Anglican Priest and Parish are Now Home in the Catholic Church
Long-time friend leads Christ the King parish in Towson, Maryland into full communion
Fr. Ed Meeks and I have known each other for around 16 years. We have shared a lot of memories in our past relationship in the Charismatic Episcopal Church. Nothing compares, however, to what we experienced last weekend as both of us were ordained priests and his parish received by the Catholic Church into full communion.On Sunday the two of us will stand together as priests in the One Holy Catholic and Apostolic Church before the altar at Christ the King parish.
Their pastor, Fr. Ed Meeks, has been a long-time friend and co-laborer with me in the since the early days of the Charismatic Episcopal Church. Both of our journeys involved a desire to return to the heart of the One Holy Catholic and Apostolic Church. Though the past few years saw us on different pathways, we both ended in the same place. In fact, we were both ordained to the Catholic priesthood on the same day, June 23.
Msgr. Jeffrey Steenson, Ordinary for the Personal Ordinariate for the Chair of St. Peter, was present at Christ the King to receive parishioners into the Catholic Church, with about 140 people coming into full communion. So far, this is the largest parish yet to join the Ordinariate.
Msgr. Steenson said he thoroughly enjoyed his time with the people at Christ the King on Sunday, commenting that "this is a really healthy community!" He especially loved the fact that they have a lot of young families attending.
About a year ago, Fr. Ed, as his parishioners know him, and I had begun re-connecting after a few years apart. I had left the Charismatic Episcopal Church (CEC) in 2006 to come into full communion with the Catholic Church. Not long after, Christ the King also departed the CEC to affiliate with another Anglican jurisdiction whose intended goal, at that point, was communion with the Catholic Church as well.
Both of our journeys led to the Personal Ordinariate of the Chair of St. Peter before it was even established. We both made application and, after an excruciating wait time - at least it seemed that way to us - permission was received to move ahead toward the issuing of a rescript for ordination.
My permission arrived first - the "nulla osta" from Rome. I remember calling Fr. Ed to see if his had arrived. He said it hadn't and added, "Whatever happens, we are on this path. I have no plan B."
The thriving parish in the Baltimore suburbs did lose some along the way who did not feel they could make the commitment. Their numbers dropped from around 200 to about 140. A few still have not made the decision but remain connected to the parish.
Fr. Meeks also mentioned that their relationship with the people who could not make the decision remains very good.
For the pastor, this is an actual coming home. Raised in the Catholic Church, Meeks went to St. Mary's Seminary in Baltimore when he was a young adult, exploring the possibility of becoming a Catholic priest. He explained that this was during the 60's and turbulence of the times spilled over into the church in a lot of ways. "There was a lot of confusion created at the time by a lot of people, myself included."
When he made application for the new Ordinariate, which involved a lot of paperwork and detail, he wasn't sure how everything would go. The Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith evaluated each candidate separately and with great care.
He told me during the waiting period of a special time in prayer that he later shared with his congregation. "I was in our church praying, since I hadn't heard anything yet. I said, 'This is your priesthood, Lord, not mine. If you allow me to be a priest, I will serve you as a Catholic priest the rest of my life. And if you choose not to have me become a priest, I will serve you as a Catholic layman the rest of my life."
On Sunday the two of us will stand together as priests in the One Holy Catholic and Apostolic Church before the altar at Christ the King parish. The Anglican liturgy will sound quite like the liturgies we used to share in the past. But Sunday will be very different, celebrating the Mass in the heart of the Church at the center of the World.
Father Randy Sly is the Associate Editor of Catholic Online and a priest with the Personal Ordinariate of the Chair of St. Peter (http://usordinariate.org) established by the Holy Father, Pope Benedict XVI, through the Apostolic Constitution "Anglicanorum Coetibus."
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Pope Benedict XVI's Prayer Intentions for January 2013
General Intention: The Faith of Christians. That in this Year of Faith Christians may deepen their knowledge of the mystery of Christ and witness joyfully to the gift of faith in him.
Missionary Intention: Middle Eastern Christians. That the Christian communities of the Middle East, often discriminated against, may receive from the Holy Spirit the strength of fidelity and perseverance.
Keywords: Christ the King, Personal Ordinariate, Peter, Anglican, Ed Meeks
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