The three leaders of one of the most imaginative vehicles for evangelisation in the Church will journey together to Sydney on 3 September, joining the fledgling Ordinariate community of St Bede the Venerable, Lewisham, for a milestone celebration.
Five years ago, brave groups of Anglicans took the then-pope, Pope Benedict XVI, at his word, accepting his proposal – half offer, half plea – of entering into communion with the Catholic Church while bringing with them their unique gifts, heritage, customs and sensibilities.
In Australia, the Personal Ordinariate of Our Lady of the Southern Cross, or simply “the Ordinariate”, was the result: an entity similar to a diocese, with its own leader, priests and parishes, but with the whole of Australia as its home.
One-time Traditional Anglican Bishop and prison chaplain Monsignor Harry Entwistle is the present leader of the Ordinariate in Australia.
Ordinariate priest Fr Richard Waddell says the Sydney community is looking forward to welcoming all three leaders, seeing the visit as a great encouragement to their work of manifesting Christ to the world – to ex-Anglicans, Roman Catholics and people outside the Faith.
The one-time barrister and former Anglican priest grew up in Sydney but moved to Melbourne to practise law.
He relocated to Sydney in March after studying in Rome, where he completed studies in Canon Law in order to become the Ordinariate’s Vicar General.
Every Sunday at noon, Fr Waddell and the community celebrate the Ordinariate’s distinctive liturgy, “Divine Worship,” blending elements of the pre-Reformation Sarum Rite with prayers from the post-Reformation Book of Common Prayer.
The Ordinariate’s combination of high liturgy and orthodox belief has proved popular with some young Roman Catholics, who attend the Sunday liturgy, and has attracted Catholics who became Catholics before the establishment of the Ordinariate and appreciate the elements of Anglican patrimony which have been retained. The congregation is growing slowly but steadily and is attracting people from various backgrounds, including people seeking to become Catholic through the Ordinariate, and may yet prove an attractive lifeline to Anglicans, as well as Catholics, who appreciate an “Anglican” way of doing things.
That might refer to a more formal but nonetheless English-speaking liturgy, an embarrassing wealth of English hymnody or perhaps the service of Evensong; but equally, it might reflect a desire for a more collegiate parish community, with a stronger commitment to local formation and pastoral care. Speaking to The Catholic Weekly earlier this year, Monsignor Harry Entwistle said that while growth had been slow, and further corporate “conversions” of Anglican communities had yet to materialise, its members had witnessed near incredible occasions of grace in the past five years.
“You’ve got to believe in Divine Providence if ever the story of the Ordinariate is written up, because things have fallen into place in an amazing way,” Mons Entwistle said.
“It’s not just Anglicans anymore who can become part of the Ordinariate, and there’s no great difference between (formal) membership and simply being a part of a local Ordinariate community.
“And here’s a glorious thing: there have been couples who have been married 40 or 50 years – one a devout Anglican, the other a devout Catholic – who have never received Communion together. Both of them are now able to receive Christ in the Ordinariate. And that’s been one of the real joys.”
More information on the five year anniversary celebrations of the Personal Ordinariate of the Southern Cross, including its events in Brisbane – where Prof Tracey Rowland will be giving an honorary lecture – is available at www.ordinariate.org.au and at the Sydney Ordinariate Facebook page at www.facebook.com/sydneyordinariate