Fr. Lee Kenyon, Priest-in-Charge of the Church of St. John the Evangelist in Calgary, Alberta, would like to share the following letter with the readers of The Anglo-Catholic.
17th December 2011
Dear brethren in Christ,
At a Special Meeting of Parishioners on 21 November 2010, the Solemnity of Christ the King, some 90% of parishioners present voted to accept “unreservedly and with humility and gratitude, the invitation of His Holiness Pope Benedict XVI to enter into the full communion of the Catholic Church through the provisions of Anglicanorum Coetibus”. Only two parishioners voted against this motion. The motion instructed the Churchwardens to begin negotiations with the Anglican Diocese of Calgary to transfer the parish, and its property, to an Ordinariate, when established.
Since that time our Churchwardens have, with great diligence, carried out this mandate. Formal negotiations with the Anglican Diocese of Calgary have now come to an end. An Offer to Lease the present church, hall and rectory over a five year period – with an option to purchase at the end of this time – is currently being negotiated between the Roman Catholic and Anglican dioceses, and the Vestry met last Wednesday, the 14th December, to approve the terms of this Offer. It is still too early, at this stage, to speak of specific details, but we are confident that a formal agreement will be signed early in the New Year. In the meantime, we remain in our church, confident that we will have secured for future generations of St John’s parishioners a stable and lasting future which honours all that has been built up since the parish was founded almost 107 years ago. Whilst securing our parish church for future use has been a very important factor in our process of transition, it is clear is that money has not been at the centre. Our journey towards the full communion of the Catholic Church has not depended on bricks and mortar. It is us – the people of God – who are the living stones, and we will continue to bear the great responsibility of passing on all that we have received.
Within four months of Pope Benedict XVI’s Apostolic Constitution, Anglicanorum Coetibus, we were, as a parish, taking time to pray, study and discuss what it would mean for us to enter the Catholic Church in a corporate manner. Our November 2010 vote confirmed our growing intention to unite ourselves with the Successor of Saint Peter and the Apostolic See. Indeed, this was but a logical fulfilment of our life and mission as a parish rooted in the Anglo-Catholic tradition of Anglicanism; a movement which has always placed a great emphasis on sacramental worship and prayer, and which stresses the continuity of the Church’s traditions, beliefs and practices both before and after the Reformation. Our own tradition at St John’s is perhaps best summed up by St Vincent of Lerins (ca.5th Century) who wrote that in the Catholic Church “we take great care that we hold that which has been believed everywhere, always, by all.”
Over the past 18 months we have been lovingly encouraged and assisted by the Archbishop of Toronto, the Most Revd Thomas Collins, the Holy See’s Delegate for the implementation of Anglicanorum Coetibus in Canada, together with the Bishop of Calgary, the Most Revd Frederick Henry, and by our appointed mentor priest, Fr Michael Storey. Through their pastoral care and wisdom it has been possible for us to enter the Catholic Church at this time, prior to the establishment of an Ordinariate in Canada. We are confident that Anglicanorum Coetibus will be implemented in Canada – and that we shall be a part of it from its inception – but we are grateful to be able to fulfil our primary imperative immediately, without delay, namely to enter into the fullness of communion with the Pope and the one billion Catholics throughout the world.
On Saturday 17 December Father Kenyon ceases to be our Priest-in-Charge, and Father John Wright ceases to be our Honorary Assistant. They will both enter the Catholic Church the following day, being received as Catholic laymen until such time, God willing, that they are ordained as Catholic priests. In the interim period Fr Michael Storey will be appointed as Chaplain to our new parish. Vestry has requested that the Anglican Diocese of Calgary disestablish the Anglican parish, effective 31 December 2011, and a new Parish Pastoral Council is being organised to maintain the governance of our community. Shortly after this time we anticipate the formal establishment of an Anglican Use parish – the first in Canada – within the Roman Catholic Diocese of Calgary.
Both the Roman Catholic and Anglican Dioceses of Calgary have issued a joint press statement, which may be found here.
On Sunday 18 December 50 parishioners will be received into the Catholic Church by the Bishop of Calgary in his Cathedral Church of the Immaculate Conception of the Blessed Virgin Mary. On 15 January 2012 a further 11 parishioners will be received. In addition, 10 baptised and confirmed Catholics will be reconciled to the Church of their birth. As a group of 71 we rejoice in all that God has done to make it possible for us to reach this historic stage in the life of our parish, and in this centenary year of St John’s present church building. We are full of hope and joy that we will be able to enjoy this fullness of communion without losing that which has been so precious and nourishing to us as Anglicans. We will continue, as an Anglican Use parish, to celebrate the fullest expression of our deep Anglican patrimony – in our liturgy, our music and hymnody, and in our spiritual and pastoral traditions – “as a precious gift nourishing [our] faith . . . and as a treasure to be shared.” (Anglicanorum Coetibus)
Our first Catholic Mass, according to the Anglican Use liturgy, will be celebrated on Christmas Eve, at a 10.30 p.m. Midnight Mass. The music of the Mass will be sung by a quartet from the Spiritus Chamber Choir and will be Tomás Luis de Vittoria’s 16th Century Missa O Quam Gloriosum est Regnum – O how glorious is the Kingdom. How glorious indeed as we contemplate all that has come to pass, and rejoice in Our Saviour’s Nativity! This will be an historic milestone in a long journey in the life of St John’s and in the wider Anglo-Catholic movement.
We are deeply thankful to Bishops Hoskin and Henry and the Anglican and Roman Cathiolic dioceses for facilitating this important transition. We recognise that the Anglican Diocese of Calgary has done all that they could for us in what have been unprecedented circumstances. Whilst we may not have always viewed circumstances in the same way, we wish to acknowledge their efforts to achieve what we see to be an amicable parting of the ways, and we continue to pray for one another as we seek the unity Christ wills. We pray that our entrance into the Catholic Church may serve as an illustration of the Lord Jesus’ constant call to that unity amongst Christians so that we might be more effective witnesses for the sake of the Gospel: “The glory which thou hast given me I have given to them, that they may be one even as we are one, I in them and thou in me, that they may become perfectly one, so that the world may know that thou hast sent me and hast loved them even as thou hast loved me.” (St John 17.22-23).
Yours in Christ,
The Revd Lee Kenyon, Priest-in-Charge
Mr Richard Harding, Rector's Warden
Mr Tim Dunne, Assistant Rector's Warden
Mrs Vera Reid, People's Warden
Mr Bruce Travis, Assistant People's Warden