The Priestly Fraternity of St. Peter began its apostolate in Guadalajara seven and half years ago at the invitation of His Eminence Cardinal Juan Sandoval. Since then interest in the Traditional Latin Mass and the work of the Priestly Fraternity of St. Peter has grown steadily. The Quasi-Parish of St. Peter in Chains, whose home is now at the historic church of Our Lady of the Pillar in the historic center of Guadalajara, has a wide array of pastoral activities to tend to its growing number of families. In the last year the FSSP has been able to expand in Mexico, opening a parish in Mexico City. Additionally, requests come in from various parts of Mexico and all over Latin America asking for the opportunity to experience the beauty and grandeur of the Traditional Latin Mass. In all truth, the Moto Proprio Summorum Pontificum of Pope Benedict XVI, which sought to expand access to the Traditional Latin Mass throughout the world, has yet to arrive in full force in Latin America. As exposure to the Latin Mass has grown, its receptive has been extremely positive.
The acquisition of this new house promises to benefit the work of the Fraternity and the diffusion of the Traditional Latin Mass in Latin America in four phases. The immediate benefit of the house will be an expansion of the Fraternity’s apostolate in Guadalajara. The Fraternity´s church, Nuestra Señora del Pilar, has very little space for pastoral activities, inadequate parking, and is located in section of the downtown that is not family-friendly. The new house will provide a location for a wide range of parish activities, more classes and catechesis, as well as another location for Masses. It will also enable the priests to live closer to the church and in a house with its own chapel.
The second phase, which will hopefully begin in the summer of 2016, will be a Spanish training course for priests and seminarians. The program will be open to both FSSP and diocesan priests and seminarians and will consist of a 6 or 8 week immersion program in Spanish. While studying, participants will live in community, assisting at Mass and the Divine Office in the Traditional Form. There will also be seminars in Mexican and Hispanic culture, history, and piety, as well as practica in the administration of the sacraments, specifically designed for participants not coming from Ecclesia Dei communities. Likewise there will be ample opportunity to participate in the life of the apostolate and thereby put to use the Spanish that is learned. The program will conclude with an optional mission during which the participants will be able to use the Spanish they have learned to give catechesis to adults and children. This program will help prepare seminarians from the FSSP and from diocese to better tend to the needs of Spanish speaking Catholics at home. For those coming from non Ecclesia Dei communities, it will be a summer of immersion in both Spanish and the tradition of the Church.
STAGE THREE OF DEVELOPMENT
The third phase, which will also begin in 2016, will be a program of discernment for young men interested in a priestly vocation with the Priestly Fraternity of St. Peter. Interested young men from Spain and Latin America can apply to spend a month living in community with the priests as an important step in discerning their vocations. It will also give the priests of FSSP a chance to evaluate the candidate in order to recommend him to one of the seminaries of the FSSP to continue his process of discernment. As part of this program, monthly vocational discernment meetings will be hosted by the FSSP, which will be open to locals as well as those visiting, as part of the month of discernment.
STAGE FOUR OF DEVELOPMENT
The fourth phase is the House of Formation. This very important apostolate would hopefully begin in 2018. The Priestly Fraternity of Saint Peter would like to be able to provide a first year of seminary formation for Spanish speaking candidates. Currently there is no ecclesiastically authorized traditional house of formation in the Spanish speaking world, even though Spanish is the language spoken by more Catholics than any other. This first year would be a sort of postulancy in the Fraternity of St. Peter in which the candidates would fulfill the requirements of the first year of seminary, but they would be able to do so in Spanish while continuing their study of English. Following this year in Guadalajara candidate would continue their formation at Our Lady of Guadalupe Seminary in Nebraska. This program will serve as a first step for a longer term goal of a full seminary for the FSSP in Latin America.
The need for this new house and all the opportunities it promises are real and urgent. The priests in Guadalajara receive a steady stream of inquiries from young men interested in pursuing a vocation with the FSSP. The lack of a program of formation in Spanish represents a significant obstacle. At the same time, there are groups of the people in Spanish speaking countries clamoring for access to the Traditional Mass. Unfortunately, there is a terrible shortage of traditional Spanish-speaking priests. In many respects, Latin America represents fertile ground for the spreading of the Traditional Latin Mass because the sensibilities of the majority of the people remain very Catholic and very traditional. At the same time, the situation is urgent. Whether the cause be the proselytism of Protestants and other sects, a decline in vocations, a lack of sound catechesis, the encroaching allures of materialism, the loss of traditions, or some combination of all of these, the Catholic Church has been suffering devastating losses in most Latin American countries over the last few decades. Many have become Evangelicals, Pentecostals, or Jehovah´s Witnesses and many others, who still call themselves Catholic, have given up a sincere practice of the faith. A real work of evangelization is demanded so that more of the flock will not be lead astray. The Tradition of the Church provides a tremendously valuable tool for accomplishing this mission. People are craving reverent and awe-inspiring worship. They are desperate for orthodox and convicted preaching and catechesis. They yearn for priests who are recognizable as priests not only in how they dress, but in how they act and their love and zeal for their apostolate, which is a direct fruit of the type of formation they receive.