SOUTHWARK, England, JUNE 10, 2011 (Zenit.org).- Within the majestic columns of Southwark Cathedral, where Blessed John Henry Newman celebrated his first Mass in England, seven priests of the Personal Ordinariate of Our Lady of Walsingham were ordained Saturday.
These seven joined the five former Anglican bishops who were ordained Catholic priests earlier this year — including the ordinary of the ordinariate, Monsignor Keith Newton — to become the first former-Anglican Catholic priests ready to minister to the faithful of the new ordinariate.
It was the beginning of a wave of priestly ordinations for the ordinariate scheduled for the coming days and weeks.
Monsignor Newton asked Archbishop Peter Smith of Southwark to perform the ordination.
In his homily, he spoke of the steps Anglican faithful have made following the plan laid out by the Pope in “Anglicanorum Coetibus.”
“The journey you have followed under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, to seek full communion with the Catholic Church has cost you and your people a great deal already,” Archbishop Smith said. “But you know well, that like all disciples, you have been called to follow in the footsteps of Jesus Christ — and that is the way of Calvary, the way of the cross.
“You know from your own experience that it is not an easy way, but if followed faithfully and generously, it is the way which leads to the resurrection and the fullness of life and love. And it brings you to a deeper communion with the person of Jesus Christ who has called you to feed his sheep and to look after them as good shepherds of God’s flock. In doing that faithfully, you can be sure that he will also give you the gifts of his joy and his peace.”
More than 50 priestly ordinations are expected in these weeks.
Meanwhile, Cardinal Donal Wuerl, archbishop of Washington, D.C., has gathered the results of his survey regarding interest in establishing an ordinariate in the United States.
In late May, he told EWTN that there were “a great number of enquiries from Anglican congregations and their clergy.”
“We have gathered up as much information as we can from all of these groups that have asked about the possibility of being part of an ordinariate, and we’ve put it together so that we have some data to pass on to the Congregation [for the Doctrine of the Faith] and we’ve been asked now to prepare dossiers on each of those members of the Anglican clergy who would like to be ordained and be part of this ordinariate, and profiles of the communities. Once that’s all in the hands of the Congregation, they’ve indicated they intend to announce — down the road — the formation of an ordinariate.”
In the interim, this week St. Luke’s Episcopal parish in Bladensburg, Maryland, announced that it is joining the Catholic Archdiocese of Washington.
“We welcome the St. Luke community warmly into our family of faith. The proposed ordinariate provides a path to unity, one that recognizes our shared beliefs on matters of faith while also recognizing and respecting the liturgical heritage of the Anglican church,” Cardinal Wuerl said.
St. Luke’s received congratulations from Mt. Calvary parish in Baltimore, which in October last year was the first parish that announced its plan to join the Catholic Church.
Despite some accusations that “Anglicanorum Coetibus” was an attempt to steal Anglicans for the Catholic Church, the Vatican has always reminded that it was a response to Anglican requests. Hence, before moving to establish an ordinariate in the United States, the Church set about discovering if there was a need.
In the United States, the Anglican Communion’s branch is the Episcopal Church, with some 2 million members. The Episcopal Church has been at the lead of some of the conflict within the Communion; it was this U.S. group that first ordained an openly homosexual bishop in 2003.