A Reluctant Anglo-Catholic

I went to England to study at Oxford afflicted with a severe case of Anglophilia. I had come from an Evangelical background, and much influenced by C. S. Lewis, was simply looking for 'Mere Christianity'.

I wished to be a 'Mere Christian' in the Anglican Church, and by God's grace I was an Anglican for fifteen happy years, and an Anglican priest for ten of those years.

Then in 1995, while a country vicar on the Isle of Wight, I left the Anglican Church for 'More Christianity.' My whole conversion story is told elsewhere — on my website and in various publications — but suffice it to say that the question of women's ordination prompted an examination of authority in the church which led me back to Cardinal Newman and the Fathers of the Church and finally to Rome.

Ten years later I was ordained through the Pastoral Provision and now welcome the erection of the Ordinariate. I hope to comment here regularly, and to meet and support an increasing number of brothers and sisters as they enter the Ordinariate.

A "Reluctant Anglo-Catholic"? Only because I was always more of a mainstream Anglican in churchmanship. I loved Catholic spirituality and Catholic worship, but never signed-up and called myself an 'Anglo-Catholic'.

I hope all those who are full-blooded will forgive me for that!

Author: Fr. Dwight Longenecker

Fr. Dwight Longenecker is an American who has spent most of his life living and working in England. After graduating from the fundamentalist Bob Jones University with a degree in Speech and English, he went to study theology at Oxford University. He was eventually ordained as an Anglican priest and served as a curate, a school chaplain in Cambridge and a country parson on the Isle of Wight. Realizing that he and the Anglican Church were on divergent paths, in 1995 Fr. Dwight and his family were received into the Catholic Church. He spent the next ten years working as a freelance Catholic writer, contributing to over twenty-five magazines, papers and journals in Britain, Ireland and the USA. Fr. Dwight is the editor of a best-selling book of English conversion stories called The Path to Rome -- Modern Journeys to the Catholic Faith. He has written Listen My Son -- a daily Benedictine devotional book which applies the Rule of St Benedict to the task of modern parenting. St Benedict and St Thérèse is a study of the lives and thought of two of the most popular saints. In the field of Catholic apologetics, Fr. Dwight wrote Challenging Catholics with John Martin, the former editor of the Church of England Newspaper. More Christianity is a straightforward and popular explanation of the Catholic faith for Evangelical Christians. Friendly and non-confrontational, it invites the reader to move from 'Mere Christianity' to 'More Christianity'. Mary-A Catholic Evangelical Debate is a debate with an old Bob Jones friend David Gustafson who is now an Evangelical Episcopalian. Fr. Dwight’s Adventures in Orthodoxy is described as ‘a Chestertonian romp through the Apostles’ Creed.’ He wrote Christianity Pure&Simple which was published by the Catholic Truth Society in England and Sophia Institute Press in the USA. He has also published How to Be an Ordinary Hero and his book Praying the Rosary for Inner Healing was published by Our Sunday Visitor in May 2008. His latest books are, The Gargoyle Code -- a book in the tradition of Screwtape Letters -- and a book of poems called A Sudden Certainty. His book The Romance of Religion will be published in 2012 along with a new edition of Adventures in Orthodoxy. In 2006 Fr. Dwight accepted an invitation from the Bishop of Charleston to serve as Chaplain to St Joseph’s Catholic School in Greenville, South Carolina. This brought him and his family back, not only to his hometown, but also to the American Bible Belt, and hometown of Bob Jones University. In December 2006 he was ordained as a Catholic priest under the special pastoral provision for married former Anglican clergy. He is now parish priest of Our Lady of the Rosary parish in Greenville. Fr. Dwight enjoys movies, blogging, books, and visiting Benedictine monasteries. He’s married to Alison. They have four children, named Benedict, Madeleine, Theodore and Elias.

17 thoughts on “A Reluctant Anglo-Catholic”

  1. God bless you father! I always enjoy your posts, so am looking forward to what you have to say to the readership of this blog especially as we move forward into full communion with the Catholic Church.

  2. Welcome Father! I've always been intrigued by American names such as Dwight (there aren't many words in English that begin with 'dw', in fact the only other one I can think of is 'dweeb'). Also your late president Eisenhower was also called 'Dwight'. I'm not of course suggesting any connection as he was a dangerous Liberal. Thank God, you sir, are neither.

    1. With respect, Ms Lough, the epithet "liberal" is not one one should bandy about unthinkingly.

      The late President Eisenhower may rightly be regarded as the last "great" American President produced by the Republican Party and I am sure there are many children named after him by people grateful for his service both as SACEUR and subsequently.

      Further, you might to well to look at the teaching of the Church on many social issues. You will find that it frequently and rightly more "liberal" than that of many political factions.

  3. Welcome Fr. Longenecker. I've enjoyed your comments on your own blog and lopk forward to your contributions here.

  4. This is very good news, and I'm delighted to have you as a fellow-contributor, Father. I believe this makes you the closest to me geographically of all the band, since Greenville is only about an hour and a half down the mountain from Waynesville.

    It's interesting to learn that you had a parish on the Isle of Wight, since I'm reading David Newsome's "The Parting of Friends," part of which recounts Samuel Wilberforce's tenure as Rector of Brighstone. Was your parish anywhere nearby?

  5. It is very good to note that the Anglican Use of the Roman Rite blog is reporting that on Sunday 22nd the parish and priests of Mount Calvary in Baltimore will be received into the Catholic Church by the Ordinary and that in the afternoon Father Longnecker will be preaching in that same church at Evensong.

    Should Father Longecker wish to take a trip down memory lane to the Isle of Wight, the Ordinariate Group there would surely want to welome him.

    1. From what I can recall as having been reported on this blog, this seems to have been the very first Episcopal group that voted to enter the Ordinariate. This was prior to the report on World Over with Raymond Arroyo (Fr. Hurd as guest) that reported an Episcopal parish in the D.C. diocese as being the first group to have voted to enter (apparently meaning from the Episcopal Church), later followed by a group in Bishop Vann's diocese of Fort Worth. The latter two groups were received into full communion prior to the Ordinariate's establishment with the understanding that they'd become part of the Ordinariate. Since the references always seem to be that the Ordinariate is starting from scratch without any communities, it's rather difficult to keep track of who is in and who is not. Is Our Lady of Walsingham parish that was in the Diocese of Houston officially a parish of the Ordinariate, or do they mainly provide a church building for use as the Principal Church? Are the groups that were received into full communion in anticipation of the Ordinariate now part of it? Bishop Vann had also made a statement to the secular newspaper that he was going to permit St. Mary the Virgin Anglican Use parish to transfer, is it now officially part of the Ordinariate or not? I'm not even quite sure whether a community has to first received into full communion before it is recognized as being a community that is associated with the Ordinariate, particularly if the Ordinariate is supposed to be handling their preparation. I can see how communities might be preparing to come into full communion for months (and most of them may already have a few years of instruction), but it is not as if they only begin passing around a collection plate after they have been received. Has Fr. Steenson made any recognition of having any community yet, or is that only to come after he receives this group on Sunday (assuming he recognizes Sunday's group as being in the Ordinariate)?

        1. An excellent article. Part of the problem seems to me that on one hand, they give public interviews reporting one set of comments, and if there is some question as to how they might mean some remarks they do not give any public clarification. It winds up some third party explaining on their behalf. I'm seeing an explanation regarding adjective vs. noun, but it seems like you only can find that the farther you move away from the source.

  6. 1. I suspect that your Ordinary will want to keep a fairly low profile prior to his formal installation.

    2. A lot of work will be going on, particularly to get the future ordinariate clergy into communion and into their training programme.

    3. If the model of the OLW procedure is any guide, the ordinariate groups will first complete their initial catechesis and became formally part of the Ordinariate when they are confirmed – which in the case of Mount Calvary Congregation is apparently going to happen this weekend.

    4. Those who have been received into the Church prior to the erection of the Ordinariate (for example Catholics in Anglican Use parishes) will probably have the formality of signing a request to be entered in the Ordinariate register at some point.

    5. The Ordinararite's own web site is an "official" site equivalent to that of a diocese. So it will probably be quite formal. In the UK news first comes from from sites like the Ordinariate Portal and various blogging ordinariate members.

    6. Initially be cautious about news reports – even in the catholic press. It takes time for the press to get their head round the ordinariate concept and some stories in the early days of the OLW were not all that accurate.

    7. I would guess that the TCP Ordinariate has the potential to be 2 or 3 times bigger than the OLW Ordinaraite in year one. That would imply a lot of paperwork, a lot of dealing with various authorities and a lot of fundraising. So don't expect all to be put together in the first month or two.

  7. Welcome aboard, Father. I was thrilled to see you are now a contributor as I have enjoyed your writings.
    God bless and I look forward to reading more from you on this fine blog.

    Dan Hoffman
    St. James Mission, St. Augustine, FL

  8. As an example of how information is often to be found on individual sites – look today at the weekly bulletin for our Lady of Walsingham Church in Houston.

    There is an appeal for volunteers to help with the logistics and hospitality for the clergy coming for their retreat prior to starting their Ordinariate training and on 28th February a Mass including the Rite of Candidacy for the future priests.

    1. Their webpage is certainly not the place to look for news. Their facebook page is kept a bit more up-to-date. There is not a link to an article in Our Sunday Visitor. It's a relatively good article by trying not to say too much. It seems a bit ironic that the main reasons focused upon for they both Fr. Steenson and Fr. Hurd became Catholic were over problems with women's ordination and other issues with the Episcopal Church, considering the previous interview where Fr. Steenson talks against anger towards the Episcopal Church.

      Of course I have a problem with what they say regarding the Pastoral Provision. They mention how over 30 years ago …"The pastoral provision also allowed Anglican parishes to become Catholic parishes or chaplaincies. Since 1980, three parishes and a number of smaller groups have been established within existing dioceses. " They began with at least 6 parishes, and so after 30 years have brought about 3 parishes. It continues: "Anglican priests wishing to join the Catholic Church will be asked to discern whether they want to be ordained in the Catholic rite or to join the Ordinariate of the Chair of St. Peter. " Most likely just stated poorly, probably meaning they'd need to discern between being incardinated by a diocesan bishop or the Ordinary.

      Another media note would be that it seems Fr. Hurd will be the guest this evening on "Sunday Night Live with Fr. Groeschel". I believe the main topic is to be Fr. Hurd's book, rather than the Ordinariate, though I'd expect it should come up during the hour.

  9. Correction: the retreat is over the weekend of 28th January – not February. This confirms the expectation that a first urgency would have been to start Ordinariate clergy formation.

  10. It’s exciting to hear of the first CSP activities. I’m sure we’ll all enjoy learning of continuing developments as we keep our curiosity and speculations in check.

    I’ve been wondering about the situation in Australia. I hear so little about the situation there, but in a completely unintended and unexpected way, I have come to learn that an Anglican priest there received notice that he can be a candidate for Holy Orders within the Catholic Church, in the yet to be established Australian Ordinariate. (I do not know if this is only his personal desire or if it was explicitly stated as part of his reception into the Catholic Church.)

    This particular priest will be celebrating his final Anglican Mass today, and on the 29th he will be received into the Catholic Church by Bishop Geoffrey Jarrett, Bishop of Lismore and Apostolic Administrator of the Archdiocese of Brisbane. He will commence at Holy Spirit Seminary on February 5th. It would be very good to hear from anyone else with more information on an Australian Ordinariate timeline.

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