Traditional Anglican Communion Congregation Becomes Catholic
June 24, 2012 10 Comments
Dcn Greg Kandra on his fantastic (in other words read: highly recommended) blog, The Deacon’s Bench (yes, again) has the news:
The sign outside Christ the King Church is currently blank, still a work in progress. Like all things at the tranquil, leafy site of this Hampton church, it’s in a state of transition.
“White-out doesn’t work on these signs,” Father Edward Meeks said with a laugh.
Father Meeks, like a third of his congregation, grew up Catholic. And this weekend, Meeks and his congregants will return to the church. Meeks will be ordained by Washington Archbishop Donald Wuerl in a ceremony at the Cathedral of St. Matthew the Apostle in Washington. Then, in a Sunday morning mass, his congregation will be received into the Catholic church.
Meeks, 64, is the fourth Anglican priest in Maryland to be ordained in the Catholic church since a 2009 directive by Pope Benedict XVI established the Ordinariate of the Chair of St. Peter to receive Anglican churches that wished to transition to Catholicism but still keep some Anglican traditions.
The most important allowance is that priests who move from the Anglican to Catholic church can still be married, per special dispensation from the Vatican. Meeks has been married for 41 years to wife Jan, who serves as his secretary.
The pope’s 2009 move and the actions since then have been in the works for more than three decades, since Pope John Paul II began allowing Anglican parishes into the church. Thirty former Episcopal priests are scheduled for ordination this summer nationwide, and 30 more are set for next year.
Meeks began the process as quickly as he could. Last April, Washington Archbishop Donald Wuerl, a liaison to the ordinariate, asked interested Anglican priests to submit detailed dossiers, including resumes, his baptismal certificate and his marriage certificate.
In January, Meeks was given the green light to head to St. Mary’s Seminary in Houston for a weekend retreat then came home for 13 weeks of training “to kind of round out our catholic theology to address those issues of Catholic formation that might be lacking,” he said.
Meeks was raised Catholic, but left the church in the 1970s, a period he called “a time of great conflict and turmoil in the church.” About a third of his congregation, he said, was also raised Catholic.
“I wrongly concluded that the church was starting to lose its way. I realize now that’s impossible,” he said. “The holy spirit is always in the church.”
Of the 140 people in Meeks’ congregation, only about 10, he said, have not yet opted to join him in the move.
The Anglican church has faced some splits in the last several years over social issues, including the election of the first gay bishop in 2003. However, Meeks said Christ the King’s move was based merely out of a desire for apostolic authority.
“We have always been on what I would call a kind of catholic trajectory. By that I mean that our theology, our doctrine, our liturgy have all had a decidedly Catholic flavor,” he said, adding that his church has been “seeking for a long time a way to be in full unity with the Catholic church.”
The move, he said, “is a very important step in regards of undoing some of the damage of the Reformation.”
Christ the King Church has a smart-looking website here.
I must also quickly make mention here of a most thoughtful (and kind) comment made yesterday by Bishop Louis Campese (in case you missed it) on this blog regarding Fr Ed Meeks’s ordination:
Praise God and how proud I am, as one of my former priests, Fr. Meeks, was ordained , today… Fr. Meeks is one of the most humble, honest and loyal priests I have had the privilege of having in my diocese… He was and still is an awesome priest, father and friend…PAX + Bishop Louis Campese