(LifeSiteNews) — The Board of Directors of the Kentucky-based Missionaries of St. John the Baptist have announced that Fathers Shannon Collins and Sean Kopczynski will obey the Bishop of Covington’s decision to remove them from public ministry.
“Fr. Shannon and Fr. Sean accept the limitations placed on their ministry, and pray that a swift resolution to this difficulty may be found so the Missionaries and their community in formation may continue to serve faithfully the Church and minister to the parishioners of Our Lady of Lourdes,” the organization said in a press release issued earlier today.
The group was erected as a public association of the faithful in 2019 by former Covington Bishop Roger Foys, who is now retired. They first arrived in the diocese in 2011. The Missionaries acquired Our Lady of Lourdes Parish in Park Hills just south of Cincinnati in 2016 to exclusively offer the Traditional Latin Mass. At present, the group is overseeing the formation of six seminarians.
The Missionaries ran afoul of local ordinary John Iffert after Collins preached a “divisive sermon” several months ago that the diocese claimed had undermined “unity” in the Church. Collins, whose many sermons can be found online and on the website Sensus Fidelium, also refused to concelebrate a Novus Ordo Mass with Iffert. You can listen to the sermon in question by clicking here.
The Diocese of Covington has issued a statement about the dismissal of Fr. Collins and Fr. Kopczysnki.
Bishop Iffert says Collins’ decision to not recant his view that the Novus Ordo preserves ‘literally nothing of the old [liturgy]’ ‘disqualifies’ him from public ministry. pic.twitter.com/MorEe9PEjU
— Stephen Kokx (@StephenKokx) January 18, 2024
In their statement, the Missionaries rejected the allegation that they have “promoted any errors in regard to the Holy Faith or taught anything contrary to the perennial Catechism of the Catholic Church.” They also recalled that because Bishop Foys approved them to “serve Catholics who are attached to” the “more traditional expression of the Catholic faith” that they could not partake in the new sacraments.
“The ancient and apostolic liturgies of Rome are not just a preference, but a necessity of [our] charism. In accordance with [our] constitutions, the Missionaries cannot relinquish that liturgical charism in [our] community, nor within any pastoral work [we] do,” they stated.
The Missionaries further remarked that although they “have always followed the lead of the Visible Shepherd of this local Church and will continue to do so” at the same time they “could not, in good conscience and in obedience to their charism, implement any plan of leading the faithful flock of Our Lady of Lourdes Parish away from the use of the older forms of Sacraments and Divine worship.”
On January 19, Iffert released a statement announcing that starting Sunday, January 21, parishioners of Our Lady of Lourdes would be permitted to share the St. Ann Mission’s Church for the Latin Mass, a move that was praised by some Catholics on social media but was met mostly with criticism. Iffert said he would join parishioners to discuss the situation regarding the Missionaries on Sunday, January 28.
In a previous statement, Iffert said that both Collins and Kopczysnki may offer private Masses for themselves, their immediate family members, and laity of the Missionaries of St. John the Baptist, but that they cannot publicly say the Mass.
Per their statues, the Missionaries will continue to retain control over Our Lady of Lourdes, which was established as a “quasi-parish” reserved for the exclusive celebration of the Traditional Latin Mass in 2016. In 2017, Foys conducted a dedication ceremony of the property. In 2018, he elevated it to the status of “personal parish,” writing in a public statement that “its members have distinguished themselves by their piety, generosity, and love for the Lord and His Church.”
This story is developing…