Mount Calvary Church, Baltimore

The vestry of the small Anglo-Catholic parish of Mount Calvary in Baltimore has voted to leave The Episcopal Church and seek admission into the Catholic Church under the terms of the Apostolic Constitution Anglicanorum Coetibus.  A special meeting of the congregation has been called to approve these actions.  May the people of Mount Calvary be in our prayers as they approach this solemn assembly!

H/t to The Bovina Bloviator.

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September 21, 2010

Dear Friends in Christ,

I write today to inform you of a special meeting of the Congregation of Mount Calvary Church which has been called by the Vestry for Sunday, October 24, following the 10:00 am Solemn Mass. The purpose of this meeting is to vote on two resolutions which have been unanimously approved by the Vestry. They are as follows:

Resolved: In accordance with Article 12 of the amendment to the Charter of Mount Calvary Church, Baltimore, adopted April 10, 1967, the Vestry of Mount Calvary Church hereby determines that The Episcopal Church (formerly known as the “Protestant Episcopal Church in the United States of America”) has clearly, substantially, and fundamentally changed its doctrine, discipline and worship, and that Mount Calvary Church should become separate from and independent of The Episcopal Church. The Vestry therefore calls for a special meeting of the Congregation of Mount Calvary Church to be held on Sunday, October 24, 2010, following the 10:00 AM Mass, to affirm and enact this resolution.

Resolved: That Mount Calvary Church, upon separation from The Episcopal Church, seek to become an Anglican Use parish of the Roman Catholic Church.

Most of you are fully aware of the history which has brought us to this point. That history extends all the way back to the 19th century, when Mount Calvary became well-known, throughout Maryland and throughout the Episcopal Church, for its adherence to Catholic faith and practice. Indeed, to some it was notorious for its “popish” ways, and in fact for many clergy and people over the years (including two of my predecessors as rector), Mount Calvary has been their last stop before “crossing the Tiber”. The immediate process which brings us to this historic moment began with a Vestry retreat in October 2007, where it was decided unanimously that Mount Calvary should explore the possibility of becoming part of the Roman Catholic Church. Since then, two crucial events have occurred. The first was the reception of the All Saints Sisters of the Poor, our own parish sisters, into the Catholic Church in September 2009. The second was the announcement the following month of Anglicanorum Coetibus, the Apostolic Constitution calling for the creation of “personal ordinariates” (essentially non-geographical dioceses) for groups of Anglicans entering the Roman Catholic Church while retaining elements of their tradition. The result of these developments is that the Archdiocese of Baltimore now stands ready to welcome Mount Calvary as a body into full communion with the successor of St. Peter, and the process of establishing ordinariates in various countries, including the United States, has begun.

While I know that the vast majority of you are enthusiastic about making this transition, I realize that some may still have questions and concerns about the prospect of entering the Roman Catholic Church. In the weeks ahead, prior to the congregational meeting, I will invite a series of guests to speak about their experience of life in the Catholic Church and to answer questions. Some of these guests will be well-known to you; indeed they will include former parishioners and clergy of Mount Calvary. I think all of them will be helpful in allaying any fears there may be.

Let me conclude by saying how truly grateful I am to be leading Mount Calvary Church at this moment in time. When I became your rector over four years ago, I had not the faintest idea that this would be the journey we would take together. Nonetheless, there is not a doubt in my mind that this is the work of the Holy Spirit and truly the will of God, not simply for me, but for Mount Calvary. This is not about rejecting our past and our heritage, but rather fulfilling it. We have before us the opportunity to carry with us the richness of the Anglican tradition into full communion with the wider Catholic Church. I therefore ask that each of you pray that God’s will be done in this place which we all love so dearly as we approach this momentous decision.

Yours in Christ,

The Rev’d Jason Catania, SSC

Author: Christian Clay Columba Campbell

Christian Clay Columba Campbell is a Roman Catholic of the Anglican Use. As Senior Warden of the Cathedral of the Incarnation (Orlando, FL), he organized the process by which the parish accepted the Apostolic Constitution Anglicanorum Coetibus, petitioning to join the Catholic Church. The Anglican Cathedral is now the Church of the Incarnation in the Personal Ordinariate of the Chair of St. Peter. He is also the CEO of Three Fish Consulting, LLC, an Information Technology consultancy based in Orlando, FL. He can be reached via email at ccampbell at threefish dot co.

55 thoughts on “Mount Calvary Church, Baltimore”

  1. Amazing news! This is the first non TAC/ACA church seeking communion that I have heard of. Does anyone know what liturgy they use?
    Now if only we could get St. Clements in PA ;).

      1. Which Holy Week do you use?
        If any of these churches that use the Pre-1955 Holy Week join the church it will interesting to see how Rome responds to that.

        1. We use the pre-1955 rites with a few modifications: The people receive communion at the Presanctified and we only do 4 of the 12 prophecies at the Vigil. (Paul Goings has outlined the differences at St. Clements and I believe Mount Calvary does the same thing.)

          1. Well, it's true with regard to the distribution of Holy Communion on Good Friday, which is also (for now) done at S. Clement's. But we have the twelve lessons on Holy Saturday. The main areas seem to be: the order of the procession and various things relating to the Passion on Palm Sunday, the position of the Maundy and the recitation of Vespers on Thursday, several things on Good Friday, and the number of lessons on Holy Saturday. I've always wanted to compile a table of what's done at Resurrection, S. Clement's, and Mt. Calvary, which are the only three A-C parishes to use the old Holy Week, but I've never been able to find reliable correspondents from the other parishes.

  2. Great news! I especially rejoice — can hardly believe it — that according to reports TEC is willing to let them have their building.

  3. May the Lord bless all who seek unity in faith.

    Incidentally, did not the small community of St. Columba's in Fernley, NV, formerly of the Episcopal Missionary Church (EMC), elect to enter the Ordinariate some weeks ago?

    If this is the case, let us not forget mentioning them.


  4. Fabulous! TEC is apparently considering a different policy about parishes joining the Ordinariate. They don't want to do anything ecumenically insensitive by preventing parishes from taking advantage of the Pope's offer, when the Anglican Communion as a whole still likes to claim that it has a substantial dialogue with the Holy See.

    1. If the past is any indicator…..a lawsuit is in the process of being created. The TEC PB and many of her Bishops will not allow the property to leave. Almost every parish or Diocese that has left in the last 5 years have had to fight for their property in court. Property that has been won, some have been sold to Muslim groups. Matt Kennedy of Standfirm lost his property. His parish offered to purchase at the market value. TEC sold it to a muslim group for much less than market value.

      Success in court depends upon State laws. And if the Bishop of the Diocese has the courage to go against 815. Like Bishop Lawrence of South Carolina who refuses to sue any parish that leaves.

      They may have to come into the Church sans property. Let us pray Maryland has property laws favoring the local parish.

    2. I could see the TEC letting them keep this one. They might not find it worth the lawsuit for an empty church in a kinda bad neighborhood. (It is a beautiful church, though.)

      1. The Dennis Canon and the Schori principal of slash and burn is in effect. The location does not matter. They will just resale the church property to any other group as long as the group is not Anglican. People can leave the TEC, not the property is the mantra. They file suit to retain the property even if it is empty of people in the end. Then sale it to whomever.

        The one possible unknown….so far this is the first or only TEC parish to choose the Ordinariate. Will the TEC sue in effect the Catholic Church if this parish does in fact come into the Ordinariate? Does the Church want the scandal and headaches of a legal fight in which no one wins? Would it just be best to leave the property and obtain an empty Catholic Church? Some questions any TEC parish and the Church will have to answer.

  5. "They don't want to do anything ecumenically insensitive by preventing parishes from taking advantage of the Pope's offer"

    To be honest I would say it's more that they have more sense than to poke the 1,500lbs bear in the room than any ecumenical concerns.

    1. To be honest I would say it's more that they have more sense than to poke the 1,500lbs bear in the room than any ecumenical concerns.

      I don't know about that. So far, they seem quite willing to poke 500 pounds of lion in the room!


  6. What about Bp. Keith Ackerman, the flying bishop who uses to come to Mount Calvary for Confirmations and other occasions (and former ECUSA bishop of Quincy)? Did he manifest an interest in crossing the Tiber using BXVI's bridge? He would be a good ordinary for USA if he does so.

  7. This is neat. Some momentum appears to be building.

    In terms of lawsuits, I suspect the TEC will sue. They have brought lawsuits against their Christian brothers and sisters to the tune of millions. I think ++Katherine is more irritated with Anglican groups but still the principal remains. The thing about them selling property to a Muslim group rather than an Anglican groups is correct. It is all very vindictive and top driven.

    Still Godspeed to this group as it sails across the Tiber. To keep the nautical metaphor, the TEC was once compared to the denominational equivalent of the Titanic in a Christianity Today article of some kind. That grand old ship is taking on water fast as it is no longer orthodox, bleeding both people and money. Benedict has indeed offered a lifeboat.

  8. Very best wishes to the Rector and People of Mt. Calvary!

    The Presiding Bishop made her position very clear a few years ago. Episcopal bishops and standing committees might relinquish their claims on properties: (1) if they could negotiate a settlement at something like fair market value; and (2) so long as the departing congregation was not joining another group claiming to be Anglican.

    Having to buy the property again will certainly be difficult for a congregation to accept, but I think this is the right and proper approach.

  9. Fr. Steenson,

    You are a man of great integrity, character and education. Personally, I think you would make a terrific Ordinary.

  10. Dear Anonymous Reader,

    Thank you, sincerely, for your kind words. I think that the Ordinary will need to have a lot of experience as a Catholic, in order to navigate/advocate in the system on behalf of Ordinariate's clergy and people. I was received on St. Andrew's Day 2007, and the learning curve has been steep! There are better candidates, including one well known to all of us on this blog.

    By the way, prospective clergy of the Ordinariate: prepare to work harder than you ever have. The demands of the Catholic priesthood are very different than our relatively bucolic life as Anglicans. People told me this would be the case, but one has to experience it to understand. It is like beginning to exercise after years of being sedentary, a struggle at first, but then the wonderful sense of really being alive again!

    1. I think I know the priest your speaking of and yes he would make a great Ordinary and has had experience on both sides of the Tiber.

      We seem to be getting the cream of the crop as far as priests go for the Ordinariate. Strong in their faith and willing to sacrifice for Truth, not just taking the easy way and staying when their conscience tells them they must follow our Lord.

  11. What about St. Luke's, Bladensburg, Maryland — or St. Anthony of Padua, Hackensack, NJ (yes, that's really the name of a TE"C" parish)? Any "tipsters" from those necks of the woods? I think that, quoting from what a friend wrote the other day:

    "Mount Calvary, to put it bluntly is not a homosexual parish. Grace and St. Peter's, also in Baltimore, is. St. Clement's in Philadelphia is, also, as is St. Mary the Virgin in NY. The list could go on. The last three mentioned would never become RC."

    that these two TE"C" parishes would fall into the "Mount Calvary category" rather than into that of St. Clement's, St. Mary the Virgin (not to mention St. Paul's, K Street, DC, or the Church of the Advent, Boston and others).

    1. And goodness knows that parishioners from Anglo-Catholic "homosexual parishes" will not want to join the Ordinariate. Because there are no gays in Roman Catholicism, so they wouldn't fit in. Come on, Dr. Tighe.

    2. I took a look at the St. Anthony of Padua site earlier today. They don't mention the Apostolic Constitution, but given their history (the parish was founded as an independent Catholic Church because the Irish bishop of Newark wasn't interested in letting the Italians found a parish; they later were received into the Episcopal Church), doesn't bode well. Sounds like the Polish National CC, but on a much smaller scale. But the rector is a SSC priest. Perhaps he is leaning that way.

  12. Fr. Cantania, you and your congregation are very much in my personal prayers, and we'll be including the upcoming vote in our parish intentions during the Masses at Our Lady of the Atonement. God bless you for the wonderful work you are doing — you're a great example of a loving shepherd caring for the flock entrusted to him.

  13. Dear brothers from Baltimore, welcome to this (quite crazy, but holy) family build by Our Lord on Peter the Rock, which is the Catholic Church. Welcome home, brothers, and greetings from a typical Spanish cradle Catholic. :-)

  14. I'll repeat what I said above – that there are indications that the Episcopal Church will react very differently to parishes leaving for the Ordinariate than parishes leaving for ACNA or another Anglican group.

    They have an interest in doing everything possible to inhibit the growth of other Anglican groups in the United States, especially since ACNA wishes to ultimately be recognized as a member province of the Anglican Communion. And there is a real possibility of large numbers of additional parishes leaving TEC if they don't sue.

    However, I doubt that TEC views the Ordinariate as much of a threat, since even without the threat of litigation, the number of parishes likely to be interested in such an offer is very small. Most orthodox Anglo-Catholics have already been forced out of TEC.

    Secondly, a lawsuit against these parishes would entail a lawsuit against the Catholic Church. The Episcopal Church doesn't like picking on anyone their own size – let alone bigger! It's also potentially much more embarrassing to sue the Catholic Church than to sue a rival Anglican body.

    The Archbishop of Canterbury was forced to keep a stiff upper lip and make nice with the Holy Father, and claim that the offer of an Ordinariate was a sign of the positive results of ARCIC. In other words, to preserve the illusion that Anglican-RC dialogue has a future, they need to bit their tongues and spin the departure of Anglicans for communion with Rome as well as possible. If they sue, they not only risk the full legal weight of the Vatican against them, but they also loose any value they may have obtained from spinning this as a move forward for Anglican-Roman Catholic dialogue. If they make nice, they can sell this to the press as a feel-good story of churches working together to advance ecumenical relations – unlike a departure for a rival Anglican body, which is simply a sign of the Episcopal Church falling apart.

    Frankly, this is a good thing for the Episcopal Church – it gives them an opportunity to get rid of a few parishes that they don't know what to do with, without risking them being part of a rival Anglican jurisdiction.

    Now, everything I've said here would only apply to the United States – and possibly one or two parishes in Canada. I think that the UK is a much different story, since many more parishes might be impacted by this, the real estate may (in many cases) be much more valuable, and there are so many more political issues involved. But even here, there will be pressure on the C of E and the Vatican to make this look as positive as possible.

    1. We will have to wait and see, but I feel that Michael Trolly might have it right. Since the Holy Father stated that the meetings between Anglicans and the Catholic Church would be on going, maybe TEC will just make some kind of agreement with Mount Calvary and let them have the church, instead of suing.

      Hopefully this will be the case. Also it is great to see a parish still within TEC coming into the Ordinariate and our prayers are with them.

    2. The Archbishop of Canterbury was forced to keep a stiff upper lip and make nice with the Holy Father, and claim that the offer of an Ordinariate was a sign of the positive results of ARCIC. In other words, to preserve the illusion that Anglican-RC dialogue has a future, they need to bit their tongues and spin the departure of Anglicans for communion with Rome as well as possible.

      I think that Anglican-Roman Catholic dialog has a LOT of potential, once the orthodox churches of the Anglican Communion in Africa and elsewhere force the Anglican Communion to do a bit of housecleaning. There are plenty of indications that Lambeth Place is navigating some difficult waters while biding time for orthodox Anglicans in North America to put the structure of a new province in place. Once that happens, *poof* — "The Episcopal Church" is out and the new province is in. And as Anglican-Roman Catholic dialog continues, the personal ordinariates will provide a nice testbed to identify and figure out how to resolve the issues that are likely to arise in reconcillation between the Catholic Church and the whole of the Anglican Communion on a small scale so that the ultimate Catholic-Anglican reunification will go smoothly.


  15. Secondly, a lawsuit against these parishes would entail a lawsuit against the Catholic Church.

    This seems very unlikely to me. I cannot imagine a Roman Catholic diocese erecting a parish which was using a building which they didn't have clear title to. The diocese could offer to buy it from ECUSA themselves, or accept it from, in this case, the Rector and Wardens of Mt. Calvary, after their own process with ECUSA had been litigated, but accepting the parish into the Anglican Use or the Ordinariate while the title is still in dispute seems like a long shot.

    But perhaps this did already happen with one or more of the Anglican Use parishes, and I might be entirely wrong. Or ECUSA will sell them the building without any difficulties. But there will never be a need for ECUSA to sue a Roman Catholic diocese.

  16. This is awesome news, indeed!

    I have a very personal connection with this wonderful place, having been "priested" there (yes, I know, an old bit of Anglican nomenclature) on September 6, 1994. Fr. Ilgenfritz, now a bishop somewhere in the continuing church, was rector at the time, and assisted Bishop MacBurney in the laying on of hands.

    Fantastic news! And right up from Camden Yards ballpark, no less.

  17. Has anyone heard of some parishes in New Jersey joining the Ordinariate? On another website a woman said she attended the Anglican Use Conference and that she knew of some parishes, hers included who were going to join. She commented that her priest has spoken to the Catholic Bishop and are working through him.

    If this is true, then we are growing and maybe faster than we thought.

    1. What website was that? I attended the June Conference and thought I was the only New Jerseyan there. I'd like to connect with her parish.

      1. I have heard nothing about this, although I have an uninformed speculation as to what parish that might be. Btw, I, too, was at the AU conference in June, and hope to be at next year's in Fort Worth, or rather Arlington, Texas.

      2. Justin,

        She didn't mention any names and didn't seem like she was very familiar with the Ordinariate as we are here. She said she was 72 years old. That is all I know about her. I read it on a Catholic website I post on. I learn much about what many Catholics are feeling about the Church today. It is very interesting and at times a poster will write a thread about Anglicans coming into the Church or how beautiful their liturgy is.

        Just from this website, one of the largest ones, I think that more and more Latin Rite Catholics will attend Anglican Use parishes once established.

        1. Justin,

          Sorry it is called Catholic Answers, but they have several areas and I can't recall which one it was in. Might have been the Liturgy one. Also they do at times remove a thread for whatever reason.

    2. That woman was me. I was trying to be vague and am sometimes confused in my writing. Now that it is all out on the internet, I feel freer to speak. (I thought that prior message was lost since I hit the wrong button!) As far as I know money matters have not been solved. IT is the faith that matters. One of my biggest signs that now is the time is the many splits caused by these heresies or schisims or just evil. I thought a three way split hear on earth was bad enough now they are multiplying and still there is no peace.

      1. Pat,

        From your post on CAF I thought you were from New Jersey. Are you from another state? As you said your parish waited 40 years, but we must trust that it was our Lord's timing for your parish to move forward.

        God Bless your parish.

  18. Can William Tighe or another commenter give any insight on the current state of affairs at St. Paul's, K Street in Washington, which at several points in the past was host to Bishop Ackerman?

    1. An informant writes me:

      "I think St. Paul is a mixed bag congregation, not aligned with FIF or AffCath, but with the AffCath leaning parishioners gradually winning the day through attrition. Since their congregation has members that are strongly traditionalist and others who go the opposite direction, but like the smells and bells, they would do things like invite a traddy bishop from Africa one Sunday, and then invite Bishop Griswold the next Sunday. They are trying to be all things to all people which, while incoherent and cannot last for the long term, has at least kept the congregation a successful ongoing concern for the last 10 years or so. Their music program and liturgy, AFAIK, is still excellent.

      There is no way that St. Paul's would ever go for the Ordinariate – it would rip the congregation to shreds, and they just spent a lot of money adding a wing to the parish house a year or so ago besides. There are no women priests on staff and no same-sex unions performed, but there likely will be both in either the next rectorship or the rectorship after that."

  19. There will be no lawsuit because the Roman Catholic Church has made it very clear they will not accept parishes with unresolved property issues. The Catholic Church has no more stomach for suing TEC than the reverse.

    On the other hand, I don't know the details of Mt. Calvary other than walking by it and once attending a weekday Mass. If it has a large mortgage, high debts or need of expensive repairs, TEC could let it go just like homeowners who are "underwater" let their house go.

  20. What a joyous moment in time! As a recent convert to Roman Catholicism from TEC it is delightful to see the vigor which former Episcopalians and Anglicans bring into the Roman Catholic Church. We bring strength and enthusiasm as we unify under the one banner of our Mother Church. Now we just need to show them how coffee hour is supposed to work, That's one area where have always excelled.

  21. I saw an article October 6th on entitled "Mt. Calvary Episcopal Church considers entry in Catholic Church" by George Matypek Jr. The article states that "Archbishop Wuerl said that the U.S. Bishops have received several requests from Episcopal parishes seeking entry into the Catholic Church as Anglican Use Parishes." This is so exciting to watch..I think there will be more Episcopal Parishes going into the Ordinariate than what we first thought.

  22. Please pray for Mount Calvary Church: the local Episcopalian prelate interposed himself on the congregation today and (1) insulted their faith during his sermon and (2) threatened them in temporalities at an extended coffee-hour meeting. The rector was not allowed to attend, since the Episcopalian powers-that-be are convinced (entirely falsely) that the parish's Rome-ward aspirations are solely the work of the clergy. He certainly doesn't believe that now, after what he heard from an overwhelming percentage of parishioners.

  23. I think it's a mixed bag. If they went directly to the Archdiocese, the parish would be shuttered as being not viable, with only 50 members. This heavily endowed parish would then forfeit its holdings to the Archdiocese, and, after a million bucks—or thereabouts—spent on recent renovations, would be sold to some Baptist or Pentecostal church. So, the move to the Anglican Rite is the most prudent move…if converting to Rome can be considered a wise move.
    Just some musings. Not necessarily a right or a wrong.

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