PTB: Is the U.S. Ordinariate continuing to grow, or has it seemed to have reached a plateau? How does this compare with hopes and expectations at the time the U.S. Ordinariate was formed?
SJL: We continue to experience good growth, for which we give thanks to God. Initially, there was perhaps a presumption – warranted or not – that there would be a continuous stream of whole parishes entering into the Ordinariate. This is actually very difficult for a number of reasons. There are complicated questions of property and ownership, and many people are very attached to their parish churches. There are other issues of pastoral life when only a percentage (even when it’s a large percentage) of a parish decides to seek full communion with the Catholic Church. Parish groups continue to enter – we have had 2 since I became bishop – but this is less common. More common is for our existing parishes to found a mission community starting with a group of Ordinariate parishioners that have to drive a long distance for Sunday Mass, a mission which begins to grow and develop on its own. We have started four of those in the last two years. Additionally, we sometimes receive a request from current or former Anglicans to begin a community in a certain area. When we are able to send a priest or deacon to assess the situation and begin ministering to their needs, a group grows up very quickly. Many former Anglicans who have become Catholic over the years welcome the opportunity to reconnect with the heritage, liturgy, culture, and “style” of parish life they knew before becoming Catholic.
PTB: What do you see as the most important gifts and charisms the Ordinariate has to offer to the Catholic Church?
SJL: The Apostolic Constitution Anglicanorum coetibus speaks of the liturgical, spiritual and pastoral patrimony of Anglicanism as a “treasure to be shared” with the whole Catholic Church. There are tangible expressions of this patrimony, such as our liturgical rites for Mass and the Sacraments. This is a beautiful expression of how the Roman Rite was taken up and developed in an Anglican context and is not reintegrated into Catholic worship. Other elements of the patrimony are less tangible, but nevertheless important. The “way” we do parish is qualitatively different, and not just because our communities are often so much smaller than diocesan parishes. We structure fellowship, meetings, catechesis, and devotions precisely to encourage a sense of intimacy, even within the context of our larger parishes. There is also a great seriousness given to adult faith formation, resulting in a well-formed and participatory laity. I am certainly not suggesting that these things do not happen in other Catholic parishes, as they certainly do. But I do find that, consistently and intentionally, Ordinariate parish life is experienced as a larger reality than Sunday Mass attendance.