On Sunday evening at Holy Spirit Catholic Church in Annandale, Virginia. I was present with 140 other attendees for Solemn Evensong and Rite of Benediction (for the Solemnity of Corpus Christi), sponsored by the St. Thomas of Canterbury Anglican Use Society of Washington, DC and Northern Virginia (STCS).
WASHINGTON, DC (Catholic Online) - There have always been Anglicans "on the journey" to the Catholic Church and many have come into full communion over the years. With the exception of a handful of parishes that entered through the Pastoral Provision, most had to come in through a solitary journey and those who were clergy wondered if there might ever be another opportunity to offer the sacraments.
The Anglican Ordinariate, however, through to the terms of the apostolic constitution, Anglicanorum coetibus, has given pilgrims a real sense "welcome" and expectation while they are on their way." Catholic parishes are opening their doors to Anglican Use liturgies and inviting Episcopalians and other Anglicans to come and see.
One such example took place on Sunday evening at Holy Spirit Catholic Church in Annandale, Virginia. I was present with 140 other attendees for Solemn Evensong and Rite of Benediction (for the Solemnity of Corpus Christi), sponsored by the St. Thomas of Canterbury Anglican Use Society of Washington, DC and Northern Virginia (STCS).
The liturgy was celebrated by Father Terry Specht, Pastor of Holy Spirit Catholic Church, the hosting parish. He was joined by the STCS schola (a liturgical choir), which comes together for these Anglican Use liturgies.
Congregants were a mixture of Catholics from Holy Spirit and other parishes along with Episcopalians and some from the newer Anglican jurisdictions in America.
In chatting with the people at a reception that followed, I was thrilled to experience the enthusiasm and excitement present concerning the anticipated Ordinariate. For many of the Episcopalians/Anglicans present, it was clear that their hearts were already formed or being formed as Catholics; the distinct liturgies notwithstanding, they were excited to become one with the Church.
Jim Farr, president of the STCS, is an Episcopalian who is eagerly anticipating the forthcoming Ordinariate. "I'm still in awe of the opportunity given us through the Ordinariate," he told me. "We are able to come into full communion with the Church and the Holy Father, while bringing our liturgies and devotional practices with us."
We shared some of the ways in which the Anglican Use might encourage and even influence the Church through the English patrimony. "Our parishes are traditionally smaller," he added. "We're used to having an education hour followed by a principal Mass. Then we enjoy hanging around together afterward for coffee!"
Father Specht has graciously offered the facilities of Holy Spirit parish to the Society for further events, so they will now have a stable location in the Northern Virginia area for meetings, offices of prayer and Mass.
The STCS held its inaugural meeting at St. Anselm's Abbey in Washington, DC just over one year ago, on June 12, 2010 with five people present. Since that time interest in the society has grown steadily. Anglican Use Evening Prayer has been held once a month at St. Anselm's since that time and a group of 80 people attended the Society's first Anglican Use Mass there on March 19, 2011.
The Society exists to promote establishment of an Anglican Use Catholic parish under the future Ordinariate.
As Heide Seward, Secretary for the Society, told me the next day, "It seems that the Holy Spirit is on the move here, thanks to the Pope of Christian Unity."
This is just one example of the activity taking place prior to the formation of the Anglican Ordinariate in the United States. We will bring more about the STCS and other groups who are beginning to form.
To learn more about the STCS, links to other Ordinariate sites and a schedule of upcoming events, visit their website at http://www.stthomascanterbury.org/index.html.
Randy Sly is the Associate Editor of Catholic Online and the CEO/Associate Publisher for the Northern Virginia Local Edition of Catholic Online (http://virginia.catholic.org). He is a former Archbishop of the Charismatic Episcopal Church who laid aside that ministry to enter into the full communion of the Catholic Church.
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