Fr. Eric Bergman has sent us his October Newsletter, which as usual is full of interesting and inspiring news, first of all about the Ordinariate Clergy Conference at Mundelein Seminary (whose former Director, Robert Barron of media fame, was recently ordained auxiliary bishop in Los Angeles). Here is Fr. Eric’s personal message:
Dear Members and Friends,
Last week the Ordinariate held its annual clergy conference at Mundelein Seminary,
outside Chicago, Illinois, so I spent Monday through Friday there praying, attending presentations, and helping to conduct Ordinariate business. A number of the matters we discussed will impact our parish life, so my letter to you this month will serve as a review of what we were told to expect in the coming months and years.
First, our worship guide we hand out every Sunday is going to change. With the publication of the Divine Worship Missal, to be introduced worldwide on the first Sunday of Advent this year, the Ordinariates’ form of the one, holy Mass will be copyrighted. Therefore, we will no longer be permitted to publish every word that is spoken or sung during our worship. Those of you who regularly assist at Mass at St. Thomas More know that heretofore we have made participation in the liturgy very user-friendly by including in our leaflet almost everything that’s said, except for the homily, of course. What will be published starting in December are only the music and prayers the congregation must have to respond. The prayers that the celebrant offers by himself on behalf of the worshipers will not be printed. I don’t anticipate this will issue in any confusion at all for those familiar with our liturgy, but it may be we occasionally have to help visiting neighbors find their place. There is at the moment no prayer book available for us to offer Divine Worship devotions privately.
Currently the evening and morning offices are undergoing a revision, as well, and we have been assured that when this overhaul is complete a sort of ‘pew edition’ will indeed be published. We actually utilized a proposed revision of morning and evening prayer during the clergy conference, and it is close to what we are accustomed to praying at Evensong and Benediction each month. However, having waited more than four years for the publication and implementation of the Missal, we should not expect that a take-home prayer book for parishioners is just around the corner. As Msgr. Steenson is wont to remind us, we practice and learn the virtue of patience as we build this plane while flying it.
Bishop Michael Olson of Fort Worth also came to Mundelein to offer the clergy a reflection on priestly celibacy. Since most of the Ordinariate’s 72 priests are married the Holy See can foresee that a number of us will likely be widowed while still actively serving Holy Mother Church as pastors, chaplains, and administrators. Bishop Olson reiterated the Church’s constant teaching that while a married man can be ordained, an ordained man cannot get married. He asked us to prepare for this possibility by conceiving how we might live out this particular discipline were we suddenly called to it, imploring us to set aside will power and rely instead on God’s grace for chastity. I applaud his wisdom, for this truly is the only way we can live out chastity now, since marriage and celibacy are not opposites but two sides of the same chaste coin. Nevertheless, the point bore repeating that the Holy See’s expectation for the Ordinariates is that the celibate priesthood will become the norm for our communities after the passing of the first generation of converts. Moreover, we are called even now to raise up celibate men from our parishes to fill out our ranks. Therefore, unless a man had formerly been a married Anglican clergymen, married men will not be sent to seminary to study for the priesthood in the Ordinariate. And widowed priests will remain single.
I was happy for Bishop Olson’s encouragement, but contemplating our mortality came easy after what we experienced here in Scranton two weeks before. Bob Harris, one of our founding members, had a heart attack on September 16th and died at the hospital shortly after I had anointed him. For only the second time in over three years we had to borrow from St. Michael’s Church in West Scranton their black funeral pall. Fr. Zepeda was gracious in lending it to us, but he told me, “This is something you really need”. Fortunately, memorials for Bob were designated for the parish he had been instrumental in establishing, so with the assent of his widow, Jule, we will use those donations towards the purchase of a black pall of our own. I hope we use the new one given to the glory of God and in memory of Bob as infrequently as we used St. Michael’s. Bob and Jule’s witness was a powerful one, so it came as no surprise to me that Jule will be the godmother to their grand-niece and our newest member, Cecelia Edith Dively. Born less than two weeks before her great-uncle’s death, Cecelia will be baptized at the 10 a.m. Mass this Sunday, October 11. Proud parents Ryan and Corin hope you’ll join them downstairs after Mass for a small reception in the Parish Hall. As we mourn the loss of our beloved fellow parishioner we receive consolation that his witness played a part in his niece’s desire for marriage and children, and we give thanks God blessed him with a growing family: Bob’s granddaughter, Jill, was born in July and will be christened in the Ukrainian Catholic Church next week. Even in the face of death we see the fruit of a life well-lived is yet more lives and new births in the waters of baptism. May our own witness also lead to a stream of little ones brought to the Fount of Life. Robert Harris, Rest in Peace.
Yours in Christ,
The Rev. Eric L. Bergman