Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Oratory Week in San Diego Successfully Concluded with Vespers in St. Joseph Cathedral

Oratory Week in San Diego in San Diego came to a fitting climax on Sunday afternoon, 13 July 2008, with Solemn Sunday Vespers sung in St. Joseph Cathedral, through the kind permission of its rector, Fr. Peter Escalante. The Vespers were celebrated by Fr. Sean Finnegan, parish priest to St. Peter's Catholic Church, Shoreham, Sussex, England, who has been visitor to the Brothers of the Little Oratory in San Diego during the past week. Fr. Finnegan was assisted by Fr. Harry Neely, OSA, and Br. Rhone Lillard, an FSSP seminarian and native San Diegan. The Vespers were also attended by Bishop Salvatore Cordileone, Auxiliary of the Diocese of San Diego.

The Vespers featured the use of the Cathedral's 1931 Austin pipe organ dating from the time of the church prior to the present 1943 building, and rarely heard at the moment. The music included a falso bordone "Lucis creator optime" by Victoria, a Magnificat setting by Hernando Franco (c.1585) who in his time was Maestro da Capella at the Mexico City Cathedral, and a Tantum Ergo for organ and unison soprani by John Polhamus (2006), as well as the Byrd "Ave Verum" as a motet at exposition of the Blessed Sacrament.

While not without complications arising from unforseen conflicts in scheduling with the various parishes used during Oratory Week, the overall event must be accounted far more successful than the mere sum of its parts. This was a superb opportunity for the Brothers to experience an entire week of solemn liturgy in both forms. Low masses in the Extradorinary Form were said on on Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday, Friday and Monday at St. Anne's, and Votive Missa Cantata in the Ordinary Form was sung on Saturday at St. John the Evangelist in Latin, ad Orientem, with chant propers and ordinary provided by the Brothers. Fr. Finnegan was able to say a private Tridentine mass on Sunday following the 9:00 mass at Holy Cross.

But importantly, and most unusually, all of the available oratories of the week were said in one location or another, including the Oratory of the Passion on Friday afternoon following the Gomez wedding; the Musical Oratory was given publically in St. John the Evangelist on Saturday evening; the Oratory of Sunday Morning was given in the Crypt Chapel at Holy Cross mausoleum prior to the 9:00 mass.

And following the Vespers and recreation, the Oratory of Sunday Afternoon was given in the St. Joseph downstairs hall, attended by His Excellency Bishop Cordileone. Fr. Finnegan's stirring and heartfelt fervorino, given off the cuff and without notes, concerned three topics of great moment to the Brothers, these being regularity of prayer and place, study and mutual education, and charitable works. This message was taken to heart by all present, and will be our focus in months and years to come.

In fine, this week of Oratory and Solemn Liturgy was the fullest and longest sustained manifestation of the Oratorian life which we have yet attained here in our Diocese. We look forward to building on this for the future, and we thank from the bottom of our hearts all who helped to make this past week the meaningful success that it was, including Fr. Finnegan, Bishop Cordileone, Fr. Fambrini, Fr. Dillard, Fr. Escalante, Fr. Neely, Br. Rhone Lillard, Fr. DeFour, Fr. Sczurek O.Praem., Mr. Peter Leparulo, TLM San Diego and its devoted sacristans, Rev. Carla A. Friedrich of the San Diego Swedenborgian Church, and all our musical friends including vocalists Anne-Marie Dicce, Angelica Eclar, Sandra Flores, Anastasia Tilbury, Matt Hall, Erick Rarick and Spencer Velkey, and instrumentalists Salma & Salwa Bachar, and Faith and Nicole Delino. Special thanks are also due to Mr. James Holman, a patron of longstanding, and Miss Santa Pecoraro, who ably committed the event to video for posterity. Again to all of you, our sincere thanks.

Let us go forward with the dual maxims of our Holy patron St. Philip Neri:

"Allegramente! Allegramente" - "Be cheerful! Be cheerful! - and, "Brothers, when will we begin to do good?" With these two sayings in our hearts and minds, we cannot go far wrong.

Deo Gratias!

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