Church Times: Fr Steenson to lead US Ordinariate

6 01 2012

From the Church Times:

Pope Benedict XVI established an Ordinariate for the United States on New Year’s Day, almost one year since the creation of the Ordinariate of our Lady of Walsingham for England and Wales (News, 21 January 2011)

The Personal Ordinariate of the Chair of St Peter, based in Houston, Texas, will be led by the former Episcopal Bishop of Rio Grande, Fr Jeffrey Steenson, who became a Roman Catholic in 2007 and was reordained priest in 2009. Fr Steenson (left) will be installed as Ordinary of the US Ordinariate on 19 February at the Co-Cathedral of the Sacred Heart in Houston.

A statement issued on New Year’s Day by the US Ordinariate said that it had been created “in response to numerous requests”; it said that more than 100 Anglican priests had “already applied to become Catholic priests for the ordinariate, and nearly 1400 individuals from 22 communities are seeking to enter”. It said that two of the communities “already entered the Catholic Church” in the autumn “after a period of preparation”.

Fr Steenson asked for prayer “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…”

The Ordinary of the UK Ordinariate, Mgr Keith Newton, said on Monday: “The Holy Father’s vision for the visible reunion of Anglicans with the Holy See continues apace.”

In a pastoral letter published yesterday, the Bishop of Rio Grande, Dr Michael Vono, said that the announcement that Fr Steenson, his predecessor, would be leading the US Ordinariate “has evoked in some a sense of disillusionment, betrayal, sadness and confusion”.

Dr Vono described the new Ordinariate as “a gracious pastoral gesture from the Vatican to those who, with conviction and personal faith, can neither live nor practise their Christianity comfortably in the household of the Episcopal Church or Anglican Communion”. He said that those who had decided to leave the Episcopal Church for the Ordinariate “go with our blessings, prayers and abiding love”.

Dr Vono continued: “Remain steadfast and faithful to the Gospel as you have received it within this Episcopal-Anglican household of faith. Our future is God’s future, and as Lord of the Church Jesus will bring into being what humanity needs in every age. If you are experiencing a sense of betrayal, sadness, confusion or if you are questioning your faith tradition, I pray that it gives way to trust that ultimately God’s will always prevails, and that, in God’s good time, the Church’s definitive future will be revealed.”

Vatican Radio interviews Fr Jeffrey Steenson

5 01 2012

Fr Steenson is interviewed here.

Video: US Ordinariate Press Conference

4 01 2012

Monday’s press conference can be viewed here.

Statement from Fr Jeffrey Steenson

2 01 2012

From Fr Jeffrey Steenson, the Ordinary of the Personal Ordinariate of the Chair of St Peter:

On behalf of so many pilgrims of Catholic unity who have looked forward to this day, I wish to thank His Holiness, Pope Benedict XVI, for this priceless gift, the Personal Ordinariate of the Chair of St. Peter under the patronage of Our Lady of Walsingham. I pray that we who will come into full communion through this Ordinariate will bring the Holy Father much joy through our love and faithful service to the Catholic Church. To His Eminence Donald Cardinal Wuerl and His Excellencies Kevin Vann of Fort Worth and Robert McManus of Worcester: thank you for laying this good foundation for the Ordinariate. To His Eminence Daniel Cardinal DiNardo-thank you for your generous hospitality in providing for our principal church and a place in the University of St. Thomas and St. Mary’s Seminary for the formation of our future clergy. And, personally, to His Excellency, Archbishop Michael Sheehan of Santa Fe, who brought me into the Church and ordained me: my wife and I love you dearly. You all represent so many people who have worked so hard to bring the Holy Father’s vision to reality!

I ask for your prayers for me and for those who will become members of 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. 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. The Holy Father has asked us to bring this patrimony with us: “to maintain the liturgical, spiritual and pastoral traditions of the Anglican Communion within the Catholic Church, as a precious gift nourishing the members of the Ordinariate and as a treasure to be shared” [Anglicanorum coetibus 3]. Here is one thing I earnestly desire to share with you from the outset: 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!

The parishes and communities of the Ordinariate have been called, not to live in relative isolation, but to be fully engaged in the life of the local diocese; not to be assimilated, but to be integrated into the rich life of the Catholic Church. This Ordinariate of the Chair of St. Peter must be, above all else, an effective instrument for evangelization. But Jesus taught us that the unity of Christian people is the essential condition for evangelization (John 17:21). So this must be our hallmark:to build bridges, to be an instrument of peace and reconciliation, to be a sign of what Christian unity might look like. And gaudete in Domino semper (Philippians 4:4) to be joyful and happy Catholics!

The establishment of the Personal Ordinariate is an historic moment in the history of the Church. 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. But I would like to go back a little further, to the end of the 6th century, to see that this is not such a new thing. Pope Gregory the Great writes to St. Augustine, the first Archbishop of Canterbury, recently arrived from Rome, to urge him always to be a gracious and patient pastor in the way he gathers his flock. Anglicans love to read these letters, preserved in the Venerable Bede’s Ecclesiastical History of the English Nation, for they are a great witness to how the Church gathers her people from many different cultures and lands. The decree which this day establishes the Ordinariate begins with these words: “The supreme law of the Church is the salvation of souls. 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” (1.27). What a beautiful testimony to all that Catholic Christianity is!

Fr. Jeffrey Steenson
Houston, Texas

Rocco Palmo: US Ordinariate to include Canada

2 01 2012

From Whispers in the Loggia:

While the Vatican’s announcement of the launch of the US’ Anglican Ordinariate of the Chair of St Peter takes top line today, a key codicil of the news has freshly presented itself.

Over recent weeks, reports from Canada have indicated that the country’s number of Anglican entrants “do not warrant” the establishment of a separate national jurisdiction.

Accordingly, while a New Year’s Day letter from Bishop Douglas Crosby of Hamilton obtained by Whispers notes the Ontario diocese’s reception today of a “small group” of former Anglicans into full Catholic communion, the text goes on to say that, “in due time,” the received group will “become part of the Personal Ordinariate that is being erected in the United States.”

In other words, the Chair won’t end at the 49th Parallel.

Catholic Herald on US Ordinariate

1 01 2012

From the Catholic Herald:

Benedict XVI has established a personal ordinariate for groups of ex-Anglicans in America who wish to become Catholics and named a married former Episcopal bishop to lead it.

Read the rest of this entry »

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.

VirtueOnline discusses impact of appointment of Fr Jeffrey Steenson

1 01 2012

From VirtueOnline:

It’s not official, but VOL learned this past week that former Episcopal Bishop of the Rio Grande, Jeffrey Steenson, who turned his back on TEC for its apostasies and crossed the Tiber, will be the new ordinary for the Ordinariate when it is established in the U.S. in January.

The irony should not be missed. The Vatican has stuck it to Presiding Bishop Jefferts Schori and her House of Bishops by taking one of her own and making him an Ordinary. (The Pope had other options). Since Steenson is married with grown children, according to Anglicanorum Coetibus norms, he can never be elevated to the rank of bishop. However, he will receive the honor due a bishop and will be in the temporal and limited sacramental charge of an as-of-yet-to-be-named Ordinariate, although, he will be prevented from celebrating episcopal sacraments such as ordination.

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Ordinary welcomes appointment of US counterpart

1 01 2012

From the Personal Ordinariate of Our Lady of Walsingham:

Monsignor Keith Newton has enthusiastically welcomed the appointment of the Reverend Dr Jeffrey Steenson as the first Ordinary of the Personal Ordinariate of The Chair of St Peter, erected today in the United States.

On hearing the news of the appointment by Pope Benedict XVI, Mgr Newton said, ‘Fr Steenson is a warm and compassionate priest with a wealth of experience, and I am delighted by his appointment’.

The appointment of Fr Steenson marks the official establishment of the second Personal Ordinariate for those from the Anglican tradition who wish to enter into the full communion of the Catholic Church, whilst retaining those elements of Anglican liturgical and spiritual patrimony consonant with Catholic faith and practice. Dr Steenson formerly served as a bishop of the Episcopal Church before being received into the Catholic Church, and ordained under the Pastoral Provision.

Speaking of the erection of the US Ordinariate, Mgr Newton said, ‘The Holy Father’s vision for the visible reunion of Anglicans with the Holy See continues apace. As we enter in 2012, we pray that many more will take up Christ’s call – ut unum sint – and fulfil the prayer of generations for an Anglicanism united but not absorbed’.

Biography of the Reverend Dr Jeffrey Steenson

The Reverend Dr Jeffrey Neil Steenson was born on 1st April 1952 and spent 24 years in the ministry of the Episcopal Church, serving in parishes in Pennsylvania and Texas. He holds an M.Div. from Harvard Divinity School, and an M.A. from Trinity Evangelical Divinity School, and completed a doctorate on Basil of Ancyra at the University of Oxford in 1983. In 2005, he was made bishop of the Episcopal Diocese of the Rio Grande in New Mexico, having previously served there as Coadjutor and Canon to the Ordinary. His resignation as bishop took effect on 1st December 2007, and he was received into the full communion of the Catholic Church that day. Having petitioned for ordination under the terms of Bl. John Paul II’s Pastoral Provision, Fr Steenson studied at the Pontifical Irish College in Rome. He was ordained to the diaconate by Cardinal Bernard Law in 2008, and to the sacred priesthood on 21st February 2009 by the Archbishop of Santa Fe, the Most Reverend Michael J. Sheehan. He has since taught at the University of St Thomas and at St Mary’s Seminary, both in Houston, Texas. Fr Steenson is married to Debra, and has three grown-up children.

Bishop Kevin Vann looks forward to US Ordinariate

30 12 2011

Bishop Kevin Vann writes:

Yesterday was the sixth day of Christmas and the feast day of St. Thomas Becket. This morning, like every morning, the Church prays, “The Dawn from on High Shall break upon us” in the Benedictus (The Canticle of Morning Prayer) of Morning Prayer. Indeed the Dawn of the light of another day breaks upon us. So does the light of Christ again in this octave of His Birth. The dawn from on high is about to break upon us in a new year of grace and it is also about to break upon us in a new chapter of the life of the Church in the United States. As with the New Year, there is anticipation of the dawn of the Anglican Ordinariate. For those who have been waiting in hope, this is much like another Advent. As we await the dawn, it would be well to have some words from St. Thomas Becket (1118-1170) for us. His life and witness is not at all unconnected (although more remotely) with the heritage of Faith of the English Church in the United States which will find itself in ecclesial communion again with the See of Peter at the dawn of a new year. I believe his words are words for those in waiting:

“Remember then how our Fathers worked out their salvation; remember the sufferings through which the Church has grown, and the storms the ship of Peter has weathered because it has Christ on board. Remember how the crown was attained by those whose sufferings gave new radiance to their faith. The whole company of saints bears witness to the unfailing truth that without real effort no one wins the crown.” (From the Office of Readings, December 29th, a letter by St.Thomas Becket, bishop)

Words of Faith for those in anticipation, and words of Faith for the new year, the new dawn, and the new day of ecclesial communion for the Church in the United States.

As we pray, watch and wait, more to come!
Venite, Adoremus Dominum!

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