Father Mike Morrissey
Father Mike Morrissey

VENETA — The Latin Mass formed during the counter-Reformation and used for about 500 years will be offered weekly at St. Catherine of Siena Parish here. The pastor of St. Catherine likens the move to offering Mass in Spanish for Catholics who prefer to pray in that language. 

"There were a lot of people who were asking for it," says Father Mike Morrissey, who was a longtime pastor of Southeast Portland's St. Anne Parish, a primarily Spanish-speaking community.  

Starting this month, the Latin Mass is set for Sundays at noon at the 160-seat church, west of Eugene. Mass in English will continue to be offered as well. 

Veneta is also home to a church operated by the Society of St. Pius X, which maintained the Latin Tridentine Mass in opposition to liturgical reforms of the Second Vatican Council. Efforts to reunite the society with the Catholic Church have stalled. In 2007 Pope Benedict approved a plan that gave pastors more freedom to offer the Tridentine Mass for stable groups of Catholics who want it. Before the restrictions were lifted, pastors were required to get permission from their bishops. 

Still, the Latin Mass is officially called the "extraordinary form" of Mass, meaning it is not to be understood as the standard.  

Members of St. Catherine have been gearing up to welcome new parishioners and learning about the extraordinary form. For some older Catholics, the Latin Mass is familiar. For others, it will be new. The parish held a luncheon last week to welcome new members.  

"There are people who want to attend Mass in a church in full communion with the Catholic Church," says Shawn Church, a member of the pastoral council at St. Catherine. 

Deanna Valenzuela, pastoral associate, reports that interested calls have been coming in.