pastor of Sacred Heart Parish. Father Daniel Durkin will continue as pastor of St. Henry Parish and will offer Holy Mass in English according to the ordinary for the Latin rite at 4 p.m. on Saturdays at Sacred Heart Church.
In a letter to parishioners of both parishes, Bishop Kevin C. Rhoades noted, “It is my hope and prayer that these decisions will benefit and strengthen both St. Henry and Sacred Heart parishes.”
“I care deeply for the spiritual and pastoral good of all the parishioners,” Bishop Rhoades said in the letter. “I want both parishes to be viable for the future and both churches to remain open.”
“I ask for your cooperation and support, so these changes will proceed smoothly and help strengthen the Church’s mission in southeast Fort Wayne,” he added.
According to canon law, “As a general rule a parish is to be territorial, that is, one which includes all the Christian faithful of a certain territory. When it is expedient, however, personal parishes are to be established determined by reason of the rite, language, or nationally of the Christian faithful of some territory, or even for some other reason” (Can 518).
In an email interview with Today’s Catholic, Father Gabet said, “The St. Mother Theodore Guérin Community will benefit greatly by Sacred Heart becoming an extraordinary form (Latin Mass) personal parish.”
“First of all, it will give the Fort Wayne area members greater canonical stability with all the rights and responsibilities that the designation ‘parish’ entails canonically within the Catholic Church as a whole,” Father Gabet said.
“It will also give more autonomy than just a ‘community’ within the particular Church itself,” he added. “We can therefore more easily set the Mass schedules and make other decisions regarding the church.”
Father Gabet said that as an apostolate of the Priestly Fraternity of St. Peter, the Society of Apostolic Life that will provide the bishop with priests specifically trained in the extraordinary form for not only the Mass, but also all the sacraments, “the ‘parish’ status raises us higher than being seen simply a ‘community.’ Due to the greater stability of ‘parish’ status, we also become more important in the eyes of the Priestly Fraternity of St. Peter especially in regards to priest assignments and financial assistance if this is ever necessary,” Father Gabet added.
“Finally, this also gives great hope to our South Bend members that we will eventually get another priest to help the apostolate grow,” Father Gabet said, “and that they, too, may one day become a personal parish in a church in the South Bend area.”
Father Gabet explained to Today’s Catholic that the current code of canon law states that the Tridentine Latin Mass, now known as the extraordinary form of the Roman rite, is different from the “ordinary” form, and therefore can be the reason for establishing a personal parish.
The St. Mother Theodore Guérin Latin Mass Community was established by Bishop John M. D’Arcy in response to Pope Benedict XVI’s Motu Proprio Summorum Pontificum and the request from the Latin Mass communities in Fort Wayne and South Bend who desired that the Priestly Fraternity of St. Peter establish an apostolate in the Diocese of Fort Wayne-South Bend, and to supply priests in full communion with Rome to offer the Latin Mass and sacraments in the extraordinary form.
The Priestly Fraternity of St. Peter, at the request of Bishop D’Arcy, sent a priest in March 2008 to celebrate Mass and then established the St. Mother Theodore Guérin Community. This community would subsist within the diocesan parishes of Sacred Heart in Fort Wayne and originally St. John the Baptist Church in South Bend, and then later transferred to St. Patrick Church in South Bend.
The community at Sacred Heart consists of 55 families or 165 registered parishioners and approximately 110 parishioners at St. Patrick Church, South Bend.
The Latin Mass has attracted young families in both Fort Wayne and South Bend. “This past year at Sacred Heart we had 12 baptisms,” Father George said. “The average age of our parishioners is 29. This certainly bids well for the future.
The Latin Mass is offered every day at Sacred Heart in Fort Wayne and every Sunday and holy day at St. Patrick in South Bend. Mass times at Sacred Heart, Fort Wayne, are 7:30 a.m. Monday through Thursday, 7 p.m. Friday, noon on Saturday, and 11:30 a.m. on Sunday.
At St. Patrick Church, South Bend, Mass is celebrated every Sunday at 7:45 a.m. and on holy days at 7 p.m.
For longtime parishioners of Sacred Heart, “the main way we hope that Sacred Heart will serve its parishioners is by keeping the Church viable as a Catholic Church. The demographics of the southeast side of Fort Wayne have definitely changed since Sacred Heart first was opened shortly after World War II,” Father Gabet said.
With many industries closing and people moving to the suburbs, parishes such as Sacred Heart in most dioceses would close.
“Fortunately, Bishop Rhoades recognizes the attachment and the desire of the faithful to the church they and their parents helped build,” Father Gabet said. “The current plan is evidence of the fact he wishes to keep a Catholic presence on the southeast side as long as this is even remotely possible.”
“The extraordinary form draws people from as far away as Ohio and Michigan to the southeast side of Fort Wayne,” Father Gabet explained. “Many of the St. Mother Theodore Guérin Community, including my family, have been parishioners of Sacred Heart for the past 20 years when Bishop D’Arcy permitted the Latin Mass to be offered there. This certainly has helped keep Sacred Heart in the black.”
Father Gabet added, “Besides simply helping to keep Sacred Heart Church viable, a 4 p.m. English Mass will be offered by Father Dan Durkin, pastor of neighboring St. Henry Parish. Bishop Rhoades has made this possible in response to the English Mass parishioners’ request to keep at least one English Mass at Sacred Heart. In addition, some of the community events that now occur at Sacred Heart will still be available, such as the South Side Seniors events and the St. Vincent de Paul Society.”
“As pastor, I will still be serving the same amount of people within the boundaries of the new St. Henry’s, as I served before from two parishes,” said Father Durkin. “The parishioners of the new St. Henry’s will be challenged to work together so the genuine needs of the people will continue to be served. We can never presume we will be having this visible presence here on the southeast side of Fort Wayne without our sharing of our time, talent and treasure, living our faith, involved in a new evangelization of the people that live here. We even look forward to welcoming back to St. Henry’s those who used to be active parishioners in this area.”
“St. Henry’s has been serving about 148 families previous to this change. We really need as many as possible to build up this parish and get involved in our various ministries,” Father Durkin continued. “Since the new St. Henry’s will still have a good number of long-lasting, faithful people, it’s exciting to know how open we are to new faces helping in any way possible.”
“We first want to let everyone know we will be changing our Mass schedule at St. Henry’s, to complement the one 4 p.m. English Mass that I will continue to have at Sacred Heart,” Father Durkin said. “We plan to no longer have the 5:30 p.m. Mass at St. Henry’s on Saturday. On Sundays our Masses will be at 8 and 10:30 a.m. with religious education in between.”
“On Nov. 6, we plan to have fellowship/reception and an open house after our Masses with a special emphasis on asking everyone how we can meet their needs,” Father Durkin said.
“We will be extending a special invitation to our neighbors on the southeast side of Fort Wayne, asking new and old parishioners to join us! The music will be very special that day,” he emphasized.
“The new St. Henry’s will continue to serve its longtime St. Henry’s community by doing all that we been doing along with the additional services that will are being offered out of our facilities. We are a mighty busy parish working in the Lord’s vineyard,” Father Durkin concluded.
Father Gabet extended an invitation of the longtime parishioners to stay at Sacred Heart and “try the Latin Mass. After all, it was the Mass their parents knew and which many of them grew up with and which created so many saints down through the ages,” he noted.