Saturday 1 October 2011


Was it cheek or ignorance which led an Ordinand to ask "Father, did you know Father Dolling?" Since that great hero of the faith had died a third of a century before I was born, I did not immediately take it as a compliment. Yet it is true that I sometimes went on a little about Robert Dolling's work in Portsea. One of my home Communicants had been prepared for Confirmation by him, so I did feel a real link with this Portsmouoth legend. So many St Stephen's House ordinands came from London parishes and knew nothing of Anglo-Catholicism in the provinces. Yet Portsea was a slum every bit as much as London Docks or Pimlico, and Dolling's heroic work was still remembered sixty years later during the time of my second curacy (and another home Communicant threw me when she said her Grandfather had been a drummer boy at the Battle of Waterloo!)

Today was a great delight. Thanks to the generosity of Fr Maunder, who looks after St Agatha's and ministers there to a TAC congregation, the local Ordinariate Group was able to celebrate mass in that amazing building. I shall say a little more about it on the Anglo-Catholic blog, but thought my faithful readers must not be denied some report of today's event. Fr Jonathan Redvers-Harris ministers to a Group on the Isle of Wight, besides a handful of loyal Ordinarians on the mainland of Portsmouth. His is the next group along the coast from ours in Bournemouth; the third group in Portsmouth Diocese is Fr Elliott's in Reading. On the hottest October day on record we were joined by a few of the TAC congregation, together with Fr Maunder and Bishop Robert Mercer C.R. How we hope that their application to join the Ordinariate will be able to be expedited in Rome.

After Mass we sat in the ruined splendours of the vandalised South (Lady) Chapel - partly demolished after the Dockyard expansion scheme had engulfed St Agatha's, and new roads were constructed as the old slums (the few spared by German bombing) were cleared away. There we ate lunch, met some new friends, and looked forward to even great glory days when the Ordinariate is growing and flourishing. Fr Maunder (second from right above) has done heroic work in restoring St Agatha's, and the Lady Chapel is on his list whenever funds become available.
The need for Catholic mission is no less than in Fr Dolling's day, but the evils we combat are not the obvious ones of prostitution and drunkenness - rather the smug forgetfulness of God as we become more overtaken by the creed of acquisitiveness and 'rights'.
It was good to be joined by Fr Jonathan's parish priest in Ryde, Fr Anthony Glaysher (caught drinking tea in photo above), who is such a support to the Ordinariate Group.

Thursday 29 September 2011

Another Step for the Ordinariate

We country cousins have to ask our metropolitan friends to help us when we have an overnight stay in London. It was noble of Fr Rob Page to give hospitality to Jane and me this week, on the very eve of his move to the new parish. So (above) you will see our genial host, contemplating moving from his spacious Vicargae kitchen into something rather smaller in his Presbytery. Our overnight stay though was only one instance of the logistics of organising meetings for all the priests of the Ordinariate.

Getting fifty and more priests together from the corners of the Realm is an expensive business; just one of the many worries besetting our Ordinary. Mgr Keith's sunny demeanour, though, (here he is on the left) betrayed none of his financial worries when he welcomed Cardinal Levada today. The Cardinal, hot-foot from the enthronement of the Patriarch of Milan, spent two days in England first encouraging the newly former Friends of the Ordinariate, and then today, encouraging the Ordinariate's priests.

For many months now we newly ordained priests have been instructed in various aspects of the Faith at the Seminary of Allen Hall. Today Cardinal Levada addressed us about the hopes of the Holy Father for the Ordinariate. We have known in theory that Anglicanorum Coetibus was Pope Benedict's special concern, indeed very largely of his own devising. Now we are reassured by His Eminence's visit that what we are engaged in is very dear to the Pope's heart. The Cardinal generously answered questions (some of which are at present unanswerable - only time will produce the solution). Most of all, he showed us the caring face of the Catholic Church, and the warmth of his address to us gave many of us new heart.

(Click on this picture to see the Cardinal & Mgr Newton, right at the back of this group)
The Cardinal's visit was important for the life of Allen Hall - as a former theological college Principal I know how important such occasions can be - and it was good to see Cardinal Levada greeting so many of the seminarians individually. For us of the Ordinariate, it was a huge privilege to be able to celebrate Michaelmass with the man who, after Pope Benedict, has done most to further the Ordinariate not only in England but across the world. Having him with us at this time will surely enliven our prayers, and spur us on to make the Ordinariate an instrument of Unity and Evangelisation which the Holy Father wants us to become.