“Waiting for this for years”
San Diego bishop erects Latin Mass parish, anyone in diocese may join
After a 23-year-wait, the Latin Mass community of San Diego now has its own parish.
On Oct. 7, the Feast of Our Lady of the Rosary, San Diego Bishop Robert Brom officially erected St. Anne Church at 621 Sicard St. as a “personal parish” for Catholics in the diocese who prefer the extraordinary form of the Mass in Latin. A “personal parish” has no geographical boundaries, which means any Catholic living in the diocese may join.
Bishop Brom turned over the parish to the Priestly Fraternity of St. Peter (FSSP), a society of apostolic life approved in 1988 by Pope John Paul II specifically dedicated to continued use of the extraordinary form of the Roman Rite – also known as the Latin or Tridentine Mass.
“They’ve been waiting for this for years and years and years,” said Fr. Carl Gismondi, the new FSSP pastor at St. Anne. Before Bishop Brom elevated the Latin Mass community to parish status, it had been meeting since 1985 at the chapel of Holy Cross Cemetery as the only episcopally-authorized Tridentine Latin Mass congregation in San Diego.
The arrival of the Latin Mass parish to St. Anne brings new life to the parish, which had been merged with nearby Our Lady of Guadalupe parish and served only as a mission church until finally being closed altogether.
Fr. Gismondi, who resides in the parish’s four-bedroom rectory, says the old church “needs work.” For example, he said, a marble altar from 1942 was moved away from the wall of the sanctuary in the 1970s, and needs to be moved back to its original location. And there are a variety of other problems common to an older structure, “like termites,” he said.
During the six weeks he was been pastor at St. Anne, the 225-person capacity sanctuary has been close to full during Sunday Masses, said Fr. Gismondi. He estimated that between 300-400 people attend Sunday Mass there.
Fr. Gismondi said he learned of his new assignment in July, when his superior at FSSP headquarters in Elmhurst, Pennsylvania, summoned him and asked, “How does San Diego sound?” Fr. Gismondi said he played no part in the negotiations between the FSSP and the diocese to take over responsibility for St. Anne, so knows none of the details of how it came about.
Help is on the way for Fr. Gismondi, he said, first from a priest interested in joining the FSSP who has agreed to spend a month in residence at the parish, then, with the assignment of a second FSSP priest “before Christmas.”
FSSP priests operate only one other “personal parish” dedicated to the extraordinary rite in California – St. Stephen the First Martyr Church in Sacramento.
In San Diego County, a Latin Mass is offered every Sunday at 6 p.m. by Fr. Cávana Wallace at St. Margaret parish in Oceanside, and on every third Sunday at 3:30 p.m. by Fr. Rich Perozich at St. Mary parish in Escondido.
At St. Anne, daily Mass in Latin is offered Monday through Saturday at 9 a.m. A Low Mass in Latin is offered on Sundays at 7:30 a.m., and a High Mass on Sundays at 10 a.m.
To contact the parish, call (619) 239-8253.