Sunday, May 27, 2012

For the Ordinariate, A Flock of Fathers

Much as Pentecost marks the "birthday" of the church, it's rare that this 50th Day of Easter actually lends itself to seeing a community of the faithful take shape and grow in real-time. This year, though, that just so happens to be the case in our midst.

Along those lines, while an early-month briefing on the global Anglican Ordinariate effort said that the first priestly ordination for the venture's North American branch would take place on June 3rd in South Carolina, to use a Roman term, the report has been superseded by a fresh development.

According to a Friday announcement from the Houston-based Chair of St Peter and the archdiocese of Mobile, the first priesting for the key papal project will instead take place a day earlier, as a 31 year-old former Episcopal cleric is ordained next Saturday alongside the Alabama church's own quintet of candidates.

His clearance for orders received from Rome just prior to the weekend, Matthew Alan Venuti will be ordained a transitional deacon tonight by Mobile's Archbishop Thomas Rodi in the chapel of a parish there, which doubles as the worship-space for the local Anglican Use community he leads.

The married father of one became an Episcopal priest in 2010 and was received into the Catholic church last September.

As previously noted, the first cleric ordained for the new structure -- now Deacon Jon David Chalmers -- will become its fourth priest the following day, Trinity Sunday, in the Palmetto State. (The Stateside Ordinariate's existing duo of priests are its head, the married and mitred Msgr Jeffrey Steenson, and Fr Eric Bergman -- a former Episcopal cleric ordained for Pennsylvania's Scranton diocese in 2007 -- who was incardinated into the Chair earlier this month. Despite serving as Steenson's deputy, the Canon to the Ordinary Fr Scott Hurd juridically remains a priest of Washington, where he was ordained under the Pastoral Provision in 2000.)

Said to be on-track to receive 30 new priests just over the summer months (with just as many elsewhere in the pipeline), the twin single ordinations will take place alongside at least two sets of mass additions to the Ordinariate's clerical ranks just within the next week. On Tuesday, Bishop Kevin Vann of Fort Worth will make transitional deacons of six former Episcopal priests; including a father and son (Charles Hough III and IV), the North Texas group will become priests on June 30th. And next Saturday in Washington, Cardinal Donald Wuerl -- the CDF delegate for the domestic Anglicanorum project -- will ordain five metro DC candidates as transitional deacons.

The capital group includes Randy Sly, a lead editor of the Catholic Online portal, and Mark Lewis, the once and future rector of St Luke's, Washington's lead Anglicanorum hub, and one of the few groups able to make the journey while keeping its building.

Wuerl will ordain at least two of the men to the priesthood on June 23rd in St Matthew's Cathedral; the others should likewise have their journey completed by month's end.

Meanwhile, the shot above comes from across the Pond as the founding arm of the project -- Britain's Ordinariate of Our Lady of Walsingham -- ordained 17 transitional deacons yesterday in London's Westminster Cathedral, in what was said to be the UK's largest ordination of any kind "in years."

The new deacons are part of an eventual priesthood class of 30 in the English set-up's second wave, following some 60 former Anglican clerics -- including four Church of England bishops -- who became Catholic priests in the first months after the venture's founding in January 2011.

What's expected to be the final of the new jurisdictions for Anglican groups seeking to enter full communion launches in mid-June with Rome's establishment of an Australian Ordinariate, to be called Our Lady of the Southern Cross.