Monday, March 4, 2013

Trouble In Paradise? -- II

St Mary of the Angels is now without a curate, and until they can find a supply priest someplace, there's no one to celebrate mass. As had been intimated to me in an e-mail from the absentee priest-in-charge Fr Rivers in January, Fr Nicholas Taylor, who had been installed as curate only last December, was on his way out, and has now returned to Colorado. A prospective new curate, a Fr Hart, declined the position. (There appear to be more than one Fr Hart; if anyone knows more about this, I'd appreciate any info.)

On the face of it, this is not good news for the ACA and what remains of its Diocese of the West, since two key parishes of the six or eight that credibly remain, the "cathedral" at All Saints Fountain Valley and St Mary of the Angels, are currently without priests. St Mary's, of course, was always a plum assignment, but now there are no takers.

My understanding is that Fr Taylor was packed off at the instigation of the "senior warden" appointed by the late Anthony Morello, Mrs Bush. Mrs Bush, let's recall, was a member of the parish for exactly one year, which was the minimum time to qualify her for election to the vestry in 2012. Prior to that time, she had not attended church in any denomination for 40 years, due to the anti-religious stance of her late husband. However, it appears that Mrs Bush's recently discovered religious fervor has drawn her in an increasingly low-church direction, to the point that, as I understand it, she is ordering the removal of icons and other religious imagery from the parish. The ACA, of course, had already excommunicated any parishioners who might have resisted this course.

Her leadership style, which might be characterized as "Off with their heads!", has become a sticking point for clergy, along with the prospect of life under conditions amounting to house arrest in the tiny rectory, with a salary of whatever Mrs Bush is willing to part with, being contributory factors.

However, I would guess there are problems beyond that. A curate, as the title is used in "continuing Anglicanism", is an associate, who normally reports to the rector, who is normally under the supervision of a bishop. In the case of St Mary's, the curate theoretically works for Fr Rivers, the 74-year-old absentee "priest-in-charge", who is in Arizona. The Diocese of the West has no diocesan bishop, with its episcopal visitor being Brian Marsh, who lives in the colorfully named village of Belchertown, MA, who has canceled all events scheduled for the coming year requiring his presence in the Diocese of the West, and who would probably prefer even a root canal to dealing with any issues relating to St Mary of the Angels, on the other side of the country. Mrs Bush is thus basically out of control.

My guess is that this places any clergy in a completely untenable position. But hey, Brian Marsh has got to be good for something, right? He can rent himself out as a co-consecrator! The APA loves him!