Thursday, January 19, 2012

Mt. Calvary Catholic Church - Sounds good...

It's official now!  The formerly-Episcopal Mt. Calvary Church in Baltimore will become a Catholic Church.  The congregation and their rector, Fr. Jason Catania (pictured right), voted overwhelmingly in October of 2010 to seek reception into the Catholic Church.  Yesterday they officially completed negotiations with the Episcopal Diocese of Maryland regarding property issues.  All the legal "i's" are crossed and the "t's" dotted, so they can now proclaim publicly what many of us have known unofficially for some time:  They will be received at a Confirmation Mass at Mt. Calvary this Sunday, January 22, at 10:00am.

The celebrant for the Mass will be Fr. Jeffrey Steenson, the newly-appointed Ordinary for the Personal Ordinariate of the Chair of St. Peter.

A service of Solemn Evensong and Benediction will be held, also at Mt. Calvary, Sunday afternoon at 4:30pm.  Fr. Dwight Longanecker of the Standing on My Head blog, and a newly-appointed contributor to the Anglo-Catholic blog, will preach.  Fr. Eric Bergman, chaplain of the St. Thomas More Society of Scranton, PA, will serve as officiant.

This will be almost a year to the day from January 23 of last year, when the "Mid-Atlantic Gathering" was held in Baltimore, including an Anglican Use Mass at St. Alphonsus Catholic Church, followed by a lovely reception in the undercroft of Mt. Calvary.  The following day (Jan. 24) a group of us met up in Washington to participate in the March for Life under a large red banner with a picture of Pope Benedict XVI and the words, "Thank you, Holy Father, for Anglicanorum coetibus!"  This year we will meet and march again under the same banner--on Monday, January 23.  Meeting time/place is 1:00pm at the corner of 7th Street and Independence Ave., SW (just west of the Air & Space Museum).  Please join us in standing up for the Culture of Life.

... And please join me in welcoming Fr. Catania and the members of Mt. Calvary Church into full communion with the one, holy, Catholic & apostolic Church.  Ut unum sint!

Update:  News release posted today (Jan. 19) on the website of the (Catholic) Archdiocese of Baltimore.

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

The Chair of St. Peter and Christian Unity

Today (on the old calendar) is the Feast of the Chair of St. Peter and the beginning of the Week of Prayer for Christian Unity.  Coincidence?  I think not.  In fact, I've been a Catholic just long enough to know that there are very few coincidences on the liturgical calendar--intentional or otherwise.  This one, I dare say, is intentional, but very often I find certain feast days coinciding with significant events in my own life or in the wider world.  But I digress.

It was certainly no accident that the new Personal Ordinariate of the Chair of St. Peter for the U.S. and Canada was officially established so close to this date.  And certainly it is the appropriate date to begin this week of prayer for the unity for which our Lord prayed, for without a visible institutional locus of unity, it seems to me that schism and its evil twin, heterodoxy, are inevitable.

Having experienced first hand what ecclesiastical chaos looks like, I am especially grateful for this particular aspect of the Catholic Church.  Far from being a burden, the teaching authority of the Church and the obligation of obedience to her has instead been a means of discovering true freedom in Christ.  It has been a great relief not having to be my own pope anymore.

In honor of the day,  here is an excerpt from something by Monsignor Robert Hugh Benson entitled, The Grace of the Chair of St. Peter:
Turn, then, once more to the Catholic Church and see how in the Life which she offers, as in none other, there is presented to us a means of fulfilling our end. For it is she alone who even demands in the spiritual sphere a complete and entire abnegation of self.
From every other Christian body comes the cry, Save your soul, assert your individuality, follow your conscience, form your opinions; while she, and she alone, demands from her children the sacrifice by hers, and the obedience of their will to her lightest command. For she, and she alone, is conscious of possessing that divinity, in complete submission to which lies the salvation of humanity. For she, as the coherent and organic mystical Body of Christ, calls upon those who look to her to become, not merely her children, but her very members; not to obey her as soldiers obey a leader or citizens a government, but as the hands and eyes and feet obey a brain.

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

Epiphany Evensong in Virginia this Sunday, January 8

The St. Thomas of Canterbury Anglican Use Society
Northern Virginia

invites you to attend a service of

according to the Anglican Use of the Roman Rite

In thanksgiving for :
the erection of the Personal Ordinariate of the Chair of St. Peter,
 and the appointments of The Rev. Jeffrey N. Steenson as its first ordinary
and The Rev. R. Scott Hurd of Washington, DC, as its first vicar general.

Sunday, January 8, 2012
The Solemnity of the Epiphany of the Lord
5:00 p.m.

Holy Spirit Catholic Church
8800 Braddock Rd.
Annandale, VA  22003-4150

A reception will follow the service.  We are pleased to announce that Fr. Hurd will be joining us on Sunday, and will make remarks at the reception.

We have much to celebrate in this happy new year.  Please join us!

For More Information
Contact: Heide Seward
Visit our website for directions and further details:

Monday, January 2, 2012

Statement by the Ordinary

Fr. Jeffrey Steenson, the Ordinary of the newly-created Personal Ordinariate of the Chair of St. Peter (has a nice ring, doesn't it?) released the following statement at a press conference this morning in Houston.  He asks especially for our prayers--both for him and for those who will become part of the Ordinariate:

Statement by the Ordinary: Fr. Jeffrey Steenson

January 2, 2012

On behalf of so many pilgrims of Catholic unity who have looked forward to this day, I wish to thank His Holiness, Pope Benedict XVI, for this priceless gift, the Personal Ordinariate of the Chair of St. Peter under the patronage of Our Lady of Walsingham. I pray that we who will come into full communion through this Ordinariate will bring the Holy Father much joy through our love and faithful service to the Catholic Church. To His Eminence Donald Cardinal Wuerl and His Excellencies Kevin Vann of Fort Worth and Robert McManus of Worcester: thank you for laying this good foundation for the Ordinariate. To His Eminence Daniel Cardinal DiNardo-thank you for your generous hospitality in providing for our principal church and a place in the University of St. Thomas and St. Mary’s Seminary for the formation of our future clergy. And, personally, to His Excellency, Archbishop Michael Sheehan of Santa Fe, who brought me into the Church and ordained me: my wife and I love you dearly. You all represent so many people who have worked so hard to bring the Holy Father’s vision to reality!

I ask for your prayers for me and for those who will become members of the Ordinariate. There is so much to learn, and it is a steep learning curve. Be patient with us as we embark on this journey. Pray that we may strive to learn the faith, laws, and culture of the Catholic Church with humility and good cheer. But pray too that we do not forget who we are and where we have come from, for we have been formed in the beautiful and noble Anglican tradition. The Holy Father has asked us to bring this patrimony with us: “to maintain the liturgical, spiritual and pastoral traditions of the Anglican Communion within the Catholic Church, as a precious gift nourishing the members of the Ordinariate and as a treasure to be shared” [Anglicanorum coetibus 3]. Here is one thing I earnestly desire to share with you from the outset: Anglican spirituality has always emphasized the need to be gentlemanly in all of our relationships. May you see in us always the virtue of courtesy!
The parishes and communities of the Ordinariate have been called, not to live in relative isolation, but to be fully engaged in the life of the local diocese; not to be assimilated, but to be integrated into the rich life of the Catholic Church. This Ordinariate of the Chair of St. Peter must be, above all else, an effective instrument for evangelization. But Jesus taught us that the unity of Christian people is the essential condition for evangelization (John 17:21). So this must be our hallmark:to build bridges, to be an instrument of peace and reconciliation, to be a sign of what Christian unity might look like. And gaudete in Domino semper (Philippians 4:4) to be joyful and happy Catholics!

The establishment of the Personal Ordinariate is an historic moment in the history of the Church. For perhaps the first time since the Reformation in the 16th century, a corporate structure has been given to assist those who in conscience seek to return to the fold of St. Peter and his successors. But I would like to go back a little further, to the end of the 6th century, to see that this is not such a new thing. Pope Gregory the Great writes to St. Augustine, the first Archbishop of Canterbury, recently arrived from Rome, to urge him always to be a gracious and patient pastor in the way he gathers his flock. Anglicans love to read these letters, preserved in the Venerable Bede’s Ecclesiastical History of the English Nation, for they are a great witness to how the Church gathers her people from many different cultures and lands. The decree which this day establishes the Ordinariate begins with these words: “The supreme law of the Church is the salvation of souls. As such, throughout its history, the Church has always found the pastoral and juridical means to care for the good of the people.” In what Pope Benedict has given us today, I hear the voice of Pope Gregory the Great: “For things are not to be loved for the sake of places, but places for the sake of good things” (1.27). What a beautiful testimony to all that Catholic Christianity is!

Fr. Jeffrey Steenson
Houston, Texas

Sunday, January 1, 2012

Habemus Ordinarium!

The day is finally here!  When I first posted this @7:30 a.m. I hadn't yet seen the story anywhere else, but it has  since appeared all over the place.  A news bulletin posted this morning on the website of the Holy See, the headline of which says something like this (please pardon my amateur Italian translation): "Erection of the Personal Ordinariate of the Chair of St. Peter and Appointment of the First Ordinary."  The new U.S. ordinary, who will function as bishop of this non-territorial diocese, is Reverend Jeffrey N. Steenson.  Fr. Steenson resigned episcopal orders in September of 2007 as Bishop of the Episcopal Diocese of the Rio Grande to become a Catholic.  He was received in December of that year and subsequently ordained a Catholic priest in February of 2009.  Since shortly after his ordination he has taught Patristics at The University of St. Thomas and St. Mary's Seminary in Houston, TX.  In June of 2011 he was appointed by Cardinal Donald Wuerl to oversee the priestly formation program at St. Mary's for former Anglican priests seeking ordination as Catholic priests.  For a more thorough bio (this part is in English), see the news bulletin from the Holy See.

The new ordinariate also has launched an official website.  They also have a "Support" page, where they can accept the funds they will certainly need to move forward.  Please consider a donation.

This is very good news, indeed.  Having met Fr. Steenson on a couple of occasions and knowing him by reputation, I am confident we couldn't ask for a more able shepherd of the new U.S. ordinariate.  My husband and I first met him when he spoke at the annual Anglican Use Conference in San Antonio, TX in July of 2008, a few months after he had been received into the Catholic Church.  He was a layman at the time.  The text of his talk can be found here.  At the time he was preparing to go to Rome for priestly formation in preparation for his later ordination.  We had followed his career up to then with great interest, at least since the day he announced he would be resigning holy orders.  We were in Rome on pilgrimage with the Anglican Use Society when we received word that he had resigned the episcopacy and intended to seek reception into the Church.  It was the last night of our trip (still daytime in the US), and we were at dinner in a restaurant on the Piazza Navona.  Someone in our group called then-Bishop Steenson on a cell phone and passed the phone around to several Catholic priests, bishops and a cardinal seated at our table, who knew him and wanted to welcome him home to the Catholic Church.  It was amusing to meet him later and to hear the story from the other end of the conversation!  I gathered he was rather overwhelmed at the time.

Fr. Steenson, Christopher M. and me (R to L) at reception following Mass at
St. Luke's, Bladensburg Oct. 16, 2011
Related links:
The Personal Ordinariate of the Chair of St. Peter (HT to Wolfsbane)
Official press release of the Personal Ordinariate
Anglicanorum coetibus (in English)
Complementary norms (also in English)
The Anglo-Catholic ("The Personal Ordinariate of the Chair of St. Peter")
Catholic Online ("It's Official and Historic - The Ordinariate of the Chair of St. Peter Erected in America")
The Ordinariate Portal ("Ordinary Welcomes Appointment of U.S. Counterpart")
Atonement Online ("New Ordinary for the United States")
The Anglican Use of the Roman Rite: several good links
Fr. Z's blog - What Does the Prayer Really Say? ("A New Personal Ordinariate")
Whispers in the Loggia ("Upon this 'Rock' an Ordinariate is Born")

Deo gratias!