Acts records the first seven deacons; today there are seventeen more, former Anglican priests who were ordained in Westminster Cathedral. No doubt there will be many pages of photographs eventually; now I seem unable to download any, which is a shame since there was a good picture of Fr Colven in conversation with one of us new boys, Fr Robert Mercer CR.
Fr Colven was one-time Master of SSC, and was part of the exodus to Rome in the early 90's, when first the Church of England tried to ordain women to the priesthood. Fr Mercer has been an Anglican Bishop in Africa, a leader in the Church in Canada, and now worships with the Ordinariate Group at St Agatha's Portsea (see 'Ten Years in a Portsmouth Slum', by Fr Dolling). Today we were in the Cathedral together with thirty or so other priests to assist at the Ordination, and especially to lend our support to our own candidates. For Fr Mercer, of course, that was John Maunder. What a great signal this sends out, that even if the Church of England cannot decide who is, or has been, an Anglican, the Church of Rome is more ready to accept those from other parts of the tradition.
In my case, Fr Brian Copus was my special concern, being a member of our Ordinariate Group in Bournemouth — though there were so many others who have been my friends from years back, and it would be invidious to pick out only a handful from the seventeen who were ordained today. Others will forgive me, though, if I do mention Fr Stanley Bennie. He is (so far) the most far-flung of our British Ordinariate — he lives in Stornoway, out in those Scottish Isles which seem to belong more to the Atlantic than to anywhere on the Mainland. I met him first when I conducted a Chrism Mass for a beleaguered little Scots group — and now two of them are Catholic clergy. May that number soon increase!
In his sermon Msgr Burnham said that if Catholic Anglicans were true to their words, we might expect a large influx after the General Synod in July — though somehow he seemed to doubt how far that would materialise. Maybe another line in another patch of sand?
We had a very good turnout from our little Ordinariate Group in Bournemouth — some had left home at dawn to get to Westminster for 10am. It is very cheering to see so many representatives of groups from all over the country. We really must do this more often.