I wrote this article in January for the Magazine of my local Catholic Parish. One of the parishioners told me that it had helped her to understand what the Ordinariate was all about.
On 2nd February 2012 I was received into the Catholic Church: and I did it through the Ordinariate of Our Lady of Walsingham. These Ordinariates, in England, America and Australia, are structures by which former Anglicans become Catholics in communion with the Holy See, and can remain together as groups and congregations, retaining something of their Anglican heritage, or ‘patrimony’.
A year ago I resigned as vicar of an Anglican parish in SE London, and moved to Wimbledon. Sacred Heart became my home for the daily Mass, and on Sundays I joined the London (South) Ordinariate Group, all former Anglicans including our (now Catholic) priest Fr Christopher Pearson. We worship at the Most Precious Blood Borough, and on January 7th Fr Pearson became priest in charge. Our group works now as part of the congregation to revive and renew the parish.
Monsignor Keith Newton, who now leads the Ordinariate in England, rejects the idea that we are ‘disaffected Anglicans’ and stressed that he had become a Catholic not for “negative reasons about problems in the Church of England but for positive reasons in response to our Lord’s prayer the night before he died, [that] ‘they may all be one’.”
In the 1970’s many of us hoped for re-union . But we were saddened by the unwillingness of many in the C of E to commit themselves to the ARCIC agreements. Then in the 90’s new obstacles to unity turned the C of E away from both the Catholic and Orthodox Churches.
Anglicans appealed to the Pope who proposed a new way of unity. He offered as a basis for Christian belief the Cathechism of the Catholic Church and recognised that many of the Anglicans he was meeting had been living a Catholic life. Many of us were coming to see that Communion with Peter was precisely what we Anglicans needed – and were now being offered.
For the Ordinariate in England it is early days. Some of our groups have been established as small congregations: others find a home in their local Catholic Church. As former Anglicans we have received a wonderful welcome into the church, and may perhaps bring something of our former life with us. Above all, we long to work for unity: not as a pious hope for the future, but as a practical reality now.