Youth from four states attended the three-day camp
in South Carolina, praying and playing sports together while learning
how to serve the ancient Mass rite.
participated in a three-day camp in late July dedicated to learning to
serve the traditional Latin Mass.
Boys aged 6 to 18, from four states including Virginia, Ohio and
North Carolina, came together at Prince of Peace Parish near Greenville,
S.C., to spent time in prayer, study and sports, while learning to
serve the ancient rite of Mass under the tutelage of two diocesan
priests and a seminarian from the Priestly Fraternity of St. Peter
Father Christopher Smith, administrator of Prince of Peace, and
Father Renaurd West, both priests of the Diocese of Charleston, together
with Michael Cunningham, a third-year seminarian for the FSSP whose
home is in nearby Spartanburg, S.C., offered boys and young men of all
ages the opportunity to learn altar-boy movements and rubrics as well as
experience three daily Masses culminating with a Missa Cantata (Sung Mass) on July 25.
In addition to the academic and spiritual activities, seminarian
Cunningham led afternoon activities in football, while Father West
competed head-to-head on the basketball floor. The camp was free to all,
with funds donated for food and training materials by area
parishioners, other Catholics and businesses.
“I was at most expecting 10 or 15 from our parish,” said Father
Smith. “The initiative of people who were enthusiastic about the project
led to 62 boys and young men coming from as far away as Ohio.”
Added Father Smith, “I was stunned by the response of the boys, their
families and those who wanted to defray the cost of the camp. I should
learn to trust in God's providence more!”
Parishes dedicated solely to the traditional Latin Mass and
sacraments periodically host altar-boy camps and training sessions, but a
diocesan parish hosting one in the midst of South Carolina and drawing
more than 60 boys is unique.
“Although I am sure that communities like the FSSP could probably do a
better job at training the kids, I think that exposing young people in
diocesan parishes to the riches of the extraordinary form can only be
beneficial to the Church and to the spread of the Latin Mass,” Father
FSSP seminarian Cunningham agreed. “Diocesan parishes are the
heartbeat of the Church, and they are where the vast majority of
Catholics attend Mass,” he said. “This venue gives a much-needed
opportunity for both Catholics who prefer the ancient rite along with
those who primarily attend the ordinary form to meet and interact with
The participating boys were equally enthusiastic about their experiences with celebrating both forms of the Mass.
“I really enjoyed learning the low Mass rite,” said Vincent Ortiz, 9,
son of Ivan and Christine Ortiz, parishioners at St. Sebastian Catholic
Church in North Canton, Ohio. “I had only participated in the high Mass
as an altar boy.”
Added the altar boy, “I also liked learning how to stand and
genuflect. It was fun when they used a book to teach us those things.”
The mutual enrichment of both forms of the Roman rite was one of the benefits anticipated by Pope Benedict XVI, when he issued Summorum Pontificum in July 2007.
“Men and women both have a yearning for the sacredness of God; it is
how we are all wired,” said Cunningham. He described the ancient liturgy
as bearing a particular attractiveness.
Father Smith agreed. “I have seen many times that an authentic
experience of the transcendent, as opposed to the immanent, resonates
with many men at a level they often are at a loss to explain,” he said.
“The objectivity of the rite, the solemnity, the way the sacred ritual
is both manly and graceful at the same time — not unlike many military
ceremonies — often corresponds to a need many men have for order,
hierarchy and meaning.”
Prince of Peace Parish
offers a traditional Latin Mass on Sundays at noon throughout the year,
as well as opportunities for daily Mass and processions on special
feast days and holy days of obligation in the extraordinary form.
The parish is widely known in the area for its numerous altar boys
who serve Mass in both the ordinary and extraordinary forms, while many
of the camp’s participants from other parishes, dioceses and states had
only infrequently or never before experienced the traditional Latin
Father Smith said that although he is sensitive to the high work
demands of many of today’s parish clergy, he encourages other parish
priests to host similar events for boys and young men. “It is an
investment in our Catholic men and vocations of all sorts and an
investment we have to make if the Church is to continue to grow in a
world so deaf to Christian values and so threatening to an authentic
understanding of what it is to be a man and a man of God,” he said.
“Involve some good Catholic laymen and seminarians and other young clergy and spread the wealth!”