Age-old Latin hymns will resonate through St. Patrick Catholic Church in Miami Beach as part of a unique service celebrated in the traditional Roman rite for St. Patrick’s Day Monday.
The traditional Mass will be the first celebration of its kind at the Garden Avenue church since 1969, when the vernacular service most Catholics are familiar with was introduced after the Second Vatican Council.
The high Mass, which is completely sung, will transport congregants to earlier days when the traditional Latin hymns were the norm.
St. Patrick has invited the schola, or choir, from Sts. Francis and Clare in Miami, to perform as a special way of celebrating the holiday. The choir will sing the moving hymns in the same form as others have for the last 1,400 years.
The 12-member schola is directed by Jennifer Donelson, who says the group is looking forward to bringing the service to people who seldom, if ever, have had the opportunity to experience the form.
“The Mass will appeal to not only older people who are nostalgic for it, but younger people who are coming because they want a deeper spiritual experience, something that feels sacred,” Donelson said.
The ceremony will be performed in Gregorian chant, which Donelson says has an ethereal quality to it because it is the music proper to the Extraordinary Form of the Roman Rite.
“It is very prayerful and holy,” she said. “There is an element of mystery and it feels as if the chants are floating through the air. It makes you feel as if you are experiencing something that is bigger than yourself.”
The service will be officiated by the Rev. Joseph Fishwick, who serves Miami’s traditional Latin Mass community. Fishwick, who has been celebrating the traditional mass for almost 30 years, remembers attending the Latin Mass as a child when it was the standard.
Fishwick began to learn to officiate the Latin Mass after seminarians were no longer required to because he was drawn to the challenge of learning and understanding the form.
“It seemed to be a way to really bring to the full truth and beauty to our churches,” Fishwick said.
The Monday evening Mass will celebrate the values of St. Patrick, he says.
“The Mass will directed toward his memory and assimilating his own values and his love for Christ and the gospel,” Fishwick said.
After the mass, the parish will host a festive potluck with typical Irish fare to celebrate the holiday. Those would like to participate in the feast held next door at Barry Hall are asked to bring a dish to share.
The church welcomes newcomers to join congregants in attending the service and the feast.