The first principle of the Ordinariate is then about Christian unity. St. Basil the Great, the Church’s greatest ecumenist, literally expended his life on the work of building bridges between orthodox brethren who shared a common faith, but who had become separated from one another in a Church badly fragmented by heresy and controversy. He taught that the work of Christian unity requires deliberate and ceaseless effort...St. Basil often talked with yearning about the archaia agape, the ancient love of the apostolic community, so rarely seen in the Church of his day. This love, he taught, is a visible sign that the Holy Spirit is indeed present and active, and it is absolutely essential for the health of the Church.

- Msgr. Jeffrey Steenson, Homily on the Occasion of his Formal Institution as Ordinary

Tuesday, April 3, 2012

Philadelphia Anglican Community Joins Catholic Church During Holy Week

The rector and members of St. Michael the Archangel Anglican parish in Philadelphia were received into full communion with the Catholic Church on April 2. This is the first Anglican community in Pennsylvania to join a new national structure created by Pope Benedict XVI for Anglican groups and clergy who are becoming Catholic. The rector, David Ousley, is preparing to be ordained a Catholic priest later this year.

Monsignor Jeffrey Steenson, the head of the U.S. Ordinariate nationally, will celebrate Mass and preach for the new Catholic community on Holy Thursday, April 5, 6 p.m. at Holy Cross Church, 140 E. Mount Airy Avenue in the Mount Airy section of Philadelphia.

The Ordinariate of the Chair of Saint Peter is similar to a regular Catholic diocese, but national in scope. Pope Benedict XVI established it on January 1 in response to requests by Anglicans seeking to become Catholic, and appointed Msgr. Steenson, a former Episcopal bishop based in Houston, TX, as the leader. Ordinariate parishes will be fully Catholic while retaining elements of their Anglican heritage and traditions, including liturgical traditions.

“We are very grateful to Pope Benedict for giving us this opportunity to enter into full communion with the Catholic Church while retaining our identity as Anglicans,” said Father Ousley.

Archbishop Charles J. Chaput, O.F.M. Cap., of the Archdiocese of Philadelphia said, “It’s my pleasure to prayerfully welcome Father David Ousley and the faithful of Saint Michael the Archangel Anglican Parish as they enter into full communion with the Roman Catholic Church. We will support our brothers and sisters in Christ on their spiritual journey. May the Lord grant them peace and every blessing.”

Fr. Ousley noted, “We look forward to developing the work of the Ordinariate in Philadelphia, in cooperation with Msgr. Steenson and the Archdiocese of Philadelphia. Father James Cox, pastor of Holy Cross and St. Madeleine Sophie Catholic parishes in Mount Airy, and Auxiliary Bishop John McIntyre have been welcoming and unfailingly helpful in our transition into full communion. As with any such transition, it has been a challenging journey. Yet, we already have heard from former Anglicans who are interested in joining us.”

Msgr. Steenson added, “I deeply appreciate the support that Archbishop Chaput and the Archdiocese have given to assist this community in this great adventure of Christian unity. I think this is precisely what Pope Benedict intended when he created the Ordinariate for Anglicans who desire to join the Catholic family that Anglicans originally came from. Fr. Ousley himself is a distinguished representative of this great tradition of learning and spirituality. I have known him for many years and am confident that he and his congregation will find a warm welcome within the Catholic community of Philadelphia."

The 25 members of St. Michael’s studied the United States Catechism of the Catholic Church for Adults, working closely with the Archdiocese of Philadelphia. The parishioners are among more than 1,400 people in 20 communities across the United States who have asked to join the Ordinariate. Nearly 40 former Anglican priests also are studying to be ordained Catholic priests.

St. Michael’s traces its roots to the Episcopal Church of St. James the Less, founded in East Falls in 1846. For the past five years, the parish has been part of the Anglican Church of America. The community will be moving its Sunday services to Holy Cross Parish at 9 a.m. after Easter. Weekday services are at the St. Michael's Rectory in Mount Airy.

For more information on the Ordinariate of the Chair of Saint Peter, one of only two ordinariates in the world, visit St. Michael’s is online at


David Ousley, St. Michael Parish, 215-247-1092 and
Susan Gibbs, U.S. Ordinariate, 202-525-9554 and


Thursday, April 5th -- BREAKING NEWS UPDATE --

Due to difficulties with American Airlines, 60 of whose ships have been rendered unable to fly due to the storms, Msgr. Steenson will not be able to join the Congregation of St. Michael’s Philadelphia for Maundy Thursday. With no back up priest, the Maundy Thursday liturgy scheduled for 6 p.m. on Thursday is cancelled. Members of the parish are encouraged to attend the 8 p.m. liturgy at the Church of the Holy Cross in Mt. Airy.


From Fr. Ousley to the people of St. Michael’s Philadelphia. For public distribution.

Dear friends --

First, Monsignor Steenson wished me to convey his sincere apologies for not being with us tonight. He is sorry to miss us, and to disappoint us, and sends his blessing.

Second, he has arranged to be with us on the Sunday after Ascension, May 20th. This is his first open Sunday. This will give us a more leisurely visit than we would have had tonight, so there is some advantage to it. Please mark your calendars.
Fr O.

Please join us at the Church of the Holy Cross, 144 E. Mt. Airy Ave., Philadelphia Pa. on Sunday May 20th at 9 a.m., to welcome our Ordinary.