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.
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.
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