Sunday, June 29, 2014

More Dallas Churches: Mater Dei

Today I was compelled by a friend to attend the Missa Cantata at Mater Dei church in Irving, TX, a parish staffed by the St. Peter Fraternity under diocesan auspices. The parish was jammed wall to wall with adults and children. A polyphonic Mass was sung. Sunday was commemorated, but the Last Gospel was In principio. The sermon was an instruction on some manualist theologian's five criteria for rebuking people fraternally. The Rosary was prayed prior to Mass. My friend, Mr. "Lord of Bollocks," grabbed me and took me out of the church during the recession to avoid Faith of Our Fathers.

From what I understand the building was once an Asian Baptist church before the FSSP purchased it to escape the chapel of a cloistered Carmelite convent where they had previously celebrated Mass.

The decor has some positives, namely the stenciling, but other parts seem
to conform a bit too much to 1950s architecture.

Although difficult to see, there are actual choir stalls used
by the acolytes during Mass and by the clergy during Tenebrae.

In my opinion the altar design does not work very well. Too many
bulbous bits and gradines. A table altar with a metal tabernacle in the center
and the candles on the altar would look better. Perhaps also so color, either
in the form of paintings or mosaics. The statues next to the altar give an entirely
new meaning to "We who mystically represent the cherubim...."

There is a true baptistery, with an octagonally shaped room and font!

My friend opined that the plaster statues on the side altars
need to be replaced with crucifixes and some source of color.
I couldn't agree more. Still better than more churches in the
Dallas area.

Not sure what is happening with the windows. Is it
stained glass or is it a printed plastic sticker?

Hymnals compliments of the FSSPX and Bishop Richard Williamson.


  1. Too funny. I sing in the schola of the other Fraternity apostolate named Mater Dei - in Harrisburg, PA - and we also sang Faith of Our Fathers yesterday, but as the processional.

    Two weeks ago I was in Irving for an interview, only fifteen minutes from the chapel. I wanted to go to Mass, but unfortunately it was on a Wednesday, and the first Mass is at noon on Wednesdays, and too late for me.

    Btw, our chapel is VERY different from the Texas Mater Dei.

    It sits at the end of the same short street as the PA capitol and the diocesan cathedral. It was built in 1914 by German immigrants. Splendid place.

  2. The windows are photoshopped decals of stained glass windows adjusted to fit into our window sizes and shapes. Poorly, obviously. The plan is to wait to pay for real stained glass until we can afford to build a new church building. I would prefer to stick with the clear glass windows behind the decals until that time.

    The stenciling is very nice, except for the "pigs in a blanket" surrounding the side chapels (visible in your photo of the Marian altar).

    I rather like the altar design, although it does not quite feel right in this sanctuary space.

  3. Mater Dei's present church is not ideal, not least because they have already clearly outgrown it. Given the limited resources they had to work with, I think it has turned out surprisingly well. It would have helped had the diocese turned over to them an older church that merely needed renovation, as has happened in much of the Midwest; but being a Sunbelt Diocese means that there's usually no derelict or moribund old urban churches to parcel out. And even if there had been, the Diocese was unlikely to give it to the FSSP, a group more tolerated there than loved.

    But I have found Mater Dei to be a very vibrant, welcoming traditional community. They are blessed with Fr. Phil Wolfe, the "Golden Mouth" of the Fraternity. I believe they have a bright future ahead of them and, most likely before long, a bigger, better church.