Mission Stations or Rest Homes (part 2)

 

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!

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About Scott Anderson

Formerly an Anglican priest (ordained 1975) received into the Catholic Church in February 2012, and ordained to the Diaconate on 27th July 2013. I took early retirement, and divide my time between London and northern France. I am deeply committed to the Ordinariate as a gift of the Holy Spirit in the search for unity. Like many Ordinariate members I feel a personal gratitude to Pope Emeritus Benedict, together with loyalty to our Holy Father, Pope Francis. My blog tries to make a small contribution to the growth of the Ordinariate by asking questions (and proposing some answers) about the 'Anglican Patrimony'. I have always been fascinated by the whole issue of growth and decline, and therefore concerned for appropriate means of evangelisation in western Europe. I believe that the Holy Spirit is constantly renewing the People of God and that we must be open to him. My love of music and motorcycles will occasionally surface in my posts. On Saturday 19th October 2013, I was ordained to the Priesthood at Most Precious Blood, Borough, by the Most Revd Peter Smith, Archbishop of Southwark, for the service of the Ordinariate of our Lady of Walsingham. I continued to serve the Ordinariate group and Parish at Most Precious Blood until the end of 2014. Subsequently, I helped in the care of the Ordinariate Groups at Hemel Hempstead and Croydon, and in the Archdiocese of Southwark, until the beginning of September 2015. With the agreement of my Ordinary, Mgr Keith Newton, the Bishop of Amiens appointed me Administrator of the Parish of Notre Dame des Etangs (Pont Remy) in Picardie, France. This appointment is to last for a year, to give the Bishop the opportunity to assess the future of the parish.
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3 Responses to Mission Stations or Rest Homes (part 2)

  1. David Murphy says:

    Dear Father Scott,

    In your post you explain what you mean by “Church Plant”, a term which you have borrwed from such missionary groups within the Church of England as Holy Trinity, Brompton, and you identify three specific types of Church Plant (I will take them backwards):

    3. The External Plant – this is what we have in the past called “the Ordinariate personal parish”. Its logic is clear, the Ordinariate community is completely independent, has its own worship place and facilities, its own mission, personnel, congregation outside of the diocesan system. This is the (revolutionary) structure specifically provided for by the Apostolic Constitution Anglicanorum Coetibus and it is what I personally favour. The attendant problems of finance, etc. are well known.

    2. Planting in an existing parish – in our previous analyses we referred to this as “the Ordinariate-led territorial parish”, where the bishop appoints an Ordinariate priest as priest-in-charge or parish priest (US: pastor) of a diocesan parish, mostly one which is in need of fresh dynamism, and the Ordinariate group brings new blood and new ideas into the parish and forms the core of this new dynamic venture. This is the kind of arrangement which you are living at Most Precious Blood, Borough, and I know you to favour it. My only fear, namely that the Ordinariate group may find it difficult to maintain a clear, distinct profile and that this might be seen as “usurping” a diocesan parish, has been explained sufficiently.

    But then you introduce a third kind of Church Plant, which I am having difficulty getting my head around:
    1. The Internal Plant – this, if I understand it correctly, is a specific and innovative variant of what we have thus far called “the church-sharing group”. However, the Ordinariate group is no longer merely a guest sharing the facilities of a diocesan parish (as is usually the case) but there is a cooperation agreement with the parish, in which the Ordinariate community is given a specific role within the parish structure:

    – they are given full responsibilty for one of the parish’s Sunday Masses (maybe an additional one) with the aim of renewing and deepening the form of worship (and perhaps even expanding the liturgical scope of the parish to include Anglican patrimony). You write that “the worship will be simple, engaging, and beautiful. The preaching will be carefully planned, thoughtful, provoking – and evangelistic in style”. Since this would mean real choice for the congregation, it of course presupposes a flexibiliy and willingness to change habits (for example, the usual time of attending mass) which might not be evident.

    – the Ordinariate will be given the specific role in the parish of being a missionary spearhead, with the express purpose of “drawing back the lapsed and converting those who do not believe”. This makes it clear that there can be no guest status for the Ordinariate; they will be, as you say, “the core of the congregation, active in the welcome of newcomers, enthusiastic and attentive in worship”.

    This all sounds very exciting, but is there really an Ordinariate group anywhere which matches this profile? To be truthful, I wonder whether the age range of the typical Ordinariate group, with a preponderance of older members, makes us really suited to such a dynamic, evangelising function. Where it is possible, this kind of arrangement could be very fruitful. The Ordinariate would certainly have a clear profile and would be seen to be fulfilling an important role. However, I think the other two types of Church Plant are more realistic for the moment and we should aim to promote them rather than a church-sharing guest status, which is more likely to resemble your “Rest Home”.

    • David Murphy says:

      On our Ordinariate Expats blog, commenter Norm wrote the following and what he writes seems to make more sense that I had understood. David Murphy

      David

      You wrote: 1. The Internal Plant – this, if I understand it correctly, is a specific and innovative variant of what we have thus far called “the church-sharing group”. However, the Ordinariate group is no longer merely a guest sharing the facilities of a diocesan parish (as is usually the case) but there is a cooperation agreement with the parish, in which the Ordinariate community is given a specific role within the parish structure…

      No, I’m don’t think that they are the same. Rather, this seems to be a situation in which the ordinariate membership is too small to have its own mass, but its members function as a team to renew a mass of the host parish in which they assist habitually as a group. This could mean, for example, forming a music ministry (choir or schola canorum) for a mass that does not have one (or that has a music ministry that is not really up to the job), replacing less than competent greeters/ushers and liturgical ministers (readers/lectors, altar servers, extraordinary ministers of holy communion, etc.) with individuals who are competent and perform those ministries in a reverent manner, introducing proper ceremonial where it is lacking, etc., and thus generally improving the quality of the mass experience, and even hosting a “bun fight” after the mass if there isn’t one.

      Of course, much will depend upon the size of the group and the talent of its members. A group has several vocalists from a local opera company or vocal teachers from a local music school obviously will be able to introduce more sophisticated music than a group whose members are local rock musicians and rap artists. It may not be your preference of style, but many congregations have found new vibrancy through contemporary “praise” music that their parishioners can sing. In the Catholic Church, there’s a place for all genres of music, so long as it is worshipful.

      Norm.

  2. ordinariateextra says:

    Fr Scott, This is all well and good, but your ideas for reviving a mass or a Church Plant still require the good will of the Parish Priest. This is not always forthcoming.

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