I want to be clear what I was and was not saying in my last post. A (kind) friend remarked that it was a bit like the writings of a former Archbishop of Canterbury – sounded good, rather long, and in the end you were not really sure what it all meant!
First, let me emphasise that no one pattern can be appropriate for every Ordinariate Group (I speak of the UK). How the Group organises itself must depend on its circumstances, its numbers and it resources. But the decisions about this must be based on the Group’s Mission, to live the Catholic life, to tell the Good News of Jesus Christ, and to grow by drawing others to faith. Although the worship of the Group will be a key to its life, it is not the reason for the Group existing. We know from our previous life that Anglo-Catholics could be obsessive and reactionary about liturgy: there is no place for that now. We did not become Catholics to worry about maniples!
Church Growth theory suggests to me three modes of operation, all of which are valid in different circumstances.
(1) THE INTERNAL PLANT … where with the encouragement and support of the Catholic Parish Priest the Group takes responsibility to renew an existing Sunday Mass, or to start a new one – with the express purpose of drawing back the lapsed and converting those who do not believe. The worship will be simple, engaging, and beautiful. The preaching will be carefully planned, thoughtful, provoking – and evangelistic in style. The Group will be the core of the congregation, active in the welcome of newcomers, enthusiastic and attentive in worship.
(2) PLANTING INTO AN EXISTING PARISH … where with the agreement of the local Bishop and the Ordinary a Group with its Pastor re-locates to an existing Parish where the numbers are down and the congregation struggling. Already in some Dioceses of the UK we are seeing this model working well. Although there is a hard work to be done initially balancing the needs of the Parishioners and the Group, growth happens quite quickly. The distinctiveness of the Ordinariate is maintained in all sorts of ways, even though for Sunday worship it is likely that the Ordinary Form of Mass will be used.
(3) THE EXTERNAL PLANT … which I was attempting to describe in my last post. Here the group moves into a School Hall or other similar building, away from the Parish Church. I am clear that this needs considerable resources, not least a determination on the part of all the Group to focus on growth, welcoming new people, and nurture in Catholic life and faith. This was the reason for my title, in that any Group (or Pastor) which is not so focussed, but concerned rather with preservation of itself, becomes a Rest Home, not a Mission Station. And people go into Rest Homes in order to die!