Ed Tomlinson: After the decision…

23 11 2010

From the blog of Fr Ed Tomlinson:

Yesterday I speculated on what might happen to those within the congregation who will not be accepting the invitation to join the English Ordinariate. Today I speculate on what will happen to those who do. My answers are based on the timescale released by the English Catholic bishops. Something for which many of us are so very grateful.

It seems likely Ordinariate bound clergy will cease being Anglican ministers on Ash Wednesday of next year. They will then begin an intense programme of training throughout Lent. The people joining their priests will also receive a course of instruction at this time and will observe, along with their priest to be, a period of Eucharistic fasting in anticipation of their reception into the Catholic Church. During this period it is likely that the groups will hold together by attending the local RC church together and by meeting for their regular instruction course.

During Holy Week, at either the Mass of the Last Supper on Maundy Thursday or else the Easter Vigil, the gathered group of former Anglicans will then be received as one into the Roman Catholic church and become communicant members. This will doubtless be an uplifting and emotional day for all involved.

At some point during the Easter season the former Anglican ministers will be ordained into the Catholic priesthood. Then as the Universal Church celebrates its birthday on the feast of Pentecost the Ordinariate congregations will launch! Clergy will continue to train, perhaps for a day or two each week, but to all intents and purposes it will be business as normal for the new congregations, but in a completely new context. Let us not underestimate the difference this might make. The new priests will then be free to work alongside and in support of their local RC brethren and congregations. We will be part of the Ordinariate giving us a particular Anglican hue but a full part of the Universal Church and in communion with 1.4 billion people and the successor of Peter, the Pope.

Many of the gathered groups will then remain with their local Roman Catholic congregations being offered a regular time slot to worship whilst also joining fully with their new brothers and sisters for daily mass and mission. Other groups, where it is deemed feasible, could be provided with a redundant RC church if one is available locally. And still others might be encouraged to negotiate use of an Anglican church in return for maintaining and caring for it.

Which is to say that each group has individual needs and ministers in a different context. For this reason the ‘one model suits all’ approach is misguided. Expect a variety of imaginative ways in which the Ordinariate will emerge as Bishop Alan Hopes has suggested.

What of Tunbridge Wells then? It is not for me to state but I would imagine that an already crowded local RC church, a substantial group interested in the Ordinariate and an overabundance of Anglican churches in this town would make a negotiation for a church share sensible. Not only would it help the Ordinariate but it would be in the interests of the Church of England as well. But only time will tell and those exploring the Ordinariate option are prepared for anything and everything. Into YOUR hands, Oh Lord, we commend our spirit.

This is not a time for demands and expectations but a time of prayerful watching and waiting. Please pray for those embarking on this incredible new expression of the Christian faith in this country.


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