Saturday 20 October 2012

Towards a Pastoral Council

Mgr Keith Newton summoned representatives of the Ordinariate Groups to a meeting in Oxford. The notice was fairly short, so it was good that so many of our Groups were represented at today's event, each of them sending a lay person with the Group's Pastor. We celebrated Mass in the Catholic Chaplaincy of the University (shades of Mgr Ronnie Knox, to say nothing of Brideshead...) and the rest of the morning was given over to an address by Mgr Keith Barltrop.

Two Mgri Keith, Barltrop of St Mary Bayswater and Newton of nfa.

He spoke about the Year of Faith and the New Evangelisation, with special reference to the Ordinariate. He told us how it was Pope John Paul II who had listed what was to be new in the New Evanglisation. It was not a replacement for what the Parish Clergy and others were already doing.. And long before he came into office our present Pope had reminded us that the Church has always evangelised, without interruption, from the very outset; in celebrating the Holy Mysteries day by day, in the exercise of charity. "Light and warmth radiate from this permanent evangelisation" said Cardinal Ratzinger. The New Evangelisation though adds to these older methods, in an attempt to reach "the larger part of present society which does not find access through permament classic evangelisation". Mgr Barltrop spoke warmly, among other new initiatives, of the Jerusalem Communities in France and Italy which attracted so many of the younger generation.

Getting ready for our second session

Then he proposed three avenues for the Ordinariate to consider:
1.  Go back to the early church; see the virtues of smallness - 'Don't be afraid, little flock'.
2.  Look to your Anglican roots; see how the Church of England has been in touch with the culture.
3.  Remember the Marian dimension: Walsingham should become increasingly important for us.

This led to a lively Q&A session, before we broke up for our picnic lunch.

After Lunch Mgr Keith Newton spoke about the future (some of the American Ordinariate parishes are large; but they have taken thirty years from starting as Anglican Use Catholics to reach their present size; we need patience).

Our three wise Monsignori, (l to r)  Burnham, Newton and Broadhurst

Mgr John Broadhurst helped us consider our finances (we had been more generous givers as Anglicans than we were now: we must recover that part of our Patrimony). Mgr Andrew Burnham brought the welcome news that our Customary is now published (and he told us how we might use some of its material alongside our present Office Books).

Representatives from the Southwest in a Group Discussion

For once dividing into groups proved a helpful next step; our four Groups in the Portsmouth Diocese, for instance, were joined with others from the midwest (Bath and Bristol) and the Southwest
(Plymouoth, Buckfast, Torbay &c) together with some from the South Midlands (though Reading is already well known to us being in the same diocese as us). We shared our experiences, good and not so good, and looked forward to what might help in future.

The Isle of Wight makes a telling point

Finally, we twisted a few arms to ensure that there would be good lay representation on the Council of the Ordinariate - something which for Diocesan Catholics was permitted, but for us was mandatory. Altogether a very positive and up-beat day, and (as Michelin has it) "vaut le voyage" .. well worth it, in fact.

Tuesday 16 October 2012

Getting to know you....

Today Bishop Philip Egan began his tour of the Pastoral Areas of Portsmouth diocese. He started in the far west, with Bournemouth and Avon/Stour. Very kindly, he is including priests of the Ordinariate, so today Fr Brian Copus and I were invited because our Group meets in Southbourne.

Bishop Philip with our Host Fr Bruce Barnes

We began with half an hour before the Blessed Sacrament, in the Church of the Sacred Heart, Bournemouth. Then into the palatial Presbytery, where Fr Bruce had laid on tea and coffee and cake.

Fr Brian Copus coffee cup in hand, among the brethren.

Bishop Philip started by removing some of the more extravagant press accounts of what he is like; he is not intent on putting the clock back to 1952. Rather he is intending the be like the householder commended in the Gospel for bringing out of his treasures "things new and old". He went on the say that his first concern was with his clergy, priests and deacons. This is why between now and Christmas he is intent on getting round the whole of the pastoral areas (and they stretch North as far as cis-Isis Oxford and as far South as the Channel Islands). Besides this he is making time for individual meetings with each of the clergy.

And it really was tea or coffee...

Then he gave us a parable, which certainly spoke to me. He had seen salmon leaping to clear great obstacles in a river, making their way up to the place where they originally came from. All of us know where we belong; our home is in heaven, and our life is a matter of making our way there - our hearts are restless until they find their rest in Him. But swimming against the current is not an easy matter, and increasingly the Church finds herself having to be counter-cultural.

Answering a tricky question

That picture I think will inform the prayers and thoughts of many who heard him, during this Year of Faith. After a time for questions and comments we said the Angelus together. On the way home in the car four of us were agreed that he had made a great beginning, and we look forward to being his co-workers in the years to come.