Report from Australian Ordinariate Conference

5 02 2011

From The Messenger:

Those interested in the Ordinariate for Australia met at St. Stephen’s College at Coomera on the Gold Coast, a school affiliated with the Anglican Catholic Church in Australia, on the invitation of the hosts Bishop Peter Elliott, Delegate of the Holy See for the Australian Ordinariate and Archbishop John Hepworth, Primate of the Traditional Anglican Communion. While I was there only for the first two days it was a wonderful time of discovery, talking and listening, to each other and to the Bp. Elliott.  There were people from the Catholic Church, the Anglican Church, the Anglican Catholic Church, Church of the Torres Strait, and the Ukrainian Catholic Church, as well as others.

The festival started with a Mass of the Holy Spirit according to the usage of the ACCA of which Archbishop Hepworth was the celebrant.  Perhaps the unique aspect of this was the two Catholic Bishops seated in the front pew, Bp. Elliott, Apostolic Delegate and Bp. Jarrett, Bishop of Lismore, as well as Fr John Fleming, and several catholic laymen and women.  The next day was Candlemass and this was a Catholic concelebration by Bp. Jarrett (the celebrant), Bp. Elliott, and Fr. Fleming.  The singing was wonderful on both occasions and one could feel the movement of the Holy Spirit over each and every one that was there. Yet there was brokenness and isolation as we are not yet one, but the festival such as this, is the necessary step in healing the divisions of the past, and taking seriously Our Lord command, that the Church become one.

Sharing our stories, listening to each other, and being there as the unfolding the Ordinariate takes place, was a central theme of the conference.  Perhaps the most eloquent was Bp. Elliott who spoke, on day two, of the way that the Ordinariate may unfold in Australia.  One of the major things that Bp. Elliott stressed was that Australia was not England, nor was it Canada nor was it the USA.  The history of Australian Anglicanism is unique to itself, so the unfolding of the Ordinariate will be unique.  The Bishop spoke of the two major divergent streams here in Australia, the ACCA, those who left, or were driven out, of the Anglican Church in Australia, and those who stayed within and tried to fight the heresies from there.  It has been 23 years since the first ACCA parishes were formed, so it has developed its own way of doing things, its own distinctive Anglican flavour, while those within, have their ways, their norms, so there has been a divergence, not an insurmountable one, but a divergence none the less.  Bp. Elliott emphasised that the coming together of these two streams of Anglicanism will mean that the Ordinariate will develop differently to that in England and Wales, though there may be some similarities.

In a later talk, Bp. Elliott outlined the process, as he sees it, in the erection of the Ordinariate.  Firstly, each Anglican priest who goes into the Australian Ordinariate will need a Catholic priest sponsor, a former Anglican priest if possible, a person who he can be with, befriend, listen to, confide in, encourage, and just be there for the man as he prepares for Catholic ordination, both before and after.  This makes a lot of sense to me, as we will need hand-holding as a lot of what we do will be new, especially Canon Law.   Secondly, the laity, each person who joins the Ordinariate, as I understand it, will need a Catholic sponsor, one who will stand by them as they move into the Ordinariate especially at their Chrismation.

Other people spoke from their hearts of the joy that healing the breach will bring; the sorrow that divisions are causing, and have caused in the past; the need for faith in the Holy Spirit and in the people that the Churches have called to bring the Ordinariate to fruition; the need to let go of the past and to forgive; the need to be humble; the need to see the working of the Holy Spirit; and especially to pray for the man that will become the Ordinary (whoever that may be), and his board.

Of course, I was sad to miss the final day, as there was to be stories from the people of the Torres Strait, and more exploration of the views of what the Ordinariate means for the people gathered, and how it may come to fruition.  Also, this was the day that the Australian Ordinariate Implementation Commitee was having their inaugural meeting starting after the festival, but alas my flight was changed, so I hope someone more eloquent than I will fill in the gaps, and perhaps give a much fuller account of what transpired.

As you have perhaps noticed, I have not talked about the Archbishop as his vision is known to all, though his presence was felt by all at the festival.  Instead I have examined what others thought, and talked about trying to give my thoughts on what occurred.  For me, it was a joyous occasion, as we explored our different histories and stories, talked to each other, overcoming our differences in the light of healing.  What I found at this festival was a common vision, a vision in which we are no longer ACCA or TAC or ACA, but we each belong to the Ordinariate, part of the Latin Rite, unified under the See of Peter.   I cannot give you a timeline nor can I give any other definite except that this is the work of the Holy Spirit, and truly blessed by God.

h/t The Anglo-Catholic