Diaconal Ordinations: Eyewitness Account III

14 01 2011

From Fr David Elliott at Holy Trinity, Reading:

In a quiet chapel yards from a busy Beaufort Street in London this evening the first personal ordinariate for former Anglicans was born. The ordinations to the priesthood in Westminster Cathedral on Saturday will be the main event. This evening however at Allen Hall Seminary Andrew Burnham, Keith Newton and John Broadhurst were ordained deacons in a profound and dignified Mass. Many there to witness this genesis of the Ordinariate were from the seminary – staff and students had obviously worked hard to execue this seminal occasion. Others were former anglicans – Bishop Alan Hopes, himself a former Anglican, celebrated mass with great charity and dignity. In his opening remarks he emphasised the ‘historic’ nature of the occasion. He was joined by around twenty concelebrating clergy, some from Allen Hall, some from Douai Abbey where those being ordained had been on retreat, and others among them former Anglicans such as Fr Peter Geldard, who has been helpful in the preparations for the ordinariate. Fr Marcus Stock also instrumental in the preparations concelebrated too. The feast today was St Hilary (though of course the mass was not of St Hilary). The saint of the day was perhaps fitting as St Hilary was made a bishop while married and in their former Anglican existence all three of those being ordained were married anglican bishops.

The music of the mass was principally Missa de Angelis in Latin and the Veni Creator was also in Latin. The candidates were called and had the laying on of hands in the order: John Broadhurst, Andrew Burnham, Keith Newton, possibly in order of age. There were three deacons of the mass who gave way to the three newly ordained at the offertory when Andrew Burnham and John Broadhurst assisted Bishop Hopes in receiving the gifts while Keith Newton laid the altar. The homily was given by Fr Tony Philpot who skilfully outlined the importance of the diaconate using a number of examples from the early church.

One of the most striking elements of the mass was the way in which the wives of those being ordained were made to feel so welcome and made part of the mass. Not only did they bring the bread and wine at the offertory, but after the prayer after communion they assembled before the bishop as he thanked them for their example of love and family life and gave them a special blessing. Bishop Hopes led those gathered in a hearty applause before the end of mass. The concluding rites were in Latin and the dismissal was sung by Andrew Burnham to Orbis Factor.

At the reception after the mass Andrew Burnham on behalf of all three thanked those who had worked so hard in working towards today. There was a special thank you to the students of Allen Hall for their hard work preparing for today’s mass and ensuring it was served and sung so beautifully. All of the guests were welcomed enthusiastically by these young men who themselves are dedicating their lives to the service of God and their fellow men. In return a presentation was made to the newly ordained and the traditional song was sung praying for many more years’ service in their lives of ministry.