About 900 prospective members of the new ordinariate, including 61 former Anglican clergy, prepared for their reception into the Catholic Church in England and Wales over the weekend.
They were among the more than 4,700 others who gathered for the Rite of Election in cathedrals across England and Wales over the weekend of March 12-13 to prepare to be received into the Church during Holy Week.
“I am greatly encouraged that these people will be received into the Catholic Church at Easter as members of the ordinariate,” said Fr. Keith Newton, the ordinary heading Ordinariate of Our Lady of Walsingham. “During the next few weeks they will continue their prayerful preparation for this significant step.”
Pope Benedict XVI established the ordinariate, a special church structure, to allow Anglicans to join the Catholic Church while retaining some of their customs and liturgy.
Figures from the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of England and Wales indicate that former Anglicans will have a significant presence among new converts.
In the Archdiocese of Westminster, a reported 62 of the 829 participants in the Rite of Election will join the Ordinariate of Our Lady of Walsingham. In the Archdiocese of Birmingham 100 of the 302 prospective Catholics will join the ordinariate, as will 167 of the 512 participants in the Archdiocese of Southwark.
In the Diocese of Brentwood, which includes Essex and East London, 240 of the 362 participants were bound for the ordinariate.
In southwest England’s Diocese of Plymouth, those joining the ordinariate also made up the majority undergoing the Rite of Election: 60 out of 80.
They will join five former Anglican bishops who have already become Catholic, including Fr. Newton.
“The witness of so many people taking this life-changing step is so very encouraging,” said Bishop Kieran Conry, chair of the Department for Evangelisation and Catechesis for the bishops’ conference. “Each year people freely choose to come forward from all walks of life, bringing with them unique experiences and talents. The Catholic Community welcomes them with love, friendship and the assurance of prayer.”
The bishop encouraged anyone considering entering the Catholic Church or exploring it further to contact their local Catholic church or to ask a Catholic friend for help.