Rocco Palmo on US Ordinariate

1 01 2012

From Whispers in the Loggia:

Twenty-six months since Anglicanorum coetibus laid the groundwork for groups of Anglicans to cross the Tiber while maintaining elements of their liturgical, spiritual, theological and canonical patrimony, the top-shelf papal project has taken a sizable leap this New Year’s morning, with as the establishment of the venture’s Stateside jurisdiction by the Holy See.

In a rare Sunday announcement — a sign of the degree to which Rome means business — the Vatican’s press bulletin gave official word of the erection of the Personal Ordinariate of the Chair of St Peter, encompassing the territory of the United States. The quasi-diocese for the entering groups is the second of its kind, following England’s Ordinariate of Our Lady of Walsingham, which was launched a year ago this month.

Fr Jeffrey Steenson, 59, the former Episcopal bishop of Rio Grande ordained a priest of the archdiocese of Santa Fe in 2009, was named its founding head. A patristics scholar who’s been serving until now as a professor at Houston’s St Mary’s Seminary and University of St Thomas, the appointment is effective immediately.

According to the usual ops, a press conference will be held on Monday to mark the canonical erection of the American Ordinariate at Houston’s Our Lady of Walsingham church (top), which will be the “principal church” — essentially the cathedral — of the new entity.

The nation’s second-oldest Anglican Use community, the Norman-style church was dedicated in 2003, built by its members a decade after their reception into the Catholic fold. Begun with a dozen pilgrims, the parish now numbers more than 300 families.

The designation of a principal church for the US Anglicanorum branch already places the project ahead of its English counterpart. Despite having a year’s head-start, the UK Ordinariate is still awaiting the release of a church to serve as its hub.

Alongside its sacramental seat (interior, above), the Ordinariate’s offices are also to be in Houston, on the Walsingham parish campus.

As ever, much more to come.


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