No Ordinary Year for the US Ordinariate

2012 was full of milestones for the new ordinariate, and 2013 will feature more,  including a February visit by Archbishop Gerhard Müller, prefect of the  Congregation of the Doctrine of the Faith.

National Catholic Register:

Washington — When Father Scott Hurd, vicar general of the Personal  Ordinariate of the Chair of St. Peter — a home in the Catholic Church for  former Episcopalians and Anglicans — reflects back on 2012, he points to a  period of rapid and exciting growth marking its first year of existence.

On New Year’s Day 2012, Pope Benedict XVI erected the ordinariate, which  allows former Anglicans to retain certain treasured traditions within the  Catholic Church. It was created in accord with Anglicanorum  Coetibus, the Pope’s apostolic constitution permitting former Anglicans  to come into the Church corporately instead of as individuals.

On the same day, the Holy Father named Msgr.  Jeffrey Steenson, a married Catholic priest and the former Episcopal bishop  of the Episcopal Diocese of Rio Grande, as the first ordinary.

Newspapers have since featured stories of former Episcopal churches being  received into the Catholic Church as groups in beautiful Masses that included  Vatican-approved prayers that they had long cherished from the Anglican Book of  Common Prayer, a landmark of the English language.

“The joy and blessing of all these people being received into the Church is  at the end of the day what this is all about — it is about unity in Christ,” Father Hurd told the Register.

Father Hurd is a priest of the Archdiocese of Washington who has a  three-year appointment to serve as vicar general to the ordinariate.

The ordinariate recently received an especially high-profile former  Episcopal priest, Larry Gipson, former dean of the Episcopal Cathedral Church of  the Advent in Birmingham, Ala., and also former rector of the 8,000-strong St.  Martin’s Episcopal Church in Houston, where former President George H. W. Bush  and his wife, Barbara, were among his parishioners.

The former Episcopal rector, who holds a master’s degree in divinity from  Yale University, hopes to become a Catholic priest.

Three Ordinariates

The Chair of St. Peter is one of three ordinariates for former  Anglicans.

The Personal Ordinariate of Our  Lady of Walsingham, under the patronage of Blessed John Henry Newman, one of  the great English converts, was established in the United Kingdom in 2011. (A  group of Anglican  nuns just joined the Church in the Walsingham Ordinariate). The Personal Ordinariate of Our Lady of the  Southern Cross, under the patronage of St. Augustine of Canterbury, was  established in Australia in June.

The Chair of St. Peter also administers a newly created ordinariate deanery  in Canada, which  Rome approved in December. Msgr. Steenson appointed Father Lee Kenyon, a  former Church of England priest who brought his entire Anglican parish into the  Catholic Church in 2011, as dean of Canada’s new Deanery of St. John the  Baptist.

“It has been an amazing year,” said Susan White of Arlington, Va., a former  Episcopalian who is active in the ordinariate. “Every time I turn around, there  is news of more folks, clergy and lay, swimming the Tiber, their carefully  preserved Anglican treasures tied to their backs to offer to Rome. We are so  blessed to be able to bring our riches with us.”

Eric Wilson, a former Episcopalian who is now a communicant of St. Luke’s  Catholic Church in Bladensburg, Md., echoed that sense of gratitude: “It’s been  a tremendous blessing this year to experience firsthand Pope Benedict’s vision  for Christian unity being lived out on a daily basis.”

St. Luke’s parishioners entered the Catholic Church last summer, after an  intense period of discernment.

“Whether it’s the many holy priests we’ve seen ordained or the hundreds of  converts growing in the faith, the ordinariate’s success has exceeded all  expectations — a sure sign that the Lord is at work,” Wilson said.

The Year Ahead

Looking forward, Father Hurd added, “To a certain degree, next year will be  more of the same. There are communities in transition, and some still in  discernment [as to whether to become Catholic and part of the ordinariate], and  we have a second wave of clergy aspirants who are starting the process.”

As of late December, the ordinariate included 1,600 laypeople, 28 priests and  36 communities. There are 69 additional applications from men who hope to become  Catholic priests of the ordinariate.

Deacon Ken Bolin, 38, a West Point graduate and military chaplain who has  served in Iraq and Afghanistan, is among those candidates who have already  completed their priestly formation and expect to be ordained as Catholic priests  through the ordinariate this March.

“The ordinariate is a great answer to Christ’s prayer that we should all be  one,” said Deacon Bolin, a transitional deacon, who holds the rank of major in  the U.S. Army.

Currently stationed in Anchorage, Alaska, he hopes to be ordained in March.  He is especially excited that he has been granted permission to be the priest  who performs the rites of initiation when his wife, Sharon, and their three  children are welcomed into the Church.

The ordinariate makes it possible for married former Episcopal and Anglican  clergymen such as Deacon Bolin to become Catholic priests. But, eventually, the  ordinariate will have a celibate priesthood.

The ordinariate — which is something new in the history of the Catholic  Church — also devoted 2012 to establishing legal and organizational policies to  build a foundation for future growth. It will soon have income from parish  assessments similar to diocesan assessments. “

Now that we have reached this point, we will be on a firmer financial  footing,” Father Hurd predicted.

Diocesan Generosity

Father Hurd stressed that the generosity of Catholic dioceses and  ordinariate staff members — many of whom work without pay — has made the  ordinariate possible. He expressed gratitude to the U.S. bishops for their  financial and spiritual support.

While some ordinariate priests, such as Father Mark Lewis of St. Luke’s  Catholic Church in Bladensburg, Md., who is renowned for his preaching and the  high caliber of music at his church, are able to function full time as clergy,  others mostly rely on income generated from work in Catholic institutions such  as schools or diocesan offices.

“Anyone who puts forth an application to become an ordinariate priest must  have an adequate source of income to take care of his family,” said Father  Hurd.

While the ordinariate has spent a lot of energy on establishing a secure  foundation, it has been buoyed by many promising developments. Recently, it  received an anonymous donation of land to build its first chancery. The donor  spent $5 million to purchase five acres adjacent to the ordinariate’s principal  church, Our Lady of Walsingham in Houston.

The ordinariate is seeking additional donors for construction of the  chancery. It currently operates out of a small office at St. Mary’s Seminary in  Houston, where Msgr. Steenson teaches theology, with most of its small staff  scattered around the United States. Father Hurd said that quite a few members of  the staff have donated their time free of charge.

The ordinariate is planning a pilgrimage to Rome for priests and families in  February. “We will set out to discover the apostolic foundations of the Church  of Rome, to participate in the wonderful tradition of Lenten stational Masses  organized by the Pontifical North American College and to meet some of the  architects of the ordinariates,” Msgr. Steenson reported in an online “update  from the ordinary.”

He also expressed the hope that the pilgrimage to Rome would include an  opportunity to thank the “Successor of St. Peter himself for the gift of Anglicanorum Coetibus.

Archbishop Müller’s Visit

A symposium on the ordinariate is planned for February at St. Mary’s  Seminary in Houston, and Cardinal Donald Wuerl of Washington, who played an  essential role in establishing and supporting the ordinariate, and Archbishop Gerhard Müller, the prefect of the Congregation of the Doctrine of the Faith and  secretary to the Anglicanae Traditiones commission, will be featured  speakers.

“The three ordinariates operate under the aegis of the Congregation for the  Doctrine of the Faith,” explained Father Hurd, “and for Archbishop Müller to  make his first U.S. visit as head to the symposium is not only a great honor for  us, but also a vote of confidence for the great things that have happened over  the last year.”


Ordinariate Ordination of Former TAC Bishop Peter Wilkinson

Over at Foolishness to the World.

Former Anglican Bishop in Victoria, British Columbia, to be Ordained a Catholic Priest

Former Anglican bishop Peter Wilkinson of Victoria, British Columbia, will become part of history on Saturday, Dec. 8 when he is ordained a Catholic priest for the Ordinariate of the Chair of St. Peter. The ordinariate was founded by Pope Benedict XVI earlier this year to welcome former Anglican groups and clergy seeking to become Catholic. They retain many aspects of Anglican tradition and liturgy.

Victoria Bishop Richard Gagnon will ordain Wilkinson on Dec. 8, 10 a.m. St. Andrew’s Cathedral, 740 View Street, Victoria, BC V8W 1J8. Monsignor Jeffrey N. Steenson, the leader of the Ordinariate, will concelebrate the Mass.

Wilkinson is the former Bishop Ordinary of the Anglican Catholic Church of Canada (ACCC). A native of Victoria, BC, he was ordained a priest for the Anglican Church of Canada in 1965. In 1977, he joined the ACCC and in 1999 he was elected Suffragan Bishop. Six years later, in 2009, he became Bishop Ordinary. He received his undergraduate degree at Victoria College of the University of British Columbia, and attended seminary at the College of the Resurrection, in England. In 2006, he was awarded an honorary doctorate from St. Bede’s Anglican Catholic Theological College.

He became Catholic in April 2012 and currently leads the Fellowship of Blessed John Henry Newman in Victoria ( The group holds sung Catholic Mass, using an approved liturgy that is based upon the traditional Anglican liturgy, on Sundays at St. Columba, 40 High Street, View Royal, BC.

Since January 1, 2012, 25 former Anglican priests have become Catholic priests for the ordinariate, including two others in Canada (Fr. Lee Kenyon of Calgary and Fr. John Wright of Chestermere), and over 1,500 people in 35 communities throughout the United States and Canada have joined the ordinariate. In several cases, entire parishes entered the Catholic Church together. By the end of the year, nearly 30 men will have become priests for the ordinariate; more than 60 others are in or are seeking to be accepted for the formation process.

Equivalent to a diocese, but national in scope, the ordinariate was created on Jan. 1, 2012 by Pope Benedict XVI for Anglican groups and clergy in the United States seeking to enter the Catholic Church. It has since expanded to include Canada. Three ordinariates exist in the world, in the United States, United Kingdom (Our Lady of Walsingham) and Australia (Our Lady of the Southern Cross). The North American ordinariate is led by Msgr. Steenson, a former Episcopal bishop who is based in Houston, Texas. In speaking about the ordinations this year, Msgr. Steenson noted that they “mark a significant moment in the history of Catholic unity.”



Ordinariate Censorship? Confidentiality? Or Covert Action?

[Please don’t bite my head off again Deborah, these are just my simple observations.]

I read, with interest, a report by former ACCC priest [Fr] Michael Birch on the recent gathering in Houston as part of the formation program of the Ordinariate of the Chair of St Peter, that was posted by Deborah Gyapong on her blog, Foolishness to the World. Today, she has:

I have been asked to take the Houston post down


By Susan Gibbs, who handles communications for the Ordinariate.

The reason is possible sensitivities regarding individuals who attended the formation weekend who may be at different stages in the process.

I am happy to oblige as it is not my intention to spook anyone or get them in trouble with their present ecclesial superiors.

I hope my readers who have reposted my Houston posts will consider the sensitivities.

Wanting to join the Ordinariate has always be fraught with danger. One tends to run the very real risk of incurring the wrath of your current denomination (for lack of a better word). Compounding that risk is the possibility of being turned-down by the Catholic authorities that be. Look no further than the devastating consequences that a Catholic ‘no’ held, for example, say, Archbishop John Hepworth and Bishop David Moyer, who simply overplayed their hands!

Is this right? Is it right to be clandestine in your aspirations? Well, it may not be right, but it would certainly appear to be occupationally necessary, very necessary – in order to save your ecclesiastical hide, that is. Few and far between are the Churches who would wish their brethren wanting to leave any love or support. Even fewer (are there any?) are those who would welcome back stragglers, men who Holy Church measured, and found wanting in places. This is sad, I mean, for Christians… Actually, quite an indictment…

There were apparently some 69 candidates at the meeting in Houston, from throughout the United States and Canada, who are applying to become Catholic priests for the Ordinariate.


Leader of Anglican Ordinariate Recalls Joy of First Year


Almost a year after being appointed to shepherd Anglican communities seeking to join the Catholic Church, Monsignor Jeffrey N. Steenson says the past months have been showered with blessings.

“I think the real joys have been to see communities that have struggled with the decision of discerning whether to become Catholic and have made that choice, and they have come in,” he told CNA in a November interview.

He described “the joy on their faces” as they enter the Catholic Church and said, “That’s the thing that sticks in my mind the most.”

Msgr. Steenson leads the Personal Ordinariate of the Chair of St. Peter, which was canonically erected on Jan. 1, 2012. Pope Benedict XVI approved the creation of the ordinariate, which is similar to a diocese but includes communities throughout the entire U.S. and Canada.

Based in Houston, the ordinariate allows for entire communities to enter into full communion with the Catholic Church while retaining elements of their Anglican heritage and liturgical practices, such as the Book of Common Prayer.

As of Nov. 1, the ordinariate included 1,336 members. It contains 23 priests, 69 seminarians and 35 communities, including large groups in Texas, Maryland, Florida and Pennsylvania.

A former Episcopal bishop, Msgr. Steenson and his wife entered the Catholic Church in 2007, and he was ordained a Catholic priest in 2009.

He holds a doctorate in patristics – the study of the Early Church Fathers – from Oxford University and played an important role in designing the formation program for former Anglican priests who seek to be ordained under the new ordinariate.

Because he is married, Msgr. Steenson cannot be a bishop. Instead, he is an “ordinary,” who carries all the authority of a bishop except that of being able to ordain priests.

The past year has brought both joys and challenges for the new ordinariate. Msgr. Steenson said that he has to be “very patient with people because this is a big, life-changing decision for them,” and for some people, “all of their mind isn’t really there at the same time.”

“Sometimes people think that it’s a very simple matter to become a Catholic, that it’s like changing your uniform,” he reflected. “That’s not the way it is. It requires a profound transformation at so many levels.”

“It’s challenging, because not everybody sees that right away in the middle of this,” he explained.

It is also important to ensure that those who are entering the Church “are genuinely becoming Catholic and not just running away from something,” he said, adding that the ordinariate cannot simply be a “refugee community.”

Among those who have chosen to become members of the ordinariate, Msgr. Steenson has seen a common understanding that “we need Peter.”

“I think they’re very grateful, too, to the Catholic Church for making it possible for them to continue with a tradition of prayer and worship that they’ve known all along,” he said, noting that some people who had previously converted and found themselves missing “the prayers that shaped their lives” are now joining ordinariate communities.

Over the past year, Msgr. Steenson has found great encouragement in the “incredible support” of American Catholics, particularly the U.S. bishops.

“We’re small, we’re starting modestly, and yet the excitement and the support from people have been really, really great,” he said.

He described how numerous diocesan bishops have “gone way beyond the call of duty,” helping to fund initial assessments and health insurance for some men in the ordinariate priesthood and finding positions for them during their transition period.

In addition, Msgr. Steenson said that he has begun to develop a deep friendship with the bishops.

“It’s really quite astonishing how welcoming they’ve been,” he said. “I feel it’s home for me now.”

The current Year of Faith is a special blessing for members of the ordinariate, Msgr. Steenson said. During the year, which runs Oct. 11, 2012 – Nov. 24, 2013, the Holy Father is encouraging Catholics to grow in their faith through prayer and study of Vatican II and the catechism.

Msgr. Steenson explained that the catechism “has been our textbook.” He hopes that both clergy and laity in the ordinariate will come to know the catechism cover-to-cover and recognize it as an incredible resource as they move forward in their new faith.

Even before his conversion, Msgr. Steenson said that he had been using the Catholic catechism. He recalled his time as an Episcopal priest in the 1990s, feeling lost and wondering where he could find the resources to teach his people the faith. He was attracted by the rich substance in the catechism, which he views as “an incredible intellectual achievement.”

Looking forward, Msgr. Steenson hopes that the ordinariate will be able to grow in its relationship with the rest of the Church and provide “a real enrichment of Catholic life with this culture and patrimony.”

“We’re never going to lose our accent,” he said. “And in many different ways, we’ll be able to bring that gift into Catholic life.”



Another Episcopal Priest to Join the Ordinariate

Some Holy Communion members turning to Catholicism

The breakup in the Episcopal diocese has led some members of one local parish, the Anglo-Catholic Church of the Holy Communion, to make a move of their own.Five families will follow the Rev. Patrick Allen, curate at Holy Communion, into the arms of the Roman Catholic Church.

The Rev. Dow Sanderson, rector of Holy Communion, will remain part of the Episcopal Church, along with most of the congregation, and strive to be neutral as the drama plays out, he said.

The fracture comes as no surprise; worshippers at this historic downtown parish at 218 Ashley Ave. have long preferred to uphold Catholic traditions.

Holy Communion adheres to the Oxford Movement’s assertion that the Church of England (and other Anglican Church bodies) has been, and is now, an apostolic church, a direct descendant of St. Peter’s church, a true inheritor of the word of Christ.

Protestantism, instead, holds that there is no “one true church,” that individuals have the authority to forge a personal relationship with Christ and don’t really require the aid of an institution.

The 19th-century Oxford Movement asserts that the doctrine of apostolic succession accommodates “One True Church” with three branches: Roman Catholicism, Orthodoxy and Anglicanism. Its ideas were promoted in a series of pamphlets called “Tracts for the Times” (1833-41).

Allen said the process of becoming Catholic will take several months.

“I will continue to serve as curate at Holy Communion through the end of the year,” he said. “Of the families who are making this move, several adults are involved in ministry and leadership positions here, so they will serve out their terms.”

In January, Allen and the others will join the congregation at St. Mary Catholic Church on Hasell Street to worship. Allen said he hopes to be confirmed as a priest in the Catholic Church by late spring or early summer.

“At that point, we will begin having our own ordinariate (Catholic community of former Anglicans) and Mass,” he said. The group will share St. Mary’s.

More than a year ago, Holy Communion, as a parish, considered opting out of the Episcopal Church and joining the Catholic Diocese of Charleston, but that possibility faded, according to Allen, who addressed the matter in a Nov. 7 letter to the congregation.

With the split in the Episcopal diocese, Allen saw a new opportunity to pursue his goal, though the controversies were not central to his decision, he wrote.

“Mine is a move forward to the Catholic Church, and I am nothing but grateful for my own years in the Episcopal Church and the Diocese of South Carolina,” Allenwrote.


You can read his official letter (doc.) here.



Update on the Ordinariate of the Chair of St Peter by Msgr Steenson

The Personal Ordinariate of the Chair of St. Peter is now nine months old.  Much has happened in that time, and we give God the glory for all of it, the challenges as well as the successes.  One of the most significant moments came in mid-September when the Cardinal Archbishop of Galveston-Houston transferred to the Ordinariate the title to our principal church, Our Lady of Walsingham.  In a similar way, the Diocese of Fort Worth is in the process of transferring St. Mary the Virgin, Arlington, to the Ordinariate.  We have seen some twenty-two priests ordained and incardinated in the Ordinariate, with additional ordinations to come soon.  Also, we will launch a new formation program for the second group of prospective candidates in Advent.

The Ordinariate is planning a pilgrimage to Rome for our clergy and their wives, to coincide with the Feast of the Chair of St. Peter on Feb. 22.  And it really is a pilgrimage!  We will set out to discover the apostolic foundations of the Church of Rome, to participate in the wonderful tradition of Lenten stational masses organized by the Pontifical North American College, and to meet some of the architects of the Ordinariates.  We also hope to greet Msgr. Keith Newton and some of our confreres from the Ordinariate of Our Lady of Walsingham, who will be in Rome at the same time.  And, God willing, there will be an opportunity to thank the Successor of St. Peter himself for the gift of Anglicanorum coetibus.  Your prayers are earnestly requested!

This first year we have focused on establishing the structure of the Ordinariate and on clergy formation.  Now we will be turning more intentionally to congregational development.  If there is one thing that has impressed itself upon me these past months, it is that our congregations must be committed to outreach and growth.  We cannot stay where we are.  Our clergy and their congregations must be committed to evangelization.  The Great Commission is at the heart of the Church’s agenda:  Truth has been given to be proclaimed.  We must acquire the skills and nurture the gifts necessary to gather in a bountiful harvest of faith.

Who and What We Are:  A Primer for Catholics

The Ordinariate is unique in the Roman Catholic Church; however, it comprises many elements similar to other Catholic structures, recognizable to all Catholics.  Consequently, these familiar elements can help to define and explain the Ordinariate, our purpose, and our vision for the future.

In some ways, the Ordinariate is similar to a religious order.  In the same way that the Franciscans and the Dominicans have distinct charisms or missions within the Church, we have a distinct, two-fold charism or mission granted to us by the Holy Father.  This charism must be taken into account in all decisions as we discern our way forward.  We are (1) to minister to the pastoral and spiritual needs of all former Anglicans coming to the Catholic Church and (2) to maintain “the liturgical, spiritual and pastoral traditions of the Anglican communion within the Catholic Church, as a precious gift nourishing the faith of the members of the Ordinariate and as a treasure to be shared” (AC 3).  The decisions we make to plot a course for the Ordinariate must be always with an eye toward both caring for the people specifically entrusted to our care and bringing the fullness of the Anglican patrimony to the Catholic Church.  This is our commission, the commission the Holy Father gave us in Anglicanorum coetibus.

We sometimes receive questions about the relationship between the Ordinariate and certain traditionalist liturgical groups in the Catholic Church.  In answer to these questions, I think the comparison between the Franciscans and the Dominicans is apt.  Saints Francis and Dominic once met to see whether they might combine their efforts and form one religious order.  Although they left their meeting with great respect for each other and for their individual missions, they realized that it was important for the Church that they keep their efforts distinct.  We in the Ordinariate must recognize that our commission to care for former Anglicans and to introduce our distinctive patrimony to the Church is a full-time, life-long calling, similar to but separate from the recovery of the Extraordinary Form within Catholic life.  While our goals might be similar, and while we might support each other’s charism, the charisms are not identical.  To merge the two might divert the Ordinariate from its primary tasks.  We must seek to be faithful to our own distinct charism and patrimony.

We are blessed to be a part of the Catholic Church and all of its liturgical riches.  Sometimes it seems that coming into the Catholic Church is like dining at a smorgasbord – there are so many beautiful choices on the table that we are tempted to sample them all!  I understand this desire, and I have encouraged my clergy to become involved in their local dioceses so that they are able to sample the riches that belong to the Church.  They are welcome to assist at other local parishes, and to celebrate both the Ordinary and Extraordinary forms of the Latin liturgies in the traditions of those diocesan parishes for their parishioners.  In this spirit, we even have had one priest of the Ordinariate supply in a local Eastern Catholic parish.  I want our priests to share in the activities of the presbyterate of their local dioceses.

In many ways, the Ordinariate resembles the personal parishes found in many Latin dioceses.  For example, in the same way that Hispanic, Italian, or Ukrainian parishes often reflect the distinct culture of their people, so too Ordinariate parishes must reflect the “the liturgical, spiritual and pastoral traditions” of our people.  Here we must always go back to the Holy Father’s direction regarding our mission and our charism.  The question must always and necessarily be, “Is it in keeping with our patrimony and tradition?”  Our discernment that a practice is not of our patrimony in no way implies our judgment on its usefulness or spiritual worth.  It simply means that we have made a decision to ensure that our parishes and communities reflect our own distinct patrimony as we strive to be faithful to the Holy Father’s vision.

We must take care too that we not increase membership in the Ordinariate by recruiting baptized Catholics who might be searching for more traditional forms of the liturgy, but rather with those who are coming to the Catholic Church.  The apostolic constitution is very clear on this point.  As we begin this year of faith, with its emphasis on the New Evangelization, the Ordinariate has a tremendous opportunity to contribute to this essential work of the Gospel.

Moving Forward

We have been working on a communications strategy that should, in the near future, greatly enhance our ability to share news and information throughout the Ordinariate communities.  From time to time, certain blogs and websites have made harsh and angry judgments about the Ordinariate.  These must be read with a discerning eye.  At the initial press conference that launched our Ordinariate, I said that I hoped we would bring courtesy and manners with us.  It has always been one of the hallmarks of Anglican life, at least in its ideal form!

The first principle of the Ordinariate is communion – to be in communion with St. Peter and his successors, to be in communion with those bishops in communion with the Bishop of Rome, to be in communion with the Catholic people, to seek communion with those separated from the Church – “that they may be one.”  Some of us have come to the Ordinariate from situations full of conflict, much of it painful, some even scandalous.  As a consequence, we have behaviors to be unlearned, obedience to be given, peace to be discovered.  We do not want to replicate this disorder in our new ecclesial home.  If difficulties should arise, the apostolic constitution is there to defend our distinct patrimony, but let us strive always to be Catholic!  “The character of universality which adorns the people of God is a gift from the Lord himself” (CCC, 831).  Our Anglican identity will find its true soul when united with the whole (CCC, 835).

Your Ordinariate leadership team has been working hard to lay a good foundation on which to build.  It is a complex task that involves collaborating with two episcopal conferences, coordinating with two ecclesiastical delegates, and bringing together groups that formerly were not even in communion with each other.  We have received unanimous support from the Canadian Conference of Catholic Bishops to create a deanery for the Canadian groups.  I will have the privilege of addressing the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops about our progress at its November meeting.  Rome has received the statutes for our governing council, and once we receive their approval, we will proceed to create a governing council, probably by year’s end.  Until now, three bishops are serving in this capacity.  It is with deep gratitude that I acknowledge the wise counsel of Cardinal Wuerl, Bishop McManus, and Bishop Vann.

Pope Benedict recently sent us his blessings and good wishes, and I am deeply grateful to all of you for joining in this work of Christian unity that is so close to the Holy Father’s heart.

Msgr. Jeffrey Steenson

October 11, 2012


The above is in pdf. here.



Traditional Anglican Communion Congregation Becomes Catholic

Dcn Greg Kandra on his fantastic (in other words read: highly recommended) blog, The Deacon’s Bench (yes, again) has the news:

Great news from my home state (h/t to Fr. Scott Hurd):

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.”

Read the rest.

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