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Novena Anticipates Announcement of the Anglican Ordinariate in the U.S.

By Randy Sly
December 27th, 2011
Catholic Online (

A St. Thomas of Canterbury Novena begins on December 23 for an Anglican Use Society in the Washington, DC/Northern Virginia area and they are inviting others to join with them. A special Novena prayer has been written and available on their website. This nine day vigil is enlisting the prayers of St. Thomas of Canterbury (or St. Thomas a Becket as some know him) on behalf of the new Ordinariate beginning on January 1, 2012 and the Ordinary that has been selected.

WASHINGTON, DC (Catholic Online) - In just nine days the official announcement regarding the Anglican Ordinariate will take place. While some are using the time to speculate, one of the Anglican Use Societies is focusing their efforts on praying for the upcoming event and is inviting other like-hearted groups to join in.

The St. Thomas of Canterbury Anglican Use Society of DC/Virginia is beginning a Novena to their patron today, praying for the Ordinariate and its soon-to-be-named ordinary. Information concerning the Novena can be found here.

The Novena to St. Thomas of Canterbury, who is also known as St. Thomas a Becket, calls upon the intercession of this English bishop and martyr "that Ordinariate Parishes and Societies which are established may be families of charity, peace and the service of the poor, centers for Christian unity and reconciliation, communities that welcome and evangelize, teaching the Faith in all its fullness, celebrating the liturgy and sacraments with prayerful reverence and maintaining a distinctive patrimony of Christian faith and culture."

There is also a request for intercession on behalf of the new Ordinary, "that he will lead with the same faith and fidelity that you held firm at Canterbury."

Heide Seward, secretary for the society, stated, "We are hoping to distribute this as widely as possible, in the hope that other Ordinariate groups around the country will join us in praying a novena--either to St. Thomas of Canterbury or perhaps another saint."

Prayer, such as this Novena, before the announcement date and continuing prayer after January 1 will be quite important. The early days of the Ordinariate will be challenging, in a good way, for the Church in America.

The American bishops will be adjusting to the presence of the Ordinariate, including clergy, in their geographic regions. They have already become involved by providing the local resources necessary to process former Anglican priests who reside in their diocese toward Holy Orders. Soon, they will also find Ordinariate Parishes, Societies and other groups forming there as well.

The organization of a functioning Ordinariate will also start to take shape. The appointed Ordinary and other leaders who are selected will begin to establish councils, committees and other components necessary for the administration of the new jurisdiction.

In addition, formation will begin for the former clergy who have already been approved to enter candidacy for the priesthood. While the actual process has not been fully unveiled, a great deal of work has been done through St. Mary's Seminary in Houston to support this endeavor. Much of the work will be accomplished through distance learning using the Internet, as the men in formation are spread out across the U.S.

The actually visible presence of the Ordinariate will, of course, be local. Anglican Use Societies, many of whom have already been unofficially meeting for fellowship and worship, will be able to establish a more regular schedule of events. Many of them hope, at some point in the future, to become active Ordinariate parishes.

Some parishes will be probably be established quite early in the process. These will be Anglican Use parishes that are currently based in dioceses but have been given permission by their bishop to come into the Ordinariate.

All in all, the early years will be significantly busy and, I'm sure, find some bumps in the road.

From the time that Pope Benedict XVI first announced the formation of the Ordinariate on November 4, 2009, Catholic Online has been covering the development of groups around the world. It was just about one year ago, on January 15, 2011, when the Personal Ordinariate of Our Lady of Walsingham, with jurisdiction over England and Wales, was formally established.

At the Fall 2011 General Assembly of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops Cardinal Donald Wuerl, who has been overseeing the development of the American initiative, announced that January 1, 2012 would be the date when the names of the Ordinariate and the Ordinary are announced.

The Ordinariate awaits. it's just a few days away.

**To learn more about St. Thomas of Canterbury, visit Catholic Online's very popular Saints area here.

Randy Sly is the Associate Editor of Catholic Online and the CEO/Associate Publisher for the Northern Virginia Local Edition of Catholic Online ( 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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