Catholic League: Receiving the Ordinariate & its Members as a Particular Church

30 04 2011

From the Catholic League:

Receiving the Ordinariate and its Members as a Particular Church: A New Reality within the Fullness of Communion

After the six weeks of Lent, and a Eucharistic fast since withdrawing from the fellowship of the Anglican Church to realise the corporate reunion of its historic and honoured tradition in fullness of communion with the whole Catholic Church, the first groups who will form the founding personal parishes of the Ordinariate of Our Lady of Walsingham were received during Holy Week 2011.

The League was represented at the reception of members of the first group, based in Kennington in South London, which Fr Mark Woodruff, acting priest director, has been accompanying on its journey through Lent at their recent new spiritual home at St Wilfrid’s Catholic Church, Kennington, culminating after the great Palm Sunday mass with a simple and most moving Liturgy of First Reconciliation. On Monday in Holy Week, nearly 30 people were received alongside Fr Christopher Pearson their pastor, Mgr Keith Newton, the Ordinary, who then conferred on them the sacrament of Confirmation and Chrismation at St George’s Cathedral, Southwark. Canon James Cronin, dean of the Cathedral, made the group warmly welcome at a beautiful Sung Mass marked by hymns that Catholics and Anglicans have come to share alike as part of a mutual enrichment of their respective liturgical patrimonies. The other concelebrant was Fr Gregory Moore, parish priest of St Wilfrid’s, who stood as sponsor for most of the members of the group.

An interesting note of distinctively Anglican patrimony was the choice of tune for Blessed John Henry Newman’s great hymn, Praise to the Holiest in the height. At the priestly ordination of Mgrs Newton, Broadhurst and Burnham the tune by Sir Richard Runciman Terry, Billing, was chosen. Surely this noble tune, which Catholics love and sing with great conviction, is something of the Catholic patrimony that Anglicans might receive and likewise make their own, as they leave behind John Bacchus Dykes’ Gerontius (in which the tune only works for the first and last verses) and Richmond by Haweis and Webbe (who also arranged the beautiful harmony for Rockingham, the tune to When I survey the wondrous Cross), a workhorse of a tune that does duty for at least two other hymns. Instead, the tune chosen was Chorus Angelorum, written especially for the words by the influential Lakeland composer of the English classical song renaissance in the late nineteenth and early twentieth century, Sir Arthur Somervell. The tune is used for a choral setting of Newman’s text in Somervell’s 1914 devotional oratorio, The Passion of Christ. (By happy historical providence, St George’s Cathedral was where Newman celebrated his first Catholic mass in England upon his return from Rome. The altar he used was, however, destroyed by enemy action during the Second World War.)

The same tune was used on Wednesday in Holy Week at the Mass of Reception at Newman House, the Catholic Chaplaincy to the Universities of London, for the Central London group. Fr Mark again represented the work of the League, having been invited to give a reflection on the wider Catholic Church’s reception of Anglican patrimony a few weeks earlier (this talk will be available in the next edtiion of The Messenger and online here shortly. But in the meantime a reflection from Austen Ivereigh writing on the America Magazine blog, including comments from Fr Mark, can be visited here). Fr Peter Wilson, senior Catholic chaplain, who has been welcoming the group to the Chaplaincy’s mass throughout Lent and contributing to their catechetical formation, received, confirmed and chrismated around 15 of the group. Also present was Fr Mark Elliott-Smith, their pastor, who had been reconciled earlier in the week and stood as sponsor for many of the candidates, along with Fr Roger Reader.

During the week, which saw the reconciliation of almost 1,000 Christians within the fullness of communion of the Catholic Church, it was clear how much of the characterisation and even apprehension about the people who constitute these groups is wide of the mark. By and large, these were not stereotypical Anglo-Catholics or “ritualists”. There were “Prayer Book Catholics” and middle-of-the-road Anglicans too. They were of all ages from children and teenagers to a faithful old lady in her 90s. Reflecting the Church in the Britain of today, not least the Catholic Church they are now fully joining, they were of various ethnic and national backgrounds, black African, Caribbean, white and Asian. Some were whole families; there were married couples; individuals and bands of old church-going friends. Some were relatively new to the Christian Faith; there were young professionals, as well seasoned parishioners who had lived and worked and worshipped in the same communities all their lives. They were simply ordinary, orthodox, Catholic Christians, who had always been believing none other than the same faith as the Church and now had an opportunity to live and profess it in undivided Catholic unity. They seemed to be the types of people who, in any congregation, are the most generous of their time, energies and resources; and it is evident that these embryonic parishes are not newly convened isolated individuals, but coherent fellowships whose unity as an aspect of their life in the Body of Christ has already been forged and tested, and who already form manifestations of the reality of the Church.

This movement that has taken place in Holy Week 2011 is not simply “groups of Anglicans”, it truly is a particular church coming as one into full communion in the Catholic Church in union, around their ordinary, with the successor of Peter in the apostolic see of Rome.


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