Written by: Julia Holton

For the past six years, Providence Academy has highlighted the importance of world languages by holding a Mass in each of the three languages offered at school: French, Spanish, and Latin. 

In a typical year, Providence Academy’s Chaplain, Fr. McClellan, would celebrate the Mass for the Spanish and Latin students entirely in Spanish and Latin. However, this year Fr. McClellan was absent on a retreat, so priests from neighboring parishes visited to celebrate Mass with the students. The Language Mass celebrations originally started six years ago as a way for students to see the language they are learning in a real and religious context.

“It was a joint effort between myself and the world language teachers. We had a great desire for students to have the chance to celebrate the Mass in the languages they are studying at school,” Father McClellan said.

These Masses, referred to by Providence students as the “Language Masses,” kicked off on Tuesday January 23rd with a French Mass. The Mass was said by Father Austin Litke, a professor in the Catholic Studies department at the University of St. Thomas. It was given entirely in French and students participated in the readings, petitions, and cantoring.

Seniors Gracie Griep, ’24, and Viviana, Galarraga, ’24, pray in the front pew at the French Mass PAW Photo Credit: Julia Holton

“I think the Catholic Mass is so beautiful and taken for granted. Celebrating the Mass in different languages provides a nice variation and it is really cool to hear the language we spend so much time learning at school,” Senior and French 5 student Viviana Galarraga, ’24, reflected.

The Spanish Mass was held on January 24th and given by Fr. Matt Quail, a priest at Immaculate Conception in Columbia Heights. Like the French mass, the Spanish Mass was held entirely in Spanish. Students again had the opportunity to participate by reading or singing. The aim of Providence’s language department is to educate in a way that one will feel comfortable speaking and understanding the language they are learning.

“I feel that the Spanish department at PA has prepared me very well for this moment. We often have oral and listening tests, as well as discussions in class. I feel that these aspects greatly prepared me and made me confident enough to speak at Mass in a language other than English,” stated Inga Nelson, ‘24, who read the first reading at the Spanish mass.

Anika Austvold, ’24, reads the petitions at the French Mass. PAW Photo Credit: Julia Holton.

To conclude the week, on January 25th the Latin Mass was given by Father Nick Froehle, a priest from the Church of St. Michael. The readings and songs at the Latin Mass are conveyed in Latin, the only difference being that the Homily is spoken in english. The Mass also included the sixth and seventh grade classes.

“The Latin mass shows that the church is an unbroken line back to Christ, ” Fr. McClellan says.

Father McClellan highlighted that at the core of these language Masses it is to show the universality of the Catholic Church. No matter where we are in the world, the Catholic Mass is the same and our faith is the same.

“The church is for every land and we are all called to be a part of the church no matter our background or what language we speak. We are all the same in the eyes of God,” McClellan states.