|Msgr. Steenson with Deacons James Barnett and John Denson of OLW|
As reported in many other places (see below for links) the Co-Cathedral of the Sacred Heart in Houston, TX was the site of last Sunday's Installation Mass for the new Ordinary for the US, Msgr. Jeffrey Steenson. And what an occasion it was! I told someone that participated with me in a 2007 Anglican Use Society pilgrimage to Rome that I hadn't seen that many bishops, cardinals, priests, deacons and seminarians all in the same place since Rome. The procession alone took nearly 20 minutes. I've seen estimates numbering the crowd at upwards of 1,000 people; it appeared nearly full to me, and the capacity is 1,800. When I arrived with my hosts at 2:00 p.m., an hour before the 3:00 ceremony, already there must have been 200 people waiting in the narthex to go in. The task of organizing all of this fell to Master of Ceremonies Fr. Michael Earthman of St. Mary's Seminary, and it is a great tribute to him that it all came off without a hitch, at least nothing that was apparent to me, and I was sitting very near the front.
The music was led by the "Ordinariate Festival Chorus" and members of several local choirs, including the parish choir of Our Lady of Walsingham (OLW), the AU parish in Houston that is now the principle church of the Ordinariate, and they demonstrated magnificently the integral link between music and liturgy that is such a hallmark of the Anglican patrimony. It seemed to me a fitting combination of selection from Anglican musical patrimony--"Christ is Made the Sure Foundation," and selections from Tallis (O sacrum convivium), Herbert Howells, Byrd (the Kyrie and Agnus Dei from his Mass for Five Voices); two hymns whose text is by perhaps the most famous Anglican convert of them all, Blessed J.H. Newman ("Firmly I Believe and Truly," and "Praise to the Holiest in the Height"); and several others that fall squarely within the Catholic musical tradition--Paletrina's Tu es Petrus and that perennial Catholic favorite, an English rendition of the Te Deum, "Holy God We Praise Thy Name."
We then proceeded to the Liturgy of the Word, followed by the Eucharist, celebrated by the new ordinary himself and concelebrated by the Pastoral Provision priests present, including the vicar general of the Ordinariate, Washington, DC's own Fr. Scott Hurd, who lives in my own diocese (Arlington).
the text of which is posted on the US Ordinariate website: He began with the words from Psalm 133:1 - Behold, how good and joyful a thing it is for brethren to dwell together in unity! He went on to speak about the Gospel reading, Mt. 16:13-19, in which Jesus gives Peter the keys to the Kingdom. Whatever one's understanding of the identity of "this rock," ultimately it is what Christ will do (future tense--"I will build," "I will give," etc.) that matters. Drawing on writings of the early Church Fathers, he reminded us that unity among all Christians has always been at the heart of what the Church is all about. In other words, as Msgr. Steenson has said in his recent public statements, this enterprise is not just about preserving the outward elements of the Anglican patrimony--the liturgy, music and that "sense of the sacred" they are meant to convey (as valuable a gift as it all is). It is about evangelization, about saving souls. "The Church exists," he said, "to bring souls to Christ." He quoted the new chancellor of the
On Saturday, Feb. 11, the day before the Installation Mass, I was able to sit in on the lecture at St. Mary's Seminary for the former Anglican priests in formation to become priests of the Ordinariate. The presenter was Dr. Jeremy Wilkins, Assistant Professor of Systematic Theology at the University of St. Thomas (the seminary of which is St. Mary's). He referred to a section of the Catechism which had been assigned. He didn't say which section, but I gather from the lecture that it was Part I, Section 1 (26-184), about the relationship between "I Believe" and "We Believe," that is, the nature of faith, of belief in God. In addition to the seminarians present--about 10 of them--some 50 others joined in remotely via video conferencing, and one participant who phoned in from Afghanistan!
|Fr. Paul Lockey, Jason Catania and Msgr. Steenson|
at final Q&A on Saturday
Other links -
The Daily Vine (Galveston-Houston diocesan website)
Whispers in the Loggia
National Catholic Register (re. Ordinariate priestly formation)