Fr Edwin Barnes reports on his ordination

5 03 2011

Fr Edwin Barnes reports on his ordination today in Portsmouth, on the Anglo-Catholic:

Others will have pictures from the Ordination in Portsmouth: this is a more personal take on today’s events.  An Anglican friend just contacted me to say “How wonderful that Jane’s part in it all was recognised – our Anglican bishops could learn a great deal!” That is where I should like to begin: and here is a very rare picture, four wives of Catholic priests in conversation (unfortunately the fifth had disappeared by the time I made it to the bun-fight).  It was great to have them (and their husbands) all present with us.

From left to right they are Joyce Silk, Gill Newton, Judi Broadhurst and Jane.

Bishop Crispian was immensely kind and pastoral to me, and what he said – about my former ministry as Deacon, Priest and Bishop in the Church of England – should reassure anyone who still thinks he might have to deny what he has been, on coming into communion with the See of Peter.   He spoke about Jane’s part in my ministry, and gave her and me a very special blessing as the service came to an end.  I was pleased, too, that I was able to scramble to my feet after being prostrate throughout the Litany, without the aid of the fork-lift which some had predicted.

Former students were there, too, from our days together at St Stephen’s House.  Many of them are taking the step – a far braver one than I have taken in retirement – into the Catholic Church, leaving their livings, many of their people, their houses and churches.   They are heading for a future which will take some time before it is clear just what being an Ordinariate Priest will entail.

Frs Robert Page and Mark Elliott-Smith,on the eve of resigning their livings

Friends and former colleagues came from near and far; none further than Fr Allan Hawkins and Josie, his wife, who are even now on their way home to Texas.


Fr Allan and Mrs Hawkins with our Ordinary, Fr Keith Newton

It really was a very special bunfight, and I am hugely grateful to the Dean and his staff for arranging such a spread for us.  It gave me a chance to catch up with some (though alas not all) of the friends who had come for this occasion.  There were former Anglican colleagues who are en route for Ordination by the ‘usual’ route: Robbie Low in his Cornish fastness is now, I believe, on track for a seminary – ah, if only he had waited for the Ordinariate! Then there was also an old friend from the Fatima pilgrimages, Paul Andrew, also of Plymouth diocese and now a Seminarian at Wonersh.  It was especially good that he was able to abandon his studies for a few minutes to be with us this afternoon.

A former colleague from St Stephen’s House came to represent the old place, and I was glad to be able to persuade Ian Boxall to read the first lesson.  He did a great job with Isaiah 6, which I seem to remember reading at my first (Anglican) Ordination in the other Portsmouth Cathedral… a little bit  of Anglican Patrimony slipped in together with some of the Hymns.  We began with “Christ is Made the Sure Foundation” – and that had also kicked us off in Westminster Abbey at my Consecration as Bishop of Richborough.  Here is Ian in conversation with yet another Anglican Priest on the verge of joining the Ordinariate: Fr David Elliott, lately of Holy Trinity Reading.

Fr Elliott (l) and Ian Boxall

I cannot end without paying tribute, as Bishop Crispian did, to my wife Jane.  She has been a tower of strength to me throughout my ministry as an Anglican, and now in our old age she is promising to give me the same support as a Catholic Priest. Our son Matthew travelled down from Lancaster University where he is labouring over his Doctorate.  It was so good they could both be in Portsmouth today, and this evening it was great, too, to hear from grandson Huw (age 10 and 3/4)  in Wales adding his good wishes with those of his mother, Nicola.  What an amazing day this has been.  Now to gird myself for my first Mass in Brockenhurst!