John Henry Newman, a saint of the Anglican family

John Henry Newman, the world-renowned convert from Anglicanism and founder of the Oxford Movement, was declared a saint today by Pope Francis in Rome. He is now the first non-martyr Englishman to be canonized since the Reformation. Not only is he a confessor, he may well one day even be declared a Doctor of the Church.

6F60FE0E-5F72-4D83-B113-631D280934CDToday is a day of celebration by both Anglicans and Catholics. Prince Charles has written an article in Osservatore Romano, which was published in abbreviated form in the Times as well. As His Royal Highness writes, “As we mark the life of this great Briton, this great churchman and, as we can now say, this great saint, who bridges the divisions between traditions, it is surely right that we give thanks for the friendship which, despite the parting, has not merely endured, but has strengthened.”

Jacob Rees Mogg has an article of his own on Cardinal Newman out today, writing “The creation of a new saint is important because it keeps alive the hope of salva­tion for all.”

4A6E0DF7-0580-49C0-941D-5F3E100D9689Much has been and will be written about the life and legacy of John Henry Newman, but suffice it to say here that, for those of us Catholics of the Anglican tradition, today is a day of rejoicing as a member of our Anglican family – and patron of our cherished ordinariates through which we have become Catholic – is recognized by the Catholic Church as a saint, interceding for us in Heaven.

As Newman wrote in response to a proposal by Ambrose Philip de Lisle for an Anglican Uniate Church (akin to the Anglican ordinariates that Providence held in store), “Nothing will rejoice me more than to find that the Holy See considers it safe and promising to sanction some such plan….” Thanks be to God for the life, ministry, and ongoing influence of John Henry Newman.

St. John Henry Newman pray for us!

DSC08531A beautiful canonization Mass today in St. Peter’s Square.  What I especially loved were the long periods of silence.  Tens of thousands of people silent in communion before God, with God, in St. Peter’s Square.  Amazing.



Here’s Bishop Steven Lopes as he processed from St. Peter’s.

St. John Henry Newman, pray for us.  I imagine I will have much to say about Newman and the development of doctrine, on conscience, and on education in the coming days, but right now I want to upload some photos, both of the canonization and some of our ordinariate folks in Rome right now.   I have more pictures on my phone, so more later.


Msgr. Robert Mercer has a policy of never smiling in photos, but I think I did get some.  Above he is shown with Fr. Bernard Sixtus, an ordinariate priest in South Wales and a member of the board of directors of the Anglicanorum Coetibus Society.

I met Msgr. Mercer this morning at 8 a.m. at the priests’ residence where he is staying and we walked together to the Hotel Michelangelo where we met Msgr. Carl Reid, Msgr. Entwistle, Nigel McBain, a seminarian from Australia, and Fr. Tad Oxley of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith.

DSC08511Fr. Oxley greeted Bishop Lopes as we got to the area outside the sacristy of  St. Peter’s.

DSC08510We also got a chance to say hello to Bishop Robert Barron.


On the eve of the canonization of Cardinal John Henry Newman


The day started with Divine Worship Mass at a chapel in the North American College with Bishop Steven Lopes.

DSC08433With him, was a group of pilgrims and clergy from Our Lady of Walsingham, our cathedral parish in Houston.  Nigel McBain, a seminarian from Australia, was the cantor and what a beautiful voice he has!  It was great to meet all these folks.

Msgr. Carl Reid had just arrived after a long flight from Australia.  So, Nigel and Msgr. Carl and I went to the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith so they could get instructions and tickets etc. for tomorrow’s canonization, then we went out to lunch.

After that, Msgr. Carl and I took a cab to the Angelicum for the Symposium on Newman the Prophet: a Saint for our Time.


My brain is too full of the rich discourses by George Weigel on “Lead Kindly Light: the story of a saint; Archbishop Bernard Longley on “Thoughtful belief in a secular age; The Grammar of Assent;” with a response from Sr. Catherine Joseph Droste, OP.

DSC08469Tracey Rowland, a member of the International Theological Commission and on the faculty of the University of Notre Dame in Australia spoke on Newman’s Idea of a University: Catholics in Modern Education with a response from Fr. Guy Nicholls, Cong. Orat.   She is a splendid theologian.

DSC08504Archbishop Anthony Fisher OP of Sydney, Australia spoke on Conscience, Relativism and Truth: The Witness of Newman.  Thomas Farr, President of the Religious Freedom Institute in Washington, D.C. responded.

So interesting to hear what Newman believed about conscience—that it was the heart of God speaking to the heart of man and how the understanding of conscience has become corrupted, even in the Church.

Caught up with Fr. John Hodgins from our Toronto ordinariate parish of St. Thomas More at the symposium.


Among the people at the symposium:    The Papal Posse from Raymond Aroyo’s The World Over on EWTN:   Fr. Gerald Murray and Robert Royal.

Fr. Z was there, too.  I didn’t get a picture, but I did thank him for his blog.

Also, Jackie Ottaway and Ronald Crane, the co-editors of The Portal were there.  Expect a story on the symposium in the next edition.  Here they are with Gill Newton (on the right), the wife of Msgr. Keith Newton, who was also there.


Msgr. Newton got waylaid by a reporter from the Catholic Herald.

DSC08454As the event drew to a close, there was a reception in the courtyard, and I got to meet Joanna Bogle, a columnist and writer from the U.K.   Very interesting and entertaining.  It was too dark for pictures by then.

Msgr. Jeffrey Steenson was there, too.  Great to see him again.  Tried to talk him into visiting Canada again and having his trip coincide with our Anglican Tradition in the Catholic Church Conference in Toronto Nov. 15-16.   Register now!

Preparations for Anglicanorum coetibus at 10 symposium

20191010_191244I have been in Rome for a couple of days in advance of Symposium 2019 marking the 10th Anniversary of Anglicanorum coetibus. 

20191011_095948_HDR (1)Today, I went to the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith to put together conference folders for the some 166 attendees.  The interest in this has been phenomenal, and the symposium on Tuesday, Oct. 15,  co-sponsored by the Pontifical Gregorian University’s Canon Law department, will now take place in the largest hall at the university.

It is interesting that probably the largest number of married priests in the Latin Rite will descend on Rome in the coming days, for the canonization of Cardinal Newman and for the symposium at the same time the Synod on the Amazon takes place, with many arguing for ordaining married men. Continue reading

Retiring from Catholic journalism

IMG_4962eAs of Sept. 30, I have officially retired from my contract writing for Canadian Catholic News.

On Monday, Oct. 7 some friends honored me with a retirement party at a downtown restaurant.

Here is a picture of me with my former boss Jim O’Leary, co-chair of CCN and editor and publisher of the Catholic Register in Toronto. I don’t know why he has a halo, but I digress.

It’s been a wonderful 15 years.  I learned a great deal from all the people I interviewed over the years.  It’s their words and stories I shared with the public.  I am so grateful for all of them and for the wonderful opportunities I have had.

IMG_4959eJohanne Brownrigg, formerly of Campaign Life Coalition, organized the small gathering  that brought together a number of people who were my sources over the years, both Catholic and evangelical, in everything from life issues, to religious freedom court challenges, family and social justice.   And the two co-founders of the Spiritual Motherhood of Priests, of which I am a member as of 2015.  Thanks to Bob Du Broy for the photos!

IMG_4960ePeter Stockland of Convivium Magazine, my first journalist friend when I moved to Ottawa in 1989 spoke a few words, remembering the days I would go as an evangelical to a weekly lunch of conservative Catholics.




Last Monday was the first (except for a rare holiday Monday) where I was not strapped to the chair in front of my computer pumping out one story after another.

I will still be freelancing from time to time, but not at the same relentless pace.   Now I will have more time free to be more actively involved in the mission of the Anglicanorum Coetibus Society.

To that end, I leave for Rome today for events around the canonization of Cardinal John Henry Newman on Sunday.

Fr. Jack Barker and the early history of our movement

IMG_0156As we celebrate the 10th Anniversary of Anglicanorum coetibus this year with our conference Anglican Tradition in the Catholic Church Nov. 15-16 in Toronto, it’s good to remember the Apostolic Constitution did not drop from the sky into Pope Benedict XVI’s imagination without any grounding or preparation.

Anglicanorum coetibus had its roots in the Pastoral Provision of 1980 and it had its pioneers who were on the forefront of ensuring Anglican tradition and common identity would have its place in the Catholic Church.

One of those pioneers is Fr. Jack Barker, who will be our keynote speaker in Toronto.  You will not want to miss his talk!  He has told us he will share information that has not been released in the public domain previously.

Fr. Barker has written a history of the Pastoral Provision that is well worth reading to remind us how far we’ve come.  It also shows how much remains the same! Continue reading

Fr Jack Barker, pioneer of the Pastoral Provision

Father Jack Barker, keynote speaker at our upcoming ninth conference on the Anglican tradition in the Catholic Church, has been called by Bishop Steven Lopes of the Ordinariate a “pioneer of the Pastoral Provision”. Trained in classical piano, physics and engineering, and in Anglican seminary programs in both England and the US, Fr Barker has been involved in the Anglican movement into the Catholic Church over the decades.

barker et al

Fr Barker (left) after mass, June 29, 2014, with Fr Guzman, Mgr Steenson, Glenn Baaten, & Fr Bartus.

He attended Anglican seminary at the well-known, Anglo-catholic College of the Resurrection in Mirfield, Yorkshire. He worked on a precursor to the Apollo space program, before being ordained in the Episcopal church for ministry in southern California. He served at the Anglo-catholic parish of St Mary of the Angels in Hollywood, first as an associate and later as Rector.

Involved for years with the American Church Union under the leadership of Canon DuBois, he and others formed Anglicans United, a group of catholic Anglicans that entered into a relationship with the Holy See that ultimately helped to bring about the Pastoral Provision. Later on, Fr Barker wrote about how the Pastoral Provision came about in his fascinating “Early History of the Anglican Use”.

Fr Barker has done us a real service in recording this history of how we came to be given a “pastoral provision for former Anglicans thereby ensuring their identity and the preservation of elements of their worship” and how the Holy See would open the Catholic priesthood to “even those Anglican priests who were married.” One of the more poignant moments in that history is the passing of Canon DuBois, who died in June, 1980, “with the dream of corporate reunion yet to be realized”, but who was “individually received into the full communion of the Roman Catholic Church prior to his death. During his illness private assurances were received from Rome that the petition would be approved.”

It took a few years for the implementation of the provision to begin to be worked out, but Fr Barker led members of his congregation into the Catholic Church in 1986, after which he ran a Catholic charitable organization, studied in Catholic seminaries, and was ultimately made a Catholic priest.

Now helping with the ordinariate community of Our Lady of Grace, Fr Barker has worked closely with Mgr Steenson and Bishop Lopes since the early days of the North American ordinariate.

Further details on Father Barker’s life and many years of service to catholic-minded Anglicans, to Catholics of the Anglican tradition, and to the wider Church can be read in his biography below. Father Barker will be speaking on the Anglican tradition in the Catholic Church, its history and its potential, at our upcoming conference and we encourage everyone to register now. Spread the word!

Born in 1941 in South Dakota and raised in southern California. A graduate of Hawthorne High School with highest honors. Bachelor’s in Physics from the College of Letters and Science at U.C.L.A. in 1963. He is trained in classical piano.

Under the sponsorship of a South African Anglican bishop, he attended Anglican Seminary at the College of the Resurrection in Mirfield, Yorkshire, England beginning in 1963. He received the General Ordination Examination certificate of the Church of England in 1965.

Because of the political realities in South Africa at the time it was recommended that he return to Los Angeles rather than be ordained and work in the Anglican Church in the Diocese of Kimberley and Kuruman. He applied to the Episcopal Diocese of Los Angeles and continued studies at Bloy Episcopal School of Theology. During this time he worked as an engineer in the Space Program at Hughes Aircraft on Project Surveyor, a precursor to Apollo Moon landings.

In 1970 he was ordained Deacon and then priest by Rt. Rev. Francis Eric Bloy at St. Paul’s Episcopal Cathedral in Los Angeles. In the Fall of 1970 he was asked by Rev. James Jordan, jr. to come to St. Mary of the Angels as an associate and continue as a “worker-priest.” In early 1971 Father Jordan died suddenly of a massive heart attack. He was eventually installed as the Third Rector by Rt. Rev. Robert Claflin Rusack the Coadjutor bishop of the LA diocese.

From the beginning at St. Mary’s he became involved with the American Church Union (ACU) which was under the direction of its famous Executive Director Rev. Canon Albert Julius DuBois, affectionately known as “Mr. Catholic” in the Episcopal Church. Following the Minneapolis General Convention of 1976 he and Fathers Barker and Brown formed “Anglicans United” to lead the way in finding a new home for catholic minded Episcopalians.

The AU represented many former Episcopal parishes throughout the USA. Canon DuBois was invited to Rome for conversations about the possibility of former Episcopalians entering into full communion with the Catholic Church. He had a heart attack and Fathers Barker and Brown went in his stead.

Finally in 1986 many members of St. Mary of the Angels together with 100% of St Matthias formed a new combined parish and where all were received into the Catholic Church at a single Mass celebrated by a Roman Catholic priest who was part of what was known then as the Pastoral Provision. The remaining congregation at St. Mary’s became a part of the continuing Anglican movement.

Father Barker went on to run Catholic Charities in Nevada for two years and in 1989 was accepted into the Roman Catholic Diocese of San Bernardino where he attended the local seminary for one year of orientation and then two years of graduate level studies at St Patrick’s Pontifical Seminary in Menlo Park, California. He received the Masters in Divinity in 1992 and was ordained a priest for the Diocese of San Bernardino by Most Rev. Philip Straling the first bishop of that diocese.

He served two years as an assistant at the Cathedral of Our Lady of the Rosary and was pastor for nine years at St. Francis of Assisi in la Quinta; finally, he served twelve years at St Martha’s in Murrieta.

After a year and a half of candidacy he made his vows as an Oblate of the Order of Saint Benedict with the Abbey of St. John’s in St. Cloud, Minnesota. He is now retired in Murrieta and provides supply services to local Latin Rite parishes and helps at Our Lady of Grace Ordinariate Community. At the invitation first of Monsignor Steenson and then of Bishop Lopes, he has been in attendance at all the annual clergy gatherings of the Ordinariate of the Chair of St Peter and serves as their confessor.

Further information on our upcoming conference can be found here.