The North American Ordinariate revives the Gilbertine Order

The former Companions of the Order of Saint Benedict of Brandon, Manitoba, Canada, have sent us the latest issue of their newsletter, which is now entitled “The Gilbertine”.

In this newsletter they report that their religious community has been renamed the Order of Saint Gilbert of Sempringham. Here is an extract from the newsletter:

A Gilbertine Revival

The Companions of the Order of St. Benedict (OSBCn) have been in an exciting period of discernment since they made the decision to leave the Anglican Church of Canada in favour of full communion with the Catholic Church — and discernment has meant change…

The almost seven months since the Benedictine Community of Sts. James and John left the Anglican Church of Canada has been an adventure in faith and trust in God the Holy Trinity; and the adventure has meant an openness to change — and there have been several.

First was a significant loss of membership as the wider Anglican Benedictine family reacted negatively to the news of full communion. Along with that was a name change to ‘The Companions of the order of St. Benedict’, and now, after a lot of prayer and discussion, the community has reshaped itself as a Gilbertine Order.

The Gilbertines, founded by St. Gilbert of Sempringham in 1131, are a part of the Anglican Patrimony which thrived until 1538 when they were suppressed by Henry VIII. Since the order was uniquely English, it was entirely devastated during the English Reformation.

“Father Perkins (Vicar-General of the Ordinariate of the Chair of St. Peter) first brought the Gilbertines to my attention when I first spoke with him on the telephone” Prior Robert-Chas. says, adding that he knew very little about the order except to say they were English and were a double house of both genders. “Father said our group reminded him of the extinct order and as I’ve learned more about them, I can certainly see why.”

When the Brothers met with Bishop Lopes in Houston in March, he reiterated Father Perkins’ observations and encouraged the community to prayerfully consider reviving the order. The Gilbertines are a uniquely English expression of Benedictine spirituality. Perhaps the most distinguishing factors are the inclusion of Sisters, Brothers and Canons Regular under one house (divided by gender) and the use of a double Rule: that of Sts. Benedict and Augustine.

“You can imagine our surprise at the notion” Prior Robert-Chas. says. “But as we’ve learned more, and prayed on it, we can see why he made the suggestion. In so many ways, our community was already Gilbertine in flavour.”

Of course now that this direction has firmly been established, formal Constitutions will need to be drawn up, the habit amended, and other details adjusted to conform to Gilbertine traditions and patterns. Organisationally there will be changes, but not as many as one would suspect, and there will be even fewer changes yet that affect the day-to-day life of community members.

“The idea isn’t to pretend that the past 500 years haven’t passed, but rather that we look at the framework that St. Gilbert put in place so long ago, to ask his patronage, and to adapt it to the context in which we find ourselves today” Prior Robert-Chas. says. “Our Bishop is a dynamic thinker — he didn’t want to change our community, but rather wanted to find a framework that would help us flourish in our sense of call and vocation as Catholic Religious. This does that wonderfully.”

The Companions of the Order of St. Benedict — formerly the Community of Sts. James and John — will now be known as the Order of St. Gilbert of Sempringham (GSmp). The group continues as a Private Association of the Faithful, but hopes to become a Public Association of the Faithful when they meet the required criteria.

In concrete terms this development involves relocating the Order to St John the Evangelist parish in Calgary, Alberta, where the brothers will move into the presbytery as soon as Fr. Lee Kenyon and his family leave at the end of June this year.

16 thoughts on “The North American Ordinariate revives the Gilbertine Order

  1. I was really ecstatic with this article until I got to the last paragraph. The fact that this group and the administration of the ordinariate have discerned a viable way forward is wonderful! The disappointment is the news that this “private association” (for now) won’t be gathering and forming a new ordinariate community in Manitoba.

    On the other hand, my recollection is that two members of this community were ordained in the Anglican Church in Canada (ACC), and thus should be eligible for Catholic ordination. They will be in a good position to provide pastoral leadership for St. John the Evangelist Parish in Calgary after Fr. Kenyon’s departure, and it’s reasonable to expect that the support of the parish will strengthen the religious community. Thus, the planned arrangement should be mutually beneficial.



  2. Fr Kenyon was the only Pastor of a full parish in Canada and the VF of the Canadian Deanery. It seems that his parish responsibilities will be divvied up among several men and someone will have to be found to be Canadian Dean among the three or four OCSP clergy under canonical retirement age. A precarious situation.


    • There will be a new pastor at St. John the Evangelist in Calgary sooner or later, though there may be an “administrator” in the interim. The new pastor might be another ordinariate priest who is already in Calgary, or might be one of the Companions of the Order of St. Benedict following his Catholic ordination, or might be another ordinariate priest who can relocate to Calgary in a timely manner. This is most likely already planned, but not yet announced.

      And there also will be a new Dean of the Deanery of St. John the Evangelist, who most likely will not be base in Calgary, Fr. Carl Reid of Blessed John Henry Newman in Vancouver, the former Anglican Catholic Church in Canada (ACCC) bishop, and Fr. John Hodgins of St. Thomas More in Toronto seem to be the most obvious candidates for this position. but Bishop Lopes may well have another plan. And, again, this is most likely already determined but not yet announced.


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  3. Replying to godfrey1099 above: Mr Martens works for the Catholic Diocese of Calgary and although he will be a priest and the official administrator of the parish after Fr Kenyon leaves, he will not be taking over full-time responsibility for pastoral ministry, weekday masses, and parish activities.


    • In the absence of an announcement, I would not assume either that Deacon Martens will become the administrator of the parish upon Fr. Kenyon’s departure or that he will continue to work for the Diocese of Calgary after his ordination as a Catholic presbyter. Either, or both, of these assumptions may well be wrong. The only safe assumptions are that plans exist for the succession of both the parish leadership and the leadership of the deanery and that the ordinariate will make the respective announcements at the appropriate times.


      Liked by 1 person

      • I refer you to The Gilbertine, linked above, which indicates that the arrangement will be as I have described.


      • Ah, yes, I finally got a chance to read it — and it does give the plan for the pastoral care of the Parish of St. John the Evangelist.

        >> Fr. Martens will become the canonical administrator of the parish upon Fr. Kenyon’s departure, which will occur just after his ordination, while continuing his work in the chancery of the Diocese of Calgary. The Gilbertines, formerly known as the Companions of St. Benedict, will move into the rectory, assume day-to-day pastoral ministry, and be the primary point of contact for those needing pastoral assistance and services during this period.

        >> The Gilbertines will assume full pastoral care of the parish upon the Catholic ordination of both brothers in June of 2018.

        Not surprisingly, it does not identify the new dean of the Deanery of St. John the Evangelist. My guess is that the formal announcement naming the new dean will come in June.



  4. May every blessing be upon the Companions of St. Gilbert! I have always admired St. Gilbert of Sempringham and have kept his Feast Day, privately for the most part. I am so pleased that he will be honoured in the Ordinariate Church in Canada. His intercession can only bless the Church and its life.


  5. What happened to Father Lee Kenyon? Did he die? Resign from the priesthood? Move back to England? Transfer to another parish or group in Canada? The USA? THE U.K.?
    This inquiring mind wants to know!


    • At the end of April, the parish bulletin of St. John the Evangelist in Calgary contained a notice that Fr. Lee Kenyon is returning to England with his family, where he will be pastor of a small diocesan parish and attempt to gather a new community of the Personal Ordinariate of Our Lady of Walsingham, at the end of June. My recollection is that the announcement indicated that the motivation for the move is a need to assist aging parents, who reside near the parish that he will serve.

      This transition obviously has been in the planning phase for a while, as the arrangement requires coordination among Bishop Lopes, Msgr. Newton as ordinary of the Personal Ordinariate of Our Lady of Walsingham, and the bishop of the diocese that Fr. Kenyon will serve in England.


      Liked by 1 person

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