Ordinariate Restructuring in West Kent

Father Ed Tomlinson has written in his blog:

All change in Sevenoaks!
1 February 2017

It is all change in Sevenoaks for the Ordinariate. The sad news, for us, is that Fr. Aquilina, for personal reasons, has opted to leave the Ordinariate and been incardinated into the Archdiocese of Southwark this day. He will remain in post at Westerham to continue the good work he has done there. He is a fine priest and a friend and it is a shame he no longer sees his future with us.

So we wish him well personally but Fr. Ivan’s action does, nevertheless, create an obvious problem. The Sevenoaks Ordinariate group is bigger than one man and there remain lay faithful who do not wish to surrender membership. What is to happen to them now that they have lost local leadership? Mgr Newton has a duty of care towards them and this is where the happier news begins…

Mgr. Newton has asked me to gather the group together and kickstart the Ordinariate vision in that place, that new life might be breathed into the group. To this end I met last week with one of their members – Deacon Robert Smith. He remains happy working alongside Fr. Aquilina in Westerham but has no plans to relinquish membership of the Ordinariate, making him the ideal candidate to pastor the group locally and take care of the administration. My role will be to oversee his work and provide a necessary priestly support.

I am really excited about this development. It has long been the vision of Father Nicholas and myself, now that St. Anselm’s is flourishing under a clear Ordinariate ethos, to create a mission model for Pembury. A vision whereby St. Anselm’s holds the centre with smaller satellite groups linked to it. As we form this new model it is hoped that Maidstone will operate as one satellite group, under the watchful care of Fr. Gibbons, whilst Sevenoaks can now become another, under the watchful care of Dcn Smith. There may be even more satellite groups set up into the future, each looking to the more established group in Pembury for support.

We have not yet fleshed out the finer details for Sevenoaks but our first meeting was really positive. We anticipate Ordinariate members in the Sevenoaks group (some of whom worship in Westerham and others in Sevenoaks itself) will continue to support their local parish Sunday by Sunday but will now also come together as a distinct Ordinariate presence – which has not happened to date – for catechesis, worship and fellowship. I will be writing to each member this week inviting them to a special launch evening in Pembury. There we will offer Mass according to Divine Worship and I will deliver a lecture on the Ordinariate vision. The bottom line being that more not less fruit should spring up for the Ordinariate in Sevenoaks.

Dcn Robert will continue to help the diocese in Westerham but, being of the Ordinariate, will make building up our mission a first priority. He will occasionally visit Pembury to assist at our celebration of Divine Worship and strengthen the links between us. He will also join the local chapter of Ordinariate clergy, in place of the departing Fr. Ivan.

In short the transition needs to be managed carefully and that is in hand. But my own sentiment is that there will be growth from this new arrangement that aids the Ordinariate vision as a whole.

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