Our Lady of the Atonement Parish Withdraws Request to Enter Ordinariate

I came across this message on Facebook.

Dear Friends,

Fr. Jeffery Moore (our parochial vicar) and I had a good meeting with Archbishop Gustavo Garcia-Siller and Bishop Oscar Cantu to discuss issues surrounding the Ordinariate and what that might mean for the parish. All of us desired to do what is best for the people of Our Lady of the Atonement Church, and it was in a spirit of cooperation that it became evident to me that for the sake of the continued stability and unity of our parish community, the best course of action at this time is to withdraw our request to enter the Ordinariate and to remain in our present status as a Personal Parish of the Anglican Common Identity, as is stated clearly in the Decree of Erection by which we were founded in 1983.

The archbishop recalled his recent visit to the parish, commenting on how impressed he was with the Academy students, with our facility, and with the sense of the sacred found here. He expressed his respect for the fruitful and particular ministry of our parish, and he looks forward to strengthening our bond of communion, as do we.

What does this mean in practical terms? Our liturgical and devotional life does not change, our patrimony remains intact, and our clergy and people remain together as one parish family.

I’m grateful for the archbishop’s warmth and for the respect he has for our heritage, and we look forward to deepening our relationship with him.

From the time of our founding we have been under the maternal care of the Blessed Virgin Mary, Our Lady of the Atonement. She has never failed us, and she did not fail us today. We continue under Our Lady’s patronage, and that of her Divine Son, in union with the Holy Father and with the bishops in communion with him.

Thank you to all who prayed for this important meeting. All of us there felt the presence and power of the Holy Ghost.

Yours in Christ,

Fr. Christopher G. Phillips

Author: Deborah Gyapong

Deborah Gyapong is a member of the Sodality of the Annunciation of the Blessed Virgin Mary (www.annunciationofthebvm.org) in Ottawa, a former parish of the Anglican Catholic Church of Canada (Traditional Anglican Communion) whose members were received individually and corporately into the Roman Catholic Church on April 15, 2012 by Ottawa Archbishop Terrence Prendergast at St. Patrick’s Basilica. Under the provisions of the Apostolic Constitution Anglicanorum coetibus, the community will celebrate an approved Anglican Use liturgy and hopes to soon join with other sodalities across Canada to form the Canadian Deanery of the Personal Ordinariate of the Chair of St. Peter under Msgr. Jeffrey Steenson, Ordinary. As we wait for our priest(s) to be ordained as Catholic priests, God willing, Archbishop Prendergast will provide priests to celebrate our Sunday Eucharist according to the Anglican Use. Deborah is a journalist who covers religion and politics in Canada’s national capital, writing primarily for Roman Catholic newspapers since 2004. Her novel The Defilers, published in 2006, was not a best seller, alas. She spent 17 years at the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation in news and current affairs, including 12 years as a television producer.

36 thoughts on “Our Lady of the Atonement Parish Withdraws Request to Enter Ordinariate”

  1. While in San Antonio I wrote an article on our OLA for Anglican and Episcopal History and me with Fr Christopher twice. I really appreciated the work they were doing there and am a bit sad to hear this news. That having been said, it is such a large parish today, with such a large school, that I can understand why such a transition would be logistically very difficult. I wonder if there is not a possibility for some families with an Episcopal background to remain in OLA while also joining the Ordinariate.

  2. But when Fr. Phillips will retire, will the Archbishop of San Antonio be able to find a Priest knowledgeable about the Anglican patrimony? It was exactly the point of the ordinariate, salvaging this patrimony in a corporate structure bigger than a parish in order to make it permanent! Also, it deprives the ordinariate of a a very big and already established parish. Anyway it was foreseeable given that, because of the top-level school most of the people at OLA are cradle-Catholics. This is called "beeing victim of its success".

    + PAX et BONUM

    1. Fr. Phillips asked the members to fill out a survey regarding background. You are incorrect… most are not cradle-Catholics. 67% are converts or have a near family member who converted.

      1. Sorry then. I was repeating what I have been told. I was in error. My mistake.
        But then is makes all this even more ununderstadable.
        + PAX et BONUM

  3. Henri,

    Thanks to the Ordinariate, it doesn't appear likely that there will be a shortage of available Anglican-patrimony Catholic clergy for at least another generation. There is no reason OLA should not be able to draw on the Ordinariate's liturgical and personnel resources in maintaining its current identity for the foreseeable future. Indeed, the diffusion into the wider Church of the treasures the Holy Father sees in the Anglican tradition could well be facilitated by the continued existence of Anglican use parishes within a diocesan context. This need not be seen on balance as a negative development.

    1. Well; it is negative regarding finances: the ordinariate has no ressource, and it is not expected that every group would be financially self-sustaining. OLA's tithe would help.

      And then it's completely illogical: there is a canonical structure especially devoted to those common-identity parishes, why on earth would one remain in its diocese? I see this as completely opposed to HH Benedict XVI's intentions, and the spirit of Anglicanorum Coetibus. It's surprising coming from Archbishop Garcia-Siller, who is said to be faithful to the Pope. Perhaps it is that, beeing hispanic, he doesn't at all understand the point of the apostolic constitution.

      + PAX et BONUM

      1. I suspect it depends on what proportion of those involved in the parish are from an Anglican/Protestant background and so eligible for membership in the Ordinariate. The resources the archdiocese may have invested in the parish with a view to serving the local Church as a whole could also have been a factor in the decision. My reading of Fr. Phillips' letter, however, is that pastoral concerns that the move might have led to the breakup of the existing parish community were paramount. The Ordinariate may be a worthy project, but if a significant proportion of parishioners do not want to change jurisdiction, who are we to dismiss their concerns? The Church exists for the salvation of souls, not the gratification of our jurisdictional or liturgical eclecticism.

        1. I think the question is not so much if people WANT to change their affiliation but if they CAN change it. If they are "cradle Catholics", Anglicanorum Coetibus simply doesn't provide for them to become members of the Ordinariate. I really don't think this has to do with some dark forces.

          1. Victor, this is a serious weakness of Anglicanorum Coetibus. Cradle Catholics who want to switch to the Ordinariate, but who are prevented from doing so may just decide to pick up and embrace the western rite of the Orthodox Church, or worse, convert to an Anglican Church.

            The genuine motives cradle Catholics have for wanting to embrace the Ordinariate should not be frustrated. Rome should do everything to accommodate and foster a genuine working of the Holy Spirit.

  4. When it came to letting the jewel in the diocesan crown with one of the best schools in the state and a monster cash flow go, or implementing the Holy Father's vision, guess what won? This stinks.

    1. "Fr. Jeffery Moore (our parochial vicar) and I had a good meeting…"

      Are you suggesting that Fr. Phillips is being disingenuous?

      "…with Archbishop Gustavo Garcia-Siller and Bishop Oscar Cantu to discuss issues surrounding the Ordinariate and what that might mean for the parish."

      i.e. the issue is a pastoral one.

      "All of us desired to do what is best for the people of Our Lady of the Atonement Church,"

      Again, is Fr. Phillips being disingenuous in your view?

      " and it was in a spirit of cooperation that it became evident to me that for the sake of the continued stability and unity of our parish community, the best course of action at this time is to withdraw our request…"

      Why is it so difficult for people to take a statement from Fr. Phillips, of all people, at face value? Why fish for sinister motives for which there is not a shred of evidence?

      The decision may be unfortunate, but it doesn't follow that "it stinks" just because one might have hoped for a different one.

      1. Because it is the truth. The majority of this parish wants to go into the new Ordinariate to protect the heritage, but the money flow to Archbishop Gustavo would be sent elsewhere… he would miss his weekly assessment. Truth is Fr. Phillips has been poorly treated by his peers since he became Catholic, let's not even mention the hardships his wife has been dealt. The real question is why are they trying to play nice now? OLA was established in the same year as Divine Providence and St. Rose of Lima in this diocese. The other parishes were given land to build a church on, while OLA was required to buy their land from the diocese for $83,000.00. This is not Archbishop's to hold onto… this parish belongs to the people who bought and paid for it with donations, blood, sweat and tears. May God have mercy on the Archbishop's soul!

        1. If this is the way you feel, that "This is not Archbishop's to hold onto… this parish belongs to the people who bought and paid for it with donations, blood, sweat and tears." then you have a fundamentally erroneous and non-Catholic understanding of the Catholic Church. The parish, the priest, and the people are under the archbishop's authority and are owed both allegience and obedience. It is his call, and his call alone, what is best for one of his parishes. You may not like the decision, but obedience and submission to a bishop is hard. I'm sure it is disappointing to many, but the bishop is doing what he thinks is best.

          1. Shh now, the adults are talking.

            We all know San Antonio is a cesspool and the wackos in the chancery (who stay while Arzobispos come and go) have an ax to grind with OLA. They tried to shut down the Academy once, lost that fight, and have been spoiling for a rematch. This is it.

            "Gus" is liberal, and has fit right in with tools like Oscar Cantu, Tony Vilano and other SA trash who hate OLA and now the libs appear to have Father Phillips over a barrel.

            Don't we all wish the news Ordinary had a mitre?! Or at least was ontologically capable of wearing one. Sigh. We need friends in the Curia and appear to have none.

  5. Father Phillps' release does not tell us the entire story. Before we go accusing the Archbishop of trying to oppose the Holy Father, lets take a breath and get the entire picture.

    There is more to this story than is in the release. And from what I know it is not the fault of Fr Phillips nor the good Archbishop. If one would just search this site, you would notice that Fr Phillips "fell off the map" with the announcement of the Ordinariate. And has been silent on it, the Ordinariate, since. Prior to the announcement he was very active (and I say probably is the single reason we have an Ordinariate in North America) with the blessing of his Bishop. He was also instrumental in gathering supplies for the UK Ordinariate and traveled to Canada to assist Anglicans there. So I would suggest we take our sights off the good Archbishop and Fr Phillips and find out why things have developed the way they have since the announcement of the Ordinariate.

    1. To my understanding it was the way Bishop Vann treated Fr. Phillips publicly (the Bishop was in error at the time), that caused Fr. Phillips for the good of others to stand down and let the powers to be do their thing. It is in Fr. Phillips favor and to his humility, that he has acted so. When his cause for sainthood is introduced, I wonder how these others will feel.

  6. OLA may be a more faithful adherent to the true Anglican patrimony than the Rome has in mind for the Ordinariate. There's a lot of opposition to the "Book of Divine Worship" in the UK, and Rome may be planning a more radical form of the liturgy down the road than most members of OLA have in mind.

    In any event, I would love to have been a fly on the wall during the meeting between Fr. Phillips, his parochial vicar and the bishops.

  7. I will only say that, already and as usual, there is tremendous disinformation in the comments.

    No, Fr. Phillips is not being disingenuous in his statements; on the other hand, this is not merely a "pebble on the path" or some unfortunate misunderstanding that will quickly right itself because surely all parties to the matter only want the best for both OLA and the Ordinariate. They do not.

    1. Times heals. What is now an anomaly will probably correct itself with the course of time: either OLA will become a regular Roman Rite parish in the archdiocese of San Antonio (after all it is said t be mainly hispanic), or it will enter the ordinariate sometimes in the far future.
      + PAX et BONUM

  8. Obviously there could be problems for a diocesan Anglican Use parish were it to be long established and have a signifiant number of parishioners who would not qualify for Ordiariate membership. That might well make it difficult for the whole parish to appliy to join the Ordinariate.

    Qualifed former Anglicans and their families could still apply to join the Ordinariate and they could contine to worship at the same parish church. Likewise, any former Anglican now a diocesan priest (whether under the Pastoral Provision or otherwise) has the right to apply to be excardiated from his diocese and incardinated into the Ordinariate and Canon Law makes it quite hard for such requests to be denied.

    The fact that in the UK there was never any prospect of former Anglicans coming over with their church buildings mean that nearly all Ordinariate Groups all share a church with a diocesan congregation – and in a number of cases that means that a diocesan church which might have been without a pastor has had one supplied from the Ordiariate.

    In other words, there may be transition problems but with God's grace, goodwill, and a modicum of creativity, most problems will be found capable of resolution.

    So, whatever the problems at Our Lady of the Atonement might be, I suggest that it is important not to over-dramatise them.

  9. It is not my intention to enter into the discussion, but I do lose patience with blatant misinformation. If you are interested, please read the parish profile:
    http://www.atonementparishprofile.blogspot.com/. You will see that the parish is not made up primarily of "cradle Catholics," although many attend (that will be the case with all the Ordinariate parishes in the future, believe me).

    And please, let me assure everyone, there are no "problems" at Our Lady of the Atonement, other than the problem of having outgrown the building, and making preparations for a 100,000 square foot addition.

    All is well here. We pray daily for those entering the Ordinariate. And we will, for the time being, remain in the archdiocese which has been our home for nearly thirty years.

    1. Father,

      I am glad you have straightened me out because I was under the assumption the majority of your parish were cradle Catholics. I am sure you have no problems at the parish. I think it is just sufficient for all of to say who were not present at the meeting with your Archbishop, that this is not the time for the Atonement to enter the Ordinariate. I really think that those of us on the outside speculating as to the reasons or thinking there is some hidden agenda, need to just give it a break. Personally, I have enough on my own plate as my group moves into the Ordinariate.

      But, the whole process is open ended and who knows what lies in the future for the Church of the Atonement or for any of us aspiring to join the Ordinariate? It is all in God's hands.

  10. I am reminded of the fate fate of Pharoe and the Egyptian captors because they would not let God's People go. LET OUR PEOPLE GO. GB.

  11. I'm making myself a liar — I said I wouldn't enter the discussion, so please forgive me.

    Just one important point to make: Archbishop Gustavo Garcia-Siller is being a true shepherd, and whatever might have been thought about his motivations, he truly is a man "without guile." He has made it a point to learn all he can about us, and whatever misunderstanding there might have been, there is a genuine respect for us as an Anglican Use parish. During our meeting he mentioned his hope to celebrate Mass for our students, and then he said, "I will have to spend some time learning the liturgy first!"

    I reiterate: he is not holding us back, nor does he have designs on property or money. He is a good man and a caring bishop.

    1. For the most part, the Roman Catholic Church in the Archdiocese of Toronto has been most generous to the two Sodalities in the Greater Toronto Area. Cardinal Collins has also been a true shepherd providing for our needs as demonstrated by the fact he has provided a priest to celebrate our liturgies. I am sure that Archbishop Gustavo Garcia-Siller has demonstrated the same fine qualities in dealing with your situation. No one in the hierarchy has a hidden agenda or a bone to pick, from what I've seen. So, I wish people would stop reading into this, things that aren't even there and speculating as to what the so called real motives of the Archbishop may be.Like our bishops, he's a good man. Let's give him a break and let's just accept what's happened and move on. I would like Atonement to be with us in the Ordinariate, but this is just not the time.

  12. It would be horrific if some of the comments posted were to deter those presently discerning whether or not to apply to be received into the Church whether via the Ordinariate, the Pastoral Provision or other diocesan parishes.

    The experience of the OLW Ordinariate has been that the diocesan bishops have been supportive and I would expect the same to be true in the USA., not least because the Ordinariates are a project known to be dear to the Holy Father's heart, as our Apostolic Nuncio reminded our hierarchy at the recent Low Week meeting and as was signalled by the recent papal gift to the OLW Ordinariate. I would not expect the US hierarchy to be any less supportive.

    There will, of course be teething problems. It is important not to see conspiracies behind every difficulty. There are those who comment negatively out of frustration, but also others because they have some less worth agenda.

    I noted the comments of a person posting as "Father Dunstan OSB" on liturgical issues which might be worrisome to some. Mgr Andrew Burnham of the OLW Ordinariate chairs the Interdicasterial Commission “Anglicanae Traditiones” charged with the development of suitable liturgies for Ordiariate use worldwide.
    It might be of assistance to refer to <a href="http://ordinariateportal.wordpress.com/2011/07/09/mgr-andrew-burnham-what-is-anglican-liturgical-patrimony/&quot; this paper by Mgr Burnham on the Ordinariate Portal.

    Finally, were it not for the initiative of Father Phillips, many OLW Ordinariate Groups would not have the lectionaries they are now using!

    1. I think that link is dead.

      Is this the same material?:


      I don't have the vaguest idea what's going on at OLAC, but I have to remark that the over-the-top drama on this thread is a bit hypocritical coming from the same sources who have so freely reprimanded other posters for their tone over the last months.

      And would someone please revert the site layout?

      If God does not want the Ordinariate to succeed in the US then let it die. If He does want it to succeed, then who can stop it?

  13. @ Marion – yes, that is essentially the same material. It may also interest you to know that there is shortly due to be published the "Customary of Our Lady of Walsingham" – 480 pp in hardback. Both Amazon and the UK Book Depository are taking pre-orders on thier web sites and according to the latter site the contents are said to be:

    "This is a daily prayer book for the Ordinariate – those former Anglicans who have recently become a distinct part of the Roman Church. In creating the Ordinariate, Pope Benedict recognised the treasures that Anglicans brought with them from their own tradition and this book is replete with the riches of Anglican patrimony. It contains material from the Anglican tradition, adapted according to the Roman rite including: * an order for morning, evening and night prayer throughout the year * an interim order of the Mass * spiritual readings for the Christian year * the minor offices * calendar and lectionary tables For use throughout the English speaking world, this unique volume will fill an immediate need. Eventually, an authorised version of the Mass for the Ordinariate will emerge from Rome, but that is many years away." The joint editors are Monsigner Andrew Burnham and Father Aiden Nichols OP.

    You will note the reference to the order for the Mass being "an interim order". This is because it will perhaps take between 3 and 5 years for the Interdicasterial Commission to report and for final approval to come from Rome. I suspect this will mean that the OLW Ordinary will approve its use on an interim basis for the UK and that it would be open to the COP Ordinary to approve its use in the USA if he sees fit. It is understandable that the Congregation for Divine Worship consults very widely before giving definitive approval to any order for Mass.

  14. I may be naive, but I think that one of the items of the Anglican Patrimony that would be best left behind is the addiction to controversy. How much the comments here reminded me of the old TAC boards, filled with innuendo and hand-wringing and cries of anger and despair.

    You're home, folks. Take your shoes off and set awhile. Get used to the Catholic pace of change and progress, which is sometimes almost imperceptible. Among a flotilla of small boats, an ocean liner can feel out of place. When someday the flotilla grows some big ships of her own, then the liner will feel more at home.

Leave a Reply