There have been a lot of ups and downs over this time. For several years we had the traditional Latin Mass only every other week, in La Crosse. Then Bishop (now Archbishop) Burke moved us back out to St. Mary's Ridge, where the ICRSS got its start in the United States. Shortly thereafter, we had Mass every week, with an Institute priest making the 260 mile round trip virtually every Sunday to say Mass for us after he had already said two Masses at St. Mary's Oratory in Wausau, WI. There have been some wonderful diocesan and other priests who have occasionally filled in for us, but 99% of the time we have been served, faithfully, by the Institute of Christ the King. And let it be known that, although even my family has been unable to attend Mass on several Sundays due to bad weather over those years, not one single time, not once, has the apostolate been without a priest on Sunday. Always, they have found a way to get to us. Now that is a missionary spirit.
Through the years we have seen growth, but it has been slow. For starters, we're in a very rural area, so we are not near any major population center. In the early years we advertised the apostolate to try and attract individuals and families to the area. We actually got many dozens of calls, but we were inevitably confronted with the same question: "Do you have a priest in residence?" And usually (though not always!) when we had to say No, the interested party would look elsewhere. As I expressed several times to the Institute superiors, it was a Catch 22: We can't grow without a priest in residence, but in order to get a priest in residence we need to grow.
Still, we grew. And now we have a priest in residence. Canon Glenn Gardner has come to be our priest and, starting on the first Sunday of Advent, 2009, we had our first Sunday morning Mass in almost ten years, with some over one hundred people in attendance. Now there will be a regular Sunday Mass at 10:30 am and daily Mass will be at 7 am. See here for the most current Mass times.
It is really an amazing testament to the resurgence of the traditional Roman Rite and, I think in no small measure, to the complete normalization of that Rite by Pope Benedict XVI. So now we have that thing we have been praying for: normalcy. We just want to believe as our fathers believed and to worship as our fathers worshipped. So thank you to Almighty God. To the Blessed Virgin Mary. To all the holy souls of St. Mary's Ridge. To Pope Benedict XVI for Summorum Pontificum. Thank you to Archbishop Raymond Burke and Bishop Jerome Listecki for their support of the Institute of Christ the King generally and this apostolate specifically. Thank you to Institute Superiors, Msgrs. Gilles Wach and R. Michael Schmitz. Thank you to the Institute priests who have faithfully served us over the years: Canons Olivier Meney, Richard von Menshengen, Denis Buchholz, Andreas Hellmann, Glenn Gardner, and Henri Fragelli. And thanks too to the priests of the Diocese of La Crosse, especially Frs. Redfern and Moreno, for saying the traditional Latin Mass for us. May God bless you all.
And now, if anybody wants to know more about a traditional Latin Mass apostolate in the beautiful rolling hills of southwestern Wisconsin just remember......we now have a priest in residence. Drop me a line and let's discuss all the good reasons why you should move here to join us.