Seventeen Deacons

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.

Author: Fr. Edwin Barnes

Bishop Barnes read theology for three years at Oxford before finishing his studies at Cuddesdon College (at the time a theological college with a rather monastic character). He subsequently served two urban curacies in Portsmouth and Woking. During his first curacy, and after the statutory three years of celibacy, he married his wife Jane (with whom he has two children, Nicola and Matthew). In 1967, Bishop Barnes received his first incumbency as Rector of Farncombe in the Diocese of Guildford. After eleven years, the family moved to Hessle, in the Diocese of York, for another nine years as vicar. In 1987, he became Principal of St Stephen’s House, Oxford. In 1995, he was asked by then Archbishop of Canterbury, George Carey, to become the second PEV for the Province. He was based in St. Alban’s and charged with ministering to faithful Anglo-Catholics spread over the length of Southern England, from the Humber Estuary to the Channel Islands. After six years of service as a PEV, Bishop Barnes retired to Lymington on the south coast where he holds the Bishop of Winchester’s license as an honorary assistant bishop. On the retirement of the late and much lamented Bishop Eric Kemp, he was honored to be asked to succeed him as President of the Church Union. Both these appointments he resigned on becoming a Catholic in 2010. Fr. Barnes is now a priest of the Personal Ordinariate of Our Lady of Walsingham, caring for an Ordinariate Group in Southbourne, Bournemouth.

2 thoughts on “Seventeen Deacons”

  1. So pleased to see Brian Gill and John Maunder ordained! I give thanks to Almighty God that I was privileged to serve them for a good period of time as their Episcopal Visitor. It was a ministry from which I gained insight and spiritual growth learning of the particulars of another "world." Two very different men with distinctive gifts to offer to the Ordinariate in the UK. .God be praised.
    +David L. Moyer

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