30 years of Latin (E.F.) Masses on the Island

In 2016 there was no shortage of choice in terms of the liturgy in Ryde, as three Forms of the Roman Rite of Mass (Ordinary, Extraordinary and Ordinariate) were celebrated. Fortunately, the re-ordering of St. Mary’s in the wake of Vatican II, has not unduly affected the sanctuary. It was 30 years ago that the E. F. Mass returned on an occasional basis to the Isle of Wight; mainly in Ryde and Newport.

At the time, it was visiting priests who offered these Masses, with the support of (mostly) sympathetic local clergy.

Those attached to the Old Mass on the Island have seen it all; the highs and lows; the successes, frustrations and disappointments. At one time, only four weekday E.F. Masses were permitted in the year and these were in Holy Cross, Seaview (a Chapel of Ease) just outside Ryde and not in the main Parish Church. Associates had to go virtually “cap in hand” to beg for an increase in the number of Masses. They asked for a monthly Mass. They eventually got six; later raised to eight. The bishop at the time, delegated responsibility for the local E.F. Masses to the Deanery clergy. Hence, they had to agree to the provision and number of the Masses. Much diplomacy had to be used to build up goodwill and convince some clergy that they were not “schismatics”, nor causing division by trying to turn the clock back to Pre-Vatican II days. There was once a mini crisis when it was reported that a young family turned up for an E.F. Mass; parents with four young children. Shock! … horror! … three young girls were wearing mantillas! “Is this where the LMS is leading the Church”, one exasperated religious sister exclaimed to some of the clergy!

Diplomacy did pay off to a certain extent, as supporters were positive and constructive and keen to play an active part in parish life. Things began to settle down thankfully and we were blessed with our first Missa Cantata, sung by Fr. Martin Edwards, at St. Mary’s in Ryde in June, 2003. This was followed by a Corpus Christi Procession. A momentous occasion! Other priests (mainly from the Southwark Archdiocese) came and gave inspiring Days of Recollections, visited sick and housebound members, gave Benediction and provided the spiritual nourishment that many were seeking. Hopefully, the natural beauty of the island with its picturesque coastline would act as an incentive for many of the visiting priests. Consequently, visiting clergy were given a mini-holiday whilst here.

With Summorum Pontificum” in 2007 and the arrival of Fr. Anthony Glaysher in Ryde the following year, there was a new lease of life amongst traditional Catholics. Many had prayed that there would have a traditional priest, sympathetic to the Old Rite here on the Island. Consequently, it was with great joy to many when his first Mass at St. Mary’s, Ryde on the Feast of Our Lady of Sorrows in 2008, was an E.F, Mass; a most appropriate feast, bearing in mind the dedication of the church.

With the Father’s arrival, E.F. Masses (normally twice a week) now became parish events promoted primarily by the parish priest. Attendance at the time was healthy. About thirty on a weekday. Sadly, these later declined with death, old age and infirmity. In June 2009, the Island had the joy of its first Solemn High Mass for 45 years, when Fr. Matthew Goddard FSSP (then only ordained for a week) came to Ryde. As celebrant, he was assisted by Deacon Stephen Morgan and Fr. Simon Leworthy as Sub Deacon. (See picture – above).

Soon afterwards, Fr. Glaysher introduced a First Friday E.F. Mass at St. Michael’s at Bembridge; a 1960s daughter church of Ryde, which he upgraded and enhanced in a traditional style. Missa Cantatas increased and a schola choir began to develop. Gradually, many of Fr. Glaysher’s flock in Ryde and Bembridge came to discover and appreciate the great power of the Holy Latin Mass in all its richness. In addition, he encouraged and promoted the traditional devotions of the Church; – May and October devotions and First Fridays, as well as restoring May and Corpus Christi Processions, veneration of relics of the saints and even Tenebrae in Holy Week.

Father always welcomed visiting priests. He had a close affiliation with the Society of St. Peter and their clergy were frequent visitors to St. Mary’s.

Fr. Glaysher in Rome outside the FSSP Church of Santissima Trinita Di Pelligrini in 2013.

He joined the society priests on several Retreats and attended their celebrations in Rome in 2013 which marked the society’s silver jubilee.

In 2014 Fr. Glaysher was delighted when he was invited to offer the annual High Mass in Westminster Cathedral (see picture – below) and to address their annual meeting. The following year, at the request of the LMS he started a monthly Sunday Latin Mass in Bournemouth, which meant him travelling there from the Island in the afternoon, after his normal parish schedule of Masses. This was quite hectic, but he was pleased to respond to this pastoral need. After nine years in Ryde, it was no real surprise to hear recently that Fr. Glaysher was moving to Aldershot in September. He will be sorely missed amongst traditional Catholics on the Island. He is clearly a man who loves the priesthood. As one person remarked, “Psalm 109 is most apt when thinking about him.”

(Tu es sacredos in aeternum secundum ordinem Melchisedech –
Thou art a priest forever, according to the Order of Melchisedech).

Thank you Fr. Glaysher for your pastoral care and spiritual direction. Naturally, some people looked at the future provision of E.F. Masses on the Island, patiently waiting to see if the Lord would provide. They were both surprised and delighted when an Ordinariate priest here on the Island, Fr. Jonathan Redvers Harris, came forward to say that he had “been moved by the Holy Spirit to offer to fulfil a pastoral need and to learn to say the E.F. Mass”.

Father was ordained for the Ordinariate of Our Lady of Walsingham in June 2011. He is familiar with the Island, as he was once the Anglican Vicar of All Saints, Ryde. He was based for three years in Ryde, before accepting a request from Bishop Philip Egan to move a few miles west across the Island and become Parish Priest of St. Thomas’s, Cowes and St. David’s, East Cowes. LMS members and supporters are immensely grateful to Fr. Jonathan, who started to learn to offer the E.F. Mass. So, the old Mass continues. Deo Gratias!