Msgr. Steenson's Homily at the Ordination of Fr. Andrew Bartus

I've been doing a lot of virtual traveling via Google Earth in Southern California as I will be staying for a week later this month with family a few miles south of Oceanside where there is a new Anglican Use Catholic community, St. Augustine of Canterbury.  Hmm.  Can I make it to Mass with them while I'm in the area?

Here's an excerpt of a news story about the reception of this group and that of the Blessed Henry Newman fellowship of Santa Ana yesterday.  Follow the link for some great pictures.


The Anglican churches, Blessed John Henry Newman of Santa Ana and Vista-based Saint Augustine of Canterbury, are now organized in “ordinariates,” geographic regions similar to a Catholic diocese.

In addition, Anglican priest Andrew Bartus was officially ordained as a Catholic priest Tuesday, even though he is married and has a child. Like others joining the Catholic Church across the nation, his congregation will maintain distinctive elements of Anglican practices.

All told, about 70 members of both congregations were confirmed as Catholics at the ceremony.

“What a joy it is for me to be a part of this holy work today," Msgr. Jeffrey N. Steenson told the crowd. Referring to the New Testament's book of Ephesians, he said the newcomers were “no longer sojourners or travelers … you are citizens, like all the saints, members of God’s household.”

In the audience, Fred and Barbara Wood of Oceanside said they couldn’t wait for the times to catch up to them. They recently left the Episcopal Church earlier – where Fred was a deacon – and joined St. Margaret, a Catholic parish in Oceanside. They made the trip to San Juan because they knew many of the newly confirmed and wanted to show their support, they said.

With everyone together again, it felt “absolutely” like home, Fred Wood said.

In 2009, Pope Benedict XVI paved the way for reunification with willing Episcopalians. The U.S. Ordinariates were formed at the beginning of the year, and Tuesday’s Mass was the first of its kind for Orange and San Diego counties.

Although the media have reported conservative Episcopalians are joining Catholics as a response to liberal policies, such as allowing gay bishops and female priests, there was no talk of such issues at Mission Basilica on Tuesday.

Here is Msgr. Steenson's homily at the event, including the ordination of Fr. Andrew Bartus yesterday.

July 3, 2012: Msgr. Steenson's Homily at California Ordination and Reception

Becoming Men and Women of Communion

Thank you to Bishop Brown and Bishop Flores for your presence and support, as our brothers and sisters are brought into full communion through the Personal Ordinariate of the Chair of St. Peter, and as Deacon Andrew Bartus is ordained to the sacred order of priest.  The Ordinariate depends on these collegial relationships with the local diocese, and I thank you all for your enthusiastic support for this work, so close to the heart of our Holy Father, Pope Benedict XVI.

Perhaps you will allow me to take a moment to breath deeply the air of this holy place.  One weekday morning some 20 years ago, I came from a nearby conference and sat quietly in this place to pray.  The breezes were blowing through the windows, the birds were singing, and I asked Fr. Junipero Serra for a prayer.  I was struggling with a vocational decision, whether to stand for an ecclesial office in the Episcopal Church.  It would have meant years of conflict in an ecclesial community undergoing profound changes.  And the answer that I was given here that day?  Be careful to do nothing that might take you further away from full communion with the Catholic Church.  You want this mission church to be your church: to be incorporated in its faith and life.  I cannot begin to tell you what a joy it is for me to be a part of this holy work today.

On this feast of St. Thomas the Apostle, who carried the Gospel to lands far off, as blessed Junipero Serra did here, this desire for authentic apostolic life continues to move the hearts of Christian people.  For those who are not in communion with the Catholic Church, this desire for apostolicity is certainly present as well — it just needs to be awakened and nurtured.  This important element in the mission of the Ordinariate is part of Pope Benedict's vision for the new evangelization.

In our second reading, Paul writes to the Christians in Ephesus to encourage them: because of your faith in Christ and the Cross, you have been given the gift of communion.  You really belong now!  "So you no longer are strangers and sojourners … you are no longer aliens or foreign visitors.  You are citizens like all the saints, members of God's household" (Eph. 2:19).  By grace you have been included in this house of salvation, whose firm foundation rests on the eternity of the blessed Trinity; its cornerstone Jesus Christ, true God and true man, who holds everything together; the stones of its walls made up of the Prophets and Patriarchs and the Apostles and the Saints.  This house of salvation stands, an impregnable fortress, for all of time; it is anchored in the mystery of God's being; it reaches out to welcome all who seek to make it their home.  We call it the Catholic Church.

The church father Marius Victorinus (Rome's most famous convert) commented on how St. Paul cleverly changed the tense of the verbs in this lesson to make it an exhortation to the Ephesians.  They have not yet fully entered into this unity, but are still being built up, "growing into a holy temple in the Lord" (Eph. 2:21).  This is to put the dynamic in Catholic life: we zealously make it our aim to continue on this journey to full communion, the destination being the blessed Trinity, and our companions along the way all who bear the name Christian.  Thus we rejoice over this gift of communion, but we must remember also its obligations.

There is a remarkable passage in Pope John Paul II's great letter, Pastores dabo vobis (43), which serves as the foundation for the formation of priests.  I offer this to our brother Andrew, who is to be ordained a priest.  But I invite all who are coming to full communion this morning to let these words speak to them:

“In order that his ministry may be humanly as credible and acceptable as possible, it is important that the priest should mold his human personality in such a way that it becomes a bridge and not an obstacle for others in their meeting with Jesus Christ the Redeemer of humanity.”  He is called “… to be a ‘man of communion.’  This demands that the priest not be arrogant, or quarrelsome, but affable, hospitable, sincere in his words and heart, prudent and discreet, generous and ready to serve, capable of opening himself to clear and brotherly relationships and of encouraging the same in others, and quick to understand, forgive and console.”

Pope John Paul went on to suggest that we should consider these words from St. Paul as a seminary in a verse, so to speak:  "Whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is gracious, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things" (Phil. 4:8).

These words, of course, are meant for all of us.  And in them we can see the challenge of becoming men and women of communion.  At so many points in our common life we encounter forces and attitudes which have the effect of dividing God's people.  Because of sin, it is all to easy to fall into those habits and behaviors which are completely antithetical to the blessed, priceless gift of communion that we celebrate this morning.  You know, dear brothers and sisters, that it is by grace we have come to this moment.  Our hearts are full of joy and thanksgiving.  But let us be careful of each step we take, from this time forward, so that our lives will bear witness to this gift of unity.  Always remember the Church, this household of faith.  Do your part to build her up and guard her unity. Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, welcome to your new home!

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.

5 thoughts on “Msgr. Steenson's Homily at the Ordination of Fr. Andrew Bartus”

  1. I attended the mass! I was expecting Anglican Use, but it's all good. It's so surprising what four voices and lack of modern instruments can do. I took notice that there were no microphones or speakers visible anywhere.

    After the mass, there was free food at the parish center. The food consisted of fresh fruit, cold cuts, cheese, bread, and cookies. Fr. Bartus was, while people were eating, meeting with and blessing individuals who had formed a line to see him. I myself lined up to get his blessing. It was awesome.

    It was really gladdening to hear that people came from all over the U.S. for this event. I thought that it was just folks from San Diego or Orange County.

    I also noticed that Msgr. Steenson has a miter, but no crozier. I suppose the miter is a sort of ecclesiastical award like the awarding of a miter to priests in Eastern Orthodoxy?

    My parents, who came with me, wondered why it seemed as if no one from the L.A. Archdiocese hierarchy came to represent. I told them that it was probably already full for the reps. of the other two diocese.

  2. It was a magnificent day, one we have yearned for. Msgr Steenson is grounded, gentle, and conversational—I was privileged to talk with him briefly before mass.

    The music was led by Dr Sandy Fryling, Bl John Henry Newman's choirmaster, and she will be serving at our first mass this Sunday, 3 pm, St Joseph Church, Santa Ana. If you are in the vicinity, please come and celebrate with us!

    And…….congratulations to our new priest on his ordination, Fr Andrew Bartus!!! His commitment to Christ and His Church has been heroic. We truly are "Blessed" John's.

    Thank you Lord Christ, thank you Holy Father, Pope Benedict, thank you to all the unseen people in the background who have worked so diligently on the Ordinariate. Thank You.

  3. This was one of the happiest days of my life! When Bp Brown presented our confirmands to the congregation, the waterworks started. And that was before the ordination! This was a long journey, but so worth it. We can't wait to begin meeting for weekly mass. It was a blessing to be a part of this journey with such wonderful people. Sandy Fryling and Will Rowley made the Basilica come alive with exactly the type of music that should be sung there (Byrd's Mass for Four Voices). It was divine.

  4. It truly was a blessed day. Those of us being received/Confirmed woke up today having 1.3 billion brothers and sisters, and Pope Benedict as our spiritual Father. What a difference a day, and a faithful commitment to the Lord, can make.
    Deborah: You are most welcome to be with us. We have Morning Prayer at 10:15AM next to the Blessed Sacrament Chapel, followed by Mass (Latin Rite) at 11am. This is because we shall wait until an Ordinariate priest is assigned to us. Then we shall, Lord willing, celebrate the Mass according to the Anglican Tradition.

Leave a Reply