Mary Ann Mueller in San Antonio
VOL Special Correspondent
November 18, 2010
SAN ANTONIO, TEXAS---American Anglicans, perhaps more than any others, are uniquely ready to hit the ground running when the Anglican Ordinariate is finally established in the United States. Although it is being rumored that the first Anglican Ordinariate is to be established in England the birthplace and seat of Anglicanism.
For more than 30 years, groups of American Anglicans have prayed, labored and sacrificed to come home to Rome and live out their Catholicity within the Bark of Peter. A crack in the door was opened when Pope John Paul II created the Pastoral Provision, which allowed for married Episcopal priests to convert to Roman Catholicism. Following more theological training, they could then be ordained Catholic priests and live out their lives and ministries in the Catholic Church.
More than 100 Anglican and Episcopal priests took the Pope up on his unique offer. Within three decades several vibrant Anglican Use Catholic parishes were established and continue to grow in numbers.
Last year, another Roman pontiff, Benedict XVI, kicked the Vatican doors wide open to Anglicans when he announced Anglicanorum Coetibus calling for the worldwide establishment of Anglican Ordinariates. This news not only sent shock waves throughout the heart of Anglican England, it brought forth a tide of Anglican priests and their bishops who are willing to be fully united with their Apostolic roots and be the bedrock foundation of a yet-to-be-established English ordinariate.
This is entirely new ground. All Anglican Ordinariates, no matter where they are established in the world --- England, the United States, Canada, Australia, Africa or elsewhere --- are being developed from scratch without a blueprint in hand except, perhaps, for the few and flourishing Anglican Use parishes in America.
"I have thought for a long time that we, in this country, are perhaps more ready than any other," Fr. Christopher Phillips, pastor of Our Lady of the Atonement Anglican Use Catholic Church, told a Becoming One gathering of American Anglicans Wednesday evening. "We have sizable parishes already in full communion with the Holy See."
Fr. Phillips was referring not only to Our Lady of the Atonement, but also Our Lady of Walsingham Anglican Use Catholic Church in Houston and St. Mary the Virgin Anglican Use Catholic Church in Arlington. All three Texas-based Anglican Use parishes have been in existence for more than a quarter of a century and have been thriving Catholic congregations within their respective Catholic dioceses. At the same time, they have successfully maintained their own unique Anglican patrimony.
The American Anglican Use parishes are already successfully living the vision that Pope Benedict has outlined in Anglicanorum Coetibus. They are showing through lived experience that a living Anglican patrimony is not only possible, but is very doable within the Latin Rite of the Catholic Church.
Fr. Phillips told his audience of Ordinariate-bound bishops, priests, religious and laity that the Anglican patrimony is something that is inherited from our Anglican ancestors. The richness of the Anglican Communion filters through the generations in its music, its liturgy, its chant, its Elizabethan English, its architecture, its vestments, its churchmanship, and its ethos.
"We know that 'patrimony' isn't static," Fr. Phillips said. "Unless a parish is dead, its patrimony continues to grow and develop. What we hand on to subsequent generations isn't exactly the same as what we received from our ancestors. Our past is building the future."
What the Anglican Use parishes of the Ordinariate are going to hand on to their Catholic brethren is a deep appreciation for decency and order, reverence, majesty, respect, and awe for the sacredness of ecclesial actions reflected through the Anglican music, liturgy, architecture, vestments, and churchmanship.
As the Anglican Ordinariates are developed, they will be launched into the deep of mostly uncharted waters. Only the American Ordinariate will have any sort of history or track record to give it some type of map to follow in its establishment. The wheel will not have to be re-invented to provide for the early stages of a developing Ordinariate, either in terms of financial backing or drawing people to the new jurisdiction.
"The Ordinariate in this country will be able to start on a firm financial footing," Fr. Phillips explained. "That's because we have financially secure parishes ready to join the Ordinariate and provide considerable resources."
These financial resources will be used to support the temporal and missionary work of the Ordinariate including funding new parish foundations, supporting missionary activity, and providing for the needs of the Ordinariate and its Ordinary, whomever he will be.
In addition to parishes and schools already in place and fully functioning as Anglican Use churches, there are a host of Traditional Anglican Communion/Anglican Church in America congregations already formed into dioceses which are chomping at the bit to enter the Ordinariate along with their clergy and bishops. There will be no issues over property ownership, rights and management with these two groups.
"No other country will have the stable and financially secure beginning that we'll see right here in the beginning of the United States Ordinariate," Fr. Phillips noted.
The beginning of an American Ordinariate may still be some time off. However, each day brings new developments as the Vatican works on the implementation of the various national ordinariates.
Just days after Washington Archbishop Donald Wuerl was tapped by the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith to help shepherd in the implementation of the American Ordinariate, it was announced that he would be elevated to the cardinalate. Currently, the Archbishop is in Rome preparing for that event. While Archbishop Wuerl is there, the Catholic cardinals are to have a special one-day meeting. Anglicanorum Coetibus is one of the topics on the cardinals' agenda for discussion.
Fr. Phillips explained that the erection of the Anglican Ordinariates would happen in the "fullness of time", even if it seems that Rome is taking a lot of time figuring out how to make Pope Benedict's promise to the Children of Canterbury come true.
"Impatient though we might be, there's never a wasted moment in God's time, " Fr. Phillips said. "The Ordinariate will be established in God's time."
The priest suggests that this time of prayerful waiting is the perfect time for those desiring to enter into the Ordinariate to pray and study and spiritually and practically prepare for their new future.
"This isn't wasted time," the priest noted. "God gives it to us for our good. It's up to us to use it productively, expectantly, and wisely."
---Mary Ann Mueller is a journalist living in Texas. She is a regular contributor to VirtueOnline
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