In his September newsletter, Father David Ousley, the pastor of the newly-merged community of St. John the Baptist in Bridgeport, PA, reports that Bishop Lopes has decided to erect a new canonical parish at St. John’s – the eighth in the Personal Ordinariate of the Chair of St. Peter. Father Ousley writes:
The Personal Ordinariate of the Chair of Saint Peter – not yet five years old – has always been and remains a work in progress. Earlier this year, the Bishop along with the Governing Council adopted some clear standards of the size and stability required for a congregation to be canonically established as a parish. “Parish” is defined in canon law, and has certain rights and responsibilities, and is intended to exist perpetually. St Michael’s and Newman were both too small to be considered as parishes, and of course neither had a permanent property, which itself means “instability.” With the merger, that has changed, as has our size. It is wonderful that pretty much everyone who was active before the merger has made the move to Bridgeport. And we have added several families since the move. All of this means that Bishop Lopes would like to establish St John the Baptist as the eighth canonical parish in the Ordinariate.
This is a milestone for us. It affirms the very considerable progress we have made in the last year. We are in good shape financially; we are settled in a good property which will soon become our own; we have added new people since the merger; we are developing new relations with the neighborhood. While most Ordinariate communities grow one family at a time, we have had the advantage of being able to bring two small communities together to make one larger one. While this brought us to “critical mass” quickly, and other Ordinariate congregations may envy us for it, I think it important to note that this only worked because of the generosity and good will of everyone involved. Sacrifices were (and are) required: St John’s is different in significant ways from Newman and from St Michael’s. It is good that we took a new name and patron, since this really is a new family in the Church of God. Things are not “the way they always were.” On the whole they are much better! But at the same time, there are no doubt things from the earlier congregations which people miss. For the sake of the greater good (which is St John’s), we have had to let go of some things, and it can be a real sacrifice. It is to your credit that there is no complaining in our streets – or at least, none comes to my ears. By the grace of God, you have done what needs to be done, undertaking the work of having our own property as well as accepting the changes, and the results are wonderful. The fruit of this work is not only in the new identity which is already well established, but in the attractiveness of St John’s to others. Each Sunday seems to bring some new faces, and many come back to become familiar faces.
There is never a good time to rest on our laurels, and much(!) remains to be done; nevertheless it is worth noting how far we have come in a short time, and give thanks to God for His grace which has accomplished so much with us and in us and among us.
Since being established canonically is a milestone for the Ordinariate as well as for St John’s, the Bishop would like to come to mark the event with us. Canonical parishes have canonical Pastors, so I will be appointed Pastor when the parish is formally erected. There is a service for the Institution of a Pastor. Bishop Lopes is planning to be with us to officiate at that service at a Mass on Friday evening, November 18th. Details will be forthcoming: please mark it on your calendars now. We will also have an adult forum after Mass on September 25th where I will go over what canon law says about parishes and pastors for those of you who are curious as to what this all means.
To read the complete newsletter (“The Philadelphia Ordinariate Post”), just click here.