Thursday, May 5, 2016

Apparently Marginal Ordinariate Groups -- I

A visitor reports,
Bp Lopes is beginning his planned project to visit every OCSP community by travelling to some of the larger, better established groups, which is understandable. I'm sure he will gain insights which will be valuable to other groups looking to grow. However, at some point he will have to take a first-hand look at communities which have apparently failed to thrive.
Among those my visitor has found is Our Lady of Good Counsel, Jacksonville, NC. "Fr Waun was a CEC Navy chaplain who started a parish after his retirement, which was identified as Our Lady of Good Counsel Anglican Church at the time of their reception into the Catholic church. He also pursued further credentials as a psychotherapist. After his ordination as a Catholic priest he leads the congregation of Our Lady of Good Counsel Catholic Church in a storefront church. I have sent you a picture. Information about mass times etc is contradictory, but the most up-to-date information (via threeguitarz) is that the service is OF, possibly with free guitar lessons taking place afterwards."

Here is the picture:

The church is the brown building in the center.

Wednesday, May 4, 2016

Steenson Eased Out Of Houston?

On the heels of recent speculation that Msgr Steenson has lost his endowed visiting professorship at St Thomas University Houston, a visitor now reports that his visit to give the Archbishop Ireland Memorial Lecture at the St Paul Seminary was also an opportunity for Msgr Steenson to firm up arrangements for his forthcoming appointment as Priest Scholar in Residence there for the 2016-17 academic year.

Tuesday, May 3, 2016

Parish Festival Saturday, May 21

I've received the following from the vestry:

The vestry adds, "We are hoping to see as many people as possible! Of special note is the mini concert at 1:00 pm, but there will also be historical tours and lots more. I would also welcome contributions to our Jumble Sale (aka rummage sale, but classier)."

This may be a good chance for those in the area who may be curious to stick their heads in and have a look.

Fr Kelley notes as well,

May 26 will mark Fifty Years since the passing of the beloved Father Isaac Neal Dodd, our Father Founder, "Hollywood's Padre" and "A Candle Among the Stars." He went home to the Lord in 1966. (Appropriately, that is Corpus Christi DAY, this year, though our 'big' celebration of it will be the Sunday after.)

Monday, April 18, 2016

So, Are The Ordinariates A Very Good Thing?

A visitor has been prompting me to react to Mr Murphy's post on the five-year anniversary of erecting the first Anglican Ordinariate. Mr Murphy asserts at the start that he is a "member of the Personal Ordinariate of Our Lady of Walsingham", which, since I believe he lives in Germany, is hard to distinguish from an assertion that one is entitled to receive secret code messages over the radio from Captain Midnight. I'm sure his intentions are good.

I'm not a member of any personal ordinariate -- I simply struggle to do my best as a new diocesan Catholic. I would in fact say that, raised Presbyterian and moving to Episcopalianism as an adult, neither denomination equipped me to deal with what I encountered in an elite-school education in the 1960s. I suspect that even an average Catholic education wouldn't have helped me out much if I'd gone, say, to Notre Dame or Georgetown, where I would have been fed the same awful misinformation.

The cultural problems serious Christians encounter, frankly, go much wider and deeper than the issues Mr Murphy tries to address. Whether there are Comfortable Words or a Prayer of Thanksgiving in a version of the mass complete with faux thees and thous, or whether a dozen married now-Catholic priests are alumni of Nashotah House, is completely irrelevant in this context.

My visitor says,

[Mr Murphy] is making the point that the theological implications of attempting to incorporate the treasures of the Anglican Patrimony into the Catholic church are important regardless of any success the Ordinariates may or may not have proselytising among Anglicans or others.
I'm not from the UK, and I don't have the perspective of Mr Murphy or for that matter Fr Hunwicke. I do sense a certain Rule Britannia strain in the remarks I occasionally see from both, a subtext that Rome is finally coming around to do things the English way. If it makes them feel better, that's fine. I simply don't have the same perspective, and I just don't get all sentimental about the Spiritual Treasures of the Anglican Patrimony. They're nice to have, but they aren't essential to salvation.

I see a much bigger obstacle to the Ordinariates, which is simply how they can generate enough celibate vocations to produce a second generation of priests, especially when the current generation of former Anglican priests are near or at retirement age. I e-mailed this to another visitor in a different conversation:

I would nevertheless say that a much bigger issue would be how many celibate vocations any of the Ordinariates can generate in the next 15+ years -- there's the actual future. A retired guy, OK, but so far, the Ordinariates are pretty much of, by, and for retired guys!

One thing I'm noticing in my diocesan parish is that in fact, of five priests on staff there, several do in fact provide inspiring examples of celibate clergy, enough to produce more vocations, it seems. Even as a new Catholic, they're changing my ex-Protestant attitudes toward the Church and the role of priests. I read accounts now and then of young boys who see a priest celebrating mass and begin to think that would be an attractive role, as others might find a teacher or firefighter. Now I begin to see how that could happen!

This probably needs to happen in the Ordinariate more than it is, even now.

This visitor replied,
As to the importance of celibate vocations for the ordinariates, there are two salient points.
  1. The Vatican will NOT allow ordinariates to fail on account of the issue of clerical celibacy. The ordinariates are the Vatican's solution to reconciliation not only for Anglicans, but also for other Protestant traditions -- and one cannot expect those who are not yet in communion with the Catholic Church to adopt it if they perceive that it cannot work. If it becomes clear that the ordinariates are not getting enough vocations to be sustainable, the demand for celibacy will bend very quickly.

  2. And in any case, Pope Francis has indicated very clearly that he wishes to relax the discipline of clerical celibacy in the Roman Rite, but that he wants the initiative in this regard to come from dioceses and episcopal conferences rather than from the top down -- and no wonder: there are many practical difficulties with which dioceses and episcopal conferences will have to deal in implementing such a change, including major restructuring of budgets to provide sufficient compensation for married clergy to support their families and reconfiguration of rectories to provide suitable accommodations for married clergy with families. These adjustments obviously require planning and fundraising, and thus will not happen overnight. Nevertheless, a relaxation of the present discipline may well happen within a decade, and perhaps even more quickly -- and it obviously will extend to the ordinariates whenever it happens.

I simply am not seeing any hint of imminent changes like these from, say, Bp Barron. I'm not sure how realistic this is -- what, Rome is going to relax the discipline of clerical celibacy in order to let Ordinariates continue? My own view is that any effective attack on the current cultural situation is going to come from more of what traditional Catholicism has been, not bending things to bring in more Anglo-Catholics or Lutherans or whatever.

I get a certain sense of unreality in the remarks of my visitor here, as well as Mr Murphy.

Tuesday, April 12, 2016

St Mary And The Ordinariates In Context

A visitor very kindly sent me a copy of Louis Bouyer's Memoirs. As a new Catholic, I hadn't previously heard of him, though now I realize he was a very important figure. Raised a French Lutheran (another new thing for me; I'd thought the French had only Huguenots), he admired Catholic liturgy and Anglo-Catholicism from his time in Lutheran seminary.

Fairly quickly he realized that Lutherans were not friendly to his respect for the liturgy, thinking him too Catholic, and he became Catholic, entered Catholic seminary, and became a priest of the Oratory. However, many Catholic authorities then found his respect for scripture too Protestant. Notwithstanding, he became an important Patristic and Newman scholar, and he was a key theologian in the Second Vatican Conference. (I'm finding his other books, even used, aren't cheap, which may be an indication of their continued demand.)

His story keeps bringing me back to the homily David Moyer delivered at St Mary's in early 2011, on the subject that the Church is a battleground. Possibly because much of Bouyer's experience takes place in France, the story is an amazing pattern of betrayals, disappointments, careerism, backbiting, egoism, petty jealousies, and so forth. My wife reminds me that the lives of the saints are full of just this sort of thing. When I think about what's happened in the progress of the Ordinariates and the ongoing saga of St Mary's, it's hard not to draw parallels.

Saturday, April 9, 2016

Fr Catania's Move To Omaha

Ordinariate News has posted on Fr Catania's sudden and unexpected move to become a temporary administrator at a diocesan parish in Omaha. It's my understanding that this move is due to the opposition in the diocese to the Ordinariate group in Rochester. "It has blocked Fr. Catania from having anything to do with the diocese - no job, no faculties, no housing, no participation in any other diocesan church or event." Apparently this is in spite of appeals from both Msgr Steenson and Bp Lopes.

Elsewhere, the Diocese of Rochester is described as "one of the most progressive/liberal, moving toward post-Catholic, dioceses in the country". That link suggests that Bp Matano, installed in 2014, was meant to be a more conservative influence, but perhaps he can accomplish only so much.

Please pray for the Fellowship of St Alban and the Ordinariates.

Tuesday, April 5, 2016

Virtue Online Covers St Mary's After All

This past February 20, I noted that David Moyer had been given information that David Virtue did not intend to cover the restoration of the St Mary's property. However, a visitor recently pointed out that a story about the restoration of the property did appear at Virtue Online dated February 24, 2016. Frankly, I'm not pleased that the author used a photo I posted on my blog (and took myself) without permission or attribution. I think I'll point this out to Mr Virtue.

The piece is by someone writing under the name Mary Ann Mueller, who frequently writes for VOL. The same visitor has told me that "Mary Ann Mueller" is a pen name for someone named Sister Thurley Riley, who has been referenced in print as a lady truck driver (scroll down to "Furry Tour Guide") who has since retired, according to the cited source, to become a hermit nun. With what order, and under what supervision, nobody seems to know. I'm scratching my head -- the whole St Mary's story is peppered with digressions into people who use AKAs, as well as hermit religious with puzzling backgrounds.

It appears that Sr Thurley has some sort of contacts with the Houston authorities, and my visitor notes that her birthday is regularly remembered at Our Lady of Walsingham, but can find no other information. Her artilce concludes,

It is still the intention of St. Mary's re-established leadership to enter into the Ordinariate. Following the initial erection of the Personal Ordinariate of the Chair of St. Peter, Monsignor Steenson visited the parish to help facilitate the process. but found that the legal entanglements with ACA halted any further progress until the court issues could be resolved.

It is rumored that Archbishop Hepworth attended the enthronement of Bishop Steven Lopes, the Ordinariate's new bishop. However the Ordinariate has never been forthcoming with a list of ecumenical visitors who attended the event earlier this month in Houston.

It is also believed that Archbishop Hepworth is headed to California to personally help shepherd St. Mary's into the Ordinariate. But St. Mary's is mum on providing details or a time frame for the archbishop's visitation nor is the Ordinariate willing to answer any questions.

I'm not sure under what authority she has made any of these statements. At this point, I would assume that any further move by the St Mary's parish to enter the US-Canadian Ordinariate would require further action by the vestry and the membership, since the only affiliation the parish currently recognizes is the Patrimony of the Primate, and much water has passed under the bridge since 2011-12. By the same token, it has been reported to me that Fr Andrew Bartus of the Bl John Henry Newman group in Irvine has stated that the St Mary's parish will not enter the Ordinariate without his approval.

I believe that, at minimum, Bp Lopes would need to clarify Fr Bartus's reported remarks. As a friend of the parish with some sense of both the membership's and the vestry's minds, I surmise that no proposal to resume a process of joining the Ordinariate will be countenanced without firm assurances from the vicar general and Bp Lopes that Fr Bartus, who has acted to damage the parish in the past, would not be involved going forward with the parish in any way.