Hispanic Father brings Latin Mass back to the beach

by Jenna Jones
Thursday, December 20, 2007

Father Walter Ospina, 30, of St. Therese Catholic Church, has added many new things to his parish to encourage the faith practices of his parishioners. When walking into the brick beachfront church that graces the oceanfront on South Lumina Avenue, the comfort level is always at an all-time high. During the summer, fresh flowers decorate the altar, and the clean ocean breeze makes its way through the sanctuary doors to entice flip-flop-clad tourists and locals alike, and during the Christmas season, candles glow and offer a warmth that the unforgiving cold air will not provide.

In the three years that he has been serving St. Therese, Father Ospina has been diligent in implementing all recent papal requests to aid everyone he can in their personal quests for faith. In fact, the young Hispanic priest, a native of Colombia, South America, now offers his parishioners a Latin Mass at 3:30 p.m. on the last Sunday of every month. The additional mass comes just in time for the holidays, and he hopes it will be yet another tool to encourage a broader spectrum of individuals in their daily lives.

While adding another Mass to the schedule around Christmas time may not seem like that big of a deal, the Latin Mass offered by Father Ospina is the first celebrated at St. Therese in more than 40 years and came as a direct request from Pope Benedict 
Staff photo by Joshua Curry
Father Walter Ospina and St. Therese Catholic Church will celebrate Latin Mass on the last Sunday of each month.

In a letter addressed to the bishops and parishioners of the Catholic churches around the globe, Pope Benedict exercised his position of supreme authority over the church’s liturgy and implored, “Motu Proprio,”
meaning “on my own behalf,” that all Catholic clergy make the Latin Mass more accessible for all individuals.

“I am excited to do this,” said Father Ospina. “I believe it will really aid in bringing a healing back within the church.”

When traced back to its origins, the Catholic Mass was celebrated in Latin, with lengthy, descriptive prayers uttered from the mouths of the faithful while
facing the altar. Even the priest faced the altar, with his back toward the congregation, as he was believed to be a sole messenger delivering a pre-ordained liturgy from God.

When the second Vatican Council began in 1962 under Pope John XXIII, the Catholic Church was in a state of upheaval much like the rest of the world. With communism looming and threats of a nuclear world war on the horizon, Father Ospina imagines the church needed to revisit some longstanding issues to regain the faith and attention of Catholics around the world. “It was at this time that the church was faced with issues that it had never been confronted with before,” began Father Ospina. “It was time to figure out how to make the faith more accessible and appealing to the modern individual in the midst of a confused but very passionate world.”

After the council ended in 1965 under Pope Paul VI,

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