Father Timothy Perkins, priest of the Anglican Ordinariate and pastor of St. Mary the Virgin Church in Arlington, will now serve Anglicans becoming Catholics
by Joan Kurkowski-Gillen, North Texas Catholic
“I am grateful you reminded me of the pure joy found in God’s love for his Church. Our parish has been so blessed by your care. You will be missed .”
Those words by Colleen Smith, former pastoral council president at St. Mary the Virgin Church in Arlington, reflect what many parishioners feel as they prepare to say goodbye to Father Timothy Perkins – a spiritual leader who guided them through several landmark events in Church history.
The former Anglican priest is one of six men ordained by former Fort Worth Bishop Kevin Vann to the Personal Ordinariate of the Chair of St. Peter in 2012.
Established in 2012, the Houston-based Ordinariate is the second of three “diocese-like”
structures created worldwide under Pope Benedict’s 2009 Apostolic Constitution Anglicanorum Coetibus. The document provided a way for Anglican Christians to enter into full communion with the Roman Catholic Church while retaining elements of their
liturgical prayers and worship traditions.
St. Peter the Rock, an Arlington congregation led by Fr. Perkins, was the first group of former Anglicans in the country welcomed into the Ordinariate. Parochial administrator of St. Mary the Virgin Church since 2013, the 61-year-old priest is leaving the post this summer to assume new responsibilities. Appointed Vicar General for the growing movement, Fr. Perkins is relocating to Houston where he will oversee clergy personnel and assist Bishop Steven J. Lopes, the first prelate ordained for the Ordinariate.
“We also have several communities in formation, and part of my duties is to help them discern their path into the Church and provide what assistance we can,” explains the soft-spoken pastor. He recently traveled to Kentucky where he visited a small faith group to answer questions about the process.
“They asked if they can keep the clergyman who’s already been leading them and about where they can worship,” says Fr. Perkins, who understands their concerns from personal experience. “We help them explore relationships with the local diocese.”
There are currently 42 active communities in the Ordinariate served by 63 priests. Looked
at from the perspective of 2,000 years of Church history, Fr. Perkins considers the growth of the Ordinariate phenomenal.
“When my community was preparing in 2009 to 2011, it seemed like things were moving slowly, but in terms of the history of the Church, it’s lightning speed,” Fr. Perkins suggests.
Sue and Mike Harron have known the former Anglican priest and his wife, Jody, for more than 20 years and were on the search team that brought the Pleasanton, Texas native to Arlington’s St. Mark’s Episcopal Church in 1995. They later watched their pastor struggle
with changes in Anglican teachings.
“We discussed what was happening in the Episcopal Church on many occasions and at length,” Mike Harron recalls. “When the Anglicanorum Coetibus offer was announced, he led a number of us in signing a petition asking to be brought into full communion with the Catholic Church.”
Leaving St. Mark’s was painful, Harron admits, but Fr. Perkins remained a compassionate, patient, and nurturing leader as the small Arlington group attended RCIA classes and joined folks from Cleburne and Keller to form the St. Peter the Rock community. The Harrons are now members of St. Mary the Virgin.
“Fr. Perkins preached the truth throughout,” Harron adds, praising the priest’s simple, clear-cut guidance. “He has extensive knowledge of the history of the Church and the
Catechism and is able to communicate in an insightful, thought-provoking, and articulate manner.” Harron will miss his long-time friend, but “I know this is the job he was meant to fill at this time.”
An enthusiastic advocate for the Ordinariate, Fr. Perkins doesn’t mind fielding questions
about his journey into the Catholic faith. During his recent stay at the Trappist Abbey of Gethsemani, a monastery in Kentucky, Fr. Perkins met a Sister of Charity from Cincinnati who had read about the Ordinariate in news reports but had never spoken to a participating member.
“She offered her prayers to us and those of her community and hoped we would soon be
present in Ohio,” he remembers. “Her words about this new endeavor for evangelization were very encouraging, and for that I’m always grateful.”
In addition to shepherding a 350-400 member congregation at St. Mary the Virgin, Fr.
Perkins served as the Ordinariate’s director of liturgy and worship. In that capacity, he
made history again by developing Divine Worship: The Missal – a universal liturgical aid
for the Ordinariate. The new missal celebrates the distinct liturgical language and music
of the Roman Rite with a nod to Anglican expression. It’s the first time a document from the Vatican allowed elements from separated ecclesial communities to be included in the Eucharistic celebration.
Standing side by side with the first edition of the Roman Missal, the worship aid “reflects
the Roman rite with an Anglican accent,” Fr. Perkins told the North Texas Catholic in 2015. “It echoes a treasured Anglican style, but it resonates with the richness of the Catholic faith.”
Although he is looking forward to new challenges, the dedicated clergyman regrets leaving the “wonderful people” of St. Mary the Virgin. Moving out of the Diocese of Fort Worth is another emotional hurdle. “It’s been a wonderful mothering home to me, and there are people here I love very much,” Fr. Perkins explains eloquently. “I’m eager for the work and excited about what we’re doing, but it’s always hard to say goodbye to those you’ve journeyed with for some time.”
With his parting words he asked people to pray for the success of the Ordinariate.“We hope to bring many, many more souls into the Church and the fullness of the faith we find in Jesus Christ,” he asserts. “Our request for prayer remains very fervent.”