Melbourne’s Latin Mass centre has been officially elevated to the status of a “personal parish” of the Archdiocese.
The Catholic Community of Blessed John Henry Newman has shared the use of St Aloysius Church in Caulfield with the territorial parish for more than a decade.
But without “personal parish” status, the community had no stability or security, as their current arrangements could be revoked at any time.
Archbishop of Melbourne Denis Hart made the decision official by signing a decree of establishment of the personal parish on February 28, although it won’t come into effect until March 28.
The decree states that the personal parish is established “in view of the stable nature of this community and in order to provide adequately for the care of souls within the normal diocesan structure”.
It adds that, through its worship and pastoral services, the parish will “enrich the Archdiocese with the Extraordinary Form of the Mass and sacramental rites”.
The personal parish will be called the parish of Blessed John Henry Newman, and its parish priest will be Fr Glen Tattersall, who told The Record he was humbled and grateful for the community’s elevation.
“We’ve been working for a very long time for this, particularly since 2012, but we’re very grateful that that’s been recognised and the Archbishop has decided to do this for us,” he said.
“It’s very important for all Catholics to feel and to understand that they are fully members of the Church, that they’re not second-class citizens just because they prefer the Extraordinary Form.
“Our people very much appreciate what has been given to them and they certainly want to demonstrate their faithfulness to the Church and they want to have the opportunity to contribute as best they can.”
Fr Tattersall said it was important to understand that the territorial parish would not be affected by the change.
“What has been established here as a new entity is the personal, that is, non-territorial parish… made up of persons, not of territory,” he said.
“Its boundaries are the Archdiocese of Melbourne. It has a seat, which will be St Aloysius, but I’m not parish priest of the local parish.”
Most places in Australia that offer the Extraordinary Form of the Mass are communities run by chaplains rather than parishes with parish priests.
One exception is the Maternal Heart of Parish in Sydney, which was raised to personal parish status by Cardinal George Pell, the former Archbishop of Sydney, in August 2013.
Fr Tattersall said he hopes the establishment of personal parishes for communities that offer the Extraordinary Form of the Mass become more common around Australia.
“I hope that other bishops will understand the importance of doing this and follow the visionary attitude both of Archbishop Hart and of Cardinal Pell,” he said.
Archbishop Hart will formally install Fr Tattersall as parish priest of the Blessed John Henry Newman Community on April 25.