St. Agnes Mission Church

By Ron Orozco / The Fresno Bee
(Updated Saturday, July 30, 2005, 6:22 AM)

In a Pinedale neighborhood near the bustle of River Park shopping center, St. Agnes Mission Church presents a Latin Tridentine Mass, allowing worshippers to step back in time.

Latin was spoken at Mass for centuries before Vatican II ordered New Mass in English in the 1960s.

St. Agnes, a mission church of St. Anthony of Padua in Fresno, gives options to Sunday worshippers: English Mass at 9 and 10:30 a.m. or Latin Mass at 12:30 p.m. A few Diocese of Fresno churches offer Latin Masses.

There are plans, however, to move Latin Mass to Our Lady of Guadalupe Chapel at St. Anthony, beginning Aug. 21.

Regardless of the location, Bob Apple of Clovis savors Latin Mass, saying, “There’s total reverence in the sanctuary.”

On a recent Sunday at St. Agnes, altar servers Johnny Gerardi and Chuck Hindenburg begin a half-hour early changing the altar for Latin Mass.

They move the altar against the wall (symbolic of the Tabernacle’s position), display two candlesticks (not four) and framed Epistles and left.

Early in the Mass, Gerardi and Hindenburg kneel as Monsignor John Coelho-Harguindeguy, St. Anthony’s pastor, recites Psalm 43.

“It reads, ‘I shall go unto the altar of God,'” Gerardi says. “When the priest reads it, he actually goes to the altar.

“It’s the way that Latin Mass is celebrated that you just don’t see in the other Mass.”

Worshippers follow the Mass by using missals printed in Latin with English translations.

Coelho-Harguindeguy says, “Dóminus vobíscum,” which is “The Lord be with you.”

Worshippers respond, “Et cum spiritu tuo,” or “And with thy spirit.”

Christina Corona, 19, of Clovis, says Latin presents a deeper understanding of her faith.

“It’s more of a sacred celebration rather than a show,” she says. “You really get a feeling of where you come from — the history of the church.”

Coelho-Harguindeguy reads scripture and gives his homily in English. But Corona’s sister, Andrea, 16, enjoys the spoken Latin, saying, “It’s more spiritual.”

Here are other notes from the visit:

What’s everyone talking about? Keven Smith semimonthly leading Gregorian chant at Latin Mass. Smith is a member of Una Voce Fresno, which promotes Catholic traditions such as Latin Mass and Gregorian chant.

Who’s the behind-the-scenes hero? The Rev. Raymond Dunn, who alternates weeks with Coelho-Harguindeguy as celebrant of Latin Mass at St. Agnes. Dunn travels from his Palo Alto home.

The reporter can be reached at or (559) 441-6304.