Fr Mark Woodruff reflects on Evensong for the first anniversary

18 01 2012

Fr Mark Woodruff (Director of the Catholic League) writes:

Just after the New Year, I went to the Cotswolds to visit a retired evangelical Anglican archdeacon friend of mine. Without hesitation I would say that he is western Catholic, a true churchman, to his finger tips. The retreats for priests he used to give were pearls of the Wisdom of the Scriptures and the Church’s Tradition he had received in the Church of England and was passing on to those who had ears to hear. One of the things that has united the Anglican archdeacon and the Catholic priest, grateful for his own roots and formation in the Church of England, is our love for the rites of the Book of Common Prayer, with its daily rhythm of Morning and Evening Prayer, the pastoral offices and the “noble simplicity” of its Office of Holy Communion. Once, he asked Graham Leonard, the retired bishop of London, whether there was anything he regretted about becoming a Roman Catholic. “I don’t regret anything for a single minute; but the one thing I really do miss is Evensong. We have nothing quite like it.” My archdeacon friend said he had always regarded Evensong as a perfect tool for pastoral mission, with its near perfect structure of reverent beauty, music, preaching, Scriptures and prayer, for drawing in those who were moved to worship but not yet ready for the sacramental life. “The Catholic Church should really give some thought to adopting Anglican Evensong,“ he said. “But it has!” I replied; “and I am going to Choral Evensong as a service fully of the Catholic Church next weekend.” He was as moved as I was to think that this peerless liturgy, increasingly difficult to find even in Anglican parishes, has been embraced as a treasure by the Catholic Church from the Anglican tradition, as a foretaste of the unity of all Christendom in which all our churches will own the gifts given to each other for the Universal Church.

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NCR: Preserving Anglican patrimony

9 01 2012

Charlotte Hays writes at the National Catholic Register:

Father Jeffrey Steenson, who was named by Pope Benedict XVI on New Year’s Day as the first to lead the Personal Ordinariate of the Chair of St. Peter, said that the new ordinariate for former Anglicans and Episcopalians must be true to both the Catholic Church and its Anglican patrimony.
An obviously overjoyed Father Steenson, 59, who according to one report sported cufflinks with the motto “Keep Calm & Carry On,” said that Pope Benedict, who authorized ordinariates for former Anglicans and Episcopalians in 2009, had charged them to preserve certain elements of Anglican worship.

The Personal Ordinariate of Our Lady of Walsingham — the first one to be created — was established in the United Kingdom in January of last year. The Chair of St. Peter is the second ordinariate to be erected, though Anglicans in Australia also hope to have an ordinariate established there.

“The establishment of the Personal Ordinariate is a historic moment in the history of the Church,” Father Steenson said. “For perhaps the first time since the Reformation in the 16th century, a corporate structure has been given to assist those who in conscience seek to return to the fold of St. Peter and his successors.”

A former Episcopal bishop who entered the Catholic Church in 2007 and was ordained a Catholic priest in 2009, Father Steenson proclaimed himself to be “mesmerized” by the name of the new ordinariate.

“I am so excited about the title of the ordinariate,” said Father Steenson, “because we who are pilgrims coming into the Church want to embrace this beautiful teaching, the primacy of St. Peter in Rome, where St. Peter sits in his chair and teaches us.”

Speaking in a press call-in from Our Lady of Walsingham Catholic Church in Houston, an Anglican-use parish founded in 1984 that will serve as the principal church of the ordinariate, Father Steenson was flanked by Cardinal Daniel DiNardo of Galveston-Houston and Bishop Kevin Vann of Forth Worth, Texas.

Bishop Vann is in charge of formation for former Episcopal priests who seek ordination to the Catholic priesthood under Pope John Paul II’s 1982 Pastoral Provision.

Married Priest With a Miter

Father Scott Hurd, a priest of the Archdiocese of Washington who will serve as vicar general of the ordinariate during its first year, was also on the call. Father Hurd is a former Episcopal priest.
More than 100 former Episcopal priests in the United States have asked to become Catholic priests under the ordinariate provisions, while around 1,400 laypeople are reportedly seeking to become part of the U.S. ordinariate. Two formerly Episcopal communities came into the Catholic Church last fall.

Asked about former Episcopalians who came into the Church before 2009, Father Hurd said that Anglicanorum Coetibus (Concerning Groups of Anglicans), the document that authorized the ordinariates, is vague about their status. However, he added that clarifying the status of these former Episcopalians is “on top of our inbox.”

They will be able to worship with the ordinariate, as will other Catholics, but Father Hurd said it’s not yet clear whether they can become “card-carrying members” of the Chair of St. Peter Ordinariate.

Father Hurd said that former Episcopal priests who ask to become Catholic priests must discern whether they have a vocation to be priests of the ordinariate or seek to be incardinated in a traditional Catholic diocese.

Father Steenson, former bishop of the Episcopal Church’s Diocese of Rio Grande, will be a member of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops and entitled to wear a miter, but he will not be ordained a bishop. That is something only open to an unmarried man. Father Steenson is married and the father of three adult children and one grandchild. His wife, Debra, also came into the Catholic Church.

Since he will not be a bishop, Father Steenson will have to depend on Catholic bishops to ordain priests for the ordinariate.

Cardinal DiNardo said that his archdiocese will pay Father Steenson’s salary and offer help with some of the administrative burden. But the ordinariate “has been launched in a spirit of apostolic poverty,” Father Steenson noted on the ordinariate’s website, It will need to raise money to defray the costs of its operation.

Cardinal DiNardo hailed Father Steenson, an Oxford University and Harvard-educated expert on the early Church Fathers who teaches theology on the faculty of the University of St. Thomas in Houston, as a “wise and prudent administrator who will bring a vibrant intellect and humility to his role as head of the ordinariate.”

Steep Learning Curve

Father Steenson asked for prayers for himself and for those who will become Catholics through the ordinariate. “There is so much to learn, and it is a steep learning curve. Be patient with us as we embark on this journey,” he said.

“Pray that we may strive to learn the faith, laws and culture of the Catholic Church with humility and good cheer. But pray, too, that we do not forget who we are and where we have come from, for we have been formed in the beautiful and noble Anglican tradition,” said Father Steenson.

He recalled that Pope Gregory the Great sent St. Augustine of Canterbury to evangelize the English in the sixth century and that St. Augustine had become the first archbishop of Canterbury.
Letters from Gregory the Great to Augustine, encouraging him to always be “a gracious and patient pastor” to those in faraway England, have been preserved in the Venerable Bede’s great Ecclesiastical History of the English Nation.

Father Steenson noted that Anglicans “love to read the letters” because they are “a great witness to how the Church gathers her people from many different cultures and lands.”

The new ordinary observed that Pope Benedict’s decree established the ordinariate by saying that “the supreme law of the Church is the salvation of souls” and that, “as such, throughout its history, the Church has always found the pastoral and juridical means to care for the good of the people.”

“In what Pope Benedict has given us today, I hear the voice of Pope Gregory the Great: ‘For things are not to be loved for the sake of places, but places for the sake of good things.’ What a beautiful testimony to all that Catholic Christianity is,” Father Steenson said.

In a characteristically Anglican note, the new ordinary stressed the need for cordiality. “Here is one thing I earnestly desire to share with you from the outset,” Father Steenson said. “Anglican spirituality has always emphasized the need to be gentlemanly in all of our relationships. May you see in us always the virtue of courtesy.”


28 12 2011

Please spread the word – all invited to this thanksgiving celebration.


Fr Edwin Barnes: United not Absorbed

16 12 2011

Fr Edwin Barnes of the Personal Ordinariate of Our Lady of Walsingham, writes:

In 1925 Dom Lambert Beaduin wrote of L’Eglise Anglicane Unie non Absorbee. It is a marvellous concept, Unity without Absorption, but it is not easily achieved. The Ordinariate of Our Lady of Walsingham is attempting it, but it is still a work in formation. Some Groups are forging ahead, with good numbers of former Anglicans mostly from single parishes making a coherent body. One of these Groups has even been given the care of a Catholic mass-centre, and is effectively running it as a joint parish for both Ordinarians and Cradle-Catholics (I wish we had better terms than these to describe there two versions of Catholics).

In other places – and Bournemouth where I minister is one such – our numbers are small, gathered from half a dozen different Anglican parishes. My care for this group in my retirement can only be a temporary measure until other former Anglican priests are ordained for the Ordinariate. This does not mean, though, that we are being ‘swallowed up’ by some imagined ogre-ish Catholic Church of England and Wales. Instead we and the parish whose church building we share are gradually learning to trust each other, working together as and when it is appropriate, working in parallel at other times. With only a couple of dozen members in our Group, we could not sustain a daily Ordinariate Mass. Instead we have settled for one mid-week Mass and one Sunday Morning Mass. At other times we can go to our local catholic parishes.

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Fr Ray Blake: Ordinariate – Bricks and Mortar essential to Patrimony

15 12 2011

Fr Ray Blake writes:

I have been intrigued by Damian Thompson’s piece on the Ordinariate, I have certainly been wondering about that illusive church and why the Nuncio should use the word “meticulous” to describe the bishops implementartion of Anglicanorum Coetibus and why despite what the Apostolic Constitution says the English and Welsh bishops seem to have a veto on ordinations. “When the Archbishop of Westminster came to talk to us”, said a friend who is part of Allen Hall formation group, “he thanked Dr Wang for arranging the very speedy Formation prior to ordination, and (tellingly) added “I don’t think we’ll let it happen so quickly in future”. I am not sure that is what Anglicanorum Coetibus says.

I checked out Damian’s story with another Ordinariate friend and received this email, emphasis is mine:

DT is right, of course, but to a point. It’s unfair to suggest (as he does I think) that the Ordinariate leadership are holding this up – it’s very difficult to ask for something when you have no money! That said, everyone I’ve spoken to about it seems to be of the mind that we must have churches soon, and I agree. These will not only ensure that the fragile Ordinariate Groups have a secure base and a future, but form a significant part of our fundraising initiatives. If people see that we have buildings to support, to beautify, and to establish our distinctive ecclesial life, they will respond. It’s hard to get people to ‘buy into’ a project which, thus far, has been more on paper than anything else. They will also form important centres for evangelisation – one of the key aspects of Anglican pastoral practice is the subsequent evangelisation of those who come forward for occasional offices(baptisms, marriage, funerals, etc). If we are constantly referring such people to the Parish Priest of the church we live out of, that will never take off.

I am of the mind that we should take every single church building offered to us and make something of it whilst we’re still on the crest of the wave.

We also need to ensure that Anglican clergy who approach the Ordinariate without groups are not encouraged not disappear to the diocese (unless, of course, that’s what they really want). If Bishop X offers a church somewhere, we’ll need clergy to go and plant it – at the moment almost all of the Ordinariate priests are looking after groups.

The slowness of the arrival of the Ordinariate liturgy is perhaps another factor but it is a Church building, a home, making the Ordinariate bricks and mortar that seems key. Bricks and mortar are essential to the patrimony.

Bishop Peter Elliott: The Marian & Petrine Principles in the Catholic Church

9 12 2011

Bishop Peter Elliott, Auxiliary Bishop of Melbourne and Episcopal Delegate for the implementation of the Apostolic Constitution Anglicanorum coetibus, preached this sermon at Evensong & Benediction for the solemnity of the Immaculate Conception of the Blessed Virgin Mary, at the Church of the Holy Cross, South Caulfield, Victoria, Australia. It is reproduced here from the Anglo-Catholic.

The heart of Corpus Christi College, the seminary of the Province of Melbourne and the archdiocese of Hobart, is a beautiful gothic chapel. Recently constructed within the bluestone shell of a modest colonial church, it features two windows on either side of a Pugin tabernacle. The rich stained glass depicts the outpouring of the Holy Spirit at Pentecost, but in a most original way.

On one side the apostles are gathered around Mary in prayer, a detail recorded by St Luke leading into his account of Pentecost (cf Acts 1:14). That window represents the Marian dimension of the Church. On the other side the window presents St Peter presiding as teacher among the apostles. This scene represents the Petrine dimension of the Church, perpetuated across all ages in the Popes, teaching and governing as the true successors of the Fisherman of Galilee.

Future priests who raise their eyes to the glowing colour of the windows are invited to contemplate the work of the Holy Spirit in the Church in two complimentary principles. The Marian and the Petrine dimensions are held together through what guides them both, the presence and work of the Holy Spirit, the Paraclete who prays in and through us and who guides and preserves the Church from falling into error.

In the new English translation of the Roman Mass, the Church is consistently referred to as “she” and “her”. In that perspective of the Church our Mother we find Mary, first member of the Church, but, as Saint Augustine pointed out, she is not greater than the Church. Therefore when we take up the title given her at the end of the Second Vatican Council, “Mother of the Church”, we do not set her above the Church, rather she is found, like any good mother, within the family circle of the Church. As such we gather around her in prayer with the apostles of Pentecost.

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Fr Edwin Barnes: The Ordinariate & Anglican Patrimony (2)

13 11 2011

Part Two of Fr Edwin Barnes’s paper on Anglican Patrimony:

Oh dear: I thought the first half of my addresss to SVP [yesterday’s blog] listed some of the things commonly thought to be the essence of ‘The Patrimony’ – ancient language, beautiful liturgy, rich hymnody &c – and then added BUT THESE ARE NOT OF THE ESSENCE because they are, or should be, the common concern of all Catholics, not just former Anglicans. Clearly I was misunderstood, since some have asserted that I was giving these priority. I don’t; and I hope I said in the second part of my talk just what I DID think was at the heart of our Patrimony. It was about our concern for those beyond the walls of our churches… but judge for yourself, here is how the talk concluded:-

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