The following is an essay written by the pastor of Epiphany of Our Lord Catholic Church in Tampa, Florida, and member of the Traditian Order, Fr. Edwin Palka for his parish bulletin and Facebook page.
The Diocese of St. Petersburg had been guided by Bishop Robert Lynch for long years, who was not a fan of the Traditional Latin Mass. He was replaced in the last year, due to age, by Bishop Gregory Parkes. Bishop Parkes was asked to come to Epiphany and perform confirmations in the traditional manner.
The rest we leave to Father Palka:
From the Pastor: The Bishop Came to Epiphany!
Bulletin article, February 11
It happened! Our new Bishop, Gregory Parkes, came to Epiphany parish last week!
This was no ordinary visit from our Ordinary, though. This was the beginning of a new era. Bishop Parkes bestowed the Sacrament of Confirmation in the Traditional Latin Rite. It was a first for him and the first time that the venerable Old Rite of Confirmation was bestowed by the Bishop in this Diocese in 50 years or so.
Three Catholic communities joined together for this ceremony, which was a beautiful act of unity, a show of true Catholicity, as the priests of St. Joseph Vietnamese Mission and Immaculate Conception Haitian Mission sent their confirmandi to join with those from Epiphany. The three “native” languages spoken by the families who gathered, English, Creole and Vietnamese, were blended together as if by the Holy Spirit at Pentecost, by the official language of the Church, that is, Latin. Oh, for the day when we will all be united at the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass by this sacred language once again!
Seven priests, including the Bishop’s MC, were part of the ceremony, plus the Bishop. I don’t think we have had so many clergy in the church since I have been here. Though they will never read this, I certainly want to thank them all for being here.
The altar boys and MC from our parish did an outstanding job. Thank you, gentlemen. We had no rehearsal for this, as there was no time for the Bishop or his MC to come scope out the place beforehand even to get the lay of the land (or, better, to size up the sanctuary) to see how everyone would fit, where the Bishop’s faldstool (his chair) would be placed, or anything like that. Only one priest present had even witnessed a Traditional Rite Confirmation.
Trying to visualize everything only by reading the rubrics is not nearly the same as personally experiencing the ceremony. Of course, we knew that nobody in the congregation knew what we were supposed to be doing, either, so as long as we projected confidence nobody would be the wiser no matter what happened. The schola was able to… well, you all know our schola. You know that they filled the church with heavenly–even angelic–voices. Thank you all for pulling it off with such seeming ease.
Then, after the ceremony was done, the Epiphany Council of Catholic Women, who had swarmed the social hall in the afternoon setting up for a Confirmation party, had a surprise for each of the just-confirmed youngsters from each parish. Not only did they supply cake and drinks, balloons and decorations, but they also had a gift bag for each newly anointed Saint-in-the-making. Thank you, wonderful ladies, for all the work and resources you put into this.
With prayers for your holiness,
Rev. Fr. Edwin Palka