FORT WAYNE, INDIANA – Father George Gabet discovered his love for the old Latin Mass years before his ordination while attending it at Sacred Heart Parish in Fort Wayne. Now he will be serving Sacred Heart, as well as Catholics in South Bend, through his new assignment as a chaplain of a community formed especially for Catholics who worship in the pre-Vatican II rite.
This rite, called the 1962 Roman Missal, the Tridentine Rite and, more recently, the extraordinary form of the Roman Missal, has received greater attention since the July 2007 publication of Pope Benedict XVI’s motu proprio, “Summorum Pontificum,” allowed for greater use of it.
To meet the needs of Catholics wishing to worship in this rite in the Diocese of Fort Wayne-South Bend, Bishop John M. D’Arcy has established the St. Mother Theodore Guérin Community. This community, which came into effect March 1, will consist of parishioners at Sacred Heart in Fort Wayne and St. John the Baptist in South Bend, two parishes that have offered the Tridentine rite Mass since 1990. Father George Gabet will be the community’s chaplain.
While a native of Fort Wayne, Father Gabet is a priest of the Priestly Fraternity of St. Peter, an international community of priests formed in 1988 by Pope John Paul II, the charism of which is the celebration of the Tridentine rite.
Father Gabet is a graduate of Bishop Dwenger High School and Ball State University. Partly through his work in the pro-life movement, he discovered his vocation and entered the international seminary of the Priestly Fraternity of St. Peter in Wigratzbad, Germany in 1991. He was ordained a priest by Bishop D’Arcy in 1997. Father Gabet recently served as North American district superior of the fraternity. During this time, the fraternity opened 11 new apostolates across the United States.
“This will be our 35th diocese that we’ll be working in,” explains Father Gabet of his Fort Wayne assignment, “and also our 40th apostolate within those 35 dioceses in the United States and Canada.”
Father Gabet’s assignment in the Diocese of Fort Wayne-South Bend came at a time when he was looking for a ministry that was less demanding and required less time in airports and Bishop D’Arcy was looking for a priest to continue the work and dedication of priests like Father Dan Leeuw, Father James Seculoff, Father Adam Schmitt, Father James Stoyle and others who have said the Latin Mass in Fort Wayne and South Bend in recent decades.
“I think we need to build up the community in South Bend,” Father Gabet says, noting that the St. John the Baptist community has been without a priest who says the Latin Mass since Father Seculoff’s move to New Haven in 2007.
Father Gabet will travel to South Bend almost every Sunday to celebrate Mass at St. John the Baptist. He will also offer a daily Latin Mass at Sacred Heart in Fort Wayne. Other priests who are willing and available will say the Sunday Mass in Fort Wayne.
Along with saying Mass, the pope’s motu proprio allows for administering the sacraments according to the earlier rituals, notes Brian MacMichael, director of the Office of Worship for the diocese. This, he adds, fits with Father Gabet’s role as a chaplain.
Also as a result of the motu proprio, demand has risen for priests of the Priestly Fraternity of St. Peter.
“We feel blessed to have his ministry here in this diocese,” said Father Robert Schulte, vicar general of the Diocese of Fort Wayne-South Bend.
Father Gabet says he too is happy to be back in Fort Wayne with his family and serving the community that first introduced him to the Tridentine rite.
“It’s every priest’s dream come true,” he notes, thanking God, Bishop D’Arcy and Father John Berg, his superior general.
Addressing the issue of the role of the extraordinary form of Roman Missal in the context of the church as a whole, Father Gabet says the church has always had different rites, all fully in communion with Rome, and that together, they create a beautiful arrangement much as different flowers do in a bouquet. He adds that what is important is meeting the spiritual needs of the faithful and that, for some people, this means the Latin Mass.
“It helps them to be holier,” he notes. “It helps them to pray better.”
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