I had a visit from a former parishioner who is now a brother of one of the new Oratories. Oratories seem to be on the rise. Birmingham and London have existed since the 19th century but almost 30 years ago Oratorians took over St Aloysius in Oxford and a the failing Jesuit church began to thrive. In recent years bishops have entrusted churches in York, Bournemouth and Cardiff to them. No-one would dispute that the Oratories have a very distinct flavour, even the new ones; there is what some might suggest is a certain dustiness about them. a tendency, even if most of their Masses are Novus Ordo to look to ‘Tradition’, they, like St Philip Neri, tend to look to the formation of young men in doctrine and liturgy, in both Cardiff and Bournemouth part of their mission is acting as chaplains to the universities.
The Oratories are part of a trend, in Preston both the Institute of Christ the King and the Fraternity of St Peter have been given churches where others have failed, so too in New Brighton. It might be that these bishops are acting in desperation and simply want museum curators for huge but splendid old churches that they cannot find the manpower to cover. Yet these institutes are happy to take them on, they have plenty of other offers round the world but they feel they can turn these churches into mission centres, that what others have fail at doing they can succeed.
I have another young friend, again a former parishioner, who will be ordained priest next year, he studied at Econe, his large family are staunch supporters of the Fraternity, one of his brothers is also a seminarian and a sister is a Dominican novice. I am rather saddened that the FSSPX have chosen to close their chapel here in Brighton but that is not the general trend, they are growing:
The priests live in 165 priories in 32 countries and have 772 centers in 72 countries around the world. I don’t know many of their priests but those I have met seem to be, rather than having two heads, or as they are often pictured anti-Semitic sede vacantists, rather normal young men with a passion for the mission of Christ and his Church.