In 1988, Pope John Paul II established the Priestly Fraternity of St. Peter as a Clerical Society of Apostolic Life of Pontifical right, and approved its constitutions. The Fraternity was founded in response to the Holy Father’s call to ecclesial unity and the new evangelization. Hence, our name denotes a filial love and loyalty to the Supreme Pontiff. The primary patron of the Fraternity from its inception was Joseph Cardinal Ratzinger, then head of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, and now our Holy Father, Pope Benedict XVI.
The Mission of the Fraternity of Saint Peter
We seek to respond to the Holy Father’s appeal through an active apostolate, versus the contemplative life of a monk or nun, in the service of the Church. Our mission is threefold:
- Sanctification of the Clergy, through solid seminary formation of our priests, and the aid in instruction and edification of diocesan and ordered clergy throughout the Catholic Church through friendship, instruction, advice and example.
- Forming and leading stable parishes and communities that help reunite those who prefer and often have a deep affection for the more reverent and traditional liturgical forms who may have been alienated by abuse and dissent that has predominated in our times. This is brought about by offering the traditional Latin Mass and Sacraments in all of their solemnity, according to the liturgical books of 1962. It is also accomplished by offering the faithful sound catechetical teaching within the light of Sacred Tradition. The Traditional Sacraments have many names, so you may know them as the Traditional Latin Mass, Mass in the Extraordinary Form, the Tridentine Mass, the 1962 Missal, or the Mass of Saint Pius V.
- Our Holy Fathers have called on all the Baptized faithful to participate in the New Evangelization, emphasizing the fact that all must use their unique charisms to full effect. Since The Priestly Fraternity of Saint Peter has as its charism the celebration of the Sacraments according to the Extraordinary Form of the Roman rite, it is through this liturgical identity that the Fraternity carries on the New Evangelization in the living tradition of the Church, which is ever ancient and ever new.
A Society of Apostolic Life
We are a priestly Society of common life without vows, similar to diocesan priests and modeled largely after mission societies. While societies of apostolic life can have community life, and many Fraternity priests live in common, the mission of the Fraternity is the focus, so we can be assigned among the various communities of the Fraternity as needed. Like diocesan priests, we make promises of celibacy, obedience, and chastity that have the same force and purpose as solemn vows do in the religious life.
Being in the world and moving amongst apostolates are some of the ways that distinguish us from traditional orders you may know such as the Benedictines, Dominicans, Augustinians, or Carmelites.
Traditional Scholastic Formation
The sound formation of Catholic priests is central to the Fraternity’s vocation. A year of orientation, the year of spirituality, begins the process. It is followed by a two-year course in philosophy, which prepares the seminarian to understand and embrace the truths of revelation which are contained in the dogmatic and moral theology of the Church. The four years of theology, as recommended by the Church, follow the method of St. Thomas Aquinas, the Angelic Doctor and principle proponent of Scholasticism / Thomism. To round out his education, a Fraternity seminarian studies Latin, liturgy, canon law, Church history, and Gregorian chant, and during vacations gains valuable practical experience working at one of our apostolates. As he progresses on his path to the altar, he will receive clerical tonsure, the minor orders, and the major orders of subdiaconate and diaconate.
Rooted in Tradition, Fidelity and Humility
Our spiritual formation is based in the Sacred Tradition of the Church, and is founded upon four pillars:
- A deep love and devotion to the Blessed Eucharist in the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass.
- Faithful following of Christ the High Priest, source of all grace, our example and our inspiration.
- Filial love and true devotion to Mary the Mother of Priests and patroness of our seminary, Our Lady of Guadalupe.
- Loyalty and fidelity to, and dependence on, the Magisterium of the Church and the successor of Saint Peter, our Patron.
The Soul of our Apostolate, Parish Work
The main pastoral work of the Fraternity of St. Peter is the operation of parishes throughout the United States and Canada, for it is in the parish that the souls of the laity are formed and nourished in the sacramental and catechetical life of the Church. The Fraternity currently offers public Masses in over fifty locations in North American alone. In addition to this the Fraternity has a large number of apostolates in Europe along with our original seminary, and apostolates in Africa, Mexico, Australia and New Zealand.
Priestly Training for the Traditional Latin Mass
With the issuing of the Apostolic Letter Summorum Pontificum in 2007, Pope Benedict XVI formally defined the Mass of Paul VI and the Traditional Latin Mass as the Ordinary Form and the Extraordinary Form of the Roman Rite. With this document and it’s follow up, the Holy Father greatly expanded the use of the Extraordinary Form throughout the Church. The response amongst the clergy and seminarians has been loving and generous, and the Fraternity has taken this opportunity to aid our Holy Mother the Church by offering regular training sessions and training kits for priests and seminarians to learn and become proficient in offering the low, sung and high forms of the traditional liturgy.
Primary Catholic Education
In those places where a school is attached to the community we serve, such as St John Vianney Preparatory School, we offer a regular sacramental life and solid catechesis as the support for a sound academic program, all in an effort to transmit the faith to the rising generations.
In our other apostolates without schools, the Fraternity is a strong supporter of homeschooling families who desire a classic liberal arts education steeped in their Catholic Faith.