St. Agatha's Beautiful Web Site

For those of us who trace our Ordinariate-roots to the Traditional Anglican Communion (TAC), St. Agatha's Church in Portsmouth holds a special place in our hearts.

This is where the members of TAC College of Bishops, dressed in their robes and mitres, solemnly signed on the altar the 2007 Portsmouth Petition, which said, in part:

* * *

Recognising that obligation, and with great confidence in the Lord and in the power of the Holy Spirit, a worldwide community of Anglican Christians has united under the name “The Traditional Anglican Communion” for three main purposes:

  • To identify, reaffirm and consolidate in its community the elements of belief, sacraments, structure and conduct that mark the Church of Christ, which is one throughout the world:
  • To seek as a body full and visible communion, particularly eucharistic communion, in Christ, with the Roman Catholic Church, in which it recognises the fullest subsistence of Christ’s one Church; and
  • To achieve such communion while maintaining those revered traditions of spirituality, liturgy, discipline and theology that constitute the cherished and centuries-old heritage of Anglican communities throughout the world.

The Bishops and Vicars-General of this Communion, now meeting in Plenary Session in the Church of Saint Agatha, Portsmouth, England, on the Feast of Theresa of the Child Jesus and in the days following, have reached the following mind which they have asked their Primate and delegates to report to the Holy See:

  1. We accept the ministry of the Bishop of Rome, the successor of Peter, which is a ministry of teaching and discerning the faith and a “perpetual and visible principle and foundation of unity” and understand this ministry is essential to the Church founded by Jesus Christ.  We accept that this ministry, in the words of the late John Paul II inUt Unum Sint, is to “ensure the unity of all the Churches”.

* * *

I still find this letter inspiring.  I loved it that this is what the TAC stood for.  Sadly, the new TAC has abandoned this approach.

The bishops also signed the Catechism of the Catholic Church and its Compendium.

Did they know what they were signing?  Did they know what accepting the ministry of Peter meant?

One who did is former Bishop Robert Mercer who was ordained a Catholic priest earlier this year.  It warms my heart to see the impressive new web site of St. Agatha's up, with a picture of him that was taken here in Ottawa with our altar behind him.

And what a great work St. Agatha's Trust is doing to preserve the treasures of history.

Check out their campaign to get a full set of bells!

An appeal has been launched to provide a ring of 8 bells for St. Agatha’s Church in the heart of Portsmouth. This will establish the St. Agatha’s Ringing Centre, to promote the art of Church bellringing among the young people of the area. The bells will be rung regularly by the many ringers in the locality and from all over the country. How appropriate that St. Agatha is the patron saint of bellringing!


St. Agatha’s is sometimes called "The Cathedral of the Car Parks”. Standing virtually alone in what was an artisan area of Portsmouth, the church was the inspiration of the legendary Fr. Robert Dolling, champion of the poor, who was greatly loved and respected by all. Abandoned in 1954, it became a Naval Store for many years, and was restored for public use in 1994. St. Agatha’s now serves the community, not only as a church, but also as a concert hall and exhibition centre. The building is cared for by St. Agatha’s Trust, a registered charity that will also manage the appeal.


St. Agatha’s Trust has saved many fine artefacts no longer required by redundant churches and, with the help of the Keltek Trust, a registered charity that finds new homes for redundant bells, has now acquired 4 bells which will provide the 4 deepest notes of the octave. The money raised by the appeal will provide 4 new bells to complete the octave, hanging all 8 bells in a new bell frame and the fitting out of the Ringing Centre.

It touches me deeply that this place is such a place of hope and renewal, not only for the Ordinariate of Our Lady of Walsingham, but for the treasures of our Anglican patrimony.

Beautiful web site.  And!  They have a Facebook page.  How about going on over and "Liking" it.  There are only two likes so far.  I think I was #2.  Let's see how much traffic we can send!

Author: Deborah Gyapong

Deborah Gyapong is a member of the Sodality of the Annunciation of the Blessed Virgin Mary ( 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.

4 thoughts on “St. Agatha's Beautiful Web Site”

  1. It is good to see the importance of this endeavour recognized from far afield. Members of the Anglican tradition will appreciate, in particular, that the practice of church bell ringing is an important and all too seldom celebrated part of their patrimony.

    Catholic centres of bell ringing offer an important bridge to our fellow Christians in the Anglican tradition: members of ringing bands often help one another out when people are away, collaborate at practices and on training days. Ringing is a church-centred activity in which people can get to understand and befriend one another, and absorb something of one another's "atmosphere". It is a highly fertile ground for witnessing to what is common, and what is different, in our faith traditions, within a culture of friendship and mutual support.

    The proposed new ring at S. Agatha's will have the added advantage that, because the bells are light, young people can be introduced to a unique and distinctive form of liturgical service.

    I would like to commend the bell appeal as a particularly worthy, because potentially fruitful, gesture of outreach on the part of the new community of S. Agatha's, Portsmouth.

    CPK Smithies
    Member, Guild of S. Agatha (Guild of Catholic bell ringers)

  2. On the only occasion I visited St Agatha's it reminded me more of an ecclesiastical junk shop than a church. It is full of inorganically-placed church furniture culled from far and wide, plonked down in whatever space happened to be available. Neither Catholic nor Anglo-Catholic churches of the past ever looked as amateur or obsessive than this.

    As for the Portsmouth petition, it did not take long to be proved null and void and little more than a paper document that had little, if any, groundswell of support.

    1. St Agatha's remains a museum and is available for hire. Details can be found on the trust website.

      The Portsmouth petition is a unique document and remains a landmark event in the continuing reconciliation of the post Reformation churches with the Holy See.

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