We have been following the deliberations of the two Philadelphian Ordinariate communities for some months, and now Father David Ousley reports:
Dear Parishioners and Friends,
Last month I wrote about the advantages of getting Newman and St Michael’s together in a permanent location. It now appears possible, and we have a plan. Each of the three properties we were considering has its advantages and disadvantages. It would have been great if we could mix and match! Considering location, facilities, mission needs and potential, Our Lady of Mount Carmel seems the best choice.
Sacred Heart, the parish into which Mount Carmel merged, has offered us some very generous financial terms, including a lease-purchase, with rent payments going towards the cost of the purchase. We will be acquiring the church, rectory and parking. Sacred Heart will retain ownership of the school since they are still using it for their Sunday Prep program (catechesis for children not in Catholic schools). We will share the use of the school building for our Sunday School and other meetings, and the parking. At this point we have an outline of the agreement, with a few things left to be settled. Then it all needs to be reduced to writing, reviewed, approved by the various authorities, and signed. This is bound to take a little while. But we have sufficient clarity that we can begin planning for the move. When all the details of the agreement are settled, I’ll share them.
I would like to begin having Sunday services there as soon as we can arrange things. The present aim is to begin Mass there on the Fourth Sunday of Advent – a quick shake-down cruise before Christmas. Moving the rectory and offices would come later in the winter. I’ll be discussing times for Sunday Mass and Christmas with both congregations. Before we begin using the church, there are a couple of things which need to be done in the church. The sanctuary needs modest reconfiguration to allow for an Eastward celebration, and for kneeling Communions.
At the other end of the church, the current arrangement of the choir gallery does not allow for the organist to conduct the choir (which is what Bill Gatens does for us), and the organ will need some augmentation. Since this work will take some time to plan and effect, we have arranged with Kevin Chun (as you know, a great friend of St Michael’s) to loan us an electronic organ, which will be placed in the back of the church for interim use. The choir will also sing from there until the work in the gallery is completed. I’m grateful to Kevin for helping us out once again.
As you may recall from our visit to Mount Carmel, the church is handicapped accessible, and has a handicapped bathroom in the narthex of the church. The church is air-conditioned, and appears to be in good shape (a building inspection is in progress). It is in a good, stable neighborhood, with ample parking, and some public transportation (of course, Septa service tends to be limited on Sunday morning). Bridgeport is only a few minutes from I-76, I-476 and the Pennsylvania Turnpike, though the drive will be longer for most of the St Michael’s folk, and for some of the Newman people. It is also convenient to King of Prussia and the Route 422 corridor, and should be a good location for future growth.
There is a lower church at OLMC, which has not been used much in recent times. After we get settled, we will look at how that space might be better used – perhaps reconfigured along the lines of what Our Lady of the Assumption did with their lower level of the church building. When we move, coffee hour will be in one of the two large rooms on the lower level of the school building, next to the kitchen. Until the rectory moves, weekday Masses, youth group, Bible study and such like will continue in Mount Airy; Sunday (and Christmas) Masses in Bridgeport.
There are many details to be settled in moving and merging, and suggestions are always welcome. I already mentioned service times. We can now set these for our own convenience. I expect that we will choose a new name and patron for the merged parish. My thinking tends along the lines of British saints, preferably not already in use among the Ordinariate communities (and not too obscure). Send me your ideas!
I would like to set up a combined parish Pastoral Council this month to help with the move. Since the St Michael’s Council is fairly small, I will ask those folk to continue, and add some from Newman. Next Sunday (the 8th), I will also ask Newman parishioners to list their preferred choices for Pastoral Council. The Pastoral Council is appointed by the pastor, and in doing it, I need to take account of the Finance Council membership, since one cannot serve on both. Nor is a spouse of a member on either Council eligible to serve. The plan is for the Finance Councils to merge after the first of the year.
There will be some costs involved with this move. The alterations to the church and offices, and the moving costs will come soon. Then we will need to pay off the cost of the purchase. The lease should be pretty well within our current budget. To help with all this, we are setting up a building fund. For convenience, the account will be at St Michael’s, until we have merged the finances. If you would like to get in on the ground floor, before we have actually started raising funds, make your check payable to St Michael’s, and mark it “Building Fund.” Checks can be mailed to me or put in the Sunday collections. Credit card and Pay-pal donations can be made at ordinariatephiladelphia.org. This is also the time of year when we solicit pledges from our parishioners for the coming (calendar) year. Parishioners at Newman and St Michael’s will hear more about this later in the month.
It will be wonderful to be “settled” after these years of wandering, and we should be grateful that things are working out to allow for it. We also need to remember that having a permanent home is a means and not an end. God alone is our end, our goal, He for whom we do everything else. In the midst of all the myriad details of moving and merging, it will be easy to lose sight of this. …
Fr. David Ousley
… and so we have one more consolidated Ordinariate community with its own church building and excellent prospects for future growth and an exciting evangelistic mission ahead of it.
Let us pray for their success and wish them Godspeed!