“Twisting a Tale of the Ordinariate” by Monsignor Edwin Barnes

That Latinate wonder, Fr John Hunwicke (whom God preserve) has posted a cautionary ‘Tale from the Ordinariate’ about the experience of an Priest who presumed to replace a “eucharistic service ” (curious name, since the Eucharistic Prayer is missing from it) with a real Mass. He was met with considerable annoyance by the lay people ousted from their ministry. I have not experienced that; indeed when I have offered to say Mass on a day usually served by the laity, the extraordinary ministers here in Lymington have seemed very happy to have the Mass rather than simply Communion from the Tabernacle. What’s more, if I turn up unannounced on a Sunday and concelebrate with the parish priest, there is a little shuffling about at the back of church while the lay ministers decide who will stand down; but someone always does, to allow me to administer Communion instead of one of the lay assistants on the rota.

We are very fortunate in this part of the vineyard in having a few retired priests around. This morning Mgr Peter Ryan said the Mass of St Mark and I concelebrated with him. He is retired, from the diocese of Liverpool, and has a very busy retirement ministry, On Wednesday I shall be able to give our Ordinariate priest in Bournemouth a little time out – which I expect he will fill with hospital visits since he is Chaplain to the Royal Bournemouth as well as Parish Priest of St Thomas More AND pastor of our Ordinariate Mission. On Thursday I regularly say Mass for Fr Marcin, the Polish parish priest in New Milton – and this week I shall also substitute for him on Friday. On Saturday I am usually in Lymington, enabling our Parish Priest to get to one of the other churches in his care. That evening I am also celebrating the vigil Mass of Sunday for him – and on Sunday morning both the Parish Mass and the Ordinariate Mass at St Thomas More, Iford. Never a dull moment – and I know this is very much how things are for my fellow ‘retired’ Ordinariate priests.

I think some of the Bishops of England and Wales recognise this; but apparently there are some who are a little reluctant to admit that the Ordinariate is a gift to the whole Church. They are content for us to fill gaps; yet I understand they are reluctant to make room for further newcomers from Anglican Ministry. Their argument seems to be that Anglicanorum Coetibus was set up to bring entire congregations into the Catholic Church and they see no need for admitting individual clergy. I believe this is very short-sighted. We have a few seminarians in training, but not enough to fill the ranks of priests who will retire in the next few years. There are some very good Anglican clergy ready to join us; but not if there is no bishop ready to ordain them as Catholic Priests at the request of our Ordinary. I know, for instance, of some Anglican School Chaplains who are contemplating the move. They cannot come with a group of laypeople. There must be an opportunity for such men to be made welcome in the Catholic Church. Perhaps we should all remember what dear Papa Benedict said about the need for generosity towards former Anglicans. Maybe remember too that the aforementioned polymath Fr Hunwicke had been for most of his ministry a School Chaplain. There are also parish clergy who look forward to a move into the Ordinariate.

If there is to be continuity and if the Ordinariate is to fulfil its vocation (spelled out most helpfully by David Murphy in his recent “Reflections” – you can read them on the Ordinariate Expats’ blog, ‘Ordinariate News’) then we must have a continuing stream of priests coming from the Anglican tradition, bringing with them their pastoral skills and particular Anglican charisms. I do hope the hierarchy will be supportive of our Ordinary in ensuring a succession of priests for the Ordinariate.

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7 Responses to “Twisting a Tale of the Ordinariate” by Monsignor Edwin Barnes

  1. Viola Hayhurst says:

    Excellent point … while the Ordinariate was set up to allow groups of Anglicans intact with a Priest in tow to come in. Seemingly little effort was and still is being made to assist those individuals, both laity and as well Ordained, who wish to come in “solo”. In most Catholic dioceses in the United States to have Ordinariate Priests able to serve on a regular basis would relieve the hardship that their priests now undergo. Due to the lack of fellow priests they have – as they attempt to serve multiple parishes and at times over many miles – largely taking on the role of “Circuit Priest” !

  2. WILLIAM PATRICK HANNIGAN says:

    *DEAR MSGR. EDWIN, Greetings from Australia. Please pray for me as one who is caught up in all this. Please pray that the call of Pope Francis for compassion and mercy in this year of mercy, by all involved, will come to me in my ministry, and my journey to the Ordinariate. Blessings, Fr. Bill H, QLD. Australia.*

  3. EPMS says:

    As was noted here http://www.thetablet.co.uk/news/1028/0/new-figures-show-almost-400-catholic-priests-were-anglicans former Church of England clergy made up ten percent of the priests in the UK in 2014 (about 400) and of course there have been more OOLW ordinations since. Of these perhaps 30 came with a group of parishioners, all in the first year the Ordinariate was erected. There may be individual bishops who do not want former Church of England clergy, and individual Church of England clergy who cannot find a bishop willing to ordain them, but to see this as a systemic problem is clearly inaccurate.
    In the US, of course, the Ordinary can ordain his own candidates. Two of the three men being ordained to the diaconate in May did not come with a group.

  4. EPMS says:

    On the other side of the coin we have groups without a priest who have successfully continued with active lay leadership, in some cases now rewarded with a clerical appointment, as at Hemel Hempstead and Springield, MO. The situation at St Timothy’s, Catonsville MD described at the link below remains essentially unchanged, but Sunday mass is posted (entire) on Youtube every week and at the Facebook page one can see photos of the musical worship leader, Emory Stagmer, representing the parish at the OCSP Chrism mass and at Bp Lopes’ ordination. The St Alban’s Fellowship in Rochester, NY has also been sustained during its previous clerical hiatus by active lay members and we hope will continue to be so. http://www.baltimoresun.com/news/maryland/baltimore-county/arbutus-lansdowne/ph-ca-st-tims-0723-20140729-story.html

  5. EPMS says:

    Of course I did not mean to imply that Msgr Barnes was not fully apprised of the situation, only that there were other possible interpretations. I am sorry if my word choice was offensive. I would appreciate clarification of the reporting relationship in situations where an Ordinariate priest is in charge of a diocesan parish or chaplaincy. Is there some sort of dual authority? Is this a possible source of resistance?

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