Today we complete our presentations of the Crimson Cross - the posthumous arena for 7 of the 15 charter recipients of the Tower of Trent Trophy - by honoring the last of the seven alphabetically. Last but not least is a priest who was ordinary man whose extraordinary grace spread to all who sought his help. He was a no-nonsense Texan who didn't hanker to fancy novelty or psychobabble or political correctness, especially political correctness. Like Father Vincent Miceli who we covered yesterday, he was a Jesuit who refused to go along with the vast majority of his fellow priests. But by his own admission, it took a while to wake up to what was really going on in the Church. When he did in 1977 there was no turning back and because of his never-retreat determination he forged new frontiers for the Old Faith in areas where it had been nearly obliterated by the New Order. We honor today this no-nonsense Texan of Tradition Father Frederick Schell, S.J. with the Crimson Cross and enshrine him posthumously in the Tower of Trent Hall of Honor.
Frederick Schell was born deep in Texas in the sleepy little (then) border town of El Paso, Texas. We had hoped to have more biographical information on Father as well as a photo, but to this point have not been able to acquire such for our readers. Therefore we rely on Dr. Thomas A. Droleskey's excellent tribute he wrote and published here on October 1, 2002 Father Frederick Shell, S.J. Requiescat in pace just a few days after he was called home to God.
After the war Father joined the Company of Jesus, becoming a Jesuit priest. It was a life he committed himself to full-heartedly and was content until Vatican II where he became as confused as most other priests and laity over the drastic changes. Reverence was waning fast and the exodus had begun. This troubled Fr. Schell greatly for he took seriously his sacerdotal duties and could see the changes and the fact there were so fruits and how the Jesuits were abandoning the mission they were called to in order to become more involved geo-politically, placing a higher priority on things of this world rather than the next. Not getting anywhere with his Order, he sought and received incardination in Southern California under Cardinal Timothy Manning in the early seventies.
With each year the liturgical abuses became worse and it seemed to Father that it was an uphill battle. Despite the many friends among the clergy he had made, he could see with each passing day that he, as well as his congregation, were growing farther away from their faith because of the novelties of a synthetic rite which more and more he grew to detest, for he could see the fruitlessness of the Vatican II ambiguity that was only contributing to the malaise. It was gradually transmorphing from Catholicism to Protestantism and worse.
The crowning blow came in November 1977 when he was told he'd have to distribute Holy Communion to the communicants in the hand. He never thought Paul VI would cave to this blasphemy, but the American bishops had received permission for this atrocity which had not only been tolerated for many years, but actually initated by the liberal bishops. Like a cancer it spread. Father Schell had been able to avoid the problem by refusing to give the host out in the hand, but when the bishop ordered it, well, that was the last straw. Something so respected as the Body of Christ which had always had such strict and reverent restrictions that the consecrated host could only be touched by consecrated hands and then with only three specific fingers as the ritual called for, this was truly an abomination where all respect for the Body and Blood of Christ was reduced to a cookie. Fr. Schell knew what he had to do. Resist.
"They told me I would have to give out Communion in the hand on November 20, 1977," Fr. Schell related to Dr. Droleskey, "I told the people at the time, 'This is a sacrilege. They can't make me do it.' Dr. Droleskey relates, 'He saw so clearly what so many priests acquiesced to in a perversion of a true Catholic understanding of the word 'obedience.' Father Schell was not out to please man but God. "So I preached," Father told Tom, "against it on November 13, 1977 and by the next week I was gone." So typical of the Novus OrdinArian bishops who will pounce on a moment's notice at the slightest hint of Tradition but turn a deaf ear, blind eye and lukewarm heart to those who are out to destroy the Sacred Deposit of the Faith. It simply amazes this editor that what Fr. Schell saw so clearly in 1977 so few have seen since because it has become ever more obvious as the bitter fruits of the 'New Springtime' and 'civilization of love' rot on the vines of vice.
Shortly after Christmas Father had opened a chapel an hour north of LA and soon a faithful following developed of those who were fed up with the improvisations and innovations that strayed farther than Martin Luther or Thomas Cranmer ever dreamed of. Father could see people were starving for the Immemorial Mass of All Ages, which he provided in all its splendor and reverence. Because of blind obedience, many were afraid to attend, believing the lie that what Father Schell was doing was illegal or that he had been excommunicated or whatever fabrication the diocese and rumor mill could spring up. Despite this, Father plugged on as a tireless true shepherd. As the irreverence and abuses mounted, more found their way to Father's parish until he was offering Mass in Bakersfield, Granada Hills, Ventura and Garden Grove week in and week out. He had the heart of a missionary and the courage of a saint as he continued offering the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass.
In the mid-eighties a new bishop was installed, the infamous apostate Cardinal Roger Mahony, who, for God or the devil only know why, John Paul II made a prince of the church. That in itself was a travesty as bad as the consistory of 2001 when he appointed to the College of Cardinals two apostate German prelates Karl Lehmann or Walter Kasper. Mahony sent his auxiliaries to keep an eye on Fr. Schell, not because he cared about the flocks or Father, but because he was hearing the horror stories that people were reverent, that they were coming in numbers and were dressed in suits and ties, dresses and mantillas. That, to Mahony, was akin to medievalism as he has remarked in the past, "why should we heed the advice of dead popes?" Yes, he really said that just two months ago.
Tom relates the following incident. 'Father Schell told us the story on March 11 2002, of the time that one of Cardinal Mahony's auxiliary bishops came to the chapel where he offered Sunday Mass. Although he was dressed in civilian clothes, a woman recognized him and told Father Schell. "I told her to tell him, 'Tell him to stay out of the way and that he'll hear a good Mass if he wants to stay.'" The woman did as she was instructed. Word got out that the auxiliary bishop was there, and each of the children knelt down before him to kiss his ring, embarrassing the fellow no end.
Father Schell minced no words about the state of the church. About the bishops, "They're bums, each and every one of them. Bums. . . . They're fence straddling mugwumps. One week they're mugs, the next week they're wumps." Father Schell was a Texan through and through and a Catholic through and through. The two meshed nicely for, as Dr. Droleskey expressed, "There was not an ounce of pretense or affectation to him. He was a boy from El Paso, Texas, who was who he was, take it or leave it."
Father was afraid of nothing man could throw at him. Often he would say Holy Mass in homes directly across from Novus Ordo multi-purpose buildings where everyone held hands and sung "On Eagles Wings" while wafting from the Masses of Fr. Schell were the unmistakable true tones of Gregorian Chant. You could take the man out of Texas, you could try as Vatican II did for 25 years to take the man out of the True Church, but you could never take Texas out of the man, and, as he proved, you could never take the True Faith of our Fathers out of this noble consecrated one who had such a deep devotion to the Blessed Mother.
Tom relates, 'When I told him about a priest at Holy Apostles Seminary who had said that Our Lord was conceived in a perverse, violent manner, Father Schell jumped right in, "I would have punched him right in the nose." I told Father Schell that's exactly what Father Sullivan did. Father Schell was very pleased. It should be noted, however, that Father Schell told us after he had treated us to breakfast, "I'm all talk now. I don't too much fighting these days."
Actually, Father Schell went out fighting - fighting for the Faith he loved to give everything else up. Though, as Tom quipped, 'the food police had not caught up with Father Schell' in observing his penchant for caffeine and lots of cholesterol ridden-foods, God was good to keep him healthy for as long as he was. Father had a premonition God would soon call him home in that spring of 2002 as he shared with Tom and his wife Sharon that he was turning his entire apostolate over to the younger Father Patrick Perez who had struggled in the earlier years out of a trailer in Santa Ana. Father Schell had groomed Fr. Perez to take over the Padre Pio Academy in Garden Grove and the church with standing room only, today Our Lady Help of Christians. He said, "I'm praying to Our Lady for a quick exit, probably sometime within the next six months. She usually gives me whatever I ask of her." True to his wish, her Divine Son took him home almost exactly six months later.
The legacy he has left will live on. Father Lawrence Smith joined Fr. Perez last year to manage the thriving parish Father Schell began and nurtured. Those who knew him will never forget him. Sadly we do not have a photo of him as of yet for our readers and this editor had the misfortune of never meeting Father Frederick, but those who did saw the resemblance of Milton Berle in his facial features. He was the Uncle Miltie of Christendom. He liked to joke, but when it came to the Faith it was no joke and he entreated all to take their most precious gift seriously, very seriously.
We will close this tribute by allowing Dr. Droleskey to sum up in two simple paragraphs the essence of this man we honor.
'Father Schell cared nothing for honors, nothing for prestige, nothing for the perquisites that so many priests (even those who are orthodox and who recognize in the Traditional Latin Mass the best way to worship the Blessed Trinity and to sanctify souls) are willing to sell their souls in order to obtain. He cared only about fidelity to Christ the King and Mary our Queen by giving the souls who sought him out access to the closest thing to Heaven imaginable: the Traditional Latin Mass.
Yes, the Providence of God is amazing. I needed to have the scales taken from my eyes to appreciate men like Father Frederick Schell. And I will never cease to pray to Our Lady so that those who remain after him - and those who will come along after them - will one day be recognized by Holy Mother Church herself as nothing other than priests who care about true reverence in Mass and integrity in handing on the Deposit of Faith in all of its purity. It is men such as Father Frederick Schell who kept the Traditional Latin Mass alive in the midst of a veritable revolution to flush the past down the Orwellian memory hole.'
We are pleased to present to this Traditional Texan the Crimson Cross award and present posthumously to this no-nonsense Texan of Tradition the Tower of Trent Trophy and declare this day Father Frederick Schell Day in all of Christendom.
For other charter members honored in this inaugural presentation of the Tower of Trent, see Charter Recipients of the Tower of Trent Trophy