Tuesday, October 25, 2005

Tribute to a Great Priest

By Mitchell

This Sunday is a momentous day at St. Agnes Church. At the 10am High Mass, we'll be celebrating the 60th anniversary of the ordination of Msgr. Richard Schuler, our pastor emeritus, who has spent over half of that time in service to St. Agnes and its parishioners.

It's difficult to overstate the accomplishments of Msgr. Schuler. He's a prolific writer, a world-renowned expert on liturgical music, founder of the Twin Cities Catholic Chorale, past president of the Church Music Association of America, editor of the CMAA's journal Sacred Music, active for many years in the International Papal Church Music Society (CIMS) and general chairman of the CIMS Fifth International Music Congress in 1966. He served as an inspiration to many parishes (such as St. John Cantius in Chicago) as they attempted to introduce the authentic liturgy of Vatican II, not the mess of a Mass that was foisted upon many parishes. (In response to a question, he made the prescient observation that "[t]he Council has not failed. It has never been tried." One of the priests at St. Olaf commented that whenever visitors ran into Cardinal Ratzinger in Rome, the Cardinal (upon finding out that they were from Minnesota) would tell them, "Give my regards to Msgr. Schuler!")

But don't think that Msgr. Schuler is merely an intellectual. He's also been a gentle pastor to countless parishoners who've sought his help and advice in and out of the confessional, a firm defender of the faith who starred down a threat to the authentic Catholic teaching in the parish school, an adviser to those seeking to discern their vocation (the parish has produced an average of one new priest a year over the past twenty-five years, including two last year alone), the man primarily responsible for the beauty that is the Latin High Mass at St. Agnes.

It would be pointless for me to go on when you could read what Msgr. Schuler himself has written, and what others have written about him:

Click here for Msgr. Schuler's article on what Vatican II really meant by "active participation" in the Liturgy. This is his article on "The Outrage of Inclusive Language." A sampling of other articles includes essays on Faith and Art, Faith and Culture, and the relationship between art and architecture. (More articles by Msgr. Schuler can be found here at the St. Agnes website.)

This chapter from the 100th anniversary history of St. Agnes Church tells of the role Msgr. Schuler played in steering the parish through the turmoil following Vatican II, and how he defended the school in the early 70s against the threat posed by liberal nuns trying to circumvent the teachings of the Church.

And here is an article about Msgr. Schuler's legacy written by Fr. John Zuhlsdorf in the most recent issue of The Wanderer.

For those of you in the Twin Cities area, you're welcome to join in the Mass and the reception that follows on Sunday. But although we like to think of Msgr. Schuler as "ours," he really belongs to the Church and, by extention, everyone. His accomplishments in the fields of liturgy, music, and thought can only be matched by those as a priest and pastor. It is not only us at St. Agnes, but the entire Church, that owes him a heartfelt thanks for his 60 years of service to the Church, and the legacy that will last for many, many more years. He truly has been a good and faithful servant.

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