Lessons and Carols at St. Anselm's Abbey in DC.
Many of you probably noticed our mention of the St. Thomas of Canterbury Anglican Use Society of Washington, DC and Northern Virginia in our recent stories on the March for Life and the Mid Atlantic Gathering in Baltimore.
Through their comments in the discussion threads on those stories, I got in touch with some of the folks from St. Thomas of Canterbury and asked if they would share their story with the readers of The Anglo-Catholic. Heide Seward of the blog Seward’s Folly sent me this history, which I share below along with some photos from the group’s very attractive new website. If you are in the DC area, get in touch and stay posted for upcoming events.
The St. Thomas of Canterbury Anglican Use Society of Washington, DC & Northern Virginia
- A Brief History -
The St. Thomas of Canterbury Anglican Use Society of Washington, DC and Northern Virgina (STCS), like other similar communities, owes its existence to the generosity and foresight of His Holiness, Pope Benedict XVI, who, on November 4, 2010, promulgated the apostolic constitution, Anglicanorum coetibus (“Groups of Anglicans”). This document and its Complementary Norms is a pastoral response to the numerous petitions of Anglicans over a long period of time who have hoped to be reconciled with the Catholic Church, while retaining some elements of their traditional Anglican patrimony.
In response to the Holy Father’s offer, an effort was initiated in the Washington, DC/Northern Virginia area, thanks to the diligence of several people who originally made contact through the Anglo-Catholic blog online forum, (also called “Groups of Anglicans”). Our inaugural meeting to discuss the possibility of forming an Anglican Use parish, with five people in attendance, was held in Alexandria, VA, on June 12, 2010.
Once word got out about this effort, over the course of the next few months we grew in numbers and have gradually coalesced as pilgrims in one stage or another on the road to Rome. That is, some of us have already been received into the Catholic Church or are “cradle” Catholics. Others have not yet “crossed the Tiber.” All of us have seen our faith in Christ nurtured and deepened by the Anglican patrimony and are grateful to the Holy Father for his generosity.
On Saturday, September 11, 2010, we held our first service of Evening Prayer at St. Anselm’s (Benedictine) Abbey in Washington, DC. We are tremendously grateful to the brothers of St. Anselm’s and their prior, Fr. Simon McGurk, who have welcomed us enthusiastically and have allowed us to use the Abbey Chapel for subsequent Evening Prayer services on the third Saturday of each month (at 4:45pm) since then. Following our Evening Prayer services we have been able to use their lovely Ft. Augustus Room in the building next door to get to know each other and to welcome newcomers.
In October of 2010 the group elected a Leadership Council. We have continued to meet on a monthly basis to discuss a variety of issues pertaining to our ultimate goal of forming an Anglican Use parish in the area that will, we hope, eventually become part of a future Ordinariate in the US. In October we sent a letter to (then Archbishop, now Cardinal) Wuerl, in his capacity as delegate of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith (CDF) to guide the formation of an Ordinariate in the United States, informing him of our existence. We similarly notified Bishop Loverde of the Arlington Diocese (Northern Virginia). The response from Cardinal Wuerl’s assistant, Fr. Scott Hurd, included a Community Profile to be filled out and submitted by the end of 2010. Eighteen people eventually agreed to be numbered as interested in the Ordinariate by the time the Profile was submitted on December 31, 2010.
On December 18, 2010, instead of our regular Evening Prayer we held a service of Advent Lessons & Carols in the Abbey Chapel, with a (semi-professional) choir that included several STCS members. Several of the brothers from the Abbey and a number of family & friends joined us for the service and the social hour afterward.
A St. Thomas group photo from the January Mid Atlantic Gathering.
On January 15, 2011, following months of discussion and prayer about the selection of a patron for our group, the executive council officially adopted St. Thomas of Canterbury as our patron. Later that month we launched our website (http://www.stthomascanterbury.org/links.html).
The occasion of our introduction to the wider Ordinariate world was the Mid-Atlantic Gathering of Ordinariate-bound Catholics and Anglicans, on January 23, 2011. Fr. Eric Bergman (chaplain of the St. Thomas More Society (STMS) of Scranton, PA and of the Anglican Use Society) celebrated an Anglican Use Mass according to the Book of Divine Worship at St. Alphonsus Catholic Church in downtown Baltimore, MD. Afterwards we reconvened a few blocks away at Mt. Calvary Church for a reception. Mt. Calvary is the Baltimore church whose congregation voted overwhelmingly in October of 2010 to leave the Episcopal Church and seek reception into the Catholic Church. The next day, January 24, several of us also participated in the annual March for Life, under a large banner proclaiming, “Thank you, Holy Father, for Anglicanorum coetibus!”
History continues to be made almost daily regarding the St. Thomas of Canterbury Society—and certainly the same can be said of the Ordinariate itself. Keep an eye on our website for news and updates.
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