This report comes from The Messenger Journal, a publication of the Traditional Anglican Communion.
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ORDINARIATE CONFERENCE – Church of Torres Strait, TAC, Australia
Report by the Very Reverend Gordon Barnier, Vicar General
At the end of a Conference and Synod of the Church of Torres Strait held in Tamwoy Hall from June 3rd-5th, 2011, it was decided to respond “Yes” to Pope Benedict XVI in his offer to gather together Anglicans and former Anglicans into Ordinariates of the Catholic Church.
Fr. Getano Lui in his opening remarks as chairman recalled that the Conference was beginning on Mabo Day, 2011, and this important day for the Torres Strait may also be remembered for another important event on this day: the beginning of the Ordinariate for the Torres Strait.
Bishop Tolowa Nona, SSC, presided over the Conference, leading and guiding everyone to the decision made at the end of proceedings on Saturday afternoon. In his opening remarks the Bishop said again that the establishment of an Ordinariate would be the most significant event in the Christian history of the Torres Strait since the Coming of the Light (1871).
Our Chancellor Mr. A.J. Bell from the Gold Coast was in attendance to assist with legal aspects of forming an Ordinariate and to discuss the changes and benefits that we would see. Along with Mr. Bell we had the good fortune to also welcome prominent Sydney Q.C. Mr. John McCarthy. Mr McCarthy as well as his work in the law has also been involved for many years with the Catholic Lawyers Association, the Catholic charity the Society of Saint Vincent de Paul (“Vinnies”) and in many other avenues of service and interests. He was made a Papal Knight for his work with Catholic Lawyers. Mr. McCarthy’s wife, Elizabeth, is the author of many Christian books for children, and others on the Eucharist and Prayer. Mrs McCarthy sent some of these books for us and we are most grateful for those gifts.
Mr McCarthy has an excellent knowledge of Christian teaching and of the Church generally. He greatly assisted us in understanding the principles of the Ordinariate, the motivation of the Pope and the Church in making it available and a clear idea of the possibilities for us in an Ordinariate.
Vicar General Fr. Gordon Barnier led the Conference in a brief survey of the history of the Church to help everyone understand events leading to the establishment of the Ordinariates and to see how the Catholic Church is the same as the one begun by the Lord and still existing today. At the same time the Church recognizes that other Christian communities also have the faith in varying degrees and wants to reach out to embrace them.
A highlight of discussion was relationships with other communities of Christians and this will continue and expand. Combined services are often held and are helpful to many and we are mindful of the support that many other pastors give us. All pray and long for the day when we will be able to receive the one bread and the one cup in the Eucharist (Holy Communion, Lord’s Supper, Breaking of Bread).
“Culture” was also an important consideration and must be brought with us into the Ordinariate and the Catholic Church. This includes our Anglican culture (or patrimony) and our Torres Strait culture which is so important to our life and conduct. TI Parish Priest Fr Tom Stephen remarked that “religion” (not of course genuine religion) can unfortunately often divide people and even, as we hear on the news, kill people of other beliefs. Torres Strait culture is a guide for right actions towards others.
The conference was conducted in an atmosphere of prayer with the beautiful singing of the Angelus at Midday and Evening Prayer to conclude each day.
The conference concluded on Sunday morning with a packed Solemn Eucharist in PK Hall. The work ahead of us now is to find out who wishes to join the Ordinariate and then request the authorities in Rome to erect our Ordinariate.
Should our request be granted, there will be a confirmation of each person’s decision and an ordination of the present Priests and Deacons as Catholic Priests and Deacons. We have set a target date of Advent Sunday this year.
There are other exciting plans which will be detailed later.