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Heading to Rome? Will Entire Maryland Episcopal Parish Become Catholic?

By Randy Sly
October 1st, 2010
Catholic Online (www.catholic.org)

The Process which brought the whole parish 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 the All Saints Sisters of the Poor were received into the Catholic Church and the Apostolic Constitution for Anglicans coming into full communion was promulgated. 

WASHINGTON, DC (Catholic Online) - In a letter to parishioners, the Reverend Jason Cantania, rector of Mount Calvary Episcopal Church in Baltimore, Maryland, announced that the vestry of the parish had voted unanimously in favor of two resolutions. First, they have voted to leave The Episcopal Church (TEC) where they are a part of the Episcopal Diocese of Maryland, and, second, to become an Anglican Use parish in the Catholic Church through the new initiative from Rome - the Anglicorum Coetibus.

Under the terms of this apostolic constitution, the Church has provided opportunities for "personal ordinariates for Anglicans entering full communion with the Catholic Church." As an Anglican Use parish, they will be authorized to use an authorized version of the Episcopal Church's Book of Common Prayer called the "Book of Divine Worship."

Mount Calvary Episcopal Church, founded in 1842, is located in the heart of the city of Baltimore. On their website they describe themselves as a parish that has "borne faithful witness to the essential truth of Catholic Christianity and the tradition of the Oxford Movement for over 150 years, and remains to this day a bulwark of orthodox Anglo-Catholic practice.

[Author note - The Oxford Movement was a movement in the early 1800's of "high church Anglicans" who were desiring to maintain faithfulness to essential Catholic teachings. One of the early principle proponents of the Oxford Movement was John Henry Newman, who, as a Catholic convert, received the red hat as a Cardinal. He was recently beatified by Pope Benedict XVI during his visit to England.]

"From its foundation, Mt. Calvary has 'contended for the faith once delivered to all the saints,"'the Catholic and Apostolic faith grounded in Holy Scripture as interpreted by the Fathers and Councils of the undivided Church."

The church will come together for a special meeting on October 24th to vote on the vestry's resolutions.

Virtue Online published the letter from the Rector which was first published on another blog entitled The Bovina Bloviator


LETTER FROM THE RECTOR OF MOUNT CALVARY CHURCH TO PARISHIONERS

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
Rector


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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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