History of Our Community
by Mark O’Neill and Erick Wittemann
“Dominus vobiscum… Et cum spiritu tuo…Oremus. It’s been nearly 40 years since the words of the Latin Mass echoed through the sanctuary of St. Anthony of Padua Catholic Church.” wrote Helen Colwell Adams in her 2008 Lancaster Sunday News article entitled, “Return of Latin Mass Fills Church”.
Given the increasing number of Lancastrians who were driving to Harrisburg’s Latin Mass, a group of concerned Catholics petitioned Bishop Rhoades in 2008 to allow a new Latin Mass community to be formed locally. The bishop approved the establishment of the new community and directed that the celebrant should be Father Frank Parrinello, FSSP, a member of the Priestly Fraternity of St. Peter which is a religious order that exclusively offers the Traditional Latin Mass (TLM). Father Parrinello generously drove each week from the FSSP apostolate in Harrisburg to celebrate Mass at 6 p.m. on Saturday nights at St. Anthony’s in Lancaster.
This establishment was in accord with Pope St. John Paul II’s 1988 apostolic letter Ecclesia Dei in which he directed that the former liturgy should be made available in a “wide and generous” manner by diocesan bishops. In 2007, Pope Benedict further expanded the right of Catholics to have broader access to the ancient liturgy. He did this through his motu proprio entitled, Summorum Pontificum in which he wrote that, “…any Catholic priest of the Latin rite…may use either the Roman Missal published in 1962 by Blessed Pope John XXIII or the Roman Missal promulgated in 1970 by Pope Paul VI.” Furthermore, Pope Benedict wrote , “Let us generously open our hearts and make room for everything that the faith itself allows.” This document resonated with Catholics worldwide including several of the faithful who lived in Lancaster.
After many prayers, the time for the Latin Mass was moved to Sundays at 1:30 p.m. When Fr. Parrinello was transferred, Fr. Pang Tcheou, then a campus chaplain at Millersville University, took over for Fr. Parrinello. A short time later, Bishop Rhoades appointed Father Tcheou as pastor at Our Lady of Lourdes in Leola. Bishop McFadden, our next ordinary, then asked Fr. Joseph Howard to offer the Latin Mass at St. Anthony’s. Since Fr. Howard had been trained in the old rite, he was a suitable replacement, but his commute from his parish in Harrisburg eventually led to the appointment in 2013 of newly-ordained Fr. Dan Richards to care for the growing Latin Mass Community while he also served locally at St. Leo’s Church. Fr. Richards had previously assisted at the Mater Dei Latin Mass Community in Harrisburg for several years as a seminarian at Mount St. Mary’s. After a blessed tenure as our celebrant, Fr. Richards was transferred to Gettysburg to serve as campus minister at Gettysburg College in 2014. This opened the door for the return of Fr. Tcheou!
Fr. Tcheou led discussions with former St. Joseph pastor Fr. Allan Wolfe which led to the transfer of the Latin Mass apostolate from St. Anthony’s to our new home. The inaugural Latin Mass was offered at St. Joseph’s on August 14, 2016! In June 2018, we were delighted to have our first celebrant in-residence with the appointment of Fr. Brian Olkowski as parochial vicar. Our community reached a historic milestone in October 2019 when Bishop Ronald Gainer visited us to confer the Sacrament of Confirmation during a Solemn Pontifical Mass. While he kindly visited our community annually, this was the first time that Confirmation was offered. A detailed account of that memorable day along with professional photos can be viewed here. Sadly, our community was shuttered following the coronavirus outbreak in 2020 and remained largely dormant until the canonical appointment of our former celebrant Father Pang Tcheou as pastor of St. Joseph parish in May 2021.
Shortly after his appointment as pastor, a member of the lay faithful approached Father Tcheou about the feasibility of inviting Bishop Athanasius Schneider to the parish during the bishop’s annual visit to the United States. Fr. Tcheou graciously agreed and sought a formal invitation from Bishop Gainer who kindly gave his permission and extended a warm invitation to Bishop Schneider.
On Sunday, October 10, 2021, Bishop Schneider celebrated a Pontifical Mass at the Faldstool. Attended by a record crowd of nearly 600 faithful who came from across the diocese and from neighboring states, it marked the high-tide of the Traditional movement in Lancaster. The day was the culmination of many months of planning and showcased our community’s growth and maturity to the host a prelate of such global significance in the Church today. Since Bishop Schenider’s pastoral visit, our community has steadily grown. His encouragement and call to holiness continues to inspire our community as we approach our 15th anniversary in May 2023.
Fr. Parrinello unfortunately passed away on January 7, 2023 at the age of 55 after suffering a heart attack while visiting his father. In addition to helping start our Latin Mass community, he also opened a much-needed Catholic counseling and therapy practice that helped people across a number of midwestern states. His ministry was marked by his personal holiness. He was also a particularly gifted counselor. We remember him in our prayers. His obituary is available at https://www.christysmith.com/m/obituaries/Frank-Parrinello/Memories.
Check out our Gallery page for pictures and videos of some of our big events!