The Oratory of Saints Gregory & Augustine: An Archdiocesan "Latin Mass" Parish Success Story

The Oratory of Sts. Gregory and Augustine of the Archdiocese of St. Louis, Missouri is a unique parish community and a truly inspiring place to visit.  It was formally established by Archbishop Raymond Leo Burke (later Cardinal) when he was Archbishop of St. Louis in 2007.  It was originally founded in 2004 and canonically established by Cardinal Burke as a non-territorial parish that offers the sacraments exclusively in the Extraordinary Form of the Roman Rite.  Meanwhile, the priests that staff the parish are from the Archdiocese of St. Louis while the community is under the care of a rector (not a pastor, because a rector does not exercise authority over a territory of people, but only over members of the Oratory).  

Photos: The Oratory of Ss Gregory & Augustine

Parishioners come from everywhere, some making many sacrifices while driving a great distance.  In fact, while they have had remarkable priests, the true success story of the Oratory is the parishioners -- they are a tight-knit and committed group of dedicated lay faithful.  The Oratory is the newest parish community in the Archdiocese, reflecting the pastoral necessity to minister to those faithful who feel attached to the Church's more ancient forms of prayer, thus making it a "pastoral ministry" of the Archdiocese.  The Oratory is a model community for other dioceses to look to when seeking to accommodate their own Latin Mass communities.  An "oratory" describes a place for worship that is designated by permission of the local ordinary for the benefit of some community or group of the faithful.  An oratory, unlike an ordinary parish church, does not have geographical boundaries that would ordinarily designate a parish because parishioners come from everywhere.   

The community was originally placed by Cardinal Burke under the care of Benedictine monks from the Abbey of St. Mary and St. Louis.  The first rector was Fr. Bede Price, OSB, who served the community with distinction for nearly ten years, overseeing the early growth with Mass at the Abbey.  Then came Fr. Aidan McDermott, OSB who played a crucial role for a short period of time, helping the community to transition and relocate to a more permanent location.  This came about through the good graces of Cardinal Burke's successor, Archbishop Robert Carlson.  The first relocation was to a church in a nearby suburb, Universal City with Msgr. Michael Witt named as rector, a reflection that the Archdiocese was committed to providing for the needs of the community with local clergy while also helping to find a more permanent and lasting home.      

In 2018 Msgr. C. Eugene Morris was named rector while the community was relocated a final time to be in residence at a more ideal location, the church of St. Luke the Evangelist.  This is a beautiful English Gothic church with a magnificent high altar and beautiful rose window above the main entrance.  The church is a good fit for the community, with a beautiful sanctuary, easy highway access, ample parking, a rectory, and proper classroom space for meetings to accommodate the homeschool co-op.  St. Luke's is located in Richmond Heights, a convenient suburb of St. Louis.  The parish offers daily Mass with three Masses on Sunday mornings.  The current rector is doing a great job and continues to build a firm foundation for the future.  

The community continues to grow, brick by brick, under the patronage of St. Gregory the Great and St. Augustine of Canterbury.  The Oratory has come a long ways since its humble beginnings in 2004 with just 35 families, meeting every Sunday at a local convent chapel of Passionist nuns in Ellisville, a suburb St. Louis.  Today the families number over 100 and are growing, an earnest and pious community that is passing on the Faith to a new generation through good liturgy and an excellent homeschool co-op that is well organized, meeting at the parish a few times per month.  Congratulations to the rector and to all members of the Oratory for being an archdiocesan "Latin Mass" parish success story.  Hopefully other dioceses will take note.     

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