Michael Goshgarian, Special to The Catholic Virginian
On Sunday, Sept. 17, St Benedict Parish, Chesapeake, marked 25 years of devotion to the traditional (Tridentine) Catholic Mass.
Fr. Philip Johnson was the celebrant at a Solemn High Mass, assisted by Fr. David Franco, a priest of the Priestly Fraternity of St. Peter, and Fr. Robert Schmid Jr. The priests are former parishioners at St. Benedict.
Following Mass, Fr. Anthony Forte, a priest of the Priestly Fraternity of St. Peter and assistant pastor at the parish, blessed the newly completed Piazzo de Sancte Beneditto. During a luncheon at the Chesapeake Conference Center, attended by 400 guests, the parish celebrated its growth and the numerous vocations it has produced.
St. Benedict Parish began with a small group of laymen and women committed to keeping the Latin Mass alive in the Tidewater region. In time, the community became part of the Diocese of Richmond as a mission of St. Gregory the Great Parish, Virginia Beach. The church, known as St. Benedict Chapel, met in a one-story, converted farmhouse standing on a wooded tract in Chesapeake.
In 2008, the community broke ground on a structure — one of the very first church buildings since the 1960s to be designed and constructed exclusively for the Latin Mass, also called the Extraordinary Form of the Roman Rite. The building was dedicated in 2011 by the late Bishop Francis X. DiLorenzo. The following year, the community became an official parish of the Diocese of Richmond.
With Fr. Neal Nichols, a priest of the Priestly Fraternity of St. Peter, as its pastor, the parish is home to 250 families, with a total of 850 individuals. In order to accommodate the influx of new members and visitors, the parish offers three Sunday Masses and two daily Masses, and the sacrament of penance daily and on Sunday.