The National Catholic Register on Atonement

Nicholas Wolfram Smith has a piece over at the National Catholic Register on Our Lady of Atonement’s transfer into the Personal Ordinariate of the Chair of St. Peter. An excerpt:

Bishop Lopes said that he looked forward to Father Phillips’s counsel on parishes in the Ordinariate that are trying to build up their communities and gain stability.

“Not all of my priests are startup men – you don’t go into the seminary and necessarily come out Mark Zuckerberg. But all of my communities are startup communities.”

Our Lady of the Atonement, established in 1983, had been blessed with stability for 33 years, but with a new bishop, new canonical home, and new pastor in sight, things were bound to change. Father Perkins, the new administrator, gently reminded those gathered that things were not going to simply go back to the way they were before.

“There will of necessity be other changes, most of which I think you’ll like, some of which will make you slightly uncomfortable,” he said. Ordinariate leadership will be examining parish rolls and finances, sacramental preparation, and other aspects of the parish to become acquainted with the parish and address any needs that aren’t being met.


11 thoughts on “The National Catholic Register on Atonement

  1. “Not all of my priests are startup men – you don’t go into the seminary and necessarily come out Mark Zuckerberg. But all of my communities are startup communities.”

    One thing that some of these communities need to do is make sure they at least have a simple website/social networking presence with basic information about themselves and when Mass is offered (and/or Evensong, if applicable). I can think of one group that’s struggling to get built up and this is one of the main reasons. No one knows about it. The other big one being the lack of a weekly Mass to help get people into a habit of attending.


    • This has been a major problem in the OCSP from the get-go. Some communities have no internet presence, or a web or Facebook page last updated with details of Christmas Midnight Mass.2016, which is almost as bad. The Ordinariate itself has not seen fit to give its communities any kind of template which might ensure that basic information was out there and also create some kind of branding. All the energy of the Communications staff seems to be devoted to the Bishop’s Appeal and the three other second collections, which, necessary as they may be, will not produce really significant results until there are more people in the pews.


      • I agree some basic guidelines for groups to use for building up a presence online would be helpful. I maintain the website and Facebook page for my parish and it’s generally very easy to do. The biggest thing is to just do it and keep up with it even if it’s nothing fancy.


  2. This is a very interesting statement from Bishop Lopes! Fr. Phillips clearly knows how to build a parish from scratch. His knowledge, experience, and wisdom can contribute immensely to the growth of other congregations of the ordinariate. Bishop Lopes demonstrates tremendous prudence in seeking to leverage it by assigning Fr. Phillips a special role in the ordinariate’s administration. I would not be surprised if there’s a new title at some point — perhaps Vicar for Evangelism?


    Liked by 1 person

    • Fr Phillips has been very generous in mentoring younger Ordinariate clergy. No doubt the example of what he has achieved at OLA can inspire other parishes. But I do not think that an administrative job would be particularly appealing to him, nor do I think that his approach can be codified and passed on to others. Mark Zuckerberg does not tell you that he can teach you the secrets of becoming an internet billionaire; someone who made a similar claim about real estate sales ended up rather badly recently. Fr Phillips is handing over effective control of the parish and the school to others and this must be a painful moment, no matter how bravely he is facing it. Bp Lopes’ remarks were intended to soften the blow by reminding everyone of Fr Phillips’ past accomplishments.


      • I sincerely doubt that the growth of Our Lady of the Atonement was solely the work of one man. Rather, it is much more likely that he inspired his parishioners to draw in those around them.

        Some years ago, the captain of my ship equated his role to the distributor in an automobile engine — it sends a spark to one cylinder, then to another, but it’s the moving parts who do the actual work. The role of an effective pastor in the organization of a parish is pretty much the same.

        To be clear, I don’t envision the position that I described as being fundamentally administrative. Rather, I envision it as somebody who will be out in the field, visiting ordinariate communities and helping them to put effective programs of evangelism into operation.



      • EPMS,

        A mentor or “Vicar for Evangelisation” or whatever you might call it is certainly not an administrative post. And Fr. Phillips’ experience, his success record and any tips which he might give to others are extremely valuable – to talk of “codification” is nonsense.

        If you are returning to your hypercritical and uncharitable mode, EPMS, we will have to start editing and unapproving your comments.


    • I agree. I see at least one possible trap, though, which is that by establishing such an office and appointing a charismatic priest to fill it, the assumption of many–especially among the laity–will be that evangelism is being taken care of. A vicar for evangelism or no, there’s much to be done, and no little part of that needs to be done by the laity. For those of us old enough to remember when churchgoing was a societal norm (at least in many areas of the U.S.), this is a paradigm shift (or a response to the Pentecostal wind of the Holy Spirit) that still needs to take place.


      • No, I rather envision somebody who will be out in the field teaching people how to do it. I doubt that the growth of Our Lady of the Atonement was the work of one man.



  3. Speaking of evangelism, Bl. John Henry Newman seems to be introducing some interesting community-building events, including an idea for small dinner parties apparently modeled after a successful program at the cathedral in Houston. They will also be adding a Saturday vigil mass after Easter.


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