Ordinariates Mark 10-Year Jubilee of Anglican Tradition With Catholic Unity

The members of three Catholic dioceses with Anglican traditions reflect on the challenges and opportunities for evangelization afforded by Benedict XVI’s visionary decree Anglicanorum Coetibus.

Monsignor Keith Newton, ordinary of the Personal Ordinariate of Our Lady of Walsingham, celebrates Mass at the Altar of St. Joseph in St. Peter's Basilica Feb. 24, 2012.
Monsignor Keith Newton, ordinary of the Personal Ordinariate of Our Lady of Walsingham, celebrates Mass at the Altar of St. Joseph in St. Peter's Basilica Feb. 24, 2012. (photo: David Kerr/CNA)

OTTAWA, Canada — Catholics around the world are celebrating 10 years of the reunion of the Anglican tradition with the Catholic Church, thanks to Pope Benedict XVI and the ordinariates he established with the historic 2009 decree Anglicanorum Coetibus.

Catholics in the ordinariates are not only marking 10 years of “ecumenism realized” Nov. 4, but are also busy laboring to spread the Gospel to the ends of the earth.

For Christopher Mahon, the ordinariate’s establishment spiritually reunited his Anglican family within the Catholic Church and restored to him a liturgical and spiritual patrimony they previously had to leave behind in order to become Catholic.

“It has encouraged other members of my Anglican family and community to come into the Catholic Church and rejoin us there,” said Mahon, a member of the Church of the Annunciation of the Blessed Virgin Mary, an ordinariate parish in Ottawa, Canada.

“For us to see that our own traditions, which we cherish so much, have been deemed worthy and something that adds to the beauty and the holiness of the Church is very touching to us and has strengthened our sense of home in the Catholic Church,” he said.

The ordinariates cover a great deal of global territory, where Catholics of different cultures and languages are literally building these new Catholics dioceses and parish communities with a ground-up evangelization.

The Ordinariate of the Chair of St. Peter has 45 communities across North America, while the Ordinariate of Our Lady of Walsingham (OOLW) has 35 in the United Kingdom. The Ordinariate of Our Lady of the Southern Cross (OLSC) has 11 communities in Australia and is spreading throughout the Pacific Rim. There are two congregations in Japan and one in the Torres Strait Islands, with pre-ordinariate communities forming in the Philippines.

Nigel McBain, an OLSC seminarian, said his ordinariate faces the challenge of carrying out its mission over vast distances, with few resources. The price of real estate makes buying church buildings an expensive project. He said that while the OOLW owns one church in the U.K., the OLSC owns “one house” in Australia.

But the OLSC has also made history by ordaining the first Torres Strait Islander Catholic priest, which McBain said would be the equivalent to the U.S. ordaining the first Native American priest.

“And it was through the ordinariate, so we’re pretty proud of that,” he said.

But while the work is hard, McBain said he is energized in witnessing the Holy Spirit alive within his community: Couples are getting married, children are being baptized, and more people from the Anglican tradition continue to come into full communion with the Catholic Church through the ordinariate.

In his view, the only viable arc for the Anglican tradition is the ordinariate, where a person can “become Catholic in order to continue being an Anglican” with regard to their pastoral, spiritual and liturgical patrimony.

Within the past 10 years, the ordinariate has seen significant milestones. The historic promulgation in 2015 of a new form of the Roman Missal in Prayer Book English called Divine Worship, or the “ordinariate form” of the Mass, was followed by the publication of the St. Peter’s Gradual and a devotional primer, the St. Gregory’s Prayer Book.


Building Diocesan-Ordinariate Collaboration

Forming the ordinariate 10 years ago was a true leap of faith for Anglican clergy and congregations, as it required them to surrender the security of their salary, pensions and buildings and start this new Catholic diocese and their own parishes for the sake of full Catholic communion.

“You’re starting from scratch, really,” Msgr. Keith Newton, the ordinary for the Our Lady of Walsingham Ordinariate, told the Register. Despite the reservations of some about the success of the venture, “nobody went hungry, and nobody was homeless.” Today, he continues to field a steady trickle of Anglican priests asking about the ordinariate.

Collaboration is building slowly between the Our Lady of Walsingham Ordinariate and other Latin-Rite Catholic dioceses in the United Kingdom. With one church building to its name, most congregations have to share space with other Latin Rite parishes. However, Catholic dioceses have entrusted four parishes to the ordinariate that otherwise would have shuttered. The Divine Worship Mass is now being offered there alongside the ordinary form of the Mass.

“The U.K. desperately needs to be evangelized,” Msgr. Newton said. While Catholic Latin Rite dioceses have faced resistance in England as a foreign import, the ordinariate’s clear roots through the Anglican patrimony to pre-Reformation Catholic heritage makes clear that “there’s an English form of Catholicism.” He said Rome’s promulgation of Divine Worship is a powerful affirmation of the ordinariate’s Anglican tradition in the Catholic Church.

“I hope people may begin to recognize its ecumenical significance,” he said. “This is what happens when you take ecumenism seriously.”


Clergy and Laity

Stabilization and growth in the ordinariate depend on a collaborative relationship between clergy and laity.

Shane Schaetzel, a founding member of St. George’s Catholic Church in Republic, Missouri, told the Register that phase one of Anglicanorum Coetibus was receiving the first wave of congregations from Episcopal and Anglican groups into the ordinariate. The second phase, he said, is growth and development.

The ordinariate’s clergy, he explained, are key to developing parish life and offering the Mass.

“Growth is something laypeople can do,” he said, by inviting others to come with them to church, forming new families, and donating sacrificially to build the church and its ministries.

“We’re seeing plenty of that going on at St. George,” he said.

The key to the ordinariate’s growth is “working with the local diocese” to evangelize in complementary ways.

“Most bishops are happy to let us take over an area that became a burden to them, due to distance or difficult accessibility, where they know some [diocesan] Catholics exist but they have trouble ministering to their needs due to priest shortage, etc.,” Schaetzel said. In such a case, both diocesan and ordinariate Catholics would be registered in the same ordinariate parish, but some would be under the pastoral jurisdiction of the diocese’s bishop and the others would be under the ordinariate’s bishop.

“Such areas provide ample opportunities for ordinariate growth, and many local diocesan bishops are happy to take it off their radar.”

He said that was St. George’s experience as a Catholic community in the heart of the Bible Belt where the territorial diocese did not have the means and opportunity to plant a parish.

“We came along and offered to do it for them,” he said.

“Now they’re free to focus their attention on more pressing matters, and we’re free to expand without limitations or becoming an imposition. Everybody wins.”


Harvest Is Great, but Resources Needed

The challenge for the ordinariate is not all communities have the clergy they need. Having a full-time pastor takes a lot of resources, and even part time, a priest needs to supplement his income either by diocesan or secular employment.

For one ordinate, unique not only among ordinariates but within the Catholic Church in America, staffing issues are particularly challenging.

Charles Maracle, warden for Keristos Ne Korah:Kowah (Christ the King) parish in the Tyendinaga Mohawk territory, told the Register that the community joined the ordinariate because it guaranteed they could be Catholic and keep the Anglican traditions of their ancestors.

“That seemed to fit the bill,” he said.

The Mohawk people, or Kanienʼkehá:ka, have a rich history, including 300 years of Christianity with the Catholic and Anglican churches, and a number of holy men and women, including St. Kateri Tekakwitha and the Kahnawake martyrs Stephen Tegananokoa and Stephen Haonhouentsiontaouet, among them.

Maracle said the decision to join the Catholic Church through the ordinariate came with a lot of suffering, as they at first faced intense opposition from some quarters within the community and from some Anglican leaders.

But the ordinariate in Tyendinaga shows people that they can be fully Mohawk and fully Catholic with the Anglican traditions of their ancestors. The community sings Mohawk hymns and prays some of the Mass prayers, such as the Our Father, in Mohawk. While both the Book of Common Prayer and much of the pre-Vatican II (extraordinary form) Catholic Mass was translated into Kanienʼkehá, Maracle said the language is still being relearned and other challenges would have to be met first before translating Divine Worship: The Missal.

The main drawback is that while they can witness to the faith “by our good works,” they do not have the stability that comes with having a priest to regularly offer the Mass and sacraments.

They have Mass once a month from a visiting priest, and on other Sundays, they celebrate an 11am matins (morning prayer service) in their church, a Chapel Royal of the Mohawks, followed by lunch with soups and casseroles.

“That’s what we’ve been doing from the get-go,” he said. “We extend hospitality, and everyone is welcome.”


At the Peripheries of the Gospel

Northeast Asia is another locale where the ordinariate has found a foothold. The ordinariate in Japan officially started Jan. 12, 2015, according to Father Joseph Paul Yoshinori Yamaoka and has congregations in Hiroshima and in Tokyo.

Father Yamaoka’s community is called St. Laurence of Canterbury and celebrates Mass together every Sunday in Hiroshima at his home. Divine Worship: The Missal is not yet fully translated into Japanese, he said, but they do have the Order of Mass translated into Japanese.

Father Yamakoa explained that the ordinariate’s future in Japan depends on building a positive relationship with the Latin Rite dioceses. So far, he said, the Catholic bishops in Japan have not accepted the ordinariate or built the kind of relationship that Benedict XVI and Pope Francis have envisioned.

While the bishop of Hiroshima has been “personally very kind,” Father Yamaoka explained the bishop has not taken steps to fully integrate him with the Catholic priests of the diocese and only granted him “a limited license.”

“I can only celebrate the Mass at home or at the house of the believers,” he said.

But the Japanese ordinariate communities remain faithful to the vision of Anglicanorum Coetibus, and had been encouraged to persevere in this work by Cardinal Gerhard Müller. Father Yamakoa said 99% of Japanese still do not know the Gospel of Jesus Christ, and there are Anglicans in Japan who need to hear the ordinariate’s message of full communion.

Father Yamakoa is undeterred by the small size of these communities and has faith in the Lord’s call, pointing out the Christian faith began in Japan with a small group of believers witnessing to Christ.

“I am currently in contact with two Japanese-speaking Americans. One of them is now the Anglican priest, and the other is the former Anglican priest. We want them to join ordinariate in Japan,” he said.


Full Support of the Popes

The past 10 years of success in reintegrating English Catholicism have also proved the ordinariates have the full papal support as both evangelical and ecumenical enterprise.

Anglicanorum Coetibus was the culmination of two and half years of work, Bishop Steven Lopes of the Ordinariate of the Chair of St. Peter, told the Register. It allowed a whole wave of Anglican congregations and their pastors to corporately enter the Catholic Church.

“The work of the next 10 years is the stabilization and growth of our smaller parishes,” he said. The continued growth of the ordinariate’s institutions will help smaller communities gain stability and “engage the full range of pastoral life, and go and move beyond survival mode.”

Some upcoming projects for the ordinariate include the promulgation of ordinariate versions of the Divine Office of the Liturgy of the Hours scheduled for 2020, developing models of Catholic education based on the English Cathedral schools, and working on a new translation of Divine Worship into Spanish. The ordinariate has two Spanish-speaking communities in Florida, one in Miami and one in Orlando.

“Anglicans were tremendous evangelizers, and there was a great missionary push through the Caribbean, through the Dominican Republic, through Puerto Rico,” Bishop Lopes said. “So there are actually a whole lot of persons who are Spanish-speaking, who have been, and their families have been, Anglican for a long time, coming into the Catholic Church.”

He explained Pope Francis has also strongly backed the ordinariates, promulgating their missal in 2015, naming their first bishop in 2016 (Bishop Lopes), twice changing Church law to make it easier for people to join the ordinariate, and granting the plenary indulgence for Christians who attend the ordinariate Mass at the start of the jubilee year and every day they make a pilgrimage to the Our Lady of Walsingham Cathedral and Shrine in Houston.

“He directly mentioned [to me] the missionary aspect of the ordinariate, that the ordinariate, if done well, can be a sign of not only ecclesiastical unity and communion, but also the means of it,” Bishop Lopes said.

Bishop Lopes explained Anglicanorum Coetibus reflected the Second Vatican Council’s vision on ecumenism as perfectly realized in full sacramental communion.

“Benedict opened a new way of entering full communion, where all of those traditions, all of that history, all of that theology, that, you know, nurtured you to the point of seeking full communion. You don’t have to leave that at the door of the Catholic Church when you enter in, but you can bring these very same liturgical, pastoral, theological traditions with you in an enriching way,” he said.

“And the ordinariate is living, breathing proof of that.”

Peter Jesserer Smith is a Register staff writer.