The old Latin Mass will be offered by a priest of the Institute of Christ the King Sovereign Priest on Sunday, October 21, at 12:30 pm on the campus of the University of Kansas in Lawrence, KS. Fr. Steven Beseau is director of the St. Lawrence Catholic Center and has invited the Missa Cantata to be sung in the chapel by Fr. Denis Buchholz of the Institute of Christ the King Sovereign Priest. Fr. Buchholz is the current rector of the old Latin Mass community at Old St. Patrick Oratory in Kansas City.
The University of Kansas was the site of many traditional Catholic vocations to the priesthood and conversions to the true Faith while Dr.'s Senior, Quinn, and Nelick taught their Pearson Integrated Humanities Program in the 1970's. In fact, there would be no Clear Creek Monastery in Oklahoma without the conversions and priests engendered by the Pearson Program. The current Bishop of Salina, KS also attended the program, as did certain priests of the Kansas City, MO, Kansas City, KS, and Wichita dioceses. In addition, more than a few alumni of the Pearson Program became priests and monks in old traditional Catholic monasteries and convents in France.
I heard Dr. John Senior give an address at a Catholics United for the Faith meeting at a parish in south Kansas City during the mid-1970's. The thin professor who had himself been a convert to the Catholic faith, and appeared to me to walk a difficult spiritual path few mortals take. He was well known for his support of the old Latin Mass, and so it is appropriate that Kansas University is the location of one of the first archdiocesan Masses offered in the 1984 Latin rite under Summorum Pontificum.
I remember hearing that the three professors were very good at embedding a desire to search for, and find and love truth, in their students. Once I watched Dr. Senior and Dr. Quinn (or perhaps it was Dr. Nelick?) argue vigorously in a large auditorium. I'm not sure of the subject but it was undoubtedly about a position relating to the foundation of Western Civilization that was also debated by ancient peoples.
In the debate I heard, Dr. Senior took the affirmative position and Dr. Quinn took the negative position. All the possible views of the subject seemed to be explored. The 45-min exploration easily demonstrated to listeners the errors of particular points and the truths of others. Consequently, even though Catholicism was never advertised, the students eventually wondered about the personal beliefs of the genial, yet stalwart professors. When students asked questions, answers were given, and I remember hearing the program was responsible for keeping a convert class conducted by old Fr. Moriarity full with at least 40 students each semester.
Things went along fairly well in the first couple of years, but then some parents, rather powerful, realized that more than a few of their children were embracing the Catholic faith. Years later, one of the priests who came from the Pearson Program came back to Kansas City to say Mass at a local parish. He had been estranged from his Jewish family for many, many years, and his sister had agreed to meet him after the morning Mass. I won't forget the woman who came up to me as I was leaving the church and asked, "I'm looking for my brother. He's DRESSED LIKE A CATHOLIC PRIEST."
The University, betraying its liberality, caused the program to die in about 1979. A key element of the betrayal was to deny the Pearson Program access to the names and addresses of entering freshmen. But other roadblocks were also successfully used by the University. Yet so much had been accomplished in the very short eight years of the Program that a book would be required to describe it all. May the Church eventually acknowledge the sanctity, love, and courage exhibited by Dr. John Senior during the worst time of the Devil's Playground in the Church of the 1970's.
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