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

Thursday, July 5, 2012

An Episcopal priest's first Catholic Mass

One of the Fort Worth Six was ordained with his father

By Mary Ann Mueller
Special Correspondent

HOUSTON, TX: He's tall, he's slender, he's young and now he is a Catholic priest.

In my 40-plus years as a religion writer, I have covered a wide variety of religious events: the ordination of deacons and priests - Episcopal and Catholic; the consecration of a Catholic bishop; the installation of Episcopal rectors; the enthronement of an Anglican archbishop and an Ordinariate's founding Ordinary; the veilings of Catholic nuns; the creation of an Episcopal diocese; the elevation of a Catholic diocese to an archdiocese; the craziness of several Episcopal General Conventions - even as another gets underway; and one United Methodist General Conference. However, I have never been to a priest's first Mass ... until Sunday.

On Saturday, June 30, the Rev. Charles Hough IV, formerly rector St. Paul's Episcopal Church in Gainesville, Texas, was ordained a Roman Catholic priest along with five other former Episcopal priests, all of whom are a part of the ACNA Episcopal Diocese of Fort Worth, including his own father, Charles the Third, who was at one time the Canon to the Ordinary.

The calendar page turns. On Sunday, July 1, wearing green and gold brocade vestments, Fr. Hough was officially installed as the first Ordinariate rector of Our Lady of Walsingham Catholic Church in Houston, even before he stepped up to the altar to offer his first Mass as a Catholic priest. His first Mass as an Episcopal priest was celebrated when he was ordained in September 2007. Since then, he has served at two Texas Episcopal churches, one in Arlington and the other in Gainesville.

The entrance procession included several acolytes - torch bearers, a crucifer, a thurifer - two deacons and two priests, all in matching vestments, as well as the Ordinary of the Ordinariate wearing his golden-colored mitre. The orders of clergy processed in to the lusty singing of Hosanna to the Living Lord.

As the final note sounded, Our Lady of Walsingham's deacon, the Rev. Mr. James Barnett, stepped forward, faced the Rt. Rev. Monsignor Jeffrey Steenson, and said, "Reverend Father in God, I present to you Fr. Charles Hough, who you as Ordinary have appointed to serve as the rector of this Principal Church of the Personal Ordinariate of the Chair of St. Peter, Our Lady of Walsingham, and here this day by your to be installed and admitted to the cure of souls in this parish."

Monsignor Steenson replied, "Dearly beloved in the Lord - In the Name of God and in the presence of this congregation, as the Ordinary of the Personal Ordinariate of the Chair of St. Peter, I hereby institute our well-beloved in Christ, Fr. Charles Hough as rector of this Principal Church, and with all the parishioners of Our Lady of Walsingham, I welcome him to this sacred ministry ..."

The congregation exploded in applause.

When the applause died down and following a prayer the Monsignor asked the new rector if he would "steadfastly serve this parish, duly ministering God's Word and Sacraments, for the benefit of the faithful ..."

The new priest's first words as rector were, "I will, God being my helper."

Monsignor Steenson turned to the congregation and inquired of the parishioners if they would support Fr. Hough in his new ministry as a Catholic priest and their new rector.

"We will, with God's help," came the solid reply...

Read the rest of Mary Ann's story at Virtue Online.

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