Monday, July 14, 2008

Anglican Use Conference

My husband and I returned rather early this morning from San Antonio, TX, where we attended the 2008 Anglican Use Conference. It was a rather arduous trip. (We flew through Atlanta in the summertime, so we did ask for it.) As a result I am still somewhat bleary-eyed, so for now I will just jot down a few comments about some of the highlights. I intend to write in more detail later, once I have had a chance to recuperate from the trip home.

In brief, the experience was both inspiring and sobering. It was inspiring to hear from so many people who have made the journey to Rome despite considerable practical challenges. In particular I mean the Pastoral Provision (PP) clergy who abandoned their livelihoods in order to seek reconciliation with the Church. Many of them, good Catholics that they are, had growing families to support when they relinquished Episcopal Church orders in the hope of being accepted for ordination as Catholic priests. Yet, like Abraham, they were obedient, and most of them I have met would agree, I think, with Fr. Christopher Phillips that they have never regretted the decision for a moment.

Dr. (formerly Bishop) Jeffrey Steenson's talk was excellent. The text is available through the Anglican Use Society website. Click here to read it.

The worship, too, was inspiring. Our Lady of the Atonement is a beautiful church, and for someone like me who learned to appreciate the Anglican form of worship from babyhood, it was indeed a little foretaste of heaven!

Some of the conference attendees were men currently in various stages of the PP process, some of whom have already been received into the Church and are awaiting approval of their petitions. Despite the uncertainty of their future, their joy at being reconciled to the Church is evident. I am not sure yet whether it would be appropriate to mention their names. Perhaps I can go into more detail later. At least one of them mentioned that he meets with his (Catholic) bishop on Tuesday (tomorrow), and he asked for prayer. I don't think it would give away anything to mention that his first name is Oliver.

It was sobering to hear their stories, but even more sobering was the presence of several Anglican priests who are in various stages of the journey to the Catholic Church. Seeing them reminded me of what it was like to stand at the far bank of the Tiber, part of me wanting badly to wade into the water and swim, part of me hesitating to do so. I had my own reasons for hesitating, few of them on the scale of what these men face. My heart goes out to them. Clearly God is beckoning them, though. Please pray for them--and for their colleagues throughout the Anglican Communion who have some hard decisions to make in the coming weeks and months.

You may notice a change in the motto below my blog title--something I have been considering for some time. It used to read "Confessions of a Recovering Episcopalian," but it seems more fitting to emphasize the joy of reconciliation rather than the relief of leaving behind the chaos in the Episcopal Church.


Fr. Christopher G. Phillips said...

It was such a joy to have so many of us together for what was a terrific conference. I was especially moved by the young men now "on the journey" to full communion in the Catholic Church, and it reminded me of my own excitement, nervousness and -- yes -- fear, when I was making my own journey some twenty-five years ago.

Anonymous said...

Heide, I'm so glad you came to Our Lady of the Atonement for the AU conference. I didn't get to meet you but I was there among the throngs enjoying meeting all the same wonderful and interesting people as you. We were also in Rome in Sept for the glorious anniversary celebration. So interesting that we have been so close and yet not actually met. My husband and I were in the Episcopal church together for 15 years ( I grew up in the Episcopal church) and left when our priest, Father Timothy Church decided to go to Rome. One hundred and nine of us traveled with him on a spiritual journey of almost three years. We worshiped together as Saint Gregory's church in Plano,Texas while our two priests, Father Church and Father Loyd Morris studied for their exams and were ordained. Just about six months before the completion of the journey my husband and I were on a trip to San Antonio and we read in the paper about Father Phillips and Our Lady of the Atonement. We visited and the Lord lead us to sell our house in Richardson and move to New Braunfels . We have been at Our Lady for 15 years now. We are so happy and thankful for the God's blessings. I hope we can really meet at a future AU meeting. Sue Piner

By the way, as it turned out, Father Church and Father Morris were ordained in Dallas and they decided not to have an Anglican Use parish but to serve in Catholic parishes in the Dallas area.

Heide Seward said...

Sue, I'm sorry I didn't get to meet you in San Antonio. Thank you for your comments, too. I had heard about St. Gregory's but have not met anyone before who was associated with it. I was very impressed with OLoA, and I envy you folks who get to worship there all the time. That's not to say I'm not very grateful for my own parish, but I do miss certain aspects of Anglican worship (seeing the whole congregation stay in place until the FINAL verse of the closing hymn, for instance). Still, I have not regretted for one second my decision to swim the Tiber. My husband and I plan to be at next year's AU Conference, Lord willing. I hope to meet you then.