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.