Msgr. Gerard Schons, RIP

In Memoriam – Monsignor Gerard Schons

Msgr. Gerard Schons, who served since 1953 as a priest in the Diocese of Sacramento in various ministries, died on March 23. He was 92.

Philip Carey, President of the Sacramento Traditional Mass Society, issued the following statement:

“On March 23, 2012 we lost a giant of a priest in Monsignor Gerard Schons who was a priest for 64 years, being ordained on the Feast of Christ the King, 1947.

“It is no exaggeration to say that if it were not for Monsignor Gerard Schons, St. Stephen The First Martyr Parish, a fully traditional Mass parish in Sacramento, California, administered by priests of the Priestly Fraternity of St. Peter, would not exist.

“A Claretian, (Missionary Sons of the Immaculate Heart of Mary), who spoke his mind and loved the Faith, after the 1988 motu proprio ‘Ecclesia Dei’ which purported to extend the 1984 indult making the Mass more accessible, Monsignor Schons was one of the first and few to apply for and receive a celebret from the newly formed Ecclesia Dei Commission. The celebret gave him permission, directly from Rome, to say the traditional Mass at a time when there were precious few priests who could, or would.

“He was instrumental in helping a small group in Sacramento that had formed a Catholics United for the Faith chapter under the patronage of St. Peter Canisius (who by the way, spent 20 years in Fribourg, Switzerland where the headquarters of the Fraternity of St. Peter is located). This small group, under the leadership of Vernon Tisdale, applied to Bishop Francis Quinn for a Sunday Latin Mass in Sacramento. After encountering resistance, the group was successful in obtaining permission from the bishop for a Mass. However, this was under the condition that they could find a priest to say the Mass. Despite discouragement from the Chancery, Monsignor Schons stepped up and agreed to say the Mass at St. Rose Church where Monsignor Edward Kavanaugh was pastor and who gave permission that the Traditional Mass could be said on a regular basis every Sunday and whenever needed. Monsignor Schons said that first Mass on Mercy Sunday, 1989 and for many years after. It was from there that like-minded Catholics met and formed the Sacramento Traditional Mass Society which ultimately negotiated, with the help of Monsignor Schons, to bring a traditional order of priests to Sacramento.

“Monsignor Schons was a most lovable man. He was quick with a joke and friendly to all. However, he could never be accused of being ‘politically correct’. He was fearless in his opposition to the abuses he would witness in the Church and he did not hold back, even if he was speaking with the bishop himself. He knew truth was more valuable than reputation and friendships.

“Although he had been ‘retired’ since 1982, in many ways he accomplished far more in those retirement years. He would say Mass, hear confessions, and administer the Sacraments on a regular basis at St. Rose Church. He worked closely with Bishop Gallegos in the Spanish Centro and worked tirelessly for the Spanish Catholic community in Sacramento. Although of German descent, he spoke Spanish fluently, being ordained and having worked in the missions of Chile. He will be missed.

“It is a sad day for the traditional community to have lost so good and faithful a friend. Although for many years he suffered from heart and other ailments and was not as active, he was always in our thoughts. In your charity we ask that you pray for the soul of this wonderful priest and also give thanks that he was the instrument God used to establish the traditional Mass in Sacramento.”

Bishop Jaime Soto was the celebrant of a funeral Mass for Msgr. Schons on Monday, April 2 at 10 a.m. in Msgr. Kavanagh Community Center, located at 5905 Franklin Blvd. in Sacramento.