Father Thomas Willis, rector of the Cathedral Basilica of St Augustine, America’s first Catholic Parish founded on September 8, 1565, has announced the schedule of Christmas Masses to Historic City News this morning.
He has also noted that the diocesan bishop, the Most Reverend Felipe J. Estevez, will impart a special blessing during the Christmas Midnight Mass.
The schedule of Masses begins with the Christmas Eve Masses on Monday, December 24.
In the Cathedral the 4:00 p.m. Mass will feature a choir composed of children from the parish community. There will also be a Mass for the Vigil of Christmas celebrated at 7:00 p.m.
At 5:00 p.m. on Christmas Eve, there will be Mass at the Prince of Peace Votive Church located at 101 San Marco Ave. on the grounds of the Mission of Nombre de Dios.
The traditional Christmas Mass at Midnight will be celebrated with the Most Rev. Felipe J. Estévez of the Diocese of St. Augustine as principal celebrant and homilist. At this Mass, in observance of the Catholic Church’s “Year of Faith,” Estevez will bestow the papal blessing – a concession to local bishops given by Pope Benedict XVI as Supreme Pontiff of the Catholic Church.
Father Willis explained the significance of this blessing: “Bishops in their own diocese are permitted to bestow the Apostolic (or Papal) Blessing three times a year. It carries with it a plenary indulgence for the faithful who receive it according to the conditions set forth by the Church. Having Bishop Estevez confer this blessing in the Cathedral at the principal Mass of Christmas is a special gift for Catholics of this area.”
On Christmas Day, the Mass at Dawn – traditionally known as “The Shepherd’s Mass” – will be celebrated in St. Benedict the Moor Catholic Church located at 86 Martin Luther King Avenue at 8:00 a.m.
Also on Christmas Day, Masses will be celebrated at 9:00 and 11:00 a.m. in the Cathedral Basilica of St. Augustine. Fr. Willis notes that there will be no evening Mass on Christmas Day.
The Cathedral Basilica of St. Augustine is located at 38 Cathedral Place in downtown St Augustine.