The Priestly Society of St Augustine of Canterbury

It has not escaped my attention of a number of diocesan and religious Catholic priests have expressed interest in the Patrimony of the Personal Ordinariates for a number of reasons, yet usually can only look on from afar. Following up from the excellent recent article from Kevin Greenlee, who rightly points out the role guilds and societies played in the history of our Patrimony and proposed the formation of new Ordinariate ones, I would suggest a society that allows priests in other sections of the Catholic Church to engage with the Patrimony of the Ordinariates, while still remaining as part of their respective jurisdictions.

There is a precedent for such a society: Opus Dei has the Priestly Society of the Holy Cross, made up of the priests of Opus Dei’s Personal Prelature and diocesan clergy who are members of Opus Dei and formed in its spirituality, but still are under the jurisdiction of their diocesan bishop. Why cannot the Ordinariates have a similar organisation that provides Priestly fraternity, the ability to partake in the Patrimony, and even the education in our liturgy Divine Worship so they can be granted facilities to celebrate it?

Do we not all know of Catholic priests who were former Anglican clergy, and have not chosen to join the Ordinariates because of their ministries and the people who rely on them? Would this not allow them to engage with their heritage while respecting their present call to mission?

Do we not know of Patrimony groups who wish to form communities far away from Ordinariate parishes and have no clergy support? It might work out that a diocesan priest of such a society could help foster the group to become an Ordinariate community while keeping his commitment to his diocese.

Not being a priest myself, this is just a humble suggestion but I do invite the clergy to consider the idea- and others such as the proposed Guild of All Souls.

Although the Ordinariates should have their own societies and other organisations we should not become insular and should engage with wider Catholic organisations (such as the members of the International Alliance of Catholic Knights for example)- but would it not be good to have one group that met in “our house” as it were, to maintain the policy of united but not absorbed.

4 thoughts on “The Priestly Society of St Augustine of Canterbury

  1. I would say this is a good idea. The more the Ordinariate can be integrated with the wider church in the English speaking world the better. Honestly, I would be overjoyed if the Ordinariates did not need to exist and the Patrimony of English Catholicism were reinvigorated in all diocese which descend from it. Allowing English speakers to adopt the Ordinariate’s patrimony would do wonders for Catholicism in the English world.

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  2. Canon 215 of the Codex Juris Canonici states that you have the right to found such an organization, and it should be fairly doable. The easiest approach would be to recruit members of your own congregation to form an “exploratory group” or something similar there, draw up a constitution (called “statues” in Catholic canon law), and begin operating by that document informally to work the kinks out of it. I recommend establishing two tiers of organizational hierarchy, with chapter leadership distinct from and subordinate to the leadership of the whole (but with nothing to preclude one person from holding an organization-wide office and a chapter office concurrently) and provision for establishment of additional chapters. When you are certain that your constitution is what you want it to be, you’ll need (1) to submit it to the ordinary for formal recognition AND (2) to incorporate the organization under secular law to create a legal entity. Once this is done, you can begin the process of organizing chapters in other congregations of the ordinariate that are large enough to sustain them. In the Catholic Church, new organizations of this type typically operate as “private associations of the Christian faithful” for some period of time before the diocesan bishop (or, in your case, the ordinary of your ordinariate) grants them status as “public associations of the Christian faithful” under Catholic canon law.

    There are two significant considerations to the geographical scope of your organization.

    >> 1. An organization that operates in two or more countries has to deal with the laws and legal systems of every country in which it operates, and this can be exceptionally challenging when it involves charitable donations. This consideration is precisely what motivated the erection of the Deanery of St. John the Evangelist to encompass the Canadian congregations of the Personal Ordinariate of the Chair of St. Peter very early in that ordinariate’s development — the creation of a distinct legal entity in Canada avoided a LOT of issues under secular law with donated funds going across international boundaries and the ability of Canadian members to obtain tax deductions for their donations to the ordinariate and its congregations. The solution might well be to have two similar organizations, one in the United States and the other in Canada, within the Personal Ordinariate of the Chair of St. Peter.

    >> 2. If the association wants to expand to other ordinariates, it needs to look into becoming an organization of pontifical right — which means that its statutes need to go to the Vatican for approval. This process is generally rather involved, and the Vatican probably will want to see it operating sustainably as an association of diocesan right before elevating it to that status. Again, it might be more practicable to create a separate organization within each of the other ordinariates.

    Thus, my recommendation would be to start in your congregation and expand to other congregations in Canada first. I also recommend discussing your desire with Fr. Carl Reid, as he knows you personally and his recommendation is apt to carry a lot of weight with an ordinary who does not know you as well as your dean.

    The canons pertaining to associations of the Christian faithful are divided into four sections in the Codex Juris Canonici (Code of Canon Law): Common Norms (canons 298-311), Public Associations of the Christian Faithful (canons 312-320), Private Associations of the Christian Faithful (canons 321-326), and Special Norms for Associations of the Laity (canons 327-329).

    I hope that this information is helpful!

    Norm.

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  3. After attending a Mass in a Texas parish [St. Mary the Virgin?[, I was so impressed that I became somewhat envious because it seemed to be perfect to resolve our multiple liturgical dilemmas. What is proposed here seems to be a viable way of fulfilling the desires of those who may have had similar experiences with the Anglican Usage liturgy.

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  4. i was made priest of Right Rev John Benedict of the Anglican Catholic Church.. having a ministry here in the Philippines.. is it possible for me and my other companion priests be affiliated with your group? Looking forward to hear from you.. thank you very much – Paulo Flores

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