Monday, June 1, 2009

Fr. Eduard Perrone on Fr. Charles White IV

In his May 31, 2009 Pastor's column, Fr. Perrone wrote about the newly ordained Fr. Charles White IV, who celebrated Mass this Sunday for the first time, and as a Solemn High Mass (1962 Missal).

Greeting you today on this page is the happy face of our newly ordained priest, Father Charles White, who is celebrating his first Solemn Mass at the 9:30 Pentecost Orchestral Mass. Fr. White was ordained to the priesthood yesterday by Archbishop Allen Vigneron at Blessed Sacrament Cathedral. Since this event has not yet taken place at the time of writing, I cannot report of it here, except to say that I have the honor of being the priest designated to vest him in priestly attire during the rite of ordination.

The First Mass of a newly ordained priest is always a most festive occasion for a parish. It is a day of grace and blessing, not only for the priest himself, but also for all those fortunate to be a part of the celebration. I will suppress here the recital of happy memories of my own First Mass (old people like to reminisce, you know) in order to speak about Fr. White.

If many of you are not well acquainted with him, this is to be expected. The White family was not reared in this parish. In fact, the priest’s father (also Charles White–the 3rd), as well as the priest himself, are converts to the Catholic Church. Having been brought up in Sterling Heights, and at the time a Baptist, Charles entered the Air Force, where he served our country for two years. After this time, he was employed as a contractor in the auto industry for a while, during which time he began to study religious matters with growing intensity. Here he believes the seeds of his priestly vocation were sown. Working as a security officer, he made several holy hours and delved ever more deeply into the Catholic faith which he entered in 1998 during the Easter Vigil Ceremonies. Feeling the inclination to become a priest, he entered Sacred Heart Seminary where for eight years he studied first philosophy and then theology.

In the course of his seminary studies, Charles had the good fortune to study under Mr. Cal Shenk who directed the music department at the seminary in those years. You may recall that, after leaving Sacred Heart Seminary, Cal came here to assist with the music program of the Grotto where, once upon a fine day, seminarian White stopped by for a visit. This was his first call to a parish he had heard much about. Here I first met him and we began to speak about our mutual love for the Church. By this time it had become manifestly clear to him that not all parishes were alike and that in fact there were some wide differences from parish to parish, differences which, while not signaling separation, indicated a disparity of religious practices. As Charles’s knowledge of the liturgical tradition of the Church began to widen, he came to appreciate more deeply the reasons for the tradition of reverence and piety that have marked our parish’s liturgical life. This led him to become a registered parishioner here. He found not only that the Mass was said with due respect to liturgical directives for Masses in English, but he also discovered the richness of our Latin heritage in the celebration of the new rite of Mass. When the return of the Tridentine Mass was observed here with all due solemnity September 14, 2007, he was among those fascinated by the restoration of the Church’s solemn and ancient rites. By studying these ceremonials in greater detail on his own, he came not only to appreciate their intrinsic value, but their usefulness in uncovering the deeper meaning of the Mass when celebrated in the new rite as well. This liturgical study led him to request from me that he be permitted to offer his first Mass here in the Tridentine Solemn Mass form, a request which I was only too happy to grant. This will be the first time that a priest of the Archdiocese of Detroit will have offered his first Mass in the Tridentine form since the time when the old Latin missal was discontinued. This is an historic occasion for the Archdiocese, for Fr. White and for us.

All what I have said has been pretty much a recital of facts, but does not speak of the great pleasure I have in presenting Fr. White to the parish. He is a man truly devoted to the doctrines of the faith, to the devout celebration of the Mass and the sacraments, and who is most eager to place himself at the disposal of the Church for the salvation of souls. That’s the old-fashioned way of saying that he’s our kind of priest and a man of God. We are stronger, we are better provided for–thanks to the Providence of God–for the gift of his priesthood.

Father White’s first assignment will be Our Lady of Good Counsel Church in Plymouth, Michigan, where Fr. John Riccardo is pastor and Fr. Lee Acervo the associate. This promises to be a mighty triumvirate of priestly grace. The people of Good Counsel Parish will be enriched by Fr. White’s pastoral zeal and he no doubt will be blest through the exercise of his priestly work for his people. We count on Father White to return from time to time to the Grotto (he in fact will have several Masses here in June) for a happy visit to the place which he has adopted as his own and which proudly claims him.

In the gym following the 9:30 Mass there will be a dinner and reception during which time Father White will give to those presenting themselves his priestly blessing.

Father Charles White, you are another Christ and a priest forever! God’s grace be always with you!

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The obedient are not held captive by Holy Mother Church; it is the disobedient who are held captive by the world!