A visit to an historic Anglo-Catholic parish

The blogger over at Modern Medievalism has a lovely post up about his visit to Good Shepherd, Rosemont in the Episcopal Diocese of Pennsylvania.

He writes:

Good Shepherd was built from day 1 to import the ideals of the Oxford Movement to these quiet Quaker suburbs. I’m connected to Good Shepherd by proxy in that, when I moved here from Texas a couple years ago, I happened to join the (Roman Catholic) Ordinariate parish here which received a former rector of Good Shepherd along with many members of his old flock. It’s no surprise that, in the course of fellowshipping with parishioners, I hear a lot of stories about this place which they called home for decades.

He contacted the rector and made a visit.  The blog posts includes many marvelous pictures of this beautiful church.

I found this most interesting:

Good Shepherd was Anglo-Catholic not only liturgically, but socially. In other words, they knew you could have solemn high Mass every Sunday AND serve the poor and sick with no contradiction. Indeed, for them, the one naturally led to the other. In an age where railroad magnates and robber barons were dividing the world’s wealth among themselves, it was the Anglo-Catholics–those who worshipped with the most splendid vestments, candlesticks, and other fineries of all–who issued a firm “no” to this culture of exploitation.

I would love to see the Anglicanorum Coetibus Society publish scholarly articles about this social tradition among Anglo-Catholics and perhaps even mount a conference on that theme some day.

Modern Medievalism also writes about some of the famous alumni of this parish.

In the 1970’s, massive changes in the Episcopal Church at large came crashing down on Good Shepherd–which, by now, had been upholding the idea of the seven sacraments for a hundred years. Fr George Rutler is now a famous Catholic priest for his appearances on EWTN, writing for Crisis magazine, and celebrating the traditional Latin Mass in New York City… but he got his start in ministry as the 7th rector of Good Shepherd, then the youngest rector in the whole Episcopal Church. Back then, Fr Rutler was one of the loudest voices in opposition to ordaining women. Not long after women’s ordination was voted in, Fr Rutler left. He was subsequently ordained as a Catholic priest in the early ’80s.
This pattern of catching the “Roman bug” was maintained by several other Episcopal priests who served at Good Shepherd in successive years. Another former rector, Fr Jeffrey Steenson, is well-known for having become the first Ordinary of the Personal Ordinariate of the Chair of St Peter (the predecessor of my current bishop, +Steven Lopes). The rector from 1991-2011, after a protracted legal battle with the Episcopal Diocese which is beyond me to summarize here, eventually entered the Ordinariate as a layman and remains a simple parishioner. One former curate is now pastor of Mount Calvary, Baltimore: the only Ordinariate parish I know of which successfully managed to transfer its building to the Catholic Church, along with rector and congregation. (Edited to add: a friend corrected me to let me know that St. Barnabas, Omaha, Nebraska also fits in this category.)
The blogger concludes with this:

My hope is to take everything I learned from this trip to help my parish preserve the best of their traditions.

What a wonderful mission!  Right in line with the aims of our Anglicanorum Coetibus Society.

6 thoughts on “A visit to an historic Anglo-Catholic parish

    • Several other groups brought church buildings with them into the OCSP: St John the Evangelist, Calgary; St Mary the Virgin, Arlington; Our Lady of Walsingham, Houston; Christ the King, Towson; Holy Nativity, Payson; Good Shepherd, Oshawa; Annunciation of the BVM, Ottawa; Incarnation, Orlando (the last five belonged to denominations which gave property rights to individual parishes). St Luke, Washington DC was given the option to,purchase its building in Bladensburg from TEC but eventually moved in with a diocesan parish.


      • Thanks for the clarification. I’ll have to reconstruct that part of the article. Were OLW and St Mary the Virgin originally Episcopal Church properties, or were they built while they were Roman Catholics under the Pastoral Provision?


    • According to the “About” page on the parish web site, St. Mary the Virgin, Arlington, Texas, “was the first Episcopal parish to have transferred corporately into the Roman Catholic Church, and to have retained its property in so doing.”



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