A Blessing in Budapest

A trio of visits for me to see Catholicism on the march in 2018 began in Nigeria in the Spring, continued in Italy in the early Summer, and finished in Hungary in the Autumn.  This last event occurred in the final weeks of the liturgical year, and symbolically held the promise of the future in humble beginnings.

This is actually not the first location of the chapel for this mission.  Originally the chapel was in the heart of Old Town Budapest, on the Pest side of the Danube.  Bishop Sanborn had a chance to visit in 2014 and gave conferences to hundreds of attendees, all of whom were interested in what exactly had happened to Catholicism since Vatican II, not just in Hungary, but worldwide.  This visit of the Bishop served to place Catholic principles in front of the faithful in the chapel.  This most recent visit, four years later, focused on practical day-to-day issues that Catholics must face in dealing with society and raising children.  The bishop celebrated Mass on Saturday and Sunday, conferred confirmation, and most importantly, conferred a solemn blessing on the chapel, which was even covered by the local Hungarian media, perhaps a bit intrigued to see Latin, incense, and a bishop in a cope!  Photos of the blessing are here and photos of the Mass and Confirmation are here and here.

The lay leadership in Hungary have always had a vision to build a more permanent chapel, always under direction and guidance of clergy, and this new chapel, about 15 minutes by bus from the center of Budapest, was the result.  It was little more than an empty shell when the project first began many months before, but before long it was a fitting place for the worship of Our Lord and needed the solemn blessing which the Bishop could provide.  It was not done without great material sacrifice, as all such projects necessitate.

The chapel is unusual in its joint collaboration between the IMBC, the congregation to which Fr. Arnold Trauner belongs, and the RCI, the congregation that Bishop Sanborn heads.  A similar arrangement exists for the current apostolate in London.  This allows for Bishop Sanborn to provide oversight for how the community develops while utilizing the European-based IMBC clergy to offer regular Masses.

I cannot say I've been there "from the beginning" but I have certainly had a chance to watch the faithful and community develop over time since 2014.  They began simply as Catholics who realized that Vatican II had spawned a new religion, but weren't sure what to do next, and are now attending Mass at least monthly at a permanent chapel with a clear path of development they wish to follow, which includes obtaining a resident priest to aid and augment the work of Fr. Trauner.  Step by step, along the right path, one can travel far.

There are those who sigh and wish for such things, and then there are others who follow up such "wishes" with prayer and action.  Priests need a place to stay, they need income to be supported, and they need a stable and clear situation with faithful who are disposed to obey, not to dictate from the high chairs of lay boards.  It is heartening to see that the faithful in Hungary are laying the groundwork for a possible resident priest in the next 3-4 years.  They cannot control who will be ordained and how quickly he is able to learn Hungarian, which is a critical skill to make deeper progress in the country, but they can make sure that a practical and spiritual situation exists for such a cleric to thrive.

If you'd like to learn more about the apostolate in Hungary you can visit their website here.  Please join us in supporting their work on a monthly basis here.  Hungary is a member of the EU, but not of the euro and thus the exchange rate allows your contribution to go quite far.  Take inspiration from their work, which started from literally no una cum Mass whatsoever in 2013 to a stable situation at the end of 2018.  Are you doing all you can for the situation you are in?  Have you considered relocation (here is a clerical and lay perspective)?  Remember the best way to explore these issues is to talk to the clergy, who God has given us to guide our paths to Heaven.

Stephen Heiner

Stephen founded True Restoration in 2006 and served as its first President until 2023. He now lives in Reading, Pennsylvania.

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