At times during their respective Masses last Sunday, the Archdiocese of Boston’s Latin Mass community and its Korean Catholic community could not have seemed more different.
At the Tridentine Rite Mass at Holy Trinity Church in the South End, virtually all of the women covered their heads with a traditional lace veil, and the parishioners, mostly older Americans of European descent, prayed in Latin along with a priest who had his back to them for much of the service. Some prayed from black-leather-bound catechisms with yellowed pages that have been in their families for generations.
At the Korean Mass at St. Philip Neri Church in Newton, young families spilled out into the back of the church, the rear doors opening and closing frequently for riled-up children going out and for quieted-down ones coming in. The Koreans celebrated the modern Mass, but have subtly infused it with their own culture—rather than shaking hands during the kiss of peace, for example, they bowed to friends and fellow parishioners in the pews around them, creating a momentary sea of black-haired, bobbing heads.
These days, however, the Latin Mass devotees and the Koreans find themselves with more in common, and not happily so. The two communities, which are among the most traditional and devout of local Catholic groups and which draw the faithful from all over Eastern Massachusetts and even neighboring states, face uprooting and relocation as the Archdiocese of Boston concludes a three-year parish restructuring process.