Some Thoughts on Ascension Day

Archbishop Terrence Prendergast came to our little Sodality of the Annunciation of the Blessed Virgin Mary today to celebrate Mass for Ascension Day.

It was such a joyous occasion for us and such a gesture of kindness and generosity from him.  How welcome he makes us feel and goes out of his way to make us feel.

If we are Catholic now, it is because of his fatherly graciousness towards us, his solidarity with us when we were suffering and uncertain, his gift to us of Fr. Francis Donnelly to accompany us on our catechesis and look after us now as we wait in hope that our own former clergy will be accepted for ordination.  Archbishop Prendergast showed us a face of a true shepherd and spiritual father in the Catholic Church that made it easier to trust that She is the Church of Christ.

While we have been staying to positive stories here on The Anglo-Catholic in hopes that we don't do anything to undermine the Ordinariates, I  know there are people out there who are still suffering in uncertainty or facing impediments to their dreams for unity or who have abandoned hope altogether because the price seemed unreasonably high or it seems the one exacting the price perhaps did so in a heavy-handed way that discouraged rather than encouraged.

I think many of us who have made the choice to come into the Catholic Church did so in a kind of Gethsemane moment.  Thus it was interesting to read this post by Chori Seraiah, h/t/ Fr. Stephen Smuts,about what it has been like for him to be a lay Catholic and leave aside his priesthood.  He has just received news that his ordination as a Catholic priest can go ahead.  He writes:

When the phone rang I had a couple seconds of fear. I was worried that I was about to hear “I’m sorry to have to bring you some bad news . . . ” Instead he said the words that I have been waiting to hear for a very long time. “Rome has granted your approval for ordination.” My wife was sitting right next to me at the time; first she got an enormous smile, and then she started to cry. The previous few days I had been spending much time in prayer preparing myself in case it had been bad news. There was nothing that I knew of that would have disqualified me, but we were told “there are no promises” and I took that seriously. It was a step of faith wherein we could only rely on God.

 

This was one of those things that is best understood only after you give it up. Only after I was willing to say, “it is not my choice, and I must be willing to give up anything for the sake of following Christ” could I have a deep appreciation of this wonderful blessing.

Reading this story via Fr. Stephen Smuts blog, I am reminded again of what our clergy have given up to lead us into the Catholic Church and they too have no guarantees.  It is odd to see them in suits and ties, to call them by their first names.

Then, Fr. Smuts had a link to this story about a new synod of the Traditional Anglican Church of Canada. 

The clergy and lay delegates of parishes in the Traditional Anglican Church of Canada will meet at the Queen of Apostles Retreat and Conference Centre in Mississauga, Oct. 23-25.  This meeting is being organised by The Revd. Robert Mansfield, the rector in Parry Sound, who is the secretary of our interim diocesan council, assisted by The Revd. David Marriott.

 

Archbishop Mark Haverland (ACCOP) and Archbishop James Provence (APCK) will both be in attendance.  The highlight of the Synod will undoubtedly be the Ordination to the Diaconate of George Betsos.

 

Father Stanley Sinclair has been asked to give a series of keynote addresses at each session of the Synod, which has been given the motto, “Pastoral Availability with Organisational Stability,” reflecting the real issues that face these newly-reunited traditional Anglicans, formerly connected with the Anglican Catholic or Anglican churches.

 

These clergy and people were formerly members of the Anglican Catholic Church of Canada (ACCC) which has disintegrated into three main groups.  This TACC group gathered up the wave of ACCC folks who decided that in no way ever would they become Roman Catholic.  They viewed Anglicanorum coetibus as absorption and our bishops' acceptance of it as betrayal.

In Ottawa, we lost one third of our parish to what eventually became this new ecclesial body.  Our Victoria cathedral also lost a third when Father Stanley Sinclair led them out.

It's ironic this group is meeting at the same Catholic retreat centre in Mississauga where then Archbishop, now Cardinal Collins, hosted the Anglicanorum coetibus conference in March 2011, where many of our clergy were told they would not qualify to be priests and that we were all welcome as individual lay people to convert to Catholicism (and go through RCIA, etc. — which one cleric wrote me afterwards seemed to him like "Kneel, you Protestant dogs.").  Needless to say, this man remained in the ACCC, in the diocese that was originally pro-Ordinariate, but not yet, but has since hardened to a "no thanks" position.

It hurt to lose people and to have friendships perhaps marred forever by this.

I know there are people out there who have Ordinariate hopes who are hurting right now, or confused, or angry, or anxious.  While I try to write about positive things and new beginnings and hope, I do not want to sugar coat things.  We have great joy and a sense of relief now, but it was like going through labor and while you are in the middle of labor it can feel like it will never end.  Some of you may not have the kindness and encouragement of someone like Archbishop Prendergast to help you take what might seem to be humiliating steps or worse: to give up your livelihood and very identity as a priest.

So, for all of you still waiting, still wondering, feeling confused and hurting, you are in my prayers tonight.

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.

9 thoughts on “Some Thoughts on Ascension Day”

  1. Prayers are needed for the Sodality in Oshawa. Without going into details we are going through, as one member described it, growing pains. The sooner the Sodalities, other than Calgary and Ottawa (who are already considered to be members of the Ordinariate) are consolidated into the Ordinariate, the better. My own personal decision , in continuing to remain associated with the Sodality, may have to be put on hold,until this takes place. Again, please pray for us.

  2. I always appreciate reading Deborah's contributions, a voice of great faith, reason and humility. While I understand the pains of some, I can also remember the first approaches I made to the Catholic church, and being told "RCIA or the highway" as well. I tried RCIA at the local parish, and was fed something very far from orthodoxy – a pro women's ordination line among other things. It made it very difficult. Two years later, the call wouldn't go away and I approached a different parish, a different priest. He understood where I was coming from; he understood and respected the Anglo-catholic tradition. But it was still RCIA or nothing – with the difference that he expected me to contribute to the RCIA process for the rest of the group – it wasn't "kneel, you Protestant dog," but "I feel you have a lot to bring to the spiritual journeys of the whole group, so please don't try to avoid walking with them." He did say I could receive the sacraments during the process. I chose not to, and that made the Easter Vigil reception and first communion that much more meaningful. In microcosm, this was recognition of Anglican patrimony 10 years ahead of Anglicanorum Coetibus.

    RCIA was one of the most valuable experiences of my life. It was a very moving, close knit experience and I have never regretted it. The bonds of friendship formed in those months will last the rest of my life. By being humble and accepting it, I gained more than I can possibly count. At the Easter Vigil, I was thurifer. For the remainder of my time in the parish Father Joe would occasionally ask me to robe the old fashioned way, in black and white, and we would do a Mass with bells and smells for the elementary school children, to show them a part of their history.

    All of this to say that, as Deborah always points out, we should persevere, keep knocking on doors and in the end the right one opens for us. God will put us where we are supposed to be.

    1. Interestingly, I might do the Evangelium course again if it helps some of the folks to didn't get to it last time around get it done—as a kind of small group, fellowship thing. I would like to see it maybe as an outreach or something.

  3. My prayers are with all those who have suffered through this process. May the miracle of the Ascension bring the needed graces. God bless you.

  4. We must remember that all things work together for good for those who are called according to His purposes and that if there is any suffering we can make it fruitful by considering it what my evangelical brothers and sisters would call a "prayer burden" and pray until the burden lifts.

    I have a prayer burden so heavy, it feels almost like pre- April 15 days. Thankfully, I have an appointment with our Lord in the Adoration Chapel tonight.

  5. Assorted dire hints here. What is going haywire? Cardinal Collins was given this portfolio. If he is not onside, what is the implication?

    1. Sometimes when you have a prayer burden you may not know precisely why you are being drawn into prayer and must pray until it lifts. Which it has. I have concerns that range far wider than Oshawa or Toronto, where there are some disappointments about liturgy and having to do the Book of Divine Worship with the American 1979 Prayer Book prayers instead of what we have been using in Ottawa and Victoria, which is the Book of Divine Worship, with the Canadian Prayer Book prayers substituted in those portions where the American ones were used. If we all have to go to using the straight BDW for a period of time it won't be the end of the world! This was the liturgy Fr. Phillips celebrated in Mississauga and it will do just fine even if it is American and some of the prayers are not as familiar to us. But we in Ottawa didn't just holus bolus make the substitution. There was consultation by Archbishop Prendergast, who is after all a member of Vox Clara, with the Ordinary and the international commission working on the liturgy for the Ordinariates.
      We should have all this made a lot clearer in the next few weeks as Msgr. Steenson is visiting with both Cardinal Collins and Archbishop Prendergast. I may even get a chance to say hello, or at least grab a photo of him and the archbishop.

  6. There will always be bumps along the way. I fully expected the way forward would have its challenges. We simply need to bite the bullet as far as the liturgy is concerned, go along with it, until we get something better. The greater concern is to obtain the clerics we need to celebrate our masses on a consistent basis,without interruption because of other obligations and can fully serve our parishes. This may be the greater of the two challenges. In all due respect,I appreciate the various dioceses providing us with temporary clerics, but we need former Anglican clergy to be ordained as soon as possible. Only by doing this, will things be truly settled and we can move on. My resolve is to stick with this process,although I was wavering yesterday.

    I just hope that, in certain dioceses, a little more sensitivity, compassion and pastoral support can be demonstrated by the Ordinary. I know that most of the Local Ordinaries, including the Ottawa Ordinary have been great in this regard.

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