Origin of the Fraternity
The Priestly Fraternity of St. Peter (FSSP) is a Clerical Society of Apostolic Life of Pontifical right, that is, a community of Roman Catholic priests who do not take religious vows, but who work together for a common mission in the world. The mission of the Fraternity is two-fold: first, the formation and sanctification of priests in the cadre of the traditional liturgy of the Roman rite, and secondly, the pastoral deployment of the priests in the service of the Church.
The Fraternity was founded on July 18, 1988 at the Abbey of Hauterive (Switzerland) by a dozen priests and a score of seminarians. Shortly after the Fraternity’s foundation and following upon a request by Cardinal Ratzinger, Bishop Joseph Stimpfle of Augsburg, Germany granted the Fraternity a home in Wigratzbad, a Marian shrine in Bavaria that now lodges the Fraternity’s European seminary. In the same month of October there arrived a handful of priests and some thirty seminarians ready to start “from scratch”. There are currently almost 280 priests and 160 seminarians in the Fraternity.
Priestly Formation in the Fraternity
The Fraternity of St. Peter currently operates two international houses of formation: the original formation house in Wigratzbad, Germany (diocese of Augsburg), and the other in Denton, Nebraska, U.S.A. (diocese of Lincoln). The Fraternity has organized its seminary training in accordance with the Church’s norms on priestly formation, including a year of more intense spiritual preparation before entering the cycles of philosophy and theology. By fostering a balanced life of prayer, study, community life, and personal discipline, care is taken to foster human maturity and to acquire the spirit of the Gospel, in close union with Christ. The spiritual life in the houses is centered on the sacrifice of the Mass. Special attention is paid to the faithful observance of the “liturgical and spiritual traditions” according to the dispositions of the Motu proprio Ecclesia Dei adflicta of July 2, 1988, which is at the origin of the Fraternity’s foundation (Constitutions, Art. 8).
Pastoral Mission of Fraternity Priests
Once the formation programme has been completed, the Fraternity’s priests serve the faithful – under the direction of their bishop and within the terms of the Fraternity’s own constitutions – in its various apostolates in France, Germany, Switzerland, Austria, Italy, the USA, Australia, Canada, Great Britain and Nigeria. In the world, the priests of the Fraternity live in small communities and work to spread the Gospel by means of preaching, catechesis, youth education (scout troops, schools), and organizing pilgrimages and retreats, etc. With the full approval of the Holy See and the permission of local bishops, the priests provide a full sacramental life for the faithful, administered according to the liturgical books of 1962.