More from Fr David Silk’s ordination

20 02 2011

From the blog of Fr Edwin Barnes:

The clans gather: the Ordinary in their midst

It was a tribal gathering on Friday at Buckfast. The Bishop of Plymouth has an area which includes three Anglican dioceses, right across the SW peninsula from the Scilly Isles to Dorset. It is the old territory of the Dumnonii (Exeter in Latin was Isca Dumnoniorum) and many from across the region and beyond gathered to witness the Ordination the the Priesthood of David Silk.

The Candidate, with another deacon’s wife

With breathtaking speed, David Silk was advanced from the Diaconate which he attained on Tuesday to the Priesthood on Friday. The Abbey Church at Buckfast was filled with friends of David and Joyce, and it was unusual to see four mitres being sported, and only two of them by bishops.

Bishop Hopes, The Abbot of Buckfast, and our Ordinary, Keith Newton (l-r)

The first was Bishop Christopher Budd of Plymouth, who ordained David, the other Alan Hopes, Coadjutor of Westminster, who has been the link between the Ordinariate and the Conference of Bishops of England and Wales. The Mitred Abbot of Buckfast was the third, and it was very good to see the Ordinary himself properly attired. Quite like old times.

If you have not visited Buckfast (“the fourth most popular Tourist Attraction in the West Country”) then you should at the earliest opportunity. When the religious life was re-established on that Holy Ground, the monks themselves erected the Church following the plan of the long-demolished Cistercian Church which had been swept away in the unpleasantnesses of Henry VIII of unhappy memory. It is an austere building within, but the sanctuary, filled with concelebrating priests on this occasion, glows with light from a huge lantern suspended over the sacrarium.

Despite struggling with a rebellious sound system, Bishop Christopher was warm in his welcome. To mark the very specially nature of the occasion he carried the pastoral staff which David had been given when he was bishop of Ballarat; it was a gift to him from the linked diocese in Papua New Guinea, and looked like the sort of weapon which could have felled at one blow any number of rebellious inferior clergy.

After the razzmatazz of Westminster (was it really only a month ago?) Buckfast was splendidly restrained – but then, it has often been claimed that Anglicanism continued some of the better features of the Benedictine tradition. It certainly felt as though some of the Anglican Patrimony was already becoming apparent. “Praise to the Holiest” rang out for the Entrance, and “We pray Thee, Heavenly Father” was sung at the Offertory. These and other hymns made a lovely contrast with the singing of the Abbey Choir under their Director, Michael Vian Clark. They sang the Gloria from Byrd’s Mass for Four Voices, and led us in responsorial psalm and plainchant Alleluias, Sanctus, Veni Creator and Agnus Dei. The Motet at Communion was again by Byrd, his Laudibus in Sanctis.

The New Priest in mischievous mood

Joyce assisted in vesting her husband in the Chasuble – this seems to be a habit (no pun intended) – perhaps it will be different in Portsmouth. With some of her family she was in the Easternmost block of stalls, facing some of the Monastic Community.

Once again there were more seeking a Blessing than receiving Communion; if they are preparing to declare themselves for the Ordinariate there will be a great shot in the arm for Westcountry Catholicism in the next few months.

At the end of Mass David stood at the East end of the Choir, while a long queue formed seeking the new priest’s blessing. There was much hilarity over lunch, some of David’s closest friends joining the family in a small upper room over the Granary Restaurant. So the Ordinariate progresses, in joyful steps. If this was one man’s ordination, what will it be like at Pentecost when dozens are to be ordained?