Fr. Ian Verrier FSSP First Mass: Deo Gratias!
On Saturday morning, Mike & I jumped on a train and headed into London to attend the first Mass of Fr. Ian Verrier FSSP. I asked Mike a couple of days ago if he fancied joining me and he jumped at the chance. Will had another commitment & Louise & I decided it would probably be more sensible to leave her back at the ranch with John & Mary.
Mike was Confirmed in St. James' by Archbishop George Stack, about five years ago and he hasn't been back since. He loves the EF and was eager to have an opportunity to be at Mass and in a place with some history for him.
Father Ian is a newly ordained Priest of the Fraternitas Sacerdotalis Sancti Petri—The Priestly Fraternity of St. Peter. They are a Clerical Society of Apostolic Life of Pontifical right, that is, a community of Roman Catholic priests who do not take religious vows, but who work together for a common mission in the world. The mission of the Fraternity is two-fold: first, the formation and sanctification of priests in the cadre of the traditional liturgy of the Roman rite, and secondly, the pastoral deployment of the priests in the service of the Church. The Fraternity currently have two Seminaries for the formation of priests, one in Wigratzbad, Germany (diocese of Augsburg), and the other in Denton, Nebraska, U.S.A. (diocese of Lincoln).
The Fraternity has organised its seminary training in accordance with the Church’s norms on priestly formation, including a year of more intense spiritual preparation before entering the cycles of philosophy and theology. By fostering a balanced life of prayer, study, community life, and personal discipline, care is taken to foster human maturity and to acquire the spirit of the Gospel, in close union with Christ. The spiritual life in the houses is centered on the sacrifice of the Mass. Special attention is paid to the faithful observance of the "liturgical and spiritual traditions" according to the dispositions of the Motu proprioEcclesia Dei adflicta of July 2, 1988, which is at the origin of the Fraternity’s foundation (Constitutions, Art. 8).The result is that there are are currently almost 200 priests and 110 seminarians in the Fraternity. That's pretty good, considering they only started on July 18, 1988 at the Abbey of Hauterive (Switzerland). The Fraternity was founded by a dozen priests and a score of seminarians.
Mary O'Regan conducted a most enlightening interview with Fr. Ian, which you can read in its entirety here. His family were Anglicans and Fr. Ian was deeply affected as a young man by the care given to the liturgy in his church:
“There may have been leaks in the building and no one was well-off, but we gave the best of what we thought we had to God, and much attention was devoted to the exterior aspect of liturgy,” he recalls.While studying at Birmingham University Ian was received into the Catholic Church on the feast of Pentecost 2003, after 10 months of instruction. Explaining why he left the Anglican Church, he says:
“There wasn’t unity in belief. Everyone believed different things. The realisation dawned that it was not the True Church. I was drawn to the universality of the Catholic Church, that no matter where you go in the world the Church is the same, as God made it to be, founded on St Peter and his successors, the popes.”Today is Father's day and In 2010, Fr. Ian’s father lay dying of cancer in Birmingham and when Ian travelled back to be with him the other seminarians were fervently praying and having Masses said. Ian prayed daily for seven years that his father would become a Catholic and shortly before his death, his father swam the Tiber, that must have been a source of deep joy for him.
The FSSP likes to put priests back in their country of origin and Fr. Ian relishes the idea of taking up his role as a priest back in Britain, perhaps in the FSSP’s apostolate in Reading? He says that in the wake of Anglicanorum Coetibus he looks forward to the possibility of being surrounded by many fellow former Anglicans who are now Catholics.
Fr. Ian's first Mass was a sublime affair, a solemn High Mass set to Byrd's Mass for Four Voices, I thought I was in heaven! I was fortunate enough to meet up with quite a few friends as well. Greg Daly was over from Ireland and it was great to catch up with him, as well as some other Catholic Voices, Peter Williams, the Morrison family and friends I made at the Ordinariate Epiphany; Harry, Richard, Robert, and James.
I cannot finish without commenting on the homily from Fr. Armand de Malleray. It blew me away quite frankly, and had me simultaneously in tears and rapture. Please pray for Fr. Ian & the work of the FSSP.