"Bricks and Mortar…"

This is from Fr Ray Blake's Blog, and it appears also on the Ordinariate Portal.

Ordinariate: Bricks and Mortar essential to Patrimony

I have been intrigued by Damian Thompson's piece on the Ordinariate, I have certainly been wondering about that illusive church and why the Nuncio should use the word "meticulous" to describe the bishops implementation of Anglicanorum Coetibus and why despite what the Apostolic Constitution says the English and Welsh bishops seem to have a veto on ordinations. "When the Archbishop of Westminster came to talk to us", said a friend who is part of Allen Hall formation group, "he thanked Dr Wang for arranging the very speedy Formation prior to ordination, and (tellingly) added "I don't think we'll let it happen so quickly in future". I am not sure that is what Anglicanorum Coetibus says. I checked out Damian's story with another Ordinariate friend and received this email, emphasis is mine:

DT is right, of course, but to a point. It's unfair to suggest (as he does I think) that the Ordinariate leadership are holding this up – it's very difficult to ask for something when you have no money! That said, everyone I've spoken to about it seems to be of the mind that we must have churches soon, and I agree. These will not only ensure that the fragile Ordinariate Groups have a secure base and a future, but form a significant part of our fundraising initiatives. If people see that we have buildings to support, to beautify, and to establish our distinctive ecclesial life, they will respond. It's hard to get people to 'buy into' a project which, thus far, has been more on paper than anything else. They will also form important centres for evangelisation – one of the key aspects of Anglican pastoral practice is the subsequent evangelisation of those who come forward for occasional offices (baptisms, marriage, funerals, etc). If we are constantly referring such people to the Parish Priest of the church we live out of, that will never take off.

I am of the mind that we should take every single church building offered to us and make something of it whilst we're still on the crest of the wave.

We also need to ensure that Anglican clergy who approach the Ordinariate without groups are not encouraged not disappear to the diocese (unless, of course, that's what they really want). If Bishop X offers a church somewhere, we'll need clergy to go and plant it – at the moment almost all of the Ordinariate priests are looking after groups.

The slowness of the arrival of the Ordinariate liturgy is perhaps another factor but it is a Church building, a home, making the Ordinariate bricks and mortar that seems key. Bricks and mortar are essential to the patrimony.

Author: Fr. Christopher Phillips

Fr. Christopher G. Phillips is the pastor of Our Lady of the Atonement Catholic Church in San Antonio, Texas, where he has served for the past twenty-eight years. He is the founding pastor of the first Anglican Use parish, erected in 1983 under the terms of the Pastoral Provision. Fr. Phillips was ordained as an Anglican for the Diocese of Bristol, England, in 1975. After serving as Curate for three years at St. Stephen Southmead, he returned to the United States and served in two Episcopal parishes in the Diocese of Rhode Island. In 1981 he left the Episcopal Church and moved with his family to Texas, where he was subsequently ordained as a Catholic priest in 1983. Fr. Phillips and his wife, JoAnn, have been married for forty years. They have five children, all grown and married, and three grandchildren.

41 thoughts on “"Bricks and Mortar…"”

  1. I tried to post this over on ANGLICAN PATRIMONY blog but couldn't get it to work. Wonderful story and they turned that Food Lion into a Holy Temple in 10 years time. That's dedication. Note: immigrants; low paying jobs; language barrier; this is FAITH and SACRIFICE in action. I think the Ordinariate Groups can learn from this. I have seen the same thing happen with the Coptic Orthodox here in SoCal. I have seen groups of Episcopalians/Anglicans, esp. in the Southern U.S. – one in South Alabama is quite 'traditional' and beautiful.
    Food for thought people, food for thought.

  2. Man is a psychomatic unity (body and soul) and in the incarnation Christ took up and sanctified all our humanity (sin excepted), including the messy physical bits — which means among other things that we are not angels who can exist in the ether but need bricks and mortar. This is especially true for Anglican Catholics, who religious traditions going back to the Middle Ages emphasize things like the virtue of domesticity (think of the Holy House in Walsingham); we need a physical home, and we need to stay put in it and do the ordinary everyday work and prayer of a Christian community — and God, who dwelt in a manger, is happy to condescend to our physicality:

    And when, o'erwearied with the steep ascent,
    We for a nearer refuge crave,
    One little spot of ground in mercy lent,
    One hour of home before the grave,
    Oft in His pity o'er His children weak,
    His hand withdraws the penal fire,
    And where we fondly cling, forbears to wreak
    Full vengeance, till our hearts are weaned entire.
    (John Keble)

  3. A Cathedral is necessary to show the world that the Ordinariate is a particular church in its own right. If not, the Ordinariate will end up like those TEC spinoffs which have to rent meeting halls for their services.

    Since a cathedral is the mother church of a diocese, this is the place from where missions are sent. Thus we cannot underestimate its importance. The cathedral need no be fancy.

  4. A member of our Ordinariate Group has likened our situation to that of the early Church. They managed very well in people's houses. We can make a virtue of necessity. Our Group meets in a building kindly shared with us by an existing Catholic parish – but that is not all that we are about. We recently had a 'bring and share' lunch in a member's home. At New Year we will be having a party, again in a private house. The time will come when we are too big for such events, but meanwhile we can become more supportive of each other, a more domestic version of Church than we have known before. As for a Cathedral, our Ordinary and his two assistant Monsignori are well accustomed (as 'Flying Bishops' in a previous life) to having no fixed Cathedra. Ubi Ordinarius, ibi Ecclesia as someone once nearly said. Too many Anglican parishes are overburdened by massive buildings. What a relief to be free of such worries, even if it is only for a while.

    1. You are indeed right Fr Barnes for the Ordinariate is really a baby about to take the first few steps as a toddler. The English hierarchy will have to help the child meet his full potential. The Rt Rev Monsignori are used to being flying bishops but they now are not of that sort. They have landed and the Ordinariate is for the ages and not a thing that Synod bestows and can take away!

      Yes I agree with you just like Cardinal Manning, who resisted for a while the idea that there is a need for pile of bricks that eventually became Westminster Cathedral. But the Cathedral did rise and what would English Christianity be without this architectural jewel that emphasizes what it means to be Catholic?

      The Ordinariate's cathedral will rise in God's time and it will be as magnificent as Manning's pile of bricks.

  5. In the interview in question +Nichols said the following concerning the bestowal of a church to the English Ordinariate, "the timing of it is not to be rushed, and nor should it be made into some sort of iconic issue: it isn’t." This is absolutely untrue. Of all the issues the beginning Ordinariates will face the issue of a physical church building is actually one of the most iconic issues, in the true sense of the word. An icon points us to another reality. When we look at an icon we see past the picture to the heavenly reality. In the same way, when we enter a church building we are in a spiritual sense transported to Heaven. If +Nichols doesn't think that buildings are one of the most important things for Catholics then perhaps he would be willing to give up his own for those who desire one?

    1. Surely in London there are enough iconic buildings for converts to worship in: Westminster Cathedral, the London Oratory, Farm Street Church, St Mary's, Cadogan Street, and St James's, Spanish Place, to name but five among many others? I identify these because they all have good music.

      Indeed, I believe that the three members that comprise the St Marylebone branch were not only instructed at St James's but received there and continue to worship there at the 9.30am Sunday Mass in the Extraordinary Form. How this can be reconciled with being members of the Ordinariate escapes me. They seem to be little more than conservative converts with a sectarian tinge.

      There are so few members of the Ordinariate in London that they could not afford to run a church of any size, or no size at all. Surely it would have had more integrity if they had entered the Church in the normal way, for the result shows no difference?

      1. The result shows no difference because the way everything was arranged, people were received as individuals, and there was no congregation for them to join. There is still a hope that there will be one.

        I think a church does matter. It would be better if it were a beautiful old one, but if the money is not forthcoming for that, buy some sort of building, decorate it tastefully inside, and celebrate mass there Sunday and every day. Preach. Have evening song there. Name it, and put up a big sign. Make sure people are welcomed, and that there is always coffee hour after Sunday mass. People will come, some non-ordinariate Catholics will join, some former Anglicans, some others. People will put money in the collection. It will grow. But there has to be a start, and it has to have a center.

        I will try again to start a PayPal account so I can give a little something. I really wish for you to succeed.
        Susan Peterson

      2. Mr. Bowles said: “…if they had entered the Church in the normal way…”

        Surely, nearly everyone knows that former Anglicans and Episcopalians entering the Catholic Church through Anglicanorum coetibus is an ordinary way.


  6. Fr. Moore,

    While I disagree with you in this instance, I don't mean to single out your post in particular for criticism. I hope you will forgive me for using it as a hook for a general observation.

    Anglo-Catholicism, as well as Catholic traditionalism and "Catholic liberalism" have in common the characteristic of dissenting mind-frame. This predisposition to dissent ranges from the loyal to the schismatic, but as a general rule seems to lead to a deplorable breakdown in proper inhibitions with respect to public criticism of one's canonical superiors.

    That Catholic prelates are neither impeccable nor infallible is hardly a point needing additional demonstration, but I find this predisposition to take their public observations and musings in the worse possible light and to ascribe sinister and disloyal motives to them quite frankly distressing and deeply un-Catholic. It's largely why I don't bother reading Fr. Chadwick's blog anymore and am seriously considering consigning Damian Thompson's to the virtual birdcage.

    AB Nichols' has not declared war against the Ordinariate. He has never claimed that churches for the Ordinariate were unimportant. He has never indicated an unwillingness to cede one of his under-utilized churches to the Ordinariate if so requested, nor has he suggested that he expected a financial quid pro-quo for doing so in the event of receiving such a request.

    Here is what he did say:

    "With regard to churches: the groups that exist on the whole find their use of the local diocesan church perfectly adequate."

    (If this reading of the situation is inaccurate, surely Fr. Barnes here would be in a position to gloss at least the AB's observation.)

    "I think I read that the Archbishop of Southwark has more or less handed one church into the care of the Ordinariate."

    (By citing this example, the AB is signalling that the bishops of England and Wales are indeed open to the idea of the Ordinariate having its own churches.)

    "With regard to the suggestion that constantly comes up about a headquarters church, as it were – a cathedral for the Ordinariate – I think that is something probably beyond their resources at the present time, and I don’t think the Ordinariate would thank us, actually, to simply give it responsibility for a church that it would have to then maintain and upkeep."

    (Again, if this is a misreading and the Ordinariate, despite being unable at this time even to provide fully for the maintenance of its prospective clergy, is really that anxious to assume the charge of a "cathedral" seat, please let's let the Ordinary and his clergy tell us so before putting the lie to the AB.)

    "That day might well come, and it certainly is not ruled out – there are various things under consideration – but the timing of it is not to be rushed, and nor should it be made into some sort of iconic issue: it isn’t."

    (i.e. He is open to handing over an appropriate building when the time comes.)

    Similarly, other posters have complained of Catholic bishops exercising a "veto" over the ordination of prospective Ordinariate clergy (possibly with Fr. Hunwicke in mind). Are bishops no longer to have absolute discretion over whom they will or will not lay hands? Are they to be reduced to the role of mere mechanical executors of preferment determined elsewhere? Has our understanding and appreciation of the dignity and responsibility of apostolic succession really fallen so low?

    If our point of departure is going to be to insist on both mindless and reckless betrayal by our bishops of their responsibility both for sacramental orders and the integrity of the diocesan patrimony in their charge as a litmus test of their openness to the implementation of AC, we might as well throw in the towel right now.

    1. I realize that you are only using Fr Moore's comment as a hook, but you have hung a great deal more on it than it should be asked to bear. His remark about icons and the sacramental use of the material world is mild and completely orthodox and ought not to be associated with any accusation of "mindless and reckless betrayal".

      1. True and, if he objects, I will try to append my hooks elsewhere next time. I just felt it needed saying, and his was the most recent post on which a hook could be placed.

    2. I would think that the Ordinary of an Ordinariate would be the one to determine who was to be ordained and what training he needs. This sort of thing is the whole point of the Ordinariate; the ordinary is to exercise all the functions of a bishop except the sacramental. The Ordinariate was supposed to make them independent of the local RC bishops.

      Susan Peterson

      1. Well, you can lead the bishop to the altar, but you can't make him lay on hands. A bishop Ordinary would eliminate the need to "outsource" ordinations, but OLW's Ordinary has to work with his episcopal conference colleagues.

      2. Using your logic, would it not be correct to assume that the reason John Hunwicke has not been ordained yet is because the Ordinariate Ordinary and other monsignori have found some reason not to? But evertime I bring this up, the blame is laid at the feet of the Catholic bishops. Honestly, there's no pleasing some people.

    3. The canonical superior of ordinariate members is the ordinary, not the local bishop. It seems that having a bishop in the ordinariate will be necessary for it to flourish, if diocesans are going to be unhelpful about ordinations.

  7. Michael,

    You said, "…but as a general rule seems to lead to a deplorable breakdown in proper inhibitions with respect to public criticism of one's canonical superiors." I was wondering – is this comment directed at me? If so, it seems that you are doing to me what you have accused me of doing to +Nichols. Just pointing out the irony.

    Please forgive me if it seems I have insulted the Archbishop. As a former Episcopal priest and now Catholic priest I was just pointing that a church for the Ordinariate is, in my opinion as well as others, very important for its success.

    1. Well, I suppose that the American Ordinariate will help its "poor English cousin" about this, and many other things. In facts, it has already started to do so even before existing, with Father Phillips' lectionary project.

      + PAX et BONUM

    2. Fr. Moore,

      Considering what AB Nichols has to put up with from his own flock, I am sure your post will be amongst the least of his worries. And indeed a beautiful, preferably medieval church (if one such can be pried from the established "ecclesial community"), would be ideal for and even important to the Ordinariate's ultimate success.

      If you read DT's original blog post, however, you will see it clearly laid out the kind of accusation if am referring to: that the CBoE&W are nefariously trying to sink the Ordinariate as we speak by not loading it down with patrimonial real estate before it even has its sea legs.

      No one can get a hearing past the trolls who comment in Damian's breathless wake, which is why I used your post as a hook. I also calculated that my objection would have more currency here than there in any case.

      1. I have reread the original blog several times, and cannot find any part of it that claims that the bishops are trying to sink the ordinariate project.

        Exactly what are you referring to?

  8. Michael de Verteuil has done a good job defending Archbishop Nichols, and he is probably correct in as much as some of the criticism of the archbishop is unduely personalised. However, the point is that the Ordinariate in England needs a principal church and logically that should be in London.

    This is not to detract from the generosity of the Catholic bishops who have done their best to accommodate them, and from the many Catholic parishes who have welcomed them. It is unfortunate that, in almost every case, the best that parishes can offer is a slot on a Sunday afternoon, in a church that has been reordered to make it unlike a place of Christian worship. The one building that they do have more or less to themselves is little more than a scout hut.

    Now that the Ordinariate is set up, the one thing that it needs more than anything else to allow it to prosper, is a principal church of its own and I would urge Archbishop Nichols to provide something.

    1. I expect you want Archbishop Nichols to pay for it too. The problem that the Ordinariateurs won't acknowledge is that in the Church of England they had it good. There is barely a single Forward in Faith parish that pays its way, and most of them have been very heavily subsidised by their dioceses (i.e. propped up by the giving of affirming catholic and evangelical parishes) for a long time.

      1. I've not noticed masses of rich and generous affirming catholic parishes. Evangelicals, certainly. If they decided to withhold their funds, the CoE would be living on its endowment alone.

        1. They tend to be richer if only because they are the heirs of the 'respectable' edge of Anglocatholicism. It would be worth your while analysing the annual quota payments in any single diocese, Austin, and noting the correspondence between quota size and 'churchmanship'. Evangelical churches tend to be in very leafy, wealthy suburbs, while moderate (no one actually signs up to Aff Caff in the way they do to FiF so it is not a useful label really) Anglocatholicism is proliferates in comfy market towns.

            1. Ooh, no!!! Not that loon barmy chick haunting various Anglican and Catholic websites and blogs…
              Kyrie eleison, Domine miserere, libera nos ab insanis "trollem".

            2. Well, apparently neither of both: after research, I found out that troll in Latin is "Troglodytarum".

              + PAX et BONUM

    2. Members and soon-be-be members of ordinariate parishes, please treasure your days in a “scout hut”.

      I’ve recounted my experiences in helping to build two diocesan parishes from the ground up elsewhere. Suffice it to say here, that these trying but heady days may be the most satisfying and rewarding experiences in your Christian journey.


      1. Well, St. Anselm's church is probably a "scout hut", but Fr. Tomlinson beeing Fr. Tomlinson, I'm sure he is already thinking about building a new, grand, church.

        + PAX et BONUM

  9. I haven't seen any of the clergy or members of OLW Ordinariate complaining about the way they have been treated in regards to places of worship, nor feeling they were being absorbed into Latin Rite parishes.

    If we were to look at the many different Continuing Anglicans groups in the US, you will find that many meet in churches belonging to other denominations or even a building within a cementary.

    I recall in my former Anglo Catholic parish sharing with an Orthodox Church, as they had no building.

    My parish has 5 Masses on Sundays and it would be impossible to have a slot open unless it was around 7:00 P.M. in the evening on Sunday.

    For the past two years many have been complaining about when were the Ordinariates going to be established, now that one is and one will be on January 1, 2011 people have found other issues to complain about.

    We all should just let God take care of the Ordinariates, so far it appears they are growing and getting settled in to a very different environment, they knew before that the road would be bumpy, as it will for all the Ordinariates. What they all will need is our prayers, not complaints.

  10. I think Damian Thompson and others underestimate the difficulties facing the Ordinariate.

    First and foremost, the Ordinary is by UK standards a major religious superior.

    The Archdiocese of Westminster which is the most important of the English dioceses has a total of 214 parishes and just 290 priests of the diocese available to care for the parishes. In fact, Westminster has to make use of 49 priests from other dioceses (30 from abroad) and entrust the care of numbers of parishes to clergy from various religious orders.

    The Bishop of Menevia has by contrast a diocese of 9,310 sq km, a Catholic population in 2007 of under 30,000 with just 34 diocesan clergy and 19 from religious orders to minister to the scattered population.

    So with some 60 priests already under the jurisdiction of the Ordinary in its first year of erection, the Ordinary already has quite a burden of responsibility for the welfare of the priests incardinated in the Ordinariate with more seeking to join as each week passes. But Menevia (which is probably among the poorest of the dioceses in England and Wales) has around 30,000 Catholics to support its 53 clergy while the Ordinary has perhaps around 1,000 laity to support his 60.

    The reality is therefore that for the near future, the Ordinary will only be able to ensure the Canon Law obligation properly to provide for his priests by reaching agreements with diocesans to entrust part of the care of existing parishes and chaplaincies to Ordinariate clergy. There is a shortage of priests in the dioceses and therefore the diocesans have been able to make good use of the clergy on offer and as far as one can tell the bilateral arrangements between diocesan bishops and the Ordinary are working well.

    The idea that there is some magic process whereby a Central London Church could simply be transferred to the Ordinariate is pie in the sky. A suitable site and building would cost millions and, as the Archbishop pointed out, the running costs of any suitable building would be a burden the Ordinariate could not easily afford at this time. When the Ordinariate register of laity has reached, say, 30,000, things may be well be different.

    Since Catholic Emancipation in 1829, the Church in England and Wales has acquired no little expertise in the erection of dioceses and parishes and the building of suitable church buildings. Many parish records record the heroic struggle, often lasting 30 years or more, to build a church and get it debt free so that it can be consecrated. The Lord will provide buildings in His good time – but the first stage is to build the community prepared to take on the burden.

  11. well a couple of points

    1) we do not more or less have the building here but share it with the good people who were already here!

    2) To call it a scout hut is unfair. Certainly it is modest and its current dual use purpose detracts from its use a space for worship. But it is in gorgeous setting and right in the heart of this thriving village. A project has just launched to build a temporary hall to enable the space to be devoted to worship and a transformation of the inside of the current building. In the future, should miracles of growth occur, we even have space to build bigger

    3) The ordinariate here has a daily mass, a morning mass and an evening slot. I do think buildings are HUGELY important. One cannot do mission as lodgers in somebody else's house. But one can join a community and work at growth together under the care of one priest…which is where, thank God, we are now.

    1. And even though the building was originally designed as a dual purpose Mass/Community Centre, it's actually quite a nice building when one sees it with one's own eyes. I realise that this probably makes me a heretic in the eyes of some.

  12. The difficulty the Ordinariate faces is recruiting laity – who are the people who actually pay the bills; I fancy the Church of England will soon be their best Recruiting Sergeant.

  13. There is also a point that since not all of the groups are firmly located into a locality but are quite spread out, not all members of OLW Ordinariate are able to meet with one of the 60 pastors on anything other than at a special event. The rest of the time (i.e. most festivals and sundays) we are attending our local catholic church and obviously put our collection into their plate.

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