Mgr. Edwin Barnes on his work since “retirement”


Despite leaving the Church of England, I am still in communion with an important part of it – the Pensions Board. After forty-one years of full-time ministry, I was able to sit back in 2001 and take things easy. Until, that is, five years ago Pope Benedict gave us the great opportunity of the Ordinariate. So since 2011 I have once again been in pretty active ministry, looking after our little flock in Bournemouth and giving a hand in local Catholic parishes.

Our Lady of Lourdes, New MiltonThis morning, as most Thursdays, I celebrated in the lovely Catholic parish church of New Milton. This enables the Parish Priest, Fr Marcin Drabcik, to take a day off – though he seldom does, being something of a workaholic. It is always a pleasure to say Mass in his church. Everything is beautifully ordered, and the people are very welcoming. I never leave without one or two people, and usually several of them, thanking me. Today we were about thirty. This is the usual Thursday number, though some weeks it is forty or more. Occasionally I have been able to help on a Sunday, particularly when Fr Marcin has gone to his native Poland. The most recent time was to lead a Pilgrimage from New Milton. Then, as on every Sunday, the church has been packed to the doors

There are Catholic parishes up and down the country welcoming former Anglicans to their altars. Indeed there are churches which might have closed but for the influx of Ordinariate clergy. If there is one message for my Anglican clergy friends, it is that you would be very welcome in the Roman communion, and you would be well used. I cannot imagine a happier or more fruitful way of spending my declining years. But you don’t have to be retired! I wish I’d had this Anglicanorum Coetibus opportunity earlier. In any case, don’t leave it too late; you are needed now..

(from Mgr. Barnes’ blog, “Antique Richborough”)

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10 Responses to Mgr. Edwin Barnes on his work since “retirement”

  1. EPMS says:

    Yes, it sounds attractive: collect a pension while celebrating mass for large numbers in attractive churches. I wonder how Catholic clergy who have borne the burden and heat of the day, without wife, children, or indeed the prospect of a pension, respond to this solicitation of their CofE brethren.

  2. Joseph Golightly says:

    The incarnated catholic clergy including those with wives and children are looked after by their Ordinary as required by canon law. Fr Barnes has not been a drain upon the catholic diocese he works in and will not be in the future. EPMS before blogging find out the facts

  3. EPMS says:

    I did not in any way imply he was a drain on his diocese; he is drawing a pension from the CofE and performing his duties for the Catholic diocese without pay, I assume. I was contrasting the lot of a former CofE clergyman, able to retire at 65 with a non-contributary pension entirely at his disposal, with that of a Catholic priest for whom the retirement age is 70 and who will be dependent on diocesan charity thereafter. And, as a sidebar, I would think that any Catholic priest would look like a “workaholic” compared to the typical Church of England cleric. For one thing, the average Catholic parish has four times the number of parishioners. I always check my facts.

    • Rev22:17 says:


      You wrote: I did not in any way imply he was a drain on his diocese; he is drawing a pension from the CofE and performing his duties for the Catholic diocese without pay, I assume.

      That assumption is probably wrong. Clergy assigned to a parish as its pastor and parochial vicars receive a salary from the diocese, but other clergy who assist in a parish normally receive a stipend from the parish for each mass that they celebrate.

      You wrote: I was contrasting the lot of a former CofE clergyman, able to retire at 65 with a non-contributary pension entirely at his disposal, with that of a Catholic priest for whom the retirement age is 70 and who will be dependent on diocesan charity thereafter.

      The Codex Juris Canonici (Code of Canon Law) stipulates that each diocese must provide a decent sustenance for its retired clergy, and also must attend to their medical and other needs. This sustenance may be partially in kind.

      Of course, many retired clergy augment their income by assisting in a parish on a stable basis, and may even reside in its rectory (commonly called a “Retired Priest in Residence”).


  4. Father Gerard says:

    As a cradle-Catholic priest, I am delighted at the assistance offered by colleagues who are formerly members of the C. of E. Indeed, the new P.P. of the parish I was P.P. of until 2001 is a father of four who all are still at home with their parents. He works as hard as anybody I know and as a Diocesan priest is not seen as a drain on the parish, but a boon.
    A former Presbytarian youth pastor has just, this weekend, moved into one of my presbyteries. Also a father of four young children, he and his wife have been welcomed into the bosom of the tough little parish as a sign of courageous faith: they lost everything when they became Catholics in his native Texas and, to survive, came to her native Lancashire to her family.
    They are not members of the Personal Ordinariate (they are actually Ukrainian Catholics, having joined an English-speaking parish in Texas), and the welcome they have received has overwhelmed them and her non-religious family.
    They jumped into the water with nothing and God provided a home and a lady who had heard of them left all her furniture to them in her will. He is not allowed to do paid work in the UK yet so they were fairly desperate.
    Their’s is an incredible witness and it has received a remarkable response.

  5. EPMS says:

    That is an inspiring story of sacrifice and charity. But it has little to do with Msgr Barnes invitation to, Cof E clergy, specifically retired CofE clergy, to whom he presents an attractive prospect of congenial duties, grateful congregations, and tasteful venues, with the financial assistance of the Cof E Pension Board. All I was saying is that this is not the reality of the average Catholic priest. And of course if a Catholic priest wishes to leave, no matter how many years he has served, he leaves with nothing.

    • Fr Gerard says:

      True, and our retirement age is 75, not 70. Nonetheless, it is a joy to be with former Anglican clergy and they are most welcome. I tend to go by the old maxim: “don’t look a gift-horse in the mouth”. Right now, I cover what was until recently 4 parishes with 4 priests, and am on my own. I would gladly welcome a priest so as to enable me to increase the number of Mass options from the present three (in three churches), to five. The rest of the work, I will gladly plough on with.

  6. To be truthful, I do not really understand what your gripe is, EPMS. Do you really want retired CofE clergy entering the Ordinariate to relinquish their pension out of some falsely understood solidarity, just because Catholic priests in a similar situation would be penniless? Would you also expect them to vacate the houses they have purchased for their retirement? The result would be that these men and their families would not be able to join the Ordinariate at all, because the Ordinariate does not have the money to finance their retirement.

    And I imagine that you are aware that there are many comfortably off Catholic priests out there (a German bishop is paid a judge’s salary). And that is not to mention some very wealthy Catholic lay people, or does your urge to supervise their passage through the eye of a needle only apply to priests?

    I hope you realise that the priest you are criticising here is a former Anglican bishop, a former Principal of St Stephen’s House, Oxford, and that although he is well advanced in years he has taken on the very demanding and well-done job of pastoring a complete Ordinariate mission in Bournemouth, as well as helping out with masses in other churches, as need be. I would suggest you apologise to Monsignor Barnes! He is not advocating and most certainly not living a cushy number!

    David Murphy

  7. EPMS says:

    I wasn’t criticising anyone, nor was I suggesting anyone forego the deferred compensation, in the form of a pension, he had legitimately earned. I found the tone somewhat off-putting; perhaps I am just taking the side of the workers in the vineyard who were hired in the first hour, but their attitude was not commended by Our Lord, so perhaps there is a message to me there.

    • Dear EPMS,

      Although I have always supported your right to air your opinions and, as you well know, have repeatedly described your intention as that of a loyal critic of the Ordinariate reality, I think you should perhaps look once again at your own tone, as it can come across as very hurtful and appear uncharitable, even destructive at times.


      David Murphy

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