A Roman Catholic community of the
Personal Ordinariate of the Chair of Saint Peter
serving Mobile, AL
September 23, 2016
Bishop Lopes Instituted 52 Acolytes for service in the Ministry of Subdeacon for the Personal Ordinariate of the Chair of St. Peter. Our own administrator, Mr. Andy Pitts, was one of the many men instituted to this ministry.
You can see photos on the Ordinariate website, http://ordinariate.net/photoalbums/2016-acolytes.
Sean Salai, S.J., for America Magazine: The National Catholic Review; Aug. 16 2016
Sean Salai, S.J., is a contributing writer at America.
The ordinariate is a canonical structure comparable to a diocese. Pope Benedict XVI created ordinariates for those communities from the Anglican tradition who were entering into full communion with the Catholic Church. While dioceses are divided into geographical regions, the ordinariate is not territorial. It is called “personal” because it is comprised of those parish communities that share a common liturgical, pastoral and theological heritage of English Catholicism, wherever they happen to be.
In creating this new structure, the Holy Father judged that there was something particular about these communities coming into full communion that they could share with the universal church. The creation of a non-territorial diocese of these communities was the way to integrate them into the life of the Catholic Church, while at the same time providing them the stability and structure they needed to preserve and develop their own unique identity and patrimony. There are two other personal ordinariates in the world: the Ordinariate of Our Lady of Walsingham in Great Britain and the Ordinariate of Our Lady of the Southern Cross in Australia.
Pope Francis was enormously encouraging! It is clear to me that with his approval of a proper missal for the ordinariates and with my appointment as bishop, he is giving concrete expression to the vision of Pope Benedict XVI for the unity of Christians. That vision is essentially this: Unity in faith allows for a diversity of expression of that same faith. For his part, Pope Francis spoke to me about providing stability for our communities and their integration into Catholic life, but also of our unique role in evangelization, both to our Protestant sisters and brothers as well as to those within the church whose faith has grown lukewarm.
Our liturgical expression arises out of the experience of English Christianity during the last 500 years. It is the Roman Rite as it was taken up and developed within an Anglican context and now reintegrated into Catholic worship. It is understandable that the nuances and accents would perhaps be different, but the basic shape and structure of the Mass remains the same. The Holy See has given the name “Divine Worship” to our liturgical and sacramental rites, so we worship according to the “Divine Worship” form of the Roman Rite.
So, yes, there are some differences. Our liturgy preserves the vernacular, but English as it is articulated in the great prayer books of the Anglican tradition. The 1549 Book of Common Prayer tends to be a primary source for our worship, so the shape and gestures of the Mass includes some attributes from that—Eastward-facing liturgy, primacy of the Roman Canon, a full set of minor propers in English—all of which predate the Missal of St. Pius V in the Catholic Church.
incorporates some texts and prayers that arise entirely out of Anglicanism, including prayers said in common by clergy and faithful prior to and just after receiving Holy Communion, and the penitential rite occurring just before the offertory. The one thing that every Catholic will recognize, however, is the faith that these words and gestures embody and express.
The new missal is actually the second liturgical book to be promulgated for our use. The first, , includes the rite for Baptism and Christian Initiation, for weddings, and for funerals. The structure of these rites would be largely similar to what is found in the Books of Common Prayer. The missal for the celebration of Mass is flexible enough in its rubrics so as to allow celebration according to a more traditional form of the Roman Rite—with which many converting Anglo-Catholics are long familiar—as well as celebration, which is closer to the Novus Ordo with which most Catholic would be familiar.
Pundits, by their nature, seem to be either uninformed or misinformed! The truth of the matter is that Pope Benedict displayed great courage and great charity. These communities of faithful, with their pastors, were asking to be received into full communion. They desired to be Catholic, to be guided by the church’s teaching office, and they saw themselves as completing an ecumenical trajectory that includes the [Anglican Roman Catholic International Commission] process and the great conversations between Pope Paul VI and Archbishop Michael Ramsey. Pope Benedict’s response was charity because it responded to this very reasonable initiative and request. It was courageous because it forged a way to enter into full communion as a parish group, thus preserving a proper parochial identity and patrimony. This is the newness of the Apostolic Constitution, “Anglicanorum Coetibus.”
Let me perhaps clarify the question: The issue was the acceptance and ordination of married men who were ordained Anglican priests. This “pastoral provision,” as St. John Paul II first called it, was an acknowledgment of the working of grace in the lives and ministry of these men that should not cease when grace led them to seek full communion with the Catholic Church. With “Anglicanorum Coetibus,” the ordination of married former Anglican clergy is also in favor of preserving the essential pastoral relationship between pastors and their faithful whom they are leading into full communion. So married clergy from Anglican/Episcopal communities who enter full communion with the Catholic Church and seek ordination as Catholic priests can receive a dispensation from the obligation of celibacy and receive sacred orders. But the Ordinariate is not in any way a challenge to the church’s doctrinally-rooted discipline of clerical celibacy. We have wonderful celibate priests, too! Also, seminarians who begin studying for the priesthood in the Ordinariate are expected to adhere to the church’s tradition in this regard. We currently have four men studying for the priesthood and they will be ordained celibate priests. This is not a policy. It is simply the life of the church.
Right now, the great majority are married. That will even out in the next 10 years or so.
We have four seminarians; three will be at St. Mary’s Seminary in Houston and one will be doing a pastoral internship. But the Ordinariate would be free to send its candidates to any seminary.
Our parishes are vibrant communities comprised of people of various backgrounds, experiences, ages and nationalities. Many have entered the Catholic Church as adults, coming from other Anglican or Protestant backgrounds. Many more have returned to the faith of their Baptism after a long period away—or embraced Christian faith for the first time—because of the evangelizing mission of our parish communities. Still others have simply grown up in it. While the Ordinariate is new, the parishes of the Pastoral Provision have been around since 1983, and so this form and style of Catholic life has been around for a while. As an example, I would point to the remarkable team of 72 altar servers we have at the Cathedral parish, ranging in ages from 8 to 18. All of them have known no other expression of Catholic life and worship than what has been going on at Our Lady of Walsingham for over three decades now.
Let’s not forget the faculty of theology at the University of Innsbruck—I studied under some remarkable Jesuit teachers there! I owe the Society of Jesus a tremendous debt of gratitude. Jesuits not only taught me the faith, but they taught me how to articulate the faith, to reason and give an for the faith, to give an account for the joy that is in me because of the faith. To my mind, that is Jesuit education at its best.
It’s all worth it! After all, Pope Francis knows just how much went into the establishment of the ordinariate, and how much goes into the evaluation of each and every clergy applicant to the ordinariate, both at the local level and at the Holy See. But to see this vision realized and the vitality of the people in it — it’s all worth it.
My parents, certainly. Also my parish priest growing up, Marvin Steffes, C.PP.S. In many ways, Father Marvin stepped in when I needed him most, after my own father was diagnosed with the serious cancer that would eventually take his life. Ostensibly he was teaching me how to cook, but as I stirred, he grilled me on my catechism and expounded on obscure details of history, of which he was so very fond. It was a foundational experience for me.
Well, I chose a passage from Psalm 111 [“Great are the works of the Lord”] for my episcopal motto, so there’s one! Growing up, the Precious Blood Fathers taught me a great love for St. Paul’s letter to the Ephesians, especially Chapter 2. That idea of those who are far off being “brought near by the Blood of Christ” is something I have in mind every time I celebrate Mass in one of our communities.
We’re very much in the “pioneering phase,” so it is not easy to see the future! For the moment we have an infrastructure to build, clergy health insurance and retirement plans to develop, catechesis and evangelization to engage, parishes to construct and so on. There’s plenty to do!
Beyond the obvious benefits that it brings to the people in it, the ordinariate is, I firmly believe, a fine example of realized ecumenism. It provides a model of diversity in unity that can reinvigorate the search of Eucharistic communion among Christians.
Sean Salai, S.J., is a contributing writer at America.
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: May 25, 2012
Susan Gibbs, U.S. Ordinariate, 202-525-9554 and email@example.com
Larry Wahl, Archdiocese of Mobile, 251-434-1544 and firstname.lastname@example.org
Former Anglican Priests Make History as First Ordination Class for Catholic Ordinariate
Mobile, Alabama man to be first of 30 priests ordained for U.S.-based Ordinariate
A former Episcopal priest, Matthew Venuti of Mobile, Alabama, will make history when he becomes the first priest ordained for the Catholic Ordinariate of the Chair of St. Peter. The U.S.-based ordinariate was created by Pope Benedict XVI to welcome Anglican groups and clergy seeking to become Catholic while retaining elements of their Anglican heritage. It is equivalent to a diocese, but national in scope.
Mobile Archbishop Thomas J. Rodi will ordain Venuti a priest on Saturday, June 2, 10 a.m. at the Cathedral Basilica of the Immaculate Conception, 2 South Claiborne Street, Mobile, AL 36602, along with four priests for the Archdiocese of Mobile.
Venuti’s ordination will be followed by 29 more ordinations of former Anglican priests across the United States this summer. They include hospital executive Jon Chalmers on June 3 in Greenville, South Carolina, followed by a father and son in Fort Worth, Texas; an editor of a major Catholic website in Virginia; military chaplains; and former Anglican priests in Arizona, California, Iowa, Maryland, Pennsylvania and other states.
The ordinariate is led by former Episcopal bishop, Monsignor Jeffrey N. Steenson of Houston, Texas. Only one other exists, in England, and a third will be established in Australia on June 15. Dozens of communities are in the process of joining the U.S. Ordinariate and 60 Anglican priests are in formation, including the 30 to be ordained this summer.
Archbishop Rodi noted, “Matthew’s ordination is both a joy and a sign of hope that the unity Jesus prayed for at the Last Supper may one day be fully realized. We welcome him to serve the people both of the Archdiocese of Mobile and the Ordinariate.”
In speaking about the ordinations nationally, Msgr. Steenson said, “These ordinations mark a significant moment in the history of Catholic unity. Our expedited formation program, approved by the Holy See, has been a wonderful testimony to the deep respect that the Catholic Church has for the former Anglican ministries of these men.”
“They will continue to engage in ongoing formation and it is my hope that our brother priests throughout the Catholic Church will come along side us as mentors and friends. Together we will strive to lay a good foundation for this apostolate of unity that Pope Benedict has made possible,” he added.
“Coming home to the Catholic Church has been an amazing experience. I am ever grateful to the Holy Father for calling Anglicans back home and extending such pastoral generosity,” said Venuti.
Matthew Venuti, 31, received an undergraduate degree from the College of St. Rose in Albany, NY in 2002. He worked in the music industry, in the jazz and pop music fields, before entering Virginia Theological Seminary. After receiving a master of divinity degree in 2010, he was ordained an Episcopal priest.
He served as curate for the Episcopal Church of the Nativity in Dothan, Alabama until entering the Catholic Church in September 2011. He currently serves as the coordinator of faith formation for St. Mary Catholic parish in Mobile. He also leads the Society of St. Gregory the Great, an Anglican use group that is based at St. Mary’s and is online at www.stgregorymobile.org. He and his wife, Minerva, have been married for five years and have a young son. Special permission has been given for those former Anglican priests who are married to be ordained Catholic priests.
Prior to ordination, the men must go through an extensive process that includes submitting detailed background information to, and receiving approval to move forward from, the Vatican; undergoing a criminal background check and psychological assessment; receiving an endorsement from the local Catholic bishop; participating in an intensive formation program; passing an examination; and receiving a rescript from the Vatican permitting ordination. Ordinations are being scheduled as rescripts are received.
Copyright 2012 The Society of Saint Gregory the Great. All rights reserved. Cross image by Madboy74 (Own work) [GFDL (www.gnu.org/copyleft/fdl.html) or CC-BY-SA-3.0-2.5-2.0-1.0 (www.creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0)], via Wikimedia Commons Church photo by Blueroom Photography