The Philadelphia Ordinariate Post – October 2015 (More news on the forthcoming merger)

Father David Ousley of Philadelphia has posted this month’s Ordinariate newsletter with some more concrete news about the proposed merger of St. Michael the Archangel and Blessed John Henry Newman Ordinariate communities. It has obviously been decided that the merger will go ahead whichever Church location is finally chosen. The plan is also to purchase a church from the Archdiocese by way of lease-purchase.

Father David writes:

Dear Parishioners and Friends,

These are exciting times for Newman and St Michael’s. We are in the process of moving to a new location where we can settle and pursue our mission with a greater sense of permanence. While presenting some new challenges, this also offers us great advantages. Getting the two congregations together will move us much closer to “critical mass,” and thus make us more attractive to visitors and potential members. As one sage parishioner puts it, “You don’t eat at the diner with no cars in the parking lot.” Having the larger congregation will also be encouraging to our current members. Getting together also gives us greater resources to do what God has given us to do: both financially, and in having more people available for the work, both internal (Sunday school, coffee hour) and outreach. In fact, settling in a property of our own would be impossible for either St Michael’s or Newman alone. There will also be some benefit in the efficiency of consolidating tasks (such as bookkeeping) that are now duplicated. In short, the numbers will give a boost to our mission.

Both congregations have suffered from the years of “wandering,” being without permanent locations. St Michael’s has been out longer, but has had the good fortune of being fairly stable in the three locations it has had since 2006. Newman has moved more often. Without a permanent, or at least long-term, site, it is hard to have a well-focused mission, since (in one sense) all mission is local, even for congregations such as ours which draw from a wide area. It is harder for us to explain to others who we are, and to attract new folk, while we are transitional and unsettled. Both congregations have been looking forward to being settled in a permanent location, and by combining it looks like that will be possible sooner rather than later. We should also be clear that the Archdiocese of Philadelphia is being wonderfully supportive of our efforts to combine and find a suitable property. Without that support our move would be vastly more difficult if not impossible at this point.

There are other benefits. With the merger and new location, Newman will be able to resume a Sunday morning Mass time. While people have been faithful with the evening Mass, and there are weeks when the evening time is more convenient, I know folks will welcome getting back to the “normal” Sunday morning worship. Having our own church will give us greater flexibility with service times, both for Sunday morning Mass and for the more occasional services, such as Holy Week, Evensong & Benediction, etc. I also freely admit that there is a great benefit for me: I get to stop hauling around “church-in-a-box,” the bins with vestments, vessels, etc., that we need for our services, whether at Holy Cross or Our Lady of the Assumption or St Therese. I’m not complaining: each of these churches allows us to store things there, but we don’t have multiples of all the things needed. Bill Gatens will have a similar boon, no longer needing to store all the choir music in his living room.

While the concrete benefits to us are considerable, we should keep the focus on our mission, which we expect to be solidly enhanced by the move. Briefly, our mission, given to us by Christ through Pope Benedict, is two-fold: (a) to bring Anglicans and other Protestants into the communion of the Catholic Church, (b) through our practice of the Anglican Patrimony in communion with the See of Peter. While much of the new evangelization in the Catholic Church focuses on lapsed and uncatechized Catholics (and we can certainly help with that as opportunities present themselves), our evangelization focuses on those Christians who see the need for sacraments, the Catholic faith as taught by the Magisterium, Catholic order, sound moral teaching, and the support of a Church that is willing to be faithful even if it means being counter-cultural.

As we consider the alternatives for a location and property, the needs of our mission are a primary factor. Of course, there are challenges along with the opportunities. The new congregation will be different from St Michael’s and from Newman – better, we trust, but certainly different. If we manage it well, the merged congregation will be greater than the sum of the parts. We’ll need to be prepared for changes, and ready to welcome them. “To be perfect is to have changed often,” Blessed John Henry Newman reminds us. There will be financial challenges, since we will be taking on responsibility for a property, something from which we have been blessedly free for some years. We are aiming for a lease-purchase arrangement so that we will not need to raise the full purchase price before moving. In any case, we will probably need to raise some funds to complete the purchase. Before concluding any arrangement, we’ll need to be clear about operating costs, the costs of any alternations we will need to make, building conditions which need attention, etc. So far as possible, we want to know fully what we are getting into. And we’ll need Monsignor Steenson’s approval.

For my part, I look forward to the move with excitement, and with trepidation – I confess that I don’t look forward to moving from the one rectory to another! But this is a big and very positive step for the congregations, and I am grateful – and excited – that it seems to be doable. I hope you will all share the excitement.

Divine Worship: The Missal

The Ordinariates’ Missal is being published this fall (finally), and is to be used beginning on Advent Sunday. The main difference from what we are now using is a complete set of propers – the three collects for each Mass, as well as Introit, Gradual & Alleluia or Tract, Offertory and Communion verses. From what I have heard, we will not see a great difference from the interim rites that we have been using.

That said, we should not underestimate the significance of the publication. Having a fully authorized Catholic Mass rite in print gives a certain legitimacy to the rite: it becomes part of the living stream of Catholic liturgy. It is not just that we go from a loose-leaf binder to a real book. The rite is now published for all to see and consider. Its legal use is restricted to the Ordinariates, but it is bound to be of interest to many in the Latin Rite for its own sake. It is noteworthy for its full set of minor propers, which the novus ordo lacks, as well as for its incorporation of prayers (the Prayer of Humble Access, e.g.) that originated outside the Catholic Church. It also noteworthy (as our Ordinary has pointed out) for being the first time that a rite developed outside the communion of the Catholic Church has been established as a fully Catholic rite.

The Missal is being published by the Catholic Truth Society in England, and is available for pre-order should you want one. I’m told that it is beautifully printed, and it is expensive. I am grateful to Pat Lincoln and Dan Elliott who are donating copies to St Michael’s and Newman. There is no immediate plan for the publication of a “pew edition,” though something will probably be done later on. Since the Missal is copyrighted, the texts will not be available on-line. But when we get our copies, I’ll be happy to share with anyone who wants a peek. This is another step for the Ordinariates towards our establishment and
permanence in the Latin Rite and the Catholic Church. We remain (and in some sense always will be) a work in progress. But this is a significant step along the way.

World Meeting of Families

The World Meeting of Families and Papal Visit to Philadelphia came and went with great glory. The Meeting was of great encouragement to everyone present. To be together with 20,000 other believers, all seeking to understand and practice the Christian family, was a unique experience. Having our Holy Father with us was also a once-in-a-lifetime event. I was able to concelebrate with him at the cathedral on Saturday (see photo – this was taken as he censed the altar at the beginning of Mass: I then put away my camera like a good boy). The Sunday Mass on the Parkway was well-attended (it would have been better but for the draconian security and transportation restrictions) and well-received. Unfortunately a considerable number of people never made it into the security zone, and either saw nothing of the Mass or else a little on one of the jumbotrons. Some of our house guests were among them, but they still had no complaints about coming to Philadelphia or their long trip to the Parkway and back. Dave Allen, a long-time friend of St James and St Michael’s, made it into the Mass, and has these cogent observations:

As we left, there were still thousands of people behind the security perimeters, many of whom had likely traveled long distances to see the Holy Father, only to be sorely disappointed. So sad!

All of this made me think rather pointedly on the importance of having sacraments. Think about it: if Our Lord were still walking this earth like he did 2000 years ago, every Sunday would become a “feeding-of-the-500,000” security nightmare, as the papal Mass in Philly was. Thousands who would want to see and touch Our Lord would never even get a chance to come near him. Fortunately, Our Lord made other arrangements for all of his followers in every age.

During the Last Supper discourses in St. John’s Gospel, Jesus says the following to his disciples: “I tell you the truth: it is to your advantage that I go away, for if I do not go away, the Counselor will not come to you; but if I go, I will send him to you” (cf. John 16:7). Prior to his resurrection and ascension, Jesus was bound by space and time, available only to those in his immediate environment. After Pentecost, however, the Holy Spirit makes it possible for everyone to encounter the Risen Lord without unbearably large crowds and security personnel (cf. Catechism of the Catholic Church no. 788 and Peter Kreeft, Catholic Christianity, 91, 315).

The Catechism of the Catholic Church no. 1115 tells us, with a quotation from Pope St. Leo the Great: “The mysteries of Christ’s life are the foundations of what he would henceforth dispense in the sacraments…for ‘what was visible in our Savior has passed over into his mysteries.'” Thus, we have much for which to be thankful when we attend Mass, not the least of which is that Jesus comes to us through his priests; we do not have to make an arduous pilgrimage to come to him. May the final prayer of the Divine Praises at Benediction be ours today: “May the Heart of Jesus in the Most Blessed Sacrament be praised, adored, and loved, with grateful affection, at every moment, in all the tabernacles of the world, even to the end of time. Amen.”

Coming Up

I’m pleased to report that Ordo Calendars with the Ordinariate calendar are being produced for 2016, and should be available about the first of November. I’m grateful that Jacob Ruth Funeral Directors in Chestnut Hill has agreed to sponsor the calendars.

The Solemnity of All Saints, November 1st, falls on a Sunday this year, and will be observed at the two Sunday Masses. (This is also the weekend when we return to Standard Time.) All Souls is the day following, and there will be a Requiem for the Faithful Departed at 6 p.m. on November 2nd. Envelopes for All Souls offerings and listing of the names of the faithful who should be remembered at that Mass will be available at Holy Cross and OLA between now and then.

The Youth Group at St Michael’s (for teenagers) is set to meet on Friday October 9th, and October 23rd, at 6:30 at the rectory. Let me know if you need information or know youth whom we should invite.

There will be a congregational meeting at St Michael’s on the Nineteenth Sunday after Trinity, October 11th . We will review the financial statement from the fiscal year ending June 30, 2015, as we do each year. We will also take the opportunity to discuss the latest developments with the merger and possible property.

By popular request, we will bless cars after Mass on Sunday October 18th (the Twentieth after Trinity). It would be helpful if all those who wish their cars blessed would park behind Holy Cross rather than on the side. Then the cars will all be in the same place.

At Newman, the choir has returned after the summer break for the glory of God and our edification. We observe the external Feast of Blessed John Henry Newman at the October 11th Mass. The suppers after Mass have also resumed, and provide the opportunity to keep everyone up to speed on merger and property developments.

Meanwhile, in Rome, the Ordinary Synod of Bishops began meeting October 4th, on the topic of the vocation and mission of the family in the Church and in the contemporary world. Archbishop Chaput is among those participating. The Archdiocese invites everyone to commit to praying a Rosary each day of the Synod (October 4th-25th) for the intention of the Synod and for Archbishop Chaput. Even if you cannot manage a rosary each day, I would still encourage you to pray for the bishops.


Fr David Ousley

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2 Responses to The Philadelphia Ordinariate Post – October 2015 (More news on the forthcoming merger)

  1. godfrey1099 says:

    It seems that a permanent location has been chosen after careful consideration of pros and cons and the two merged communities will be able to afford it.
    Another positive example how the Ordinariate settles in, though it certainly takes time and funds, but Rome was not built in a day.
    I often wonder what the Ordinariate will look like in 5 or 10 years’ time.

    • Rev22:17 says:


      You wrote: It seems that a permanent location has been chosen after careful consideration of pros and cons and the two merged communities will be able to afford it.

      This is certainly good news!

      You continued: Another positive example how the Ordinariate settles in, though it certainly takes time and funds, but Rome was not built in a day.

      Yes, it surely is!


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