All Saints Sisters Profess Vows

From the Baltimore Sun:

Archdiocese of Baltimore welcomes new order of nuns

November 01, 2011
By Mary Gail Hare, The Baltimore Sun

The Archdiocese of Baltimore added a new religious order of nuns Tuesday, its first in decades and one that began as an Anglican community.

The All Saints' Sisters of the Poor left the Episcopal Church for the Roman Catholic Church two years ago. By a decree from the Vatican, they are now an official diocesan priory, or order, the same designation carried by the School Sisters of Notre Dame or the Daughters of Charity.

"We feel we have broken ground," said Mother Christina Christie, leader of the community and a nun since 1966.

Yesterday, All Saints' Day, at the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary, all 10 members of the Catonsville convent individually professed perpetual vows of poverty, chastity and obedience "for the rest of my life in this world." Then each signed her profession at the altar before nearly two dozen priests and bishops.

Archbishop Edwin F. O'Brien chose Nov. 1, the sisters' patronal feast day, to officially receive the community into the archdiocese.

"This is a great day and a great gift to the church in Baltimore," O'Brien said to the congregation. "Few bishops have had such an opportunity."

The sisters and their chaplain, who was ordained a Catholic priest in June, felt they were "drifting farther apart from the more liberal road the Episcopal Church is traveling," Christie said. One of the leading factors in their decision to leave the faith was the decision by Episcopal leaders to sanction the ordination of gay men and women.

Several times during the Mass, O'Brien praised the nuns' "long journey of faith," one that he said, "was not without distress."

Nuns from several different orders in the archdiocese attended the service to support their new sisters.

"We are happy after so many years of knowing them that they are joining us," said Sister Concetta Melton of the Oblate Sisters of Providence, whose convent is practically a neighbor to All Saints'.

For the newest community, it will be business as usual in their lives of prayer and service, said Christie. Now that they are an official religious institute, they can re-open their novitiate and welcome new candidates to their community. Since their change of denomination, there have been several inquiries, she said.

"We are not expecting a mad rush to join us," she said. "But we will take those that God sends us."

All Saints' Convent, Catonsville to Be Erected Priory

Fr. Allan Hawkins, Parish Priest at St. Mary the Virgin Catholic Church (Anglican Use), in Arlington, Texas, reports that he has just now received a telephone call from Reverend Mother Christina at All Saints' Convent, Catonsville, telling him that they are to be erected as a Priory on All Saints' Day.  Congratulations to the whole community!

Mount Calvary Church, Baltimore

The vestry of the small Anglo-Catholic parish of Mount Calvary in Baltimore has voted to leave The Episcopal Church and seek admission into the Catholic Church under the terms of the Apostolic Constitution Anglicanorum Coetibus.  A special meeting of the congregation has been called to approve these actions.  May the people of Mount Calvary be in our prayers as they approach this solemn assembly!

H/t to The Bovina Bloviator.

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September 21, 2010

Dear Friends in Christ,

I write today to inform you of a special meeting of the Congregation of Mount Calvary Church which has been called by the Vestry for Sunday, October 24, following the 10:00 am Solemn Mass. The purpose of this meeting is to vote on two resolutions which have been unanimously approved by the Vestry. They are as follows:

Resolved: In accordance with Article 12 of the amendment to the Charter of Mount Calvary Church, Baltimore, adopted April 10, 1967, the Vestry of Mount Calvary Church hereby determines that The Episcopal Church (formerly known as the “Protestant Episcopal Church in the United States of America”) has clearly, substantially, and fundamentally changed its doctrine, discipline and worship, and that Mount Calvary Church should become separate from and independent of The Episcopal Church. The Vestry therefore calls for a special meeting of the Congregation of Mount Calvary Church to be held on Sunday, October 24, 2010, following the 10:00 AM Mass, to affirm and enact this resolution.

Resolved: That Mount Calvary Church, upon separation from The Episcopal Church, seek to become an Anglican Use parish of the Roman Catholic Church.

Most of you are fully aware of the history which has brought us to this point. That history extends all the way back to the 19th century, when Mount Calvary became well-known, throughout Maryland and throughout the Episcopal Church, for its adherence to Catholic faith and practice. Indeed, to some it was notorious for its “popish” ways, and in fact for many clergy and people over the years (including two of my predecessors as rector), Mount Calvary has been their last stop before “crossing the Tiber”. The immediate process which brings us to this historic moment began with a Vestry retreat in October 2007, where it was decided unanimously that Mount Calvary should explore the possibility of becoming part of the Roman Catholic Church. Since then, two crucial events have occurred. The first was the reception of the All Saints Sisters of the Poor, our own parish sisters, into the Catholic Church in September 2009. The second was the announcement the following month of Anglicanorum Coetibus, the Apostolic Constitution calling for the creation of “personal ordinariates” (essentially non-geographical dioceses) for groups of Anglicans entering the Roman Catholic Church while retaining elements of their tradition. The result of these developments is that the Archdiocese of Baltimore now stands ready to welcome Mount Calvary as a body into full communion with the successor of St. Peter, and the process of establishing ordinariates in various countries, including the United States, has begun.

While I know that the vast majority of you are enthusiastic about making this transition, I realize that some may still have questions and concerns about the prospect of entering the Roman Catholic Church. In the weeks ahead, prior to the congregational meeting, I will invite a series of guests to speak about their experience of life in the Catholic Church and to answer questions. Some of these guests will be well-known to you; indeed they will include former parishioners and clergy of Mount Calvary. I think all of them will be helpful in allaying any fears there may be.

Let me conclude by saying how truly grateful I am to be leading Mount Calvary Church at this moment in time. When I became your rector over four years ago, I had not the faintest idea that this would be the journey we would take together. Nonetheless, there is not a doubt in my mind that this is the work of the Holy Spirit and truly the will of God, not simply for me, but for Mount Calvary. This is not about rejecting our past and our heritage, but rather fulfilling it. We have before us the opportunity to carry with us the richness of the Anglican tradition into full communion with the wider Catholic Church. I therefore ask that each of you pray that God’s will be done in this place which we all love so dearly as we approach this momentous decision.

Yours in Christ,

The Rev’d Jason Catania, SSC

Anglican Use Conference: Day One Afternoon Report

Following Morning Prayer and the greeting from Archbishop Myers, the conference reconvened in morning session in the auditorium of the Archdiocesan chancery office.

The first speaker, Sister Elaine, ASSP, reflected on the experience of her religious community, All Saints Sisters of the Poor. A long-established order in the Church of England, the sisters first came to Baltimore in 1872, have been in Baltimore continuously ever since, and were received into full communion last September by Archbishop O’Brien of Baltimore.

As Sister Elaine explained, much of the sisters’ daily life remains unchanged, as Archbishop O’Brien had instructed them “keep doing what you’re doing.” For example, the form of their daily office remains unchanged, with the Sisters offering the liturgy of the hours six times daily as a community. Sister Elaine’s presentation was filled with joy, and was frequently punctuated with laughter, as when she explained that not every one understands the monastic life, as demonstrated by the advice she received to “get a job,” perhaps teaching in a Catholic school.

Sister Elaine describes her community’s journey into full communion matter-of-factly as “becoming Roman Catholic.” Sister emphasized the importance of promoting vocations to the religious life and said that she was counting on the parishes represented in the room to send her at least one postulant.

Next up on the program was Dr. William Oddie’s presentation on the important role of influential and literarily sophisticated Anglican converts in Catholic apologetics. Dr. Oddie is a well respected and widely published Church of England clergyman who was received into full communion in 1991.

What could have been a disappointing experience was transformed into a particularly edifying and entertaining experience when, on learning that for health reasons he would be unable to travel to Newark, Dr. Oddie asked Father Allan Hawkins to deliver the paper for him. Today, Fr. Hawkins is best known to us as the pastor of St. Mary the Virgin, the Pastoral Provision parish in Arlington, Texas. Earlier, Fathers Oddie and Hawkins had served together in England, and clearly know each other well. Fr. Hawkins’ annotated reading of the paper brought to life Dr. Oddie’s animated reflections on Chesterton, and the synergy of Chesterton, Oddie and Hawkins greatly exceeded the sum of the parts.

Following a thorough and thoroughly entertaining discussion of Newman and Chesterton, Oddie’s paper went to on to discuss more recent developments. Dr. Oddie made clear his view that last fall, Pope Benedict suddenly accelerated the timetable for the publication of Anglicanorum Coetibus, before its intent could be frustrated by those who oppose the new Apostolic Constitution.

Lunch was an occasion for informal discussions, with clergy and lay people from ACA, other Continuing and Episcopalian parishes dining in small groups with Pastoral Provision folks.

The afternoon conference session was the annual tradition of the Anglican Use Pastors Panel. This is always a crowd favorite, as the audience has the opportunity to define the agenda. This year’s panelists were Fr. James Ramsey of Our Lady of Walsingham in Houston, Fr. Richard Bradford of St. Athanasius in Boston, Fr. Allan Hawkins of St. Mary the Virgin in Arlington, Fr. Jean Hart, SOLT, of St Anselm of Canterbury in Corpus Christi, Fr. Eric Bergman of St. Thomas More in Scranton, Fr. Ernest Davis of St. Therese Little Flower in Kansas City, and Deacon Oliver Vietor of St. Paul’s in Phoenix. In keeping with the issues of the day, questions and comments from the audience leaned heavily toward issues of priestly ordination and the future of the ordinariates.

Going into the pastors’ panel, most conference attendees probably had the sense that the mood of the room was a watchful and somewhat impatient eagerness for the Church “to get on with” the ordinariates. After hearing the tone and content of the questions, this mood was unmistakable.

Bishop Juan Ignacio Arrieta, a distinguished canon lawyer who serves as Secretary of the Pontifical Council for Legislative Texts, and who is the keynote speaker for the conference, was present for the Pastors' Panel and followed the discussion with animated interest.

Your humble scribe is a cradle Catholic who has worshiped in a Pastoral Provision parish for six years, and, like most Anglican Use parishioners, is eager for the U.S. ordinariate to be established. After talking with these conference attendees, I can see that the need is even greater among our Anglican brethren who are waiting. In a particularly challenging situation are the clergy of the ACA, other Continuing groups, and Episcopal Church groups who are working hard to serve the pastoral needs of the people, while at the same time holding their flocks together under extreme uncertainty about the timing. Let us hope that Rome is reading the blogs.

Further reports will be posted as time allows.

Anglican Use Conference Special Correspondent

As both Fr. Christopher Phillips and I are unable to attend this year's Anglican Use Conference, Mr. Ralph Johnston of Our Lady of the Atonement Parish in San Antonio, TX, has graciously volunteered to serve as our special correspondent for the event.

Mr. Johnston has been a member of OLA since 2004.  Formerly a museum director, he now serves as headmaster of The Atonement Academy, the PK-12 parish school of Our Lady of the Atonement, and, to date, the only school in the Pastoral Provision and future Ordinariate community.  Like many other cradle Catholics worshiping in Pastoral Provision congregations, he has developed an attachment to the Anglican forms of devotion.  He has attended Anglican Use Conferences in prior years and is a member of the Anglican Use Society.

In Rome with an Atonement pilgrimage group when Anglicanorum Coetibus was published, he was the first individual to file a petition with the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith to establish an Ordinariate for the United States under the Apostolic Constitution.  He was a contributor at the Anglicanorum Coetibus Information Day in San Antonio on December 12 of last year, and he has followed recent events closely.  Mr. Johnston holds an MPPM from Yale University and a Certificate in Catholic School Leadership from the University of Dallas.

Look for Mr. Johnston's conference preview post later this week.  During the conference itself, he will be contributing nightly reports on the proceedings.

The 2010 Anglican Use Conference, "Anglican Maps to Rome," will be held in Newark, NJ, from June 10, 2010 through June 12, 2010.  There will be four principal speakers.  The keynote address will be delivered by Juan Ignacio Arrieta, Secretary of the Pontifical Council for the Interpretation of Legislative Texts.  The other speakers will be: Dr. William Oddie, author of numerous books including The Roman Option; Dr. Anne B. Gardiner, author of Modern Faith and Freedom in John Dryden's The Panther and the Hind; and Sr. Anne, ASSP of the All Saints Sisters of the Poor who is resident in their Philadelphia house.