From the Reluctant Sinner:
The largest number of those entering the Ordinariate of Our Lady of Walsingham come from from South-East England, within the territory covered by the Archdiocese of Southwark. This afternoon, the six Ordinariate groups which have been formed in South London and Kent travelled to St George’s Cathedral, Southwark, to participate in the Rite of Election. At the service, the 167 future members of the Ordinariate of Our Lady of Walsingham joined nearly 600 others who were there to formally begin their journey into the Catholic Church – either as catechumens seeking baptism and the sacraments of initiation, or as candidates to be fully received into communion with Rome.
The six Ordinariate groups that were formally welcomed at the Rite of Election were: the Beckenham & Bromley Ordinariate Group – comprising of former parishioners from St Barnabas’ church, Beckenham, and led by Rev Simon Heans; the Folkestone Ordinariate Group – led by Rev Stephen Bould and including former members of St Peter’s church, Folkestone; the East Kent Ordinariate Group – which represents former parishioners from St Andrew’s, Deal, and is led by Rev Christopher Lindlar; the London South Ordinariate Group – from St Agnes’, Kennington Park; the Sevenoaks Ordinariate Group – led by Rev Ivan Aquilina and Deacon James Bradley and including former parishioners from St John the Baptist’s church, Sevenoaks; and the Tunbridge Wells Ordinariate Group – which is led by Rev Edward Tomlinson and represents former members of St Barnabas’ church, Tunbridge Wells. It is expected that a second wave of groups will seek full communion with the Catholic Church once the Ordinariate of Our Lady is fully operational.
The Cathedral was packed for the Rite of Election, which was celebrated by the Archbishop of Southwark, the Most Rev Peter Smith. He was joined by his auxiliary bishops, whilst members of the clergy sat amongst the congregation, with their candidates. The liturgy, especially the music, was bordering on the Evangelical, and included hymns such as “Let us build a house where love can dwell” – the type of thing that would be welcomed at Eccleston Square! Needless to say, there were no hymns by Newman, and the nearest we got to anything traditional was “Guide me, O thou great Redeemer” by the famous Welsh Calvinist-Methodist, William Williams!
The Rite itself was introduced by another “rite”, namely one of “gathering and welcome” – which involved the singing of 1970’s type chants and cheesy hymns. We can only hope and pray that the former Anglicans were not put off by this afternoon’s service – which seemed to encompass all that’s wrong with post-Conciliar Catholic liturgy! During the Rite, Archbishop Smith asked us to “Be ready…to be enriched by the gifts” that the members of the Ordinariate will bring to the Church. I can assure him that there are many of us who are more than ready to be enriched by their gifts – especially in matters liturgical!
It was a particular shame that the Archbishop made no reference to the Ordinariate of Our Lady of Walsingham during his homily, though what he had to say to the Diocesan candidates for reception into the Church applied as much to the Ordinariate groups. As always, though, Archbishop Peter Smith’s address was down to earth and humorous in a good way. It was also good to be at an event where so many adults were longing for the great sacrament of Baptism! There seemed to be many from Nigerian and Korean names amongst the ones being called out, and there were also quite a few Arabic or Islamic names, too! Now that is something to celebrate, too!
As you can see from the photos, whole families are joining the Ordinariate, as well as people of all ages. I know that Our Lady of Walsingham has a special place for them in her heart. Let us, too, who are her children, welcome our brothers and sisters with prayers, practical support and Christian charity!
Our Lady of Walsingham: pray for us!
Bl John Henry Newman: pray for us!