Holy Innocents in New York City is the only Church that offers a daily traditional Mass. It heads the list of parishes facing closure by the Archdiocese of New York. This Church played an instrumental role in the conversion to Catholicism of Joyce Kilmer:
“Of course you understand my conversion. I am beginning to understand it. I believed in the Catholic position, the Catholic view of ethics and aesthetics, for a long time. But I wanted something not intellectual, some conviction not mental – in fact I wanted Faith. Just off Broadway, on the way from the Hudson Tube Station to the Times Building, there is a Church, called the Church of the Holy Innocents. Since it is in the heart of the Tenderloin, this name is strangely appropriate – for there surely is need of youth and innocence. Well, every morning for months I stopped on my way to the office and prayed in this Church for faith. When faith did come, it came, I think, by way of my little paralyzed daughter. Her lifeless hands led me; I think her tiny feet know beautiful paths. You understand this and it gives me a selfish pleasure to write it down.”
Father Z gives us the details on the possible closure:
There is now a good article at the National Catholic Register about Holy Innocents, though I strongly disagree with the first line:
NEW YORK — Every weekday, several [?] traditional Catholics in New York City gather for a 6pm Traditional Latin Mass at the Church of the Holy Innocents, a Gothic Revival structure in Manhattan’s Garment District.
“Several”? Several dozens! And they are of every color and shape and economic level.
Masses are celebrated every day at the ideally situated Holy Innocents Church in both the Ordinary Form and, more importantly, in the Extraordinary Form.
The attendance at the Extraordinary Form evening Mass, well-timed for people getting off work, has been steadily growing. For Low Masses on Monday and Thursdays there is an average of 55 people. For Sung Masses – every Wednesday – about 75. On Fridays the number climbs to over 100. On Saturday morning, it varies between 80-100. On Sundays the average has been 170 and that number is climbing to around 200 these days. There are about 40 men who are in the server corps and about 20 in the choir rotation. Lay people gather and at least one cleric on Sunday afternoons to sing Vespers (as the Second Vatican Council asked) and have Benediction. There aren’t Sung Vespers at St. Patrick’s Cathedral, but there are at Holy Innocents. More people are at Sunday Vespers than at the Novus Ordo Mass at 12:30.
I don’t usually go for the “empower” buzz word stuff, but it is the lay people who are seriously empowered here. A liberal’s dream, right? Lay people have, with the benign nod of the pastor, turned this place around in 5 years.
Since the now infamous sermon given by Fr. Wylie and the way Holy Innocents has been in the news, I am told that there are many new faces in the congregation. I was told, “there are so many new faces for the coffee hour that we are running out of food extremely quickly.” They have coffee and doughnuts after the Sunday Extraordinary Form Mass and quite a few people hang out, as is typical of the traditional Mass goers whom I have seen around these USA and abroad.
Traditional Catholics tend to form a close and warm community. That’s also what is at stake. These are people, not numbers.
But speaking of numbers, last year the parish exceeded the quota for the “Cardinal’s Annual Appeal”.
Holy Innocents is on 37th between Broadway and 7th, near Herald Square, not far from Penn Station, so it is ideally situated near many public transportation options. The Garment District is experiencing a revival. The New York Post wrote that it is becoming another Silicon Valley. Even now, there is a steady stream of people all day long in an out of the church. People come to light candles, to pray briefly, and then go on their way. There is a thrift clothing store in the basement which is a help to low income people. I wrote about watching people during the day HERE.
If you are in New York sometime, and go to nearby Times Square or Macy’s, stop in at Holy Innocents even if you can’t be there for Mass. Say a prayer, and then watch the people come and go. It is amazing.
The Archdiocese wasted no time in retaliating against him. He has been forbidden to offer public Masses. A letter of complaint has been sent to his home diocese of Johannesburg, S. Africa, as well as with his nuncio in Pretoria.
It seems that in the current pontificate the only thing beyond the pale of tolerance is traditional Catholicism.