Fr. Ed Tomlinson responds to Shane Schaetzel’s tips for parish growth

I check our blog stats from time to time, and yesterday, our visitors and page views doubled, which is good news!   And, I noticed a number of referrals from Fr. Ed Tomlinson’s Tunbridgewells-Ordinariate blog in the UK.

Fr. Ed writes:

On the excellent Anglicanorum Coetibus Society Blog the webmaster, Shane Schaetzel, has shared 8 recommendations for Ordinariate growth. I applaud them and believe we should embrace them in the UK to the extent that each group make them part of the vision moving forwards.

1. Get away from established Catholic Parishes. You can’t build your own house in somebody else’s backyard. Embrace the missionary spirit. Move away from your host parish and set up shop in a populated area where no Catholic parishes are nearby. Even if you have to meet in somebody’s home, or in a storefront, its better than trying to build your own house in somebody else’s backyard. 

Pembury reflection: There is no doubt coming to a small mass centre, ranked low in terms of diocesan importance and presumably heading for closure, helped establish the Ordinariate in Pembury. As did splitting away from Paddock Wood which gave me pastoral control. Where colleagues have been tasked  with running large diocesan parishes, or serving under diocesan priests so that 90% of their time is given to diocesan work, Ordinariate progress has, unsurprisingly, suffered.

Caveat: in Pembury we have no plan to break free from the diocese-holding dual identity is healthy- but the need for ordinariate priests to have control/space to flourish is essential; without autonomy we could never have developed St. Anselm’s to reflect an English patrimony. Our beautification project would have stalled.

2. Get a good website and reliable contact info.Make sure people can easily find you.

Pembury reflection: The blog is widely read and has brought several people to worship in Pembury. This includes locals who joined the congregation and holidaying visitors from as far afield as the USA, Italy and  Australia!

There is a lot more over at Fr. Ed’s excellent site!

Please go on over to have a look and add it to your daily stops, if you haven’t already.

Separating marriage from procreation

Back in 2005, Canada’s Liberal government at the time voted in a law that redefined marriage and got rid of a host of references in other laws that referred to husband and wife, mother and father.   Thus the biological family was replaced by a social construct defined by the state.

Dan Cere and Douglas Farrow, both professors at McGill University in Montreal, edited a book called Divorcing Marriage: Unveiling the dangers in Canada’s new social experiment .   Farrow, who is a former Anglican, now Catholic, followed up that effort with a book of essays entitled Nation of Bastards: Essays on the end of marriage.

In the latter book, he talked about how redefining marriage from the traditional view of one woman and one man to two people who could be of the same sex replaced a biological reality of the natural family, an institution that preceded the state, with an abstraction, a social construct based on the number two, with no underlying justification for why it should be two people.

In Divorcing Marriage, the authors warned against divorcing marriage from procreation

This debate took place soon after I started writing for Catholic papers, and about four or five years after I started attending Annunciation of the Blessed Virgin Mary, then a Traditional Anglican Communion parish.

I was past child-bearing age at the time, and I hadn’t given the whole idea of contraception much thought, until I attended a prayer meeting on Parliament Hill that included Catholics and evangelicals.  I am not someone who always thinks before I say something—sometimes it is only through musing out loud (or writing a blog post) that I discover what I think about something.   So on this occasion, during the height of the marriage debate, I mused that learning how dangerous it is to divorce procreation from marriage from the standpoint of civil society, I was beginning to understand the Catholic teaching of the danger of divorcing sex from procreation.   Somehow, this led to an discussion of what is “permitted” on the marriage bed, including, ahem, certain sexual activities that could not possibly be open to life.

A charismatic pastor got strangely vehement, saying,  “Anything goes on the marriage bed,” as it to say, being heterosexually married meant you got a free pass for sterile sex, and for other activities.

It was kind of weird.  But a light bulb when on in my brain.  I realized the Catholic Church had the only morally consistent and principled arguments regarding the reservation of sexual activity to a man and a woman in a lifelong covenant and that sexual activity should be both open to life and for uniting more closely the couple in their bond.  I suddenly became a believer in Humanae Vitae.

I also realized the Catholic Church’s teachings on chastity are hard, not only for those with same sex attraction but for heterosexuals, even within the context of marriage.  In fact, chastity is so hard for all of us, we need divine help to live up to God’s standards, but those graces are there if we desire God with our whole heart.

Also, around that time, the Anglican Church of Canada, was undergoing a massively awful debate about whether to have same-sex blessings and one of the arguments that was cited among those on the progressive end was that Scripture, Tradition and Reason, the three-legged stool of Anglicanism, also needed Experience.   And the experience of feminism, the explosion of the social sciences, and the experience of gay and lesbian Anglicans had to become a lens for interpreting the rest.

I remember thinking, gee, I’m so glad I’m in the Traditional Anglican Communion where we have none of these discussions, praise be to God.

Now, there’s talk the 50-year old encyclical Humanae Vitae is now under review.   Yesterday, Pope Francis replaced the John Paul II Institute founded by the recently deceased Cardinal Caffarra, one of the four Dubia cardinals, with a new John Paul II Institute of Marriage and Family Studies.

Here’s what Edward Pentin wrote about this in the National Catholic Register:

Cardinal Carlo Caffarra, who died Sept. 6, was the founding president of that Institute. As a signatory to the dubia given to Pope Francis exactly a year ago today, he had serious concerns about Amoris Laetitia, interpretations of which he found incompatible with John Paul II’s teachings and the magisterium of the Church.

But Pope Francis, who signed Summa Familiae Cura in Colombia just two days after Cardinal Caffarra’s passing, writes that the family synods of 2014 and 2015 have brought a renewed awareness of “the new pastoral challenges to which the Christian community is called to respond.”

Contemporary anthropological and cultural changes, the Pope continues, require “a diversified and analytical approach” which cannot be “limited to pastoral and missionary practices” of the past.

Instead, he says, we must be able to interpret our faith in a context in which individuals are less supported than before as they deal with the complex realities of family life. Faithful to the teachings of Christ, the Pope continues, it is important to explore these “lights and shadows of family life” with realism, wisdom and love.

And One Peter Five has this analysis:

As we have seen, over the course of a very short time, progressive forces within the Church have moved rapidly to take over trusted institutions or appropriate the reputations or work of those who have held the line on Catholic teaching to advance the cause of undermining the Church’s teaching on human sexuality and marriage.

The question is: where does the re-imagining of the John Paul II Institute fit in?

Like many, I was struck by the sudden and unexpected nature of today’s motu proprio. The sudden changing of the name, structure, and focus of the Institute, especially so soon after its founding president’s death, seemed very odd.

Also odd, to my ears at least, was the wording of the new title. The “Pontifical John Paul II Theological Institute for Marriage and Family Sciences“. Sciences? Which sciences? The question of science, as it most commonly intersects with Church teaching at present, relates to the perceived supremacy of the empirical over the theological, as well as the “evolution” of doctrine based on a notion that modern man knows so much more than those who came before him that he has the wisdom to change what cannot be changed.

It seems more and more this idea of “Experience” trumping Revelation and Tradition, because we’re so much smarter now has gained ascendency in the Catholic Church, the place we hoped to finally find doctrinal peace.

Fasten your seatbelts, folks.  But I tell you, this idea of Experience trumping Scripture and Tradition is an Anglican idea I was happy to toss overboard and plays no part in the Anglican patrimony we in the Anglicanorum Coetibus Society hope to cultivate both inside and outside the Catholic Church.

Outreach to university students in Ottawa

DSC02403On Holy Cross Day, our Ordinariate Parish of the Annunciation of the Blessed Virgin Mary participated in an outreach to University of Ottawa students with a special Divine Worship Mass celebrated at St. Theresa’s Parish, the Roman Catholic Parish downtown that is fairly close to the campus.


Christopher Mahon, who is a member of St. Thomas More Parish in Toronto, but works in Ottawa, organized the event, including a  putting together a small choir of young Catholics.


Christopher comes from a well-known Anglo-Catholic family of musicians that for generations has been steeped in Anglican musical patrimony.  His grandfather, Albert Mahon, was Healey Willan’s cantor at St. Mary Magdalene, an Anglo-Catholic parish in Toronto.  Willan was the foremost Canadian Anglo-Catholic composer.  His father, Peter Mahon, is a gifted counter-tenor and conductor, and is currently Director of Music at Cardinal Collins’s St Michael’s Cathedral in Toronto; his mother, Katharine Pimenoff Mahon, is also a singer and choir director; his sister Rachel is an organist at Chester Cathedral and was the first ever woman musician hired by St Paul’s Cathedral; his brother Andrew sings at Westminster Abbey & Westminster Cathedral, and all of his other siblings are singers too.

“The singers were fellow Catholics from nearby Tridentine and Novus Ordo parishes who wanted to sing Anglican repertoire for a traditional English Mass, which neither group really gets in their own parishes,” Christopher told me.

“They all did it on a volunteer basis for the joy of it and the glory of God,” he said. “And also to show folks, young people & students especially from U of O, how beautiful the worship of God can be.”

The music was glorious!  And the Mass attracted a number of new people who had not been exposed to our Anglican tradition liturgy before.   Fr. Doug Hayman gave one of his wonderful homilies, beautifully weaving together and interpreting in great depth the readings.
Though we have sung Masses at Annunciation on Sundays, Solemnities and Feast Days, and a gifted organist and cantor, we rely on congregational singing.  Thus to hear Anglican plainsong done a capella by trained singers; to hear a Mass setting by Healey Willan (Missa Brevis XIII for Holy Cross) and a Byrd motet (Ave Verum) was heavenly for us.
Also, St. Theresa’s is a beautiful church building with great acoustics.
Fr. Vincent Pereira, pastor of St. Theresa’s was among the half dozen or so priests from the Ottawa archdiocese (including Ottawa Archbishop Terrrence Prendergast) and members of the Companions of the Cross who celebrated our Anglican Use Mass for us during the time when we waited for our clergy to be ordained.
Sorry, the pictures are a little muddy as it was a little dark.   I wish I had thought to get some pictures downstairs of the ample “lunch” we provided after Mass.   We saw a number of new faces; many young people and lots of children!   I wish I had thought to go up to the choir loft, but I wanted to enter into worship for most of the Mass.
I was too busy, however, with others from Annunciation, getting the food laid out to think of taking photographs.



The Holy Ghost vs. the Holy Spirit

Hello everyone. I’m back from Scranton, Pennsylvania and a successful AGM of the Anglicanorum Coetibus Society.  I have several blog posts in mind, but have much catching up to do in my other work before I can do so.  Also, WordPress gobbled up yet a third completed post that I will try to recreate about an outreach our parish in Ottawa did to university students on Holy Cross Day.

In the meantime,  here’s an interesting post at Rational Catholic that mentions the Scranton Ordinariate parish I visited.


Two and a half years ago I posted an article “The Holy Ghost vs The Holy Spirit”.   The post was prompted by a visit to Holy Ghost Preparatory School, on the occasion of my oldest grandson’s graduation*.   I’ve had some further thoughts since then:  attendance at an Anglican Usage (“Ordinariate”) parish in Scranton, Pennsylvania and the almost exclusive use of the term “Holy Ghost”, rather than “Holy Spirit” by a priest (order of St. Francis de Sales), who has become Chaplain at a local Catholic Nursing Home and for the large hospital where I live.    I’ll copy the pertinent parts of the original post and then focus on the Anglican Usage liturgy usage of “Holy Ghost”.



My wife and I  occasionally attend Anglican Usage Mass and Evensong at St. Thomas More Parish in Scranton, Pennsylvania.    This Parish is part  of The Ordinariate**,  essentially a diocese (spread through the United States and Canada). established by Pope Benedict XVI in 2012 to accommodate former Anglicans and Episcopalians who, as individuals, priests and congregations, have swum the Tiber and become Catholic
Now, where does “Holy Ghost” fit here?   The term replaces “Holy Spirit”  in some places where it might occur in non-Ordinariate liturgy, as for example in the introductory “Collect for Purity”: “In the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost.  Amen”.   However, it does not replace Holy Spirit in all uses.    For example, in the Anglican Usage  “Novena to  the Holy Ghost“, Holy Spirit is used extensively and interchangeably.    And thus the beauty of the English language is displayed: its magnificent redundancy and subtlety, two ways of saying the same thing,  not altogether equivalent,


Finally, I go back to the catechesis given by a priest when I was learning about Catholicism:  “There is God the Father, God above us;  God the Son, God beside us; and God the Holy Spirit, God within us.”   So, the Holy Spirit is at the same time clearly evident and a mystery–God within us.   And the Holy Ghost is part of our mind, which is also a mystery.

What is your preference?  That of your community?  I use both Holy Spirit and Holy Ghost, but I prefer the latter.

The future of St. Mary of the Angels

John Bruce over at his gloomy blog speculates about the future of Hollywood’s St. Mary of the Angels parish in a recent post.   I am not providing a link.  Many of my readers already monitor this blog, but I consider it an unreliable source of information because of the biases of the author. Therefore I’m not sending any traffic its way.

He writes:

When I spoke with Abp Hepworth in April, he indicated that he is, at least in a low-key way, pursuing the continuing possibility of St Mary of the Angels entering the OCSP. Among other things, this would require the outstanding legal issues surrounding the parish to be resolved, so at this point, the matter is largely hypothetical.

On the other hand, the parish is rebuilding itself after a series of potentially cataclysmic setbacks. My wife and I visit from time to time, especially for the community outreach programs and concerts it’s been providing. These efforts are impressive.

An influential parishioner asked me this past Sunday if I thought the OCSP had a future. My answer was, “Not in its current form.”

Bruce then goes on to speculate about the Ordinariate, all in a very negative light, as is his wont.

He has an unduly dark picture of the future of the Ordinariates, and about whether they should exist at all, comparing them recently to “Obamacare.”

For the sake of the people at St. Mary of the Angels who might be contemplating joining the Ordinariate of the Chair of St. Peter, I would urge them to seek other sources of information and not judge based on the biases of a man who takes strong dislikes to people, most of whom he has never met in person, and who then finds every possible way to disparage them.   And that in addition to his disagreeing with the whole principle of preserving Anglican Patrimony within the Catholic Church through the generous gift of Pope Benedict XVI in Anglicanorum coetibus.  He considers the whole thing a colossal, strategic mistake.

Bruce speculates about the future of St. Mary’s if it were to become an Ordinariate parish and the Ordinariate were to fold.   Dear St. Mary’s people, the Ordinariates are not going to fold. As Bishop Lopes said after Pope Francis approved Divine Worship: the Missal:

Pope Francis was enormously encouraging! It is clear to me that with his approval of a proper missal for the ordinariates and with my appointment as bishop, he is giving concrete expression to the vision of Pope Benedict XVI for the unity of Christians.

Bruce also talks about other problems facing St. Mary’s should they get their legal difficulties solved.

  • St Mary of the Angels has a succession problem. Fr Kelley, whose ability to persevere through enormous difficulties and rebuild the parish has been clearly demonstrated, is about 70, which is the canonical retirement age in the OCSP. He is extremely fit and in general good health, but obviously, nothing lasts forever. The OCSP doesn’t appear to have any credible replacement. If I were Abp Hepworth and the vestry, I would strongly insist on some type of assurance from Houston or its successor that current or prospective OCSP California clergy would absolutely not be considered for Fr Kelley’s replacement. But the overall disappointing quality of OCSP clergy is nearly as big a concern.

It’s surprising a man who joined the Roman Catholic Church with his wife and has written previously everyone else should do the same, and that any attachment to Anglican Patrimony is merely a kind of Continuing Anglican cult is now advising his former parish to “insist” on favorable conditions.

When our parish came into the Church we had no guarantees whatsoever.  None of our clergy had so much as a nulla osta.  But we realized becoming Catholic was the right thing to do—and we decided to obey and trust.  The Personal Ordinariate of the Chair of St. Peter was only 4 months old when we came in—there was nothing there except an Ordinary and a document compared to what we have now–Divine Worship: The Missal, a Bishop; a Chancery; Seminarians; 42? communities and new ones sprouting up that are not official yet.

Becoming Catholic is a matter of delicate personal discernment, and not meant to be an escape from something we might be “disgruntled about” as we were so often told in advance of our coming in.

We we had our naysayers at the time, people who tried to convince us Archbishop Hepworth was lying to us, selling us a bill of goods and so on, that we would lose our building, that we would have priests foisted on us who didn’t understand us.  Well, almost everything he said would happen did happen, and while it was rocky coming in because many people in our communities listened to the naysayers and bolted, since coming into the Catholic Church we have been amazed at Her generosity towards us.

I realize St. Mary’s had had a tremendously painful history, going back to the Pastoral Provision days.  But Bruce is dead wrong about this:

But I think it’s realistic in trying to think two years out (or whatever) that the OCSP will not continue in its current form, and some type of renewed Pastoral Provision for the small number of surviving communities is one credible outcome.

There is no possibility of a renewed Pastoral Provision for communities.   It’s over.  The choices are: join the Ordinariate, remain a Continuing Anglican group, or become Roman Catholic like the Bruces did and disperse into the wider diocese.

I am glad Archbishop Hepworth has been working with the St. Mary’s people and encouraging them to become members of the Ordinariate.   He always told me he would try to usher every possible community into the Church that he could, then shut off the lights and close the door and make his own peace with the Church he loves.

It delighted me to hear he had brought St. Mary’s a copy of Divine Worship: The Missal and encouraged them to start using it and that he had helped the church resolve some of its horrendous legal difficulties.  I pray they will have a just outcome of the last legal battle they face coming up in November.

I urge the St. Mary’s people to go to the sources for their information. Contact the chancery of the Ordinariate of the Chair of St. Peter.  Maintain the theological virtues of faith, hope and charity as you discern the way forward by the power of the Holy Spirit.  Remember Christ’s desire for unity is not an option, and the Catholic Church has generously provided a way for you to maintain your precious Anglican patrimony.  It doesn’t mean you’ll necessarily get your way in everything—being Catholic is not about getting our way, or laying down conditions, but in yielding to God’s will and trusting in the mediation of His Church.





The Summorum Pontificum Conference

I am watching with interest, Tweets and other reports on the conference in Rome marking the 10th Anniversary of Summorum Pontificum, Pope Benedict XVI’s document concerning the Extraordinary Form of the Roman Rite, declaring that it was never abrogated and what was sacred remains sacred.

Father Zuhlsdorf is there and has posted several pictures.

Cardinal Muller and Cardinal Sarah were among the speakers.  I look forward to seeing translations of their texts.

The anniversary gave rise to a discussion on Facebook’s Anglican Ordinariate Informal Conversation Forum (it’s a closed group for which you have to be approved for membership) and whether Bishop Lopes had rescinded Msgr. Steenson’s directive that Ordinariate priests not celebrate the Traditional Latin Mass as part of their Ordinariate duties.  I remember at the time of the directive there was some consternation about this and questions whether the directive was even legal, because it said a priest did not have to obtain permission from the bishop to celebrate the Extraordinary Form.

In the recent discussion, some where saying we in the Ordinariates should avoid getting involved in a wider liturgy battle that do not concern us.   Here’s what I wrote:

The issue is not the EF per se. Even under Msgr. Steenson, Ordinariate priests were welcome to celebrate the EF when asked to by EF people, but not as part of the Ordinariate, or to displace Divine Worship Masses. One thing I think we in the Ordinariate have to watch out for is the uber-Catholic syndrome that can afflict relatively new Catholics. And this is the tendency to either Vetus-Ordoize or Novus-Ordoize everything. So we’re either wanting to do everything in Latin, or everything the Ordinary Form Roman Catholic parish does and our own patrimony gets neglected.


That said—I think all Catholics, whether Ordinariate or not, should attend different types of valid Catholic Masses so as to be enriched by them.

Last Friday night, the Frassati Catholic Fellowship Ottawa made attending our sung Mass marking the Nativity of the Blessed Virgin Mary part of their weekly gathering.

So we had dozens of young people and a Roman Catholic deacon visiting Annunciation that evening.  Afterwards, they all went to a local pub and I joined them.  I think most of them attend St. Patrick’s Basilica, where the altar rail was never removed and though the Ordinary Form is celebrated there, it is always done reverently, and people receive Holy Communion kneeling at the altar rail.

Some of our young people also attend Eastern Catholic Divine Liturgies.   We’ve had some of our people attend Bible studies at St. Patrick’s, which is a hub for Catholic lectures and events in the city.

St. Patrick’s is also where Archbishop Terrence Prendergast received us into the Catholic Church.

We also have people who normally attend the Extraordinary Form of the Mass come to Annunciation from time to time.  Two Christmases in a row, we had a large family from St. Clement’s Parish —the women and girls all wearing chapel veils—come to Mass at Annunciation.  Not sure why, maybe because it starts at 10:00 pm and not midnight!

I have been going to St. Clement’s as part of my First Friday devotion because they always have a beautiful sung Mass in the evening, with Adoration before and after, and priests in the Confessionals so it is easy to fulfill that requirement of the devotion.  I am so thankful for the fact our Divine Worship liturgy has prepared me to understand what is going on in both the Ordinary and Extraordinary Forms of the Roman Rite.  And it has helped me understand the Mass when I’ve been traveling and it’s in another language.

It’s great that the Archdiocese of Ottawa includes Annunciation when it publishes the various Mass times and locations throughout the diocese.

We have such beautiful diversity within one holy, Catholic and Apostolic Church and our Anglican Patrimony is part of that unique, musical contribution to that joyous symphony.

That Pope Francis approved our Divine Worship: The Missal means we’re here to stay.




Annual General Meeting in Scranton Sunday

Sorry for the light blogging, but I’m preparing for the Annual General Meeting of the Anglicanorum Coetibus Society at St. Thomas More Parish in Scranton on Sunday.

Those readers who are members of the Society, please send in your ballots and, if you can, join us either in person, online or by conference call.

For those readers who are not members, why not join our project and help us with our mission?