Each year Mater Ecclesiae Latin Mass parish in Berlin, New Jersey organizes a special Solemn High Orchestral Mass for the Feast of Our Lady of Assumption as an act of thanksgiving to Our Lady for her intercession in their parish's establishment in 2000.
Due to the extravagance and solemnity of the feast, the event is now held each August 15 across the Delaware River, at the Cathedral Basilica of Ss. Peter and Paul in Philadelphia. Please see photos from the event, as well as remarks from the Rector of Mater Ecclesiae parish, Fr. Robert Pasley.
From the Rector
The life of a parish priest has many aspects; spiritual, liturgical, pastoral, administrative, educational. and personal. He can go from celebrating a Solemn High Mass to fixing a leaky faucet. He can hear confessions for an hour and then go sit at his desk and pay bills. He can spend time teaching the faith and then go and figure out how to raise funds. One of the greatest privileges that a priest could ever have is to found a parish and have a say in what it is called. I experienced this great privilege in 2000. Ironically, 54 parishes in the diocese of Camden have been suppressed and merged since 2000, and Mater Ecclesiae, the exclusive Extraordinary Form parish, is the last new parish founded in the Diocese since the changes of the most recent council. I smile every time I think of it.
Just before Mater Ecclesiae was set up, the Bishop at the time, Bishop Nicholas DiMarzio, called me into his office and said, “Do you have a name for this new parish?” I said, “Let me think about it.” I returned home and began the discernment process. I wanted to name the parish in honor of Our Lady. For years the people had prayed the rosary to Our Lady of Fatima for the reestablishment of the Traditional Latin Mass. I couldn’t use a title that was already in use and I wanted it to be in Latin. I wanted people to know that we were part of the ancient traditions of our Catholic Faith, but that we were not just a museum piece clinging to the past. I wanted a clear statement that we were a continuation of the old, but that we were an important part of the present and the future. At that moment a light went on. The most recent title given to our Lady, in the 2000-year history of the Church, was Maria, Mater Ecclesiae; Mary, Mother of the Church. Our Lady was giving life to this new parish. in the contemporary Church, at a time of great decline and confusion. Those who love the Ancient Latin Mass were not secondary citizens of the Church but were active members of the present Church that have a great deal to offer. We would be part of the ancient heritage but would be born in this contemporary moment in time. The title, “Mater Ecclesiae" was presented to the Bishop and he approved it. And so, Mater Ecclesiae, Traditional Latin Mass Parish, Berlin NJ, was founded on October 13, 2000, the day of the Miracle of the Sun at Fatima, the feast day of Saint Edward the Confessor, in whose parish boundaries our buildings existed, and during the Holy year of Jubilee 2000.
After our foundation, I wanted to do a big orchestral Mass as an act of thanksgiving to our Lady. As many of you know our Church building is too small for such an undertaking. I broached the subject with our music director, an exuberant music student at the time, Tim McDonnell. He came up with the idea of the Assumption Mass. He said to me, “Why don‘t we ask the bishop if we could use the Cathedral in Camden, once a year, on the Feast of the Assumption, for a special Mass of Thanksgiving.” I did, we did it, and now we are here 20 years later. Student Tim McDonnell is now Dr. McDonnell, head of the Sacred Music Department at Catholic University. He has arranged and conducted this Mass almost every year since its inception. This is our 7th year at the Cathedral Basilica and our 20th anniversary. Thank you dear Lord, and thank you dear Mother, Maria, Mater Ecclesiae, and of course, thank you to Dr. McDonnell because we want another 20 years out of him.