How do you join the Ordinariate?

On Facebook, a former Episcopalian who had become a Catholic inquired about whether he is eligible for membership in the Ordinariate for Catholics of Anglican Patrimony.

The consensus was that he is eligible and should apply even if there is no Ordinariate community in his vicinity—yet.

We also encourage people who have no Ordinariate parish or community in their local area to start one.  Over at the Anglicanorum coetibus Society’s website there are instructions on what you need to do and how you can get a pin on our map as a Patrimonial community.

These patrimonial communities are lay-run efforts that do not guarantee official recognition but they are a place to start and who knows, maybe eventually the seed community could grow large enough to support a priest and become an Ordinariate parish.

In North America, here are instructions on how to join the Personal Ordinariate of the Chair of St. Peter:

How May I Join the Ordinariate?
Most people who desire to join the Ordinariate do so in the context of an Ordinariate Parish or Parochial Community. The Ordinariate’s founding document, Anglicanorum coetibus, gives us direction regarding membership in the Ordinariate.

AC IX. Both the lay faithful as well as members of Institutes of Consecrated Life and Societies of Apostolic Life, originally part of the Anglican Communion, who wish to enter the Personal Ordinariate, must manifest this desire in writing.

No one is automatically a member of the Ordinariate, unless you are a minor child of an Ordinariate member. Rather, those who want to belong to the Ordinariate must:

1) Be eligible (see below), and
2) Submit a signed membership application to their local Ordinariate Pastor or Leader. Your signature on the form is the canonical act by which you manifest your desire to enter the Personal Ordinariate of the Chair of St. Peter.
>>Click HERE to download membership form

The majority of applicants will submit their membership forms to the Pastor or Leader at their Ordinariate Parish or Parochial Community.

Individuals or families who are not in proximity to an Ordinariate Parish or Parochial Community and therefore are not registered parishioners at an OCSP Parish/Community may mail a membership form directly to the Chancery for consideration.

Those living in the United Kingdom or Europe can apply to the Personal Ordinariate of Our Lady of Walsingham here:

Anglicans and former Anglicans who reside in England, Wales and Scotland are eligible to seek to enter the full communion of the Catholic Church through the Personal Ordinariate of Our Lady of Walsingham.

Those eligible for membership also include anyone who has been baptised in the Catholic Church but who has not completed the Sacraments of Initiation, and subsequently returns to the faith and practice of the Church as a result of the evangelising mission of the Ordinariate.

There are over 50 Ordinariate Groups spread around the country – from Stornoway and Inverness in the north to St Austell in the south-west and Folkestone in the south-east – and the Pastor of a local group may well be the best first point of contact. Enquiries from both Clergy and laity are always dealt with in the strictest confidence.

Australians and those living in Japan, the Torres Strait and elsewhere in the region can apply to the Personal Ordinariate of Our Lady of the Southern Cross by contacting the chancery here.

12 thoughts on “How do you join the Ordinariate?

  1. I will never ever leave the Roman Catholic Church. The idea that there is an alternative membership in the Roman Catholic Church that does not answer to any American diocese is quite appealing to me right now. I live in Connecticut and I certainly will look into the beginning of a Parochial Community in New Haven.


    • Beenthere,

      For better or worse, membership in the ordinariates is canonically restricted to (1) those received into the full communion of the Catholic Church who previously belonged to an ecclesial communion of the Anglican tradition, (2) those who complete the sacraments of initiation (baptism, confirmation, and first communion) within the jurisdiction of an ordinariate, and (3) those who belong to an ordinariate family. In the Roman legal tradition, however, permissive laws are construed broadly so “ecclesial communion of the Anglican tradition” encompasses not only the provinces of the Anglican Communion and the various “continuing Anglican” bodies that separated from the Anglican Communion but retain the Anglican liturgy, but also Methodist and African Methodist Episcopal (AME) bodies.

      You said that you are a “cradle Catholic.” If you received all three of the sacraments of initiation in the Catholic Church but not within the jurisdiction of an ordinariate, the only way that you can join an ordinariate is if your spouse, sibling, parent, or child is a member thereof.

      Of course, any member of the Catholic Church can satisfy the obligation to mass on Sundays and on holy days of obligation by assisting in a mass of an ordinariate community.



      • Beenthere,

        Not at all. I regularly assist in the “conventual mass” of a Benedictine abbey located about ten miles from my home. This fulfills my Sunday obligation, but it does not make me a member of the abbey in any manner whatsoever. The jurisdiction of the abbot extends only to the monks of the abbey and others who “remain day and night in the houses of the order” (generally, retreatants and other overnight visitors for the time that they are there and the abbey’s current chef, who actually resides on the grounds). Canonically, I remain a member of the archdiocese and the parish within which I reside, and thus subject to the pastoral authority of the archbishop and the pastor of that parish.

        So, too, a “cradle catholic” who completed all of the sacraments of initiation within the jurisdiction of a normal diocesan parish normally cannot enroll as a member of the ordinariate, no matter how frequently that individual assists in a mass of a local ordinariate parish or other parochial community (canonically, “quasi-parish”). Note that a canonical member of an ordinariate is subject to the jurisdiction of its ordinary and the pastor of his or her ordinariate community instead of the jurisdiction of the bishop of the diocese and the diocesan parish of the place of residence.



      • “Of course, any member of the Catholic Church can satisfy the obligation to mass on Sundays and on holy days of obligation by assisting in a mass of an ordinariate community.”

        That’s understating it. They can also be members of an ordinariate parish, and fully participate in parish life to their heart’s content without being “second-class parishioners.” Canonical membership in the ordinariate has no discernible effect on everyday Catholic life, and when it does (e.g. certain sacraments or other canonical issues), it can generally be resolved by verbal courtesies exchanged between the ordinariate and the territorial pastor.


      • Tom,

        Not quite. No matter how one associates with an ordinariate parish, ecclesial law does not allow one to become a canonical member of an ordinariate parish without also becoming a canonical member of the ordinariate. Matters of ecclesial governance generally require the approval or one’s canonical pastor or ordinary (diocesan bishop) even if one habitually participates in the life of another parish, or even a parish in another diocese. This issue came to a head in San Antonio earlier this year, when Archbishop Garcia-Siller refused permission for confirmation of second graders who are diocesan parishioners alongside their classmates at Atonement Academy who are members of the Personal Ordinariate of the Chair of St. Peter.

        As a practical matter, most diocesan bishops grant collateral appointments as parochial vicars of the canonical parishes within which their ordinariate communities are located to the clergy of the ordinariate who are within their dioceses. Canonically, this collateral appointment actually allows the ordinariate clergy to baptize, hear confessions, and celebrate marriages of parties who are not members of the ordinariate, but the ordinariate clergy are acting under the jurisdiction of the respective diocesan bishop and diocesan pastor rather than under the jurisdiction of the ordinary of the ordinariate in doing so even if the celebration occurs in the church of the ordinariate community.

        There are other canonical “gotchas” in this, too. For example, a petition for a decree of nullity for such individuals would have to go to the tribunal of the appropriate diocese even after the respective ordinariate establishes its own marriage tribunals because the parties canonically are not members of the ordinariate.

        There’s actually a question as to whether a person who is not canonically a member of an ordinariate parish can legitimately serve in a capacity of liturgical ministry, such as Reader or Extraordinary Minister of Holy Communion, within a mass or other liturgical service of an ordinariate community. I think that the answer technically is negative, but it’s not invalidating so most diocesan bishops would ignore it unless they perceived it to be part of a much more serious problem.



      • Norm, I don’t know if you read carefully what I actually wrote. I’m not saying there aren’t canonical issues or cases where the territorial diocese may have to step in. I’m not saying that a declaration of nullity can be dealt with with a wink and a nod. That’s a serious matter. But implying, as you did, that without canonical membership, all someone is restricted to is “satisfying one’s Sunday obligation,” is a false dichotomy between “full canonical” and “bare minimal” participation. I’m not sure what the extent of your experience is with actual flesh-and-blood Ordinariate life, as opposed to internet opinion and amateur canon-lawyering, but that dichotomy as presented is simply not borne out in day-to-day reality.

        To reiterate, based on experience of having been a member of two different Ordinariate parishes and a canonical member of the Ordinariate, the occasions when one’s non-OCSP membership would make itself felt on a practical level are quite rare (which is not to say nonexistent), as in the case of a marriage tribunal issue, or an occasional hostile local ordinary with an ax to grind.

        If you have actual contrary experiences, I’m happy to hear of them, but I’m not interested in continuing along the track of theoretical canon-law conjectures uninformed by any practical knowledge. The only reason I responded here is because I want everyone without prior experience in the Ordinariate who stumbles upon this blog to understand that the theoretical dichotomy you present is pedantic and false, and instead of scaring them away, they need to understand that they will be equally welcome to be full participants of parish life regardless of whether they are former TEC/Anglican/Methodist/AME, cradle Catholic, Buddhist, atheist, or anything in between.


      • Tom,

        The situation that you describe is no different from a member of a parish that’s near the diocesan boundary choosing to assist in services and participate in other events at another parish in the abutting diocese. We are free to do so, but we don’t become a member of the neighboring diocese or its parish even if we fill out a registration form. Canonically, we remain members of the parish and the diocese within which we reside, regardless of how frequently we participate in the liturgy and the life of another parish.

        Your comments regarding practical effect are substantially true today, but that was not always the case. Most parish clergy currently are so overloaded that pastors are happy to grant permission to celebrate a marriage or a baptism elsewhere, so long as they don’t have to do it. Forty or fifty years ago, it was much more difficult to obtain such permission.



  2. There are two other ways that one might acquire canonical membership: incardination and claustration, as the Ordinariates are particular churches.


    • Nigel,

      Canonically, a cleric ordinarily must be eligible for membership in an ordinariate to be incardinated into one (so a priest ordained under the so-called “pastoral provision” here in the States could transfer, but a a “cradle catholic” priest who completed the sacraments of initiation in a diocesan parish could not). The authority for exceptions to this is the pope himself.

      So far, the only exception is Bishop Stephen Lopes, the present Ordinary of the Personal Ordinariate of the Chair of St. Peter — and the apostolic constitution Anglicanorum Coetibus clearly envisions that the ordinaries of the ordinariates normally will come from within, so his appointment is clearly a deviation from normative practice undoubtedly deemed necessary within the Vatican due to circumstances that have not been made public.

      The question of claustration is more interesting. The canonical authority of the major superior of a religious order normally extends to “all who reside day and night in the houses of the order” in addition to the members thereof. I’m aware of Benedictine abbeys where the abbots confer the sacrament of confirmation on students of boarding schools operated by the respective monastic communities based on this authority — those students are under the abbot’s jurisdiction because the school, where they reside, is part of a house of the order. So would residing at a house of a religious order of an ordinariate as a candidate or postulant, and thus becoming subject to the jurisdiction of the major superior of the house, provide a back door to canonical membership in the ordinariate? I’m not sure, but the Vatican probably would grant any necessary indult or dispensation if the vocation to that particular order seemed to be legitimate.



    • I thought that there was also a clause for disenfranchised and fallen away Roman Catholics to join the Ordinariate as I have heard in a talk by an Ordinariate priest..They wouldn’t be leaving their Diocesan Church, if they haven’t belonged to any parish church in a while.


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