Now that I’ve been a Catholic for three weeks, I just want to share with you some of my thoughts and next chapters in my life.
It’s great to be a Catholic! I knew I would be happy, but this feeling of being at peace, knowing finally I am where God wants me to be and something I’ve hoped and prayed for over many years, is really special. I’m full of gratitude for the long years I’ve spent as Anglican – the church where I was taught the faith, in which I was called to the priesthood and exercised it to the best of my ability, and the many wonderful Christians I’ve met – including my wife. Now all this – including the Anglican patrimony – I’m bringing into the Catholic Church together with fellow pilgrims in the Ordinariate. How our lives as Ordinariate Catholics will develop here in Lancashire, and the shape and context of our life in the next 12 months, 5 years or 10 years, is yet to be made clear, but one thing is certain. The Holy Spirit that has led us in this amazing journey won’t let us down and will open many doors and possibilities we can’t even dream about!
Our group will continue to meet at St Bernadette’s. We are becoming an integral part of the parish community and learning every day how to be Catholics. Following my ordinations – which I refer to in a moment, one of my briefs is to build up our group and help anyone who is interested in becoming Catholics through the Ordinariate. And I hope to be of use to other parishes and wider ministry in the diocese as a Catholic priest.
My diaconate ordination – all being well – will take place at Westminster Cathedral on Saturday 26th May 2012 at 10 am together with others in the ‘second wave’ by Bishop Alan Hopes, Auxiliary Bishop in the Archdiocese of Westminster. Bishop Hopes – a former Anglican and someone I knew well since my Anglican days – was charged with the task of setting up the Ordinariate in England and Wales and was a link between the Vatican’s Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith and the Bishops’ Conference and has been instrumental in bringing about the Ordinariate now under the leadership of the Ordinary, Mgr Keith Newton. I will ask for your prayers as we enter the Holy Orders in the Catholic Church. Next week, from Monday 30th April, will be spent in retreat at Douai Abbey, a Benedictine community in Berkshire, which will be led by another former Anglican, Fr Aidan Nichols OP. Fr Nichols was born just down the road at Lytham St Annes, educated at Arnold School Blackpool and went up to Christ Church Oxford where he gained a First in Modern History. He had by then become a Catholic and entered the Dominican Order. He studied for the priesthood at Blackfriars in Oxford. Gaining his PhD, he was university chaplain at Edinburgh and Cambridge and held academic posts, he then became Prior of St Michael’s in Cambridge and served till 2004, where he still lives. He now writes and lectures extensively as one of the foremost British Catholic theologians. He has written and spoken extensively about the Ordinariate and its enthusiastic supporter, so I am looking forward very much for my time at Douai. My formation as Catholic priest continues in the meantime at Allen Hall Seminary in Chelsea.
My ordination as Catholic priest, which will take place in Lancaster Diocese, is being arranged as I write, so will be announced as soon as details are known.
Following my ordination, I hope to start an Ordinariate Mass, and details are still to be worked out. So watch this space!
So I am in for some busy time, but I am enjoying every minute of it.