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The Personal Ordinariate of the Chair of St. Peter Keeps Busy During Holy Week and Easter

By Randy Sly
April 9th, 2012
Catholic Online (www.catholic.org)

"The journey to full communion, for both individuals and groups of the Ordinariate of the Chair of St. Peter, seems not to be unlike [the journey of Moses and the Chosen People in their journey from captivity to the Promised Land].  In these first three months, I have heard stories of faith and courage that humble and inspire...\" Msgr. Jeffrey Steenson

WASHINGTON, DC (Catholic Online) - Msgr. Jeffrey Steenson, Ordinary for the Personal Ordinariate of the Chair of St. Peter has been busy with visits to new and emerging communities for the new jurisdiction established by Pope Benedict in January 2012.

In his Holy Week message, Msgr. Steenson reflected on the choices being made by those who are coming into the Church.

"The journey to full communion, for both individuals and groups of the Ordinariate of the Chair of St. Peter, seems not to be unlike [the journey of Moses and the Chosen People in their journey from captivity to the Promised Land].  In these first three months, I have heard stories of faith and courage that humble and inspire; but there have also been disappointing stories of those who have come to the doorstep but then for one reason or another do not step through the portal.  These stories always bring sadness and sometimes scandal, when they involve an unwillingness to embrace wholeheartedly Catholic teaching and discipline.  This is, according to Lumen Gentium 14, to those who know 'that the Catholic Church was made necessary by Christ,' a matter of salvation.

"On Palm Sunday I had the great privilege of visiting one of the happy stories of the Ordinariate, the Cathedral of the Incarnation, Orlando, which has been superbly shepherded over the years by Bishop Louis Campese.  Here are people who have been well catechized, with the right disposition, who have already built good relationships with the local Catholic Church, well poised to grow, and they are an excellent model for what an Ordinariate congregation can be."

"In this infinite mercy, God watched over the reluctant pilgrims as they wandered through the wilderness for the next forty years.  But it was a severe mercy, a difficult penance, and many were not ultimately able to see the Promised Land before they died.  I pray that if you are on this journey, if you are persuaded that the Catholic Church is the will of Christ and the keys have been given to St. Peter and his successors, nothing will deter you from this holy goal, which is the principal mission of the Ordinariate."


An Anglican priest and members of his parish from a suburb of Philadelphia were received into the Catholic Church during Holy Week

The rector and 25 members of St. Michael the Archangel Anglican parish in Philadelphia were received into full communion with the Catholic Church on April 2. This is the first Anglican community in Pennsylvania to join a new national structure created by Pope Benedict XVI for Anglican groups and clergy who are becoming Catholic. The rector, Fr. David Ousley, is preparing to be ordained a Catholic priest later this year.

Monsignor Steenson will celebrate Mass and preach for the new Catholic community on Holy Thursday, April 5, 6 p.m. at Holy Cross Church, 140 E. Mount Airy Avenue in the Mount Airy section of Philadelphia.

"We are very grateful to Pope Benedict for giving us this opportunity to enter into full communion with the Catholic Church while retaining our identity as Anglicans," said Ousley.

Archbishop Charles J. Chaput, O.F.M. Cap., of the Archdiocese of Philadelphia said, "It's my pleasure to prayerfully welcome David Ousley and the faithful of Saint Michael the Archangel Anglican Parish as they enter into full communion with the Roman Catholic Church. We will support our brothers and sisters in Christ on their spiritual journey. May the Lord grant them peace and every blessing."

St. Michael's traces its roots to the Episcopal Church of St. James the Less, founded in East Falls in 1846. For the past five years, the parish has been part of the Anglican Church of America. The community will be moving its Sunday services to Holy Cross Parish at 9 a.m. after Easter. Weekday services are at the St. Michael\'s Rectory in Mount Airy.


An Indianapolis Anglican Community will join the Church at the Easter Vigil

Eighteen members of the St. Joseph of Arimathea Anglican community in Indianapolis will be received into full communion with the Catholic Church during the Easter Vigil on Saturday, April 7, 9 p.m., at Ss. Peter and Paul Cathedral, 1347 N. Meridian Street. Bishop Christopher Coyne, Apostolic Administrator for the Archdiocese of Indianapolis, will be principal celebrant.

The St. Joseph of Arimathea Anglican Use Society is the first community in Indiana to join a new Ordinariate. Luke Reese, an Anglican priest who leads the group, is studying for ordination as a Catholic priest.

"We are very grateful to Pope Benedict for giving us this opportunity to enter into full communion with the Catholic Church while retaining our Anglican heritage, and to the Archdiocese of Indianapolis which has been very welcoming and kind to our group during this journey," said Reese.

Msgr. Steenson noted, "I deeply appreciate the support that Bishop Coyne and the Archdiocese have given to this community. This has been a wonderful example of Christian unity and what I believe Pope Benedict intended when he created the Ordinariate.\"

These two communities are among more than 1,400 people in 20 communities across the United States who have asked to join the Ordinariate and the third community in the United States to be received since January. The others are in Baltimore, MD and Philadelphia, PA. Nearly 40 former Anglican priests currently are studying to be ordained Catholic priests.


The first ordination now scheduled in the Ordinariate

In another exciting development, on Wednesday April 11, 2012, Jon David Chalmers will be the first of the Ordinariate candidates ordained to the diaconate. Jon has been called to Holy Orders by the Ordinary, Monsignor Jeffrey Steenson, and will be ordained by the Most Reverend Robert E. Guglielmone, Bishop of Charleston, at St. Mary\'s Catholic Church in Greenville, South Carolina.

An ordinariate is similar to a regular Catholic diocese, but national in scope. Pope Benedict XVI established it on January 1 in response to repeated requests by Anglicans seeking to become Catholic, and appointed Msgr. Jeffrey N. Steenson, a former Episcopal bishop based in Houston, TX, as the leader. Ordinariate parishes will be fully Catholic while retaining elements of their Anglican heritage and traditions, including liturgical traditions.

For more information on the Ordinariate of the Chair of Saint Peter, one of only two ordinariates in the world, visit www.usordinariate.org. St. Michael's Community in Philadelphia is online at http://anglicanphiladelphia.org and St. Joseph of Arimathea can be found at www.stjoearimatheasociety.org.

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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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