About the Ordinariate


Anglicanorum coetibus (Groups of Anglicans, Nov. 4, 2009) is the Apostolic Constitution of Pope Benedict XVI that establishes “Personal Ordinariates” for those of the Anglican heritage entering full communion with the Catholic Church while maintaining distinctive elements of their theological, spiritual, and liturgical patrimony.

On January 1, 2012, the Solemnity of Mary, the Mother of God, the Personal Ordinariate of the Chair of St. Peter was established.  Equivalent to a diocese, the Ordinariate is composed of parishes, groups, religious communities, and individuals of the Anglican heritage gathered around the Ordinary.  He serves under the direct authority of the Pope, in partnership with the bishops of the local Conference of Catholic Bishops, to build up the Church through mutual mission and ministry while retaining elements of the Anglican patrimony.

The members of the Ordinariate include “those faithful, of every category or state of life, who, originally having belonged to the Anglican Communion, are now in full communion with the Catholic Church, or who have received the sacraments of initiation within the jurisdiction of the Ordinariate itself, or who are received into it because they are part of a family belonging to the Ordinariate” (Decree of Establishment, 1).  Joining the new pilgrims may also be the clergy and people of the Anglican Use parishes in the USA, who have been the pioneers in the noble work of living out the Anglican patrimony within the Catholic Church.

The key to understanding the essential purpose of the Ordinariate is to be found in the preface to Anglicanorum coetibus.  In those opening paragraphs, there are no fewer than nine references to the Vatican II document Lumen Gentium, the Dogmatic Constitution on the Church.  Here the one Church of Jesus Christ is said to subsist in the Catholic Church: although many elements of sanctification and of truth are found outside of its visible structure, these elements, as gifts belonging to the Church of Christ, are forces impelling toward catholic unity.  There is an inner dynamic in the life and teaching of Anglicanism which continues to draw Anglicans to its source.  The Personal Ordinariate is Pope Benedict XVI’s response to “this holy desire.” (Adapted from the Ordinariate website)

In Canada various local groups are being received into full communion with the Catholic Church.


So what is a Personal Ordinariate?

A Personal Ordinariate is a grouping of part of the People of God, lay and clerical, who have come from the Anglican Communion to the Roman Catholic Church.  It is a non-territorial diocese. An Ordinariate is a large geographical area, much bigger than a Diocese and there for a special purpose.  The Roman Catholic Military Chaplains in Canada belong to an Ordinariate, all of them all across Canada and even when they serve overseas.

In 2009, then Pope Benedict XVI wrote the Apostolic Constitution Anglicanorum coetibus, which is Latin for Gathering of Anglicans.  This Apostolic Constitution allows former Anglicans to become Roman Catholics as a group instead of individually, after a short period of instruction.  They become Roman Catholic, but are part of the Ordinariate. There are three such Personal Ordinariates to date, the Chair of St. Peter in the USA and Canada, Our Lady of Walsingham in England and Our Lady of the Southern Cross in Australia.

The Apostolic Constitution allows former Anglican clergy to be ordained as Priests in the Roman Catholic Church even though they are married.  In April 2012 about 30 Anglicans were received into the Roman Catholic Church at St. Andrew’s Cathedral.  One former priest was ordained in December last year and now three more have been ordained.

The first priest, Monsignor Peter Wilkinson is now the Administrator of an Ordinariate parish of St. Columba in View Royal.  It is an Ordinariate Parish and as such the Mass is not the same as we are celebrating today. That is because the AC allows for a doctrinally compatible liturgical, spiritual and pastoral traditions of Anglicans to be brought into the life of the Catholic Church.   So Mass at St. Columba’s contains some prayers taken directly from the Anglican Prayer Book and from the Book of Divine Worship, used by Anglican Use Parishes in the United States, as allowed by the Congregation for Divine Worship in Rome.  If any of you came to St. Columba’s you would be attending a Roman Catholic Church just as you are today; you would be fulfilling your obligation to attend Mass.  The Mass would be somewhat different.  Thee and Thou would be found and some are the prayers would be in Elizabethan English.

In Canada the Personal Ordinariate has set up a Canadian Deanery with Fr. Lee Kenyon as the Dean.  He oversees the congregations in Canada for the Ordinary, Msgr Jeffrey Steenson, who is based in Houston, Texas.  At present there are 8 priests in Canada. There are three in Victoria because Bishop Richard wished us to be ordained so that we could assist in his Diocese as well as at our parish church.

The particular mission of the Ordinariate is to promote within the Evangelization shared by all the Church.  Part of its mission is the cultivation of Anglican traditions and practices, known as its patrimony.  This is quite unique to the Ordinariate and could not easily be done within a diocesan body which has other priorities.

At the same time the Ordinariate is to work alongside and cooperatively with the local Diocese and its parishes.  Clergy are included in clergy meetings, retreats and may even serve on Presbyteral Council of the Diocese.  Those of us in Victoria have concelebrated at a Mass of Ordination.  Yet, we have our own buildings, finances and structures that are not part of the Diocese of Victoria.

In some ways as former Anglicans, we have the best of both worlds.  We are Catholic and can worship in any Catholic Church in the world, but when we attend our parish or another Ordinariate in Canada, the US, England or Australia, we will be using some prayers which are very familiar as they are the ones we used as  Anglicans.


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