Official Press Release on Chancery Dedication

The following is a press release from the North American Ordinariuate’s Chancery:

Houston – The Chancery of the Personal Ordinariate of the Chair of St. Peter was blessed and dedicated on Sunday, February 1, with all the majesty and magnificence of the best of our Anglican patrimony and Catholic heritage.

With the prayers and presence of two Cardinals, an archbishop, two dozen priests and deacons, a festive choir, musicians, a contingent from the Knights of Columbus and a crowd of several hundred, the Chancery was liturgically and officially prepared for use as the headquarters for our growing mission within the Catholic Church in the United States and Canada.

The dedication began with a beautiful service of Choral Evensong at Our Lady of Walsingham Catholic Church – the principal parish of the Ordinariate – followed by prayers at the Shrine of Our Lady and a procession around the east side of the new building into the front doors. The music throughout the dedication was presented by the choir of Our Lady of Walsingham and by Chorus Angelorum, the semi-professional choir in-residence at the parish.

Cardinal_Levada_Msgr_Steenson-1William Cardinal Levada, Prefect Emeritus of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, officiated at the dedication, accompanied by Daniel Cardinal DiNardo, archbishop of the Diocese of Galveston-Houston and Cardinal DiNardo’s predecessor, Archbishop Joseph Fiorenza. Monsignor Steven Lopes from the Congregation of the Doctrine of the Faith was with us through the weekend, and helped to lead an Ordinariate symposium on our new liturgical books on Monday, February 2.

After the procession through the two-story stone structure, the closing prayers were said in the Great Hall of the Chancery, followed by refreshments and tours of the building.

Monsignor Jeffrey Steenson, Ordinary of the Personal Ordinariate of the Chair of St. Peter, welcomed the crowd into the new building, which was constructed entirely with funds donated by friends of the Ordinariate. The building includes offices for the Ordinary and his staff, conference rooms and gathering areas, a Great Hall, as well as meeting rooms and a beautiful inner courtyard.

Chancery - Great HallOrdinariate clergy and spouses from throughout the U.S. and Canada were on hand through the weekend, along with friends and clergy from throughout the Archdiocese of Galveston-Houston.

With the opening of the Chancery, the Ordinariate will have a new mailing address. Mail can be addressed to the Personal Ordinariate of the Chair of St. Peter, P.O. Box 55206, Houston, Texas 77255.

The Ordinariate [for North America] was erected by Pope Benedict XVI on January 1, 2012, in response to repeated requests from Anglicans and Episcopalians desiring full communion with the Catholic Church. Companion Ordinariates were established by the Holy Father [in the UK and Australia].

For more information, please contact the Ordinariate Chancery at office@usordinariate.org.

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7 Responses to Official Press Release on Chancery Dedication

  1. EPMS says:

    The symbolic importance of the Chancery must be very great from the OCSP perspective, since there has been saturation coverage of every phase of its construction while general news of OCSP has been scarce as hens’ teeth. Its practical utility to the Ordinariate cannot be great, as yet; of Msgr Steenson’s staff of three, two are also on the staff of Our Lady of Walsingham and presumably already had offices there. I do note that Msgr Steenson’s name is not in the faculty directories of St Thomas University or St Mary’s Seminary this semester; does this mean he is now able to devote himself full-time to his Ordinariate responsibilities?

    • Rev22:17 says:

      EPMS,

      You wrote: The symbolic importance of the Chancery must be very great from the OCSP perspective, since there has been saturation coverage of every phase of its construction while general news of OCSP has been scarce as hens’ teeth.

      Yes, obviously. If nothing else, it is certainly a mark of permanence, not only of the ordinariate but also of its headquarters.

      You wrote: Its practical utility to the Ordinariate cannot be great, as yet; of Msgr Steenson’s staff of three, two are also on the staff of Our Lady of Walsingham and presumably already had offices there.

      There’s clearly a need for meeting space and workspace when various entities of the ordinariate — the Governing Council, the clergy of the ordinariate who hold collateral administrative responsibility (vicar general, vocation director, vicar for the clergy, deans of territorial deaneries, etc.), the Finance Council, etc. — assemble.

      The central functions of the ordinariate undoubtedly will expand in due course, too, as the ordinariate and its congregations continue to grow. An office to support schools operated by ordinariate congregations and tribunals to process cases of nullity of marriage for ordinariate members and candidates probably are fairly high on the list of likely expansion of the ordinariate’s administrative functions.

      Norm.

      • EPMS says:

        Given that the process for granting a decree of nullity usually involves interviews I would imagine that this will continue to be handled by the tribunal of local diocese of the petitioner, even if he or she is a member of the OCSP.

      • Rev22:17 says:

        EPMS,

        You wrote: Given that the process for granting a decree of nullity usually involves interviews I would imagine that this will continue to be handled by the tribunal of local diocese of the petitioner, even if he or she is a member of the OCSP.

        Not necessarily.

        At present, the tribunals that have competence to try a case of nullity of marriage in first instance are (1) the tribunal of the diocese where the wedding took place, (2) the tribunal of the diocese where the couple last cohabited, and, if applicable, (3) the tribunal of a personal particular church, such as an ordinariate, to which either party belongs. It is not exactly uncommon for the parties to a failed attempt at marriage to move away from the place where they last cohabited after the breakup, so the competent tribunals are often at a distance. Diocesan tribunals obviously collaborate in such situations, supplying advocates for parties to cases of nullity of marriage that are tried in the tribunal of another diocese. The case of ordinariate members seeking decrees of nullity of marriage in the ordinariate’s tribunal would be no different: they would have advocates in the dioceses where they reside.

        But in any case, the apostolic constitution Anglicanorum coetibus clearly does envision the day when at least some of the ordinariates will establish their own tribunals. Note the following explicit provision.

        XII. For judicial cases, the competent tribunal is that of the Diocese in which one of the parties is domiciled, unless the Ordinariate has constituted its own tribunal, in which case the tribunal of second instance is the one designated by the Ordinariate and approved by the Holy See. In both cases, the different titles of competence established by the Code of Canon Law are to be taken into account.

        Norm.

  2. EPMS says:

    I see he is a full time faculty member of the School of Theology at St Mary’s. I was looking only at the seminary faculty.

  3. EPMS says:

    So if the competent tribunal is the Diocese in which one of the parties is domiciled UNLESS the Ordinariate has constituted its own tribunal, why would the Ordinariate wish to do so, thus requiring either a significant amount of extra paper work or a trip to Houston on the part of a petitioner?

    • Rev22:17 says:

      EPMS,

      You wrote: So if the competent tribunal is the Diocese in which one of the parties is domiciled UNLESS the Ordinariate has constituted its own tribunal, why would the Ordinariate wish to do so, thus requiring either a significant amount of extra paper work or a trip to Houston on the part of a petitioner?

      It appears that you did not read the first paragraph of my last post very carefully, so let me explain this again. Catholic ecclesial tribunals do all of their proceedings in writing, so neither the parties nor their advocates typically appear before the panel of judges in person. The only person who normally needs to meet with each party in person is the respective advocate and, if applicable, a psychotherapist who might assist in discerning the capacity of a party to enter into the marital covenant or the intent of a party at the time of the wedding ceremony. A party to case before a diocesan tribunal who has moved away from that diocese normally would obtain an advocate and, if necessary, meet with a psychotherapist located in the diocese of his or her current residence. If the advocate for the other party, the Defender of the Bond, or the Promoter of Justice raises questions that a party must answer, the questions go to the party in writing and the party would submit receive written answers, probably via his or her advocate. Thus, there is no travel involved. The tribunals of ordinariates would handle cases arising in distant parishes in the same way: the petitioner and the respondent would have advocates and, if necessary, psychotherapists near their actual residences. Thus, again, there’s no travel involved.

      In reality, most of the work involved in a petition for a decree of nullity of marriage involves getting all of the documentation together — and this is often done remotely in any case. The documentation includes baptismal and marriage certificates for the parties along with sufficient evidence to substantiate the claimed defect. Consider the typical reality in modern life: the parties, born and baptized in two separate dioceses, met in college in a third diocese. They might have held the wedding at the home of origin of one of the parties, or at the college chapel, or in yet another diocese where they either found work or went on to graduate school at another institution after graduation. And in any case, at least one, and possibly both, of the parties probably relocated to yet another diocese either during after the breakup. (In fact, it’s often a transfer of a party by an employer to a location to which the other party cannot obtain a transfer that triggers the breakup.) So we now have about four or five distinct dioceses involved — the two dioceses of origin of the parties, the diocese where the wedding occurred, the diocese where the couple last cohabited, and the two dioceses in which the parties now reside, with some likelihood that two or three of these might not be distinct — and it’s also plausible that relevant witnesses might reside in additional dioceses, bringing them into the proceedings. It’s hard to envision how the fact that the case comes before a tribunal of an ordinariate rather than the tribunal of either the diocese where the wedding occurred or the diocese where the couple last cohabited would create additional complication. In fact, if the couple are members of the ordinariate who were baptized (or received into full communion) and married in ordinariate parishes, it would simplify matters immensely because the ordinariate would already have the records of their baptism (or reception into full communion) and their wedding.

      Norm.

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