The Ordinary's Visitation of the Southwest
|Mgr Newton celebrated Mass assisted by the new deacons|
During the homily, Father Keith reminded us that the shepherd of the Middle-East went ahead of the sheep, not least to make sure the next stage of the journey was safe for the flock. In a sense he said that we the first members of the Ordinariate were walking ahead showing that it was safe. He believed that it was right as an Anglican bishop to have lead the way for others to follow, but we are all witnessing to the many Anglicans who are very unhappy with the Church of England. Many said it would not get off the ground, but we have shown by our courage that the Ordinariate is no figment of the imagination, but a new and prophetic sign for the whole church.
Following Mass we went to the hall for a brew and a piece of cake. Mgr Newton addressed us all, reflecting on the journey we have been on in the last six months. He encouraged us to rejoice in being in full communion with over a billion Catholics throughout the world and to take our place in the Catholic Church. He referred to his own journey that in six weeks he had become a Catholic Layman, a Deacon, a Priest and a Monsignor Proto-Notary Apostolic ("whatever it is"). He said that he had not been made this because of something he himself had done, but for the sake of the whole Ordinariate. He gained access to an audience with the Holy Father very quickly, something many curial cardinal had failed to acheive in years, because the Holy Father is keen for Catholics to take note of the Ordinariate and what it means. He reminded us that we were also called to make a distinctive contribution to the Catholic Church bringing our Anglican heritage with us. And he also reminded us that the vision of the pope was that the Ordinariate would be part of the New Evangelisation, that we need to be reaching out, bearing witness to Christ in our world today. He said that Archbishop Nichols beleived that Anglicans had a different approach to mission in Britain compared to most Catholics and this was a very important contribution we could bring.
The day finished with Evening Prayer and Benediction in the Blessed Sacrament Chapel. We were very grateful for Father Abbot's generous hospitality and use of the Abbey to gather all the members of the Ordinariate in the South West together in one place. Mgr Newton said he would come again, and we enjoyed meeting him. The Ordinariate groups will also meet together again for teaching and fellowship in the months ahead.