Fr Harry Entwistle says his conversion from Anglican to the Catholic faith can’t be explained by anything other than the Holy Spirit’s “wicked sense of humour”.
As the inaugural head of the personal ordinariate of Our Lady of the Southern Cross, a jurisdiction for former Anglicans in Australia, he said it’s “an awesome responsibility because it means that I have to lay the foundations of the Ordinariate to enable it to grow and flourish and be an evangelistic tool for the Church”.
“Apart from the legalities of erecting the Ordinariate, we’re getting enormous help from the Catholic Bishops Conference to set that up, it does mean with a shortage of few clergy we will have initially we have got to get the message out to others that we exist,” he said.
“Although we exist as an erected body that doesn’t mean that everybody knows about us. We will be hoping to encourage the Catholic bishops to spread the word. It will be a slow growth because groups will need to form. There is a group already forming in Melbourne, and hopefully soon in South Australia, and a group exists in Sydney. So it’s a question of now that the Ordinariate exists then other people may come and enquire about what it means, and whether they can be part of it.”
Ordained an Anglican priest in England in 1964, he immigrated to Australia in 1988 before joining the Traditional Anglican Communion in 2006.
A father of two, the 72-year-old’s “amazing journey” came full circle when he was ordained as a Catholic priest by the Archbishop of Perth, Bishop Tim Costelloe, at St Mary’s Cathedral, Perth, on 15 June.
Fr Harry described his ordination as an “amazing experience” and “something I never thought would happen”.
“I was brought up as a young man in Lancashire, England, in quite a sectarian district, where there was the great divide between Catholics and non-Catholics,” he said.
“Non-Catholics just covered everybody who wasn’t a Catholic. And while relationships would be described as sort of pleasant, they were rather like the Cold War. I wasn’t in an area where there was actually out and out fighting, but there was no doubt about which side of the divide you were on.
“Preston (Lancashire) was a very strong Jesuit area. There were a lot of manor houses around that area and so there was this very strong Catholic element. The population was almost 50 per cent divided, but there was no real ecumenical endeavour of any sort. And that was my upbringing. And so to find myself in a Catholic cathedral, being a Catholic priest can’t be explained by anything other than the Holy Spirit’s wicked sense of humour. The ordination was a wonderful experience.”
When asked about the differences between the faiths, Fr Harry says in the Catholic culture there’s a “greater sense of community”.
“Each parish belongs to a community and there’s less of the individualism that there is to a great degree in Anglicanism,” he said.
“Also I have never had such support and welcome from a hierarchy. They have been amazing in facilitating the process towards the Ordinariate.”
Words. Words are important. And saying (or suggesting) that the Holy Spirit has a ‘wicked sense of humour’, is not a good choice at all. Theologically, it’s in point of fact, a disastrous choice. Why? He cannot be wicked. That’s impossible. God and wicked are two impossible opposites. Nor would the occassion (or following His leading) give causes for amusement. But hey, that’s just my humble opinion.