St Mary of the Angels (ACA) and the Ordinariate: Latest

We previously reported on the trouble at the ACA parish of St Mary of the Angels in Hollywood here.

Now, according to Virtue Online, the Ordinary, Msgr Jeffrey Steenson, has written the parish regarding several very important issues that will need to be resolved before (if) the parish is to be received corporately into the Ordinariate. For now, individual or family reception is the option open.

You can read the full letter here.

And a statement on the the Personal Ordinariate of the Chair of St Peter website:

The rector, wardens, and vestry of the Church of St. Mary of the Angels, Hollywood, CA, have previously expressed a desire to become a part of the Personal Ordinariate of the Chair of St. Peter within the Catholic Church. However, a number of issues relating to the parish’s corporate structure, the Catholic formation of its clergy and members, and the resolution of some management concerns have yet to be resolved. The Ordinariate thus has no jurisdiction over St. Mary of the Angels; however, individual parishioners are welcome to join the Ordinariate if they wish to do so. The gift of full communion requires a spirit of reconciliation and the healing of relationships, and to this end, the Ordinary, Msgr. Jeffrey Steenson, offers his prayers for all involved.

Just a short note from my side:

One thing that is really impressing me about the Ordinariate is the high standard being set. Msgr Jeffrey Steenson (the Ordinary) is acting most judiciously, labouring patiently and that with careful and prayerful discernment. It makes for a really solid and sound foundation (cf. Matt 7:24-27).

UPDATE:  The parish of St Mary of the Angels responds here.



25 thoughts on “St Mary of the Angels (ACA) and the Ordinariate: Latest

    1. The thing to note here is that the rector has not complied with the requests of the Ordinariate. The only plausible explanation for his refusal to do the audit, complete the audit, and then to share the audit results with the Ordinariate (and the parish) is that his malfeasance will be revealed. He has dragged out the process of changing the bylaws by over and over trying to get the Ordinariate to accept bylaws that leave him in charge of everything, rather than accepting Canon law.

  1. This doesn’t surprise me. Saint Mary’s has always been an entity unto itself. I was a parishioner during the withdrawal from ECUSA and left because the atmosphere became too toxic; and that same nastiness is happening there again. Unfortunately the majority of its Rectors have treated the parish as their own dominion, and that is a status which is hard to give up..

  2. But look at this in the context of Our Lady of the Atonement dropping out. That would have been the single largest parish in the Ordinariate overall — I believe someone posted here that it had 500 families, while the Ordinariate’s own web site estimates a total membership of 1400 when all anticipated parishes (now minus OLA) are received. Now St Mary of the Angels, by Steenson’s own implication, is very, very doubtful. The reasons for OLA dropping out aren’t really specified, but I’ve been having increasing questions about Steenson’s competence. There are several errors of fact in Steenson’s letter, for instance: a census of the parish was in fact conducted; Msgr Stetson’s own observer was present for the vote and can vouch for the fact of both the vote count and that an explanation of the property issues was in fact distributed to all those present in the meeting prior to the vote.

    I think the Ordinariate is in rapid freefall, and I suspect Steenson is in some measure respnsible.

    1. Why would Mgr. Steenson be responsible for the mess in a parish that is neither in his jurisdiction nor in the Catholic Church?? Why would he be responsible for a decision of the Archibishop of San Antonio?? Your apparent hatred toward him is misleading you greatly.
      + PAX et BONUM

  3. People are not looking at the Atonement situation from a Catholic perspective, and it makes more sense if they do. It should be remembered that as far as Our Lady of Atonement goes, the parish is a parish of the diocese and Fr. Phillips is an incardinated priest of that diocese having promised obedience to that bishop. Msgr. Steenson has no authority over the parish or the priest. None. He has no way to influence the local bishop, and certainly no coercive power. In RC world, a bishop has complete authority over his territory and his priests, and it is expected of incardinated priests that they will stay in and work for a particular diocese for the priest’s entire ministry. Priests don’t move like they do in the Anglican churches. it is entirely up to the local bishop what to do with both the parish and the priest, and if the bishop wants to keep them, he is entirely within his rights. Fr. Phillips made an oath of obedience to the bishop, and that oath isn’t just to obey when he feels like it. It isn’t negotiable. If what other posters are saying is true and that the parish is actually populated with non-Anglican Romans rather than former Anglicans, it makes sense that the bishop would not want to see it go. But to somehow hold Msgr. Steenson responsible for the decision of the local bishop is simply wrong. It was never his call.

  4. I’m not sure if the record is clear on whose call any of this was. Presumably the bishop was OK with it, but there’s very little out there otherwise on why this happened — except that it’s a major, major loss to the Ordinariate. Last I checked, there was phone service between Houston and San Antonio — don’t you think Steenson could have worked something out?

    1. Pathetic! You don’t even know what’s going on at Saint Mary of the Angels, but you are willing to comment on a parish that’s thousands miles away. Stop BLOVIATING!

  5. Actually, the record is very clear whose call it is, it is the call of the local bishop who has complete control over his priests and his territory. If the bishop doesn’t want them to go, they don’t go. Period, end of discussion. To think otherwise is not to understand how the Catholic Church works. A Catholic bishop has complete control over his priests and his diocese. No amount of phone calls between Houston and San Antonio are going to change that, particularly if the majority of the parish isn’t even eligible to belong to the Ordinariate.

    1. Thank you Observer, the concept of jurisdiction appeared to have escaped this particular Anglican in question.

  6. Except that OLA did in fact apply to join the Ordinariate. I assume the bishop was aware of that, was he not? Why didn’t he simply refuse permission even to apply? Phillips’s letter strongly implies that there was a collegial process, after all.

  7. Look at the letter Christopher Phillips posted. It is talking about the decision being made between Fr. Phillips and his bishop. Msgr. Steenson’s name is never mentioned.. He was not in the discussion because he has neither authority or jurisdiction in this circumstance. It is completely up to the local bishop. You can continue to try to make this Msgr. Steenson’s fault, but the fact remains, if the bishop does not want the parish or the priest to go, they don’t go. And the fact that Msgr. Steenson wasn’t present when the final decision was made is certainly an indication that he ultimately had no say in making the call.

  8. I agree that the bishop’s permission was needed, although nothing in the letter says that the bishop refused his permission. But consider that Catholic news releases at the time the Ordinariate was set up were pointing to OLA and Our Lady of Walsingham as the two big examples of what the Ordinariate was going to be — well, not exactly, as it turns out. Now the Ordinariate becomes OLW and some scattered groups doing morning prayer between masses at the local Catholic parish. This has got to be a black eye for Steenson, and the fact that his name wasn’t mentioned is probably a black eye as well.

    1. I think he knew when he accepted this nomination that it wouldn’t be a path of rose petals. It is extremely rare in any global organization that everything is going smoothly. The ordinariate will surely meet other hardships, but as Gamaliel says: If it be of God, you cannot overthrow it, lest perhaps you be found even to fight against God.
      + PAX et BONUM

  9. John Bruce is at it again. Thank you “observer” for helping to make the Atonement situation clear for any kindergardener. Now, let’s evaluate what really is the case at St. Mary of the Angels, then let’s look at John Brcue himself.

    Mr. Bruce wrote, “There are several errors of fact in Steenson’s letter, for instance: a census of the parish was in fact conducted; Msgr Stetson’s own observer was present for the vote and can vouch for the fact of both the vote count and that an explanation of the property issues was in fact distributed to all those present in the meeting prior to the vote.” A census of the parish is not the same thing as a simple count at the meeting for the vote of the parish to enter the Ordinariate. Mr. Bruce, once again, works off of faulty understandings and false assumptions. The census requested was a collection of forms, one for each of the families entering into the Ordinariate from St. Mary’s. Father Kelley started doing it, one presumes, but he never actually got all of the parishioners to fill them out; he never mailed them in to the Ordinariate. The second issue of the explanation of the property was not done correctly either. Father Kelley was supposed to have papers passed out before the actual meeting of the vote, but did not. He had them passed out at the meeting itself and only to those present. Many of my friends did not receive this paper and, to this date, still don’t understand the question of the property, though they support the move into the Ordinariate! So, Mr. Bruce’s accusations that there were errors on the Ordinary’s part is false. Mr. Bruce is once again mistaken and works off of his “impressions,” which are misguided.

    As for Mr. Bruce himself: I’m told it was brought up at the last annual parish meeting that Mr. Bruce should not have been the church’s treasurer. He was not even a member of St. Mary’s, having attended the parish less than the required year to be one, when Father Kelley asked him to be the new treasurer. After many people told Father Kelley it was illegal to have John Bruce as the treasurer beforehand, because he was not yet a member (a la St. Mary’s parish Bylaws), Father Kelley made up a fictious, and illegal, position called an “interim treasurer” so that Mr. Bruce could do the job. Mr. Bruce knew that the bylaws did not permit this, but went ahead with this plan anyway. This whole sitation was brought up at the annual meeting, but never fully addressed. In addition, Mr. Bruce originally claimed to have financial experience, but it turned out later that he didn’t even know how to use Quickbooks! It is also common knowledge among the remaining St. Mary’s parishioners that Mr. Bruce believed Father Kelley and Allan Trimpi’s defamations of the old treasurer and other vestry members who called Father Kelley and Mr. Trimpi to account for their actions. Mr. Bruce further believed Father Kelley’s conspiracy theory that the former treasurers were framing him. However, the reality is that Father Kelley and Allan Trimpi forbade the former treasurer from paying the remainder of the bills of her term when she left, and also forbade her from helping the next treasurer, which became Mr. Bruce, understand her work (or even what bills would be due in the weeks following her departure). This is common knowledge throughout the parish, despite Father Kelley’s efforts to keep the details of her departure quiet. Mr. Bruce accuses the former treasurers and some vestry members of foul play when he has no evidence that they did so.

    At that same annual meeting, many people told me that Mr. Bruce was very angry with Allan Trimpi and called him all kinds of names, essentially expressing Mr. Bruce’s opinion that Mr. Trimpi was incompetent. But what I find strange is that if Mr. Bruce believes this, with just cause to be sure, then why he is defending Father Kelley – the very man whose bidding Mr. Trimpi performs, and the very man Mr. Trimpi defends?

    The lies that come out of the Kelley/Trimpi alliance to defend mistakes made are remarkable, and the fact that Mr. Bruce believes them and defends them in a public forum like this is very disheartening. So far, Mr. Bruce is not willing to take a step back and reconsider his version of events at St. Mary’s or of his view of the Ordinariate. Maybe he will? Maybe he will also reconsider his view of the Ordinary and Ordinariate in light of the fact that he might finally realize there is a lot more behind the scenes that he does not know? I hope so, but I doubt it.

    1. Expat…Census was not submitted to the Catholic Church from St. Mary of the Angels. No idea what “Eggar” is talking about. As for the “Interim Treasurer” position, you are correct! — “Eggar” was brought in to do Fr. Kelley bidding…Blindly signing checks, no questions asked. IMHO, If he got Trimpi out of the way, he could be Fr. Kelley’s right-hand man. But, unfortunately “Eggar” doesn’t know how to spin the the “Truth!”

  10. Both the Pastoral Provision and the Ordinariate were provisions established to faciliate the re-entry of Anglicans into full communion with the Catholic Church. As it happens Our Lady of the Atonement is not quite a normal diocesan parish becuase it is also a personal jurisdiction – any former Anglican within the diocese has the right to join the parish rather that that territorially competent for his place of residence. If the application of the parish to join the Ordiaraite has been withdrawn for the moment, there will be a reason and it certainly would not impede any qualifying parishioner and his family from registering with the Ordinaraite while remaining a worshipper at the Church. Nor could a diocesan lightly refuse a request from a priest to be excardinated from the diocese to the Ordinaraiate.

    There may well be teething problems over a possible transition of the buildigs from diocese to ordinaraite (possibly financial) – but I do not see anything sinister.

    As for the St Mary of the Angels issue. The Ordinary’s Delegate in relation to St Mary’s was Mgr William Stetson (Harvard, Harvard Law School, DCL from the Angelicum), He was formerly the Secretary of the Pastoral Provision Office which was located at OLW in Houston. He concelebrated at Mgr Steenson’s diaconal ordination mass and travelled to Rome for his priestly ordination. He officiated at OLW and learned to celebrate Mass using the BDW. On his retirement from the Pastoral Provision Office Mrg Stetson accepted an invitation to go to Los Angeles precisely for the purpose of facilitatnig the transition of St Mary’s into the Catholic Chuch via the soon to be established Ordinariate. Given his years of experience with the pastoral provision, there could hardly have been a better selection as the point man for the reception into communion of St Mary’s – and sice he is a canon lawyer – if he says there are some preset impediments – then, for me, there are – at least until the contrary is shown.

    Without prejudice to the question of the authenticity of the letter Mr Virtue has published, it is correct to say that the Ordinariate cannot involve itself in disputes over the ecclesiastical property of another denomiation and nor can it proceed to ordain someone who has unresolved pending issue touching on his suitability. If an offer has been made to those parishioners desirous of being received ito the Church right now, then that too seems a proper course of action.

    So, it seems that the Ordinary has behaved entirely properly and prudently and it is very sad to see someone like Mr Bruce writing so negatively about Mgr Steenson. I can more easily understand the negativity from “irish anglican” – after all, as one who “swam the the Tiber the wrong way, he has every reason to write negativelly – if only to justify to himself his own defection.

  11. @Mourad: Yes, I have been “Roman Catholic”, Irish so.. born, baptised & confirmed. As I have said several times also, I was a English Benedictine for a few years in my 20’s (I am over 60 now). But, I “swam back”, and enjoy the freedom and liberty of Christ, “catholic” & “reformed”! I will always be thankful for Luther’s “theologia crucis”! 😉

    1. Btw, watch-out for your own human “defection” and “justification” there Mourad, we are our own worst enemies! Jesus had much to say about that! (Mk. 9:38-41), Jesus Christ will have no sectarianism!

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