In the Year of Faith – A Journey in the Footsteps of the Apostles

 The Association of the Sacred Heart of Jesus organized Masses in Berezniki (Perm region of Russia) according to the Extraordinary Form of the Roman Rite

Our visit took place as part of the annual visits of the Association of the Sacred Heart of Jesus, Catholic followers of Summorum Pontificum, to various parishes in Russia.  During these visits, we introduce the local Catholic faithful to the ancient tradition of the Roman Rite.  The priest offers Holy Mass according to the 1962 Roman Missal, which was the Liturgy before the Second Vatican Council. 

After our trips to Kursk and the city of Vladimir in 2012, we were happy to accept the cordial invitation of Father Erich Maria Fink from Berezniki, Russia.

In Berezniki, the easternmost parish of the Archdiocese of Moscow, Holy Masses were offered for the faithful on September 16, 17 and 18, 2013 at the local Parish. As was the case the previous year, Father Thomas Huber of Augsburg, Germany, was the celebrant.

Before the trip to Berezniki, at the invitation Father Augustine Dzenzel (SDB), Abbot Joseph Zanevsky (SDB) and Father Sergey Timashov, Father Thomas Huber arrived in Moscow and offered a Requiem Mass for the dead, which was chanted in the Chapel of the Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception of the Blessed Virgin Mary on September 13, 2013.  

The next day, on Saturday, the Mass was offered at 11a.m. on the Feast of the Exaltation of the Holy Cross. 

 The Priest reads the Confiteor 

After the Mass, a small reception was held for the parishioners, where Father Thomas could also meet with members of the Association of Una Voce Russia. 

As in previous years, Sunday Mass was held in the Chapel (on September 15th at 5 p.m.), and the Mass began with the Sprinkling Rite (Asperges). 

The Priest begins to chant the Asperges 


After Sunday Mass, which concluded this 3 Day Mission, Father Augustine thanked Father Huber for his visit and for preaching to the flock.  Father Augustine expressed his particular appreciation for the fact that Father Huber visits the Parish each year, and thus helps strengthen the entire community.  Additionally, Father Augustine noted with great joy the profound solemnity of the Holy Mass.  Father Thomas received a cordial invitation from Father Augustine to continue to visit the community and to offer Mass at the Parish in future years.  Finally, Father Augustine exhorted the community to pray for the young German-born priest. 

Father Augustine, Father Thomas

Altar server Igor Elezkij, Father Augustine, Father Thomas, altar server Gregor Huber

Preparing for Mass according to the traditional form of the Roman Rite requires careful preparation and a variety of accessories.  And so, after Sunday Mass in Moscow, the Association’s participants of this trip packed everything they needed: first of all, the 1962 Missal;  ornata, stoles, fenons, velons to cover the bowl and burses of various liturgical colors (red, black, purple) for the next three days;  texts of canonical prayers for the priest, German-Latin Missal (Der Schott); copies of the texts, printed music texts and sermons, as well as instructions for the choir and altar servers; and with these, went off to the Moscow Domodedovo Airport. 

After a two hour flight to Perm and a three-hour trip by car, the delegation arrived in Berezniki at 7 a.m. on September 16th.

Welcome to the Berezniki 

 Monday, September 16 

The industrial city of Berezniki (Perm region) is located 1,500 kilometers northeast of Moscow.  The territory of Berezniki is situated on the left bank of the Kama river, in the European part of the foothills of the Ural Mountains.  The time difference with Moscow is 2 hours.  The city was founded in 1932 near the development of the Verkhnekamskoye salt deposits, one of the largest in the world.  However, now Berezniki’s population has dwindled to 153,000 people, and has been on the decline since 1989. 

Since 2001, flights between Perm and Berezniki have ceased and in October 2006, as a result of an accident at one of the "Uralkaliy" company mines, part of the railway line was destroyed, resulting in interrupted railway communication with Perm.  At present, there is only one way to get from Perm to Berezniki: by bus. 

Church of the parish "Mary, Queen of the Universe"

On Monday, Father Thomas delivered a 30-minute introductory talk to parishioners about the Extraordinary Form of the Roman Rite prior to Mass, using the Russian translation of the Liturgy as the primary guide. This little booklet with the standard texts of the Mass (Kyrie, Gloria, Credo, Sanctus, Agnus Dei, Pater Noster) was provided by the Association to all parishioners in order to facilitate informed and active participation at Mass.  The Association also prepared for all the parishioners copies of the texts of the Mass (Introitus, Oratio, Lectio, Graduale, Tractus, Sequentia, Sancti Evangelii, Offertorium, Secreta, Praefatio, Communio, Postcommunio). 


The Mass was attended by about 30 faithful people, and as our experience in Kursk and Vladimir showed, believers always have a lot of questions that need answering following their first attendance at this Liturgy. 

For example, Father Thomas was asked, ‘why do you read the Canon of the Mass so quietly’. 

The Priest reads the Introitus 

However, the questions were not only addressed to Father Thomas.  One woman asked Father Erich Fink why he does not read those beautiful prayers, and why the parishioners do not know them, even though they are available in the Missal. 

After receiving all the necessary answers and explanations, everybody understood that the Liturgy according to the Extraordinary Form of the Roman Rite has several differences from the Ordinary Form. 

Elevation of the Chalice containing the Precious Blood

After the first Mass, many parishioners expressed their heartfelt thanks to Father Thomas for his service.  One woman said: "We cannot understand everything intellectually, but our hearts understand”, adding, “where would we be able to see and know all this if you did not come to us?" 

During the Masses on Monday and Wednesday, we were supported by the Parish choir, which sang the Missa de Angelis (8th Mass). 

The Priest reads the Final prayer with the people

Tuesday, September 17 

Requiem for all the dead (In Missis Cotidianis Defunctorum) 

Since the Requiem is significantly different from the usual daily Mass (i.e. at least 27 particularities), Father Thomas explained these many differences to the parishioners prior to the Liturgy.  For example: at the beginning of Mass the Psalm Judica me is not read; after the Gospel, the Book is not kissed; the Ite Missa est and Deo gratias are replaced by Requiescant in pace and Amen, and no final blessing is given.


«Hostia pura, hostia sancta, hostia immaculata»

The priest reads "Pater noster"

The Priest reads the Final Gospel 

The sound of Gregorian chant, especially the sequence Dies irae, made ​​a deep impression on all present.  One woman remarked, "we have never heard this music within the walls of our church!" 

Wednesday, September 18 

On Wednesday, the Mass was served by Alexey Cherkasov, a local altar server of the Parish.

Father Erich Maria Fink supported Alexey’s desire to server this Mass, and recalled how he had once served the Old Mass many years ago. 

The main guide for the preparation of altar servers is a Russian-Latin booklet entitled Guidance on Administering the Mass.  Before Mass, Father Thomas and Gregor Huber also carried out an extra ‘rehearsal’ with Alexey.

After three days, many believers were amazed at how much effort was required of both the priest and members of the Association to prepare and conduct each Liturgy.  In total, it took 8 and a half months for the Association to prepared for these Masses in Berezniki! 

Yes, it's true: preparation for Mass in the Extraordinary Form of the Roman Rite requires significant planning and efforts from the priest, altar server, choir and all the faithful. But we do it with pleasure, and out of love, offering our efforts to glory of the Holy Trinity. 

During this visit, the Association of the Sacred Heart of Jesus provided an opportunity for parishioners of Berezniki to personally see and understand what the Old Mass.  After receiving numerous materials and information and, of course, after taking part in the Mass, these local Catholic believers now have an understanding what a treasure the Catholic Church offers them.  And, as we already know from the experience of past missions, many faithful in Berezniki Parish will now better understand the new Mass. 

The Association of the Sacred Heart of Jesus sincerely thanks Father Erich Maria Fink for his kind invitation, his gracious hospitality and for his trust in us. 

Father Erich Maria Fink and Father Thomas in the town Rjabinino (parish of Berezniki)

The photographs taken at our events can been at the photogallery section.