Perpetual Pilgrims: ‘We Want to Go Home’

An interview with a Catholic young adult on the power of tradition

‘High Altar’
‘High Altar’ (photo: Thoom / Shutterstock)

Let me share an interview with you about a young woman I know who would like to tell her story of how important the Traditional Latin Mass (TLM) has been for her spiritual journey.

Jenna Imgrund is a newlywed in her early 20s and is a marketing coordinator for an independent classical Catholic school. She converted to Catholicism her first year of college and developed a devotion to the Traditional Latin Mass after her marriage. Let’s hear from her in her own words:


Tell us about your faith life growing up and your conversion to Catholicism.

I grew up going to a Baptist church that was more fundamentalist-leaning in a lot of areas. The pastor was very vocally against Catholicism, calling it the “Whore of Babylon.” Many of the elders and members of the church had a lot of spiritually abusive tendencies, particularly towards women. Due to this abuse, I viewed God as an angry, disappointed father that didn’t care much about me unless I hit all the benchmarks that my pastors and peers laid out before me. I felt that I had to evangelize the farthest corners of the Earth before he would be fully satisfied to call me his daughter.

When I was 15, I developed a crush on a Catholic boy at my homeschool co-op. I was determined to convert him, but alas, he knew his Bible much better than I thought. His answers quickly crumbled my straw man arguments and I questioned everything I knew about Christianity. My journey to Catholicism continued through my senior year of high school, when I officially decided to start RCIA as soon as I graduated. I came into the Church during my first year of college at the Easter Vigil in 2019. I eventually married that Catholic boy from homeschool co-op in 2021.


Have you always gone to the Traditional Latin Mass since your conversion?

No, I actually wasn’t always a fan of the Traditional Latin Mass (TLM). After my conversion, I had attended a few Low Masses at a religious community church, but found it difficult to follow as a new convert. I had joined a parish that did a very reverent Novus Ordo, with organ music and many parts chanted/in Latin, so I was quite content. It wasn’t until the parish got a new music director who eliminated the Latin parts and traditional music that I began to get uncomfortable with the Novus Ordo. In fact, some of the liturgical choices reminded me of my old Baptist church, and the trauma I experienced there, especially if I heard guitar music.

When my husband and I got married and relocated to a new city, we searched for a traditionally-leaning Novus Ordo, but were disappointed. When we decided to try attending a parish that offered a High Traditional Latin Mass every Sunday, we were floored at how beautiful it was. There was a schola, about a dozen altar servers, and many young families that came up to introduce themselves to us after Mass. We fell in love with the liturgy and the parish community and became members. 


How has the Traditional Latin Mass positively impacted you?

The TLM has impacted me both spiritually and emotionally. I have noticed great improvements with my anxiety and being more focused during Mass, as well as just being inclined to pray more frequently in my daily life. The Traditional Catholic calendar is full of beautiful feast days that we have been blessed to celebrate with Latin Masses, and my husband and I find ourselves being more aware of feast days and learning more about the saints and the Church because of it. 


If the Church completely eliminated your ability to go to the Traditional Latin Mass, what repercussions would that have on your relationship with the Church?

Before I became Catholic, I struggled with the idea of submitting myself to a pope and a bishop. I was told growing up that the Catholic pope was an antichrist, and that the Church was replacing Jesus by appointing popes. By the time I was confirmed, I was happy to be docile to the shepherds that God placed above me.

However, now that the Latin Mass community is being accused by the Vatican of “causing division,” I am already struggling very much to trust Church hierarchy and believe that they have the best intentions. By taking away the TLM without any surveys or offering meetings with the laity, it seems as though no one is interested in hearing what the flock has to say. 

For over 1,000 years, the Church universally celebrated Mass in Latin. While I completely understand and support the movement to offer Mass in the native language of the parish communities, it feels like an erasure to eliminate the TLM and the rubrics completely. Especially when there is such a demand for it among young people and families, it feels as though many in the Church hierarchy are turning a deaf ear to their flock, as well as ignoring what thousands of faithful did before us.

If the Vatican were to do away completely with the Latin Mass, I would feel completely forsaken. After everything I, and many converts, went through to embrace Church doctrine, to listen to our accusers rather than us is the ultimate betrayal. 


Your bishop recently placed new restrictions on the Traditional Latin Mass. How has this affected your husband and you?

My husband and I, along with two local parish communities, have started going to Mass at a shrine within the diocese, where the TLM is offered on Sundays. Further, with the new restrictions, we are no longer able to receive old-rite sacraments.

While we are grateful that the shrine has welcomed us, it doesn’t feel the same as the Latin Mass that was celebrated at our parish. Along with logistical difficulties like an earlier Mass time and bad weather making travel difficult, we are definitely feeling the loss of having a parish to house our beloved community.

Because the local shrine is a pilgrimage site and not a parish, they are not allowed to perform any sacraments, old or new rite, for the community. This state of affairs is a glaring reminder that our love for the order and rites of the 1962 Missal are not wanted and that we don’t have a parish that can serve our needs anymore. Some friends put it well when they described us as “perpetual pilgrims.” This is embodied for me after every Mass when we all crowd in the entryway to visit after Mass, rather than going downstairs for a potluck like we used to do. The shrine has been lovely and has let us use their gathering space for coffee after Mass, but we can only use it if it isn’t being occupied for other events.

The best way to sum all of this up is in this way: we are tired of being perpetual guests and we want to go home.