Thursday, 28 June 2012

Today I went to an ordination at an Anglican Church

Today I went to an ordination at an Anglican Church. Or rather it was Anglican until recently when the parish was received into the Personal Ordinariate of the Chair of St. Peter - in other words joined the Roman Church..

Also, last Friday we Catholics celebrated the feast of the English martyrs Sts. John Fisher and Thomas More. 

I was born and raised Catholic in Lancashire, England, but though I lived in the historical stronghold of English Catholicism I always felt like a stranger in a strange land, though my ancestors had lived in the area since at least the 11th century.

There was a history of "bad blood" between the Anglicans and protestants of the area and the Catholics. Despite being  English, as Catholics we were considered semi-foreign, with an allegiance to the Pope in Rome.

The pity of this is that Catholic Martyrs like St. John Fisher and St. Thomas More epitomise English virtues: unbending courage, integrity, calm common sense, stiff upper lip. But they were executed for exercising these virtues: They chose not to bend to the will of a King who was intent on his own earthly glory and the glory of his House.

Brought up in England however we sang many of the same hymns as our Anglican brethren and were infused with Anglican sensibilities/manners. My all-boys grammar school, despite the fact so many working class kids attended,  was run very much like an English public school with gowned teachers, daily assembly and liberal use of corporal punishment. The upside was that in the sixth form we became prefects and so we had our own common room, could smoke there, and were expected to discipline the younger kids.

However the harder we Catholics tried to fit in the more obvious it was that it was our allegiance to the Church of Rome that made us strange and strangers.

Today much of that strangeness passed during the ordination liturgy. It felt like two halves of my past were healed and brought together. To participate in a very English liturgy, and to witness the ordination into the diaconate of two fine men, while a very fine Canadian Catholic Bishop presided was a moment of integration for me.   This moment "told my story:" my desire to honour my English roots, my own desire for service to the Church, and my adoption of Canada as my home.  

As the Anglican Church increasingly becomes a stranger to many of its own constituency  perhaps the Roman Catholic Church can become home once again to English Catholics.

As we sang in the recessional hymn today let's pray for "One Church, one Faith, one Lord."

St. Thomas More and St. John Fisher pray for us.
St. George and the English Martyrs pray for us.


  1. Hey, about a month ago I attended the ordination of former ECUSA priest Jon Chalmers into the Catholic Church. He has an Anglican Use parish, St. Anslem's, starting up at my parish.

  2. Sorry I didn't reply sooner!

    I thought the ordination was very moving. congrats on your new parish.