Bishop Shuts Down Traditional Latin Mass at the Franciscan University of Steubenville

STEUBENVILLE, Ohio – Bishop Jeffrey Monforton of the Diocese of Steubenville, Ohio, has banned the Traditional Latin Mass from being offered on Franciscan University’s campus despite efforts of the school’s president to keep the Old Mass available for students and faculty.  

The mandate came last week and was effective immediately. The diocese said the move was intended to implement the norms, including the recent rescript, issued by the Holy See,” regarding the celebration of the traditional liturgy. The bishop has allowed the nearby parish of St. Peter’s to continue offering the Latin Mass and is seeking a dispensation from Rome to maintain the Old Mass there. 

“The Mass at Franciscan has been [canceled],” a spokesperson for the Diocese said. “The bishop is seeking a dispensation for the Mass at St. Peter’s, where the weekly Latin Mass has been held for years.” 

St. Peter’s Church in Steubenville is about a mile from the university campus. The Traditional Latin Mass is celebrated weekly, with a High Mass about once a month, on the first Sunday.  

Father Dave Pivonka, the president of Franciscan University, told students in an email that he had tried to convince the bishop to allow the Latin Mass to continue on campus, but to no avail.  

“I spoke with [Bishop Monforton] multiple times hoping we could work out a way to continue offering the Traditional Latin Mass at Franciscan University for the many students, faculty, and staff with a special love for this ancient form of the sacred liturgy,” Pivonka wrote. “Bishop Monforton remains convinced, however, that this decision is best for our diocese in light of Pope Francis’ 2021 motu proprio Traditionis Custodes.” 

According to attendees of the university’s Latin Mass, it had become very popular, with “easily 250 at each of them this semester,” he said. Thomas Crowe, who trained the servers for the Old Mass, said that “the chapel’s been packed, and it’s mostly students. He affirmed that the university, known for its more charismatic style of liturgy, “was always supportive” and would “make sure we had what we needed.” 

“The opportunity for the students, especially students who had never attended the [traditional Latin Mass] previously, the opportunity was tremendous,” Crowe said.  

Crowe said he thought it was “unfortunate the bishop was in the situation he was in,” and that the idea in the Vatican that it needs to restrict the Old Mass is “tragic.” Crowe said that if the bishop felt he could only allow either the university or the parish to maintain the Latin Mass, “choosing St. Peter’s made sense.”  

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