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

Sunday, June 17, 2012

New Evangelisation & Church Planting

From the blog of Vincent Uher comes this reflection on the November conference of the Anglican Use Society.
The Anglican Use Society, which predates the Personal Ordinariate of the Chair of St. Peter, will be having its 2012 Conference around the theme of the New Evangelisation of Blessed Pope John Paul II.

Wonderful news! But remember a New Evangelisation Conference does not a missionary make. But with the proper catechetical instruction and reference points in the New Evangelisation of Blessed Pope John Paul II you will have the most fertile intellectual ground from which to develop your local mission strategies. I hope the Ordinariate would develop a common mission strategy. A consideration may be that perhaps because you are scattered all across North America in relatively small groups the really important task is to develop your local mission strategy in concert with the Church's invitation to the New Evangelisation rather than a directive from the Ordinariate itself.

Papers will be given by most excellent speakers at the Conference relating to the New Evangelisation and the Anglican experience, and some issues will be explored in a presentation by Fr. Scott Hurd, the Vicar General of the Ordinariate, and Mr. Marlon de la Torre of the Pastoral Provision Office in Fort Worth, Texas that I think will be very key: "Pastoral Considerations and Future Directions in the Pastoral Provision and in the Ordinariate". One would hope that a common mission strategy could be developed for both the Pastoral Provision parishes and clergy and the Ordinariate... but there is a great danger if it is simply a strategy delivered from on high, top down. The great chance you have is to collaborate as clergy and laity in the whole process because your numbers are so small that you could all gather in one Great Conference ... even by satellite uplink technology.

I note in particular that there will be a presentation on financing start-ups and new congregations by C. Denis Green. I sincerely hope many more such informational presentations will be made targeting the particular issues of planting new churches. This will be a very different thing for the Ordinariate than what is normally done in the dioceses of the USA. Because the Ordinariate comes from an Anglican wellspring, I would hope they would look to the whole Boot Camp for Church Planters experiences that are out there in order to tailor one for the Ordinariate's own needs and one for the needs of the Pastoral Provision parishes.

Without the fresh ideas coming from this very successful movement a priest starting a new congregation will be tempted to simply do what he knows from his own experience and what he tries to apply from what he has studied or heard. It can be so much easier than trying to reinvent the wheel. It's been done. So if you are starting up a new Ordinariate congregation, try not to rely on the fact that you are coming from existing congregations with their structures and customs and merely replicate those. Take advantage of the expertise that largely comes from the committed Evanglical part of the Protestant Churches and make it your Catholic own.

Starting a new parish can be the most difficult thing in a priest's life. It can also be the most rewarding. By making use of the Church Planting models, needless stress upon one's wife or children can be avoided. And needless stress and troubles can be avoided for you too by simply learning some of the strategies for growth in the contemporary post-Christian culture as well as strategies for avoiding the pitfalls of parish formation and life.

The Rev. Tom Herrick of Titus Church Planting is one of the best in Church Planting in North America, and as he is an Anglican in North America you will likely find a sympathetic soul prepared to challenge the hell out of you to bring in new souls for the Lord of the harvest. Some of you may well know him from courses he has taught at various venues including Nashotah House. I would hope you would seek out someone like him as you new priests and deacons plant your new communities of Catholics of the Anglican Patrimony.

More established congregations from a TAC background might also consider the model of a "restart" that is found in Church Planting strategies since you are in fact restarting your communities within a new context and now have all of the fulness and beauty of the Catholic Church and your Anglican heritage to offer.

Admittedly, many, many souls will be drawn to your new churches because of the profound reverence and beauty of your liturgies that are so different from the normative Latin rite but are not as big a leap as the Extraordinary Form of the Liturgy. You will be that place just right to worship God and watch the family grow.

I offer these thoughts as a person who has no authority beyond the authority of the Lay State as enunciated in Christifideles laici of Blessed Pope John Paul II ... which in short means I am called to the front lines of the battle for souls sharing in Christ's threefold office as prophet, priest and king. I am not connected to the Ordinariate in anyway except for that I pray for its clergy, religious, and people daily.

Do visit Mr. Uher's blog Tonus Peregrinus where he shares the fruits of his reflections.

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