On Ascension Day, 28th May, Monsignor Keith Newton officially erected the first personal parish of the Personal Ordinariate of Our Lady of Walsingham in Chelston, Torbay, South-West England. The Church is fittingly named Our Lady of Walsingham with Saint Cuthbert Mayne, a local martyr. At the ceremony the Ordinary conferred confirmation and inducted the first parish priest, Father David Lashbrooke, who writes:
There have been many new chapters in the life of the still very new Personal Ordinariate of Our Lady of Walsingham from its erection, first ordinations and the now-imminent diaconal ordinations at Spanish Place when the faithful will travel from all parts of the country to share a great blessing with those candidates responding to God’s call to serve.
All these chapters are metaphorically written through members of The Ordinariate responding in faithfulness to the visionary, ecumenical and missionary document ‘Anglicanorum Coetibus’. Within that precious document it was envisaged that communities who had responded to the invitation to come into full communion with The Catholic Church would in time become personal parishes and on Ascension Day 2017 Mgr Keith Newton PA erected the first of these parishes and inducted Fr David Lashbrooke to be the first parish priest.
The Personal Parish of Our Lady of Walsingham with St Cuthbert Mayne (Torbay) is now in existence and I, as the new parish priest, have been asked the challenging question: what difference does it make to those who make up the community in Torbay or even to the whole life of The Ordinariate as a whole?
As part of The Induction Rite the parish priest designate is presented by one of his fellow priests, in this case Fr Mike Cain, to The Ordinary. At the celebrations afterwards Fr Cain said it was like giving the bride away and he is a seasoned hand at that. It is now the morning after a day of great celebrations and joy that the day gave to all those present who had worked so hard for the day and it is that comment of Fr Mike that has helped me make a start of an answer to this pertinent question.
How many times, as priests, when we have prepared people for marriage, impressed on the prospective couple that marriage is not piece of paper but a material change which has such hallmarks as love, stability and faithfulness; a vocation where, under the blessing of God, they continue to explore what they have called to be and as one, by God’s grace, bear fruit.
Like people who marry, those of this new personal parish have hopes and our fears but are keenly aware that becoming a parish is so much more than a title, a piece of paper or a goal in itself. Like a marriage we must, as this new community at Torbay, grow in love, stability and faithfulness, and the erection of the parish has recognised that desire and that vocation.
As a parish we need to learn how to open our Church Doors wider. As a parish we need to learn how to offer hospitality to a greater number of people. As a parish we need to teach so that people may access that dormant or forgotten relationship with Christ. As a parish we need to faithfully offer worship with The Mass and Blessed Sacrament at the centre of that praise. To fulfil our needs we need to trust and ask for The Holy Spirit to guide and strengthen us as we daily ask for all The Church.
We have some minor issues like building a presbytery and renovating the Church building and developing our shop which has just moved into larger premises.
I would like to thank The Ordinary and Governing Council for their faith in making this parish and I pray there will be more in the near future.
Please pray for this new parish, for its priest and for its people and if you are in Torbay do come and see us.
Fr David Lashbrooke