In 2013, St. Barnabas the Apostle Parish in O’Fallon, MO—about 40 minutes outside of St. Louis—was dying. The pastor, Fr. Ray Hager, was told that the parish would be closed in about five years unless things turned around quickly.
In response, Fr. Hager introduced the regular celebration of the Traditional Latin Mass. Over the course of the next decade, the TLM grew rapidly until a majority of the parish consisted of those who attended the old rite. In 2021, St. Barnabas received converts into the Church for the first time in five years. They were all TLM attendees.
St. Barnabas was transformed—literally—by the Latin Mass. It completed the construction of a beautiful new high altar in 2018. At the time, an official publication of the Archdiocese of St. Louis hailed the renovation as “an extraordinary work of art.” Included in the renovation was “a newly constructed wooden altar, statues, reredos, communion rail, ambo, side shrines and new marble flooring, made possible in part by help from parishioners and donations”—especially those of the burgeoning TLM community. Indeed, Fr. Hager said that the transformation was sparked by the need for a new communion rail. It was the first renovation for St. Barnabas in 37 years. The Archdiocese noted that many Sundays, “the Latin Mass is the most well-attended, with an average of 150-200 people, largely younger families.” St. Barnabas continued to offer two Novus Ordo Masses. As Fr. Hager noted, the Latin Mass, alongside the reverent celebration of the Novus Ordo Mass, had transformed the parish—just as Pope Benedict XVI intended with Summorum Pontificum.