September 2, 2015
|Fort Worth Bishop Michael Olson anoints the palms of newly-ordained priest Thomas Kennedy with the oil of catechumens during the ordination Mass at St. Mary the Virgin Church Aug. 29 (Photo by Joan Kurkowski-Gillen / NTC)|
ARLINGTON -- Members of St. Mary the Virgin Church gathered Aug. 29 to celebrate a milestone in the life of the former Anglican parish. Father Thomas Kennedy became the first priest ordained to the Catholic priesthood at the Arlington parish since it transferred from the Diocese of Fort Worth into the Personal Ordinariate of the Chair of St. Peter on July 1.
Fort Worth Bishop Michael Olson performed the sacred rites of ordination during a morning Mass concelebrated with Monsignor Jeffrey N. Steenson, leader of the Ordinariate, Father Timothy Perkins, parochial administrator of St. Mary the Virgin, and priests of the Diocese of Fort Worth and the Ordinariate.
Fr. Kennedy was assigned to serve as parochial vicar of St. Mary the Virgin Sept. 1.
Though Msgr. Steenson heads the Anglican Ordinariate in the U.S., the Ordinariate has no bishops and requires a Roman Catholic bishop to celebrate the Rite of Ordination when a priest is consecrated as a member of its clergy.
St. Mary the Virgin made history in 1994 when it became the first Episcopal Church in the world to join the Catholic faith as a whole, bringing with it congregants, clergy, and property. This was accomplished under a pastoral provision established by Pope John Paul II, which permitted the ordination of married Episcopal clergy to the Catholic priesthood and the retention of certain Anglican traditions such as liturgical texts, sacred music, and customs of pastoral care.
Pope Benedict XVI broadened the opportunity for Anglicans to enter into full communion with Catholic Church when he issued the Apostolic Constitution Anglicanorum coetibus, Nov. 4, 2009. The first ordinariate, the Personal Ordinariate of Our Lady of Walsingham, was created for England and Wales Jan. 15, 2011. The Personal Ordinariate of the Chair of St. Peter was established Jan. 1, 2012.
Ordinariates are equivalent to dioceses though national in scope. The Ordinariate of the Chair of St. Peter is based in Houston and oversees 70 priests and more than 40 parish or small faith communities in North America who come from an Anglican heritage but have entered into full communion with the Catholic Church. With the transfer, St. Mary the Virgin becomes the newest church of the Ordinariate.
“It’s been a long time coming,” according to Fr. Perkins, who was assigned to St. Mary the Virgin in 2013. “The transfer solidifies our place within the larger Church. Instead of being an ‘unusual’ diocesan parish, we’re a particular part of the larger Catholic Church in communion and deep cooperation with the local diocese.”
|Thomas Kennedy stands during the beginning of the ordination Mass Aug. 29. Fr. Kennedy became the first priest ordained to the Catholic priesthood at St. Mary the Virgin in Arlington. (Photo by Joan Kurkowski - Gillen / NTC)|
Many of St. Mary’s 350-400 Sunday worshippers come from areas outside Arlington.
“It’s had a unique identity from the beginning because it catered to people from a particular background,” he explained, noting that many congregants are converts or have family members who were Anglican. “The focal point of our mission is restoring those separated from the Anglican tradition to the union and wholeness of the Catholic Church using language they understand.”
Because of its location in Arlington and the diocese, Bishop Olson will continue to have a pastoral relationship with the parish.
“I look forward to continued collaboration with Msgr. Steenson and the priests and people of the Ordinariate as we work together to form Catholic unity based on God’s love,” he told the North Texas Catholic.
Msgr. Steenson considers the transfer of St. Mary the Virgin into the Ordinariate, “the completion of a journey.”
“Father (Allan) Hawkins led them into the Catholic Church in the early 1990s, and the transfer is an affirmation of that journey,” he added.
According to the prelate, the Ordinariate is growing and attracting more people from other Protestant backgrounds. “That was the original intention — to be a work of unity and bring people back to the Catholic Church,” he explained.
Some lapsed Catholics also are also finding their way back to the faith through the Ordinariate.
“I think that’s because communities are smaller and may seem more accessible to the ordinary person,” observed Msgr. Steenson, who is accustomed to fielding questions about the distinctive nature of the Ordinariate. Some canonical questions are not yet answered.
“But we’re making good progress on that,” the ordinary said.
St. Mary the Virgin and the Ordinariate will make history again this Advent with the promulgation of Divine Worship: the Missal — a universal liturgical book for the Ordinariate.
“At the end of the year, the Holy See is giving us a new missal. It will be in the Latin rite and will stand, side by side with the first edition of the Roman Missal but also represents the liturgical traditions of Anglicanism that have been brought into the Catholic Church,” Msgr. Steenson said. “It’s historic. Bringing in a worship tradition and incorporating it like that, has never been done in the history of the Catholic Church.”
With permission, Fr. Perkins, director of liturgy and worship for the Ordinariate, has introduced some of the material at St. Mary the Virgin, saying it reflects “the Roman rite with an Anglican accent.”
Bringing former Anglicans into the Catholic Church has added to the Church’s already rich diversity. The new missal celebrates the distinct liturgical language and music of the Roman Rite with a nod to Anglican expression.
“It (the new missal) echoes a treasured Anglican style, but it resonates with the richness of the Catholic faith,” Fr. Perkins wrote in an article on pastoral music. “It is to be hoped that its sound reaches the listening hearts of many of our separated brothers and sisters and that it is heard as an irresistible invitation to come home.”
Members of St. Mary the Virgin Church gathered Aug. 29 to celebrate a milestone in the life of the former Anglican parish. Father Thomas Kennedy became the first priest ordained to the Catholic priesthood at the Arlington parish since it transferred from the Diocese of Fort Worth into the Personal Ordinariate of the Chair of St. Peter on July 1.