One Church, Many Rites: The Anglican Ordinariate – The Torch

I spent most of my childhood attending a church that maintained a compelling juxtaposition. The Ordinary Anglican Catholic Church of St. Mary the Virgin was truly one of the ugliest churches I have ever seen, and yet I have hardly seen in life Mass celebrated more magnificently than there- low.

The parish, like many in the “Personal Ordinariate”, was originally Anglican, but split when the Church of England decided to start ordaining women. The Priest of St. Mary the Virgin, the Reverend Allan Hawkins, was the quintessential British vicar: Oxford-educated, married, a staunch royalist and possessed of one of those old-guard English accents, the frequency of which diminishes with each generation. since Queen Victoria.

No, Sunday morning mass at 10:30 a.m. was never less than an hour and a half, and there were never fewer than five altar boys in the processions. Organ music accompanied each mass, and on occasion there was even a trumpet.

My family is not English and no one in my line that I know of has ever been Anglican. Our participation was the result of our sadness at the lack of beauty of the Masses in Texas and the fact that our family had just moved from Rome. If the Ordinariate does one thing well, it is liturgical beauty.

The personal ordinariate proper succeeds a provision authorized by Pope Saint John Paul II in 1980 for married Anglican and Episcopal priests to convert and function as Catholic priests.

In 1983, the first “Anglican-use” church, Our Lady of the Atonement, opened in San Antonio, Texas. It was followed soon after in 1984 by Our Lady of Walsingham Parish in Houston. Since then, more than 100 Anglican priests have converted and become Roman Catholic clergy.

On December 9, 2009, Pope Benedict XVI authorized personal ordinariates for parishes for Anglican use with his Apostolic Constitution Anglicanorum Coetibus. A personal ordinariate functions much like a diocese, although it is not territorially bound in the same way.

The first Personal Ordinariate created was Our Lady of Walsingham for England and Wales in January 2011. January 2012 saw the creation of the Personal Ordinariate of the Chair of St. Peter for the United States. Finally, the Personal Ordinariate of Our Lady of the Southern Cross for Australia was created in June 2012.

Churches in one of the Personal Ordinariates use a variant of the Mass called the Liturgy of Anglican Use which seeks to combine the liturgical tradition loved by many with a connection to the Church.

In recent years, personal ordinariates have met with enormous success. In 2010, eight members of the American House of Bishops voted to join the Church, bringing with them 3,000 parishioners in 120 parishes in four dioceses. A majority of traditional Anglican Church clergy supported a petition to join the Catholic Ordinariate. On March 12, 2010, the Anglican Catholic Church in Canada requested the creation of a Canadian Ordinariate.

Image courtesy of the Catholic Church in England and Wales via Flickr

Marcello Brownsberger
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