Britain gains its first ‘personal parish’ for the Extraordinary Form

“As a general rule,” the Code of Canon Law says, “a parish is to be territorial.” Whether the area is the whole of Dubai (the largest parish in the world), or a few square miles in a metropolis, parishes occupy a clear area which doesn’t overlap with other parishes. But there are exceptions: some parishes serve a wider community, especially with Catholics who all speak the same language or worship in a particular rite.

Earlier this year, for instance, a personal parish specifically to serve migrants and refugees was set up in Israel. Migrants can, of course, worship in their local parish – but there’s a specialised parish which provides the kind of pastoral care new arrivals especially need. In 2017, the ordinariate set up a personal parish in Torbay. There’s a personal parish in Reading for Poles.

And now – also in Reading – there’s one for the Traditional Latin Mass (TLM). It will be based at St William of York Church, where the Fraternal Society of St Peter (FSSP) has been canonically established since 2010. But its boundary is the whole diocese of Portsmouth.

Bishop Philip Egan announced the new parish earlier this month, saying that he wanted everyone in the diocese to have the chance to “participate in the full range of the Roman liturgy”. The bishop hopes that the personal parish will “give their mission new energy and vitality in bringing many more people closer to Jesus Christ through His Church”.

It’s the first time the TLM has had such a parish in Britain, though there are precedents in Rome, Amsterdam and Thalwil, Switzerland. Like those, the new parish is in the care of the FSSP, which is dedicated to traditional liturgy.

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