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MUNSTER | Catholics who fondly recall the Latin Tridentine Mass can dust off their St. Joseph Daily Missals and use them again at the Carmelite Monastery in Munster.

This Mass, always said in Latin, was established as the official Mass by the Council of Trent in the mid 1500s. It remained so until the modern day Mass, the Novus Ordo (new order), was established by the Second Vatican Council in the late 1960s.

In 1988, Pope John Paul II decreed that parishes can hold Tridentine Masses if allowed by the local bishop.

"The Tridentine Mass was pretty much out of practice for about 20 years until it was restored" by the Pope, monastery spokesman Michael Gibson said.

Back then, a group of Catholics in the Gary Diocese asked the Bishop, the late Norbert Gaughan, to bring it back. So in the early 1990s, he asked the monastery to have a Tridentine Mass for the diocese.

The monastery's prior, or leader, at that time, the Rev. Thomas Balys, agreed and the Tridentine Mass made its local comeback.

The monastery, now led by a new prior, the Rev. Jacek Palica, also celebrates the Masses in English and Polish every Sunday.

The Tridentine and Novus Ordo Masses contain the basic elements established by Christ on Holy Thursday, the Rev. Michael Veneklase said. "The essence is the same. It's the holy sacrifice of Christ."

Ironically, Latin remains the official language of the Catholic Church.

"Every document of the church is not official until it is established in the Latin language," Veneklase said.

The Mass draws a strong weekly flock at 5 p.m. each Saturday at the monastery, 1628 Ridge Road.

Joseph and Antoinette Figarelli regularly make the trip from St. Joseph, Mich. to the monastery.

"The Munster monastery had the only one in a 75 mile range, said Antoinette Figarelli."

Has the popularity of the Tridentine Mass set a trend?

"Not at all," said the Rev. Brian Chadwick, communications director for the Gary Diocese. "I'm not aware in our diocese of any hungering or craving for more than that's been generally expressed."

Very few Tridentine Masses are said in Indiana, he said. "Indianapolis or Lafayette may have one, too." On a national level, there are signs of interest. "You do see it in certain places," he said.

Veneklase noted that some Catholics prefer Latin, but not the older form of the Mass. Some like the Latin and the Gregorian Chant, but are uncomfortable with the Tridentine rite.

"I contacted the pastor of one parish" and arranged for a Novus Ordo Mass in Latin every Sunday, Veneklase said.

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