The first principle of the Ordinariate is then about Christian unity. St. Basil the Great, the Church’s greatest ecumenist, literally expended his life on the work of building bridges between orthodox brethren who shared a common faith, but who had become separated from one another in a Church badly fragmented by heresy and controversy. He taught that the work of Christian unity requires deliberate and ceaseless effort...St. Basil often talked with yearning about the archaia agape, the ancient love of the apostolic community, so rarely seen in the Church of his day. This love, he taught, is a visible sign that the Holy Spirit is indeed present and active, and it is absolutely essential for the health of the Church.

- Msgr. Jeffrey Steenson, Homily on the Occasion of his Formal Institution as Ordinary

Wednesday, September 3, 2014

St. Luke’s Bladensburg, Former Episcopal Church, Now Catholic, Moving to Nation’s Capital

Renamed, St. Luke’s at Immaculate Conception, was first Episcopal parish to join U.S. Ordinariate; Masses begin September 7th

Washington, DC (PRWEB) September 03, 2014

St. Luke’s Bladensburg, the Episcopal congregation that made headlines in 2011 as the first U.S. parish to join the Roman Catholic Church under a new, expedited process, is moving to Washington, DC on September, 7, 2014. Their new home is Immaculate Conception Catholic Church, 1315 8th St, NW, in the diverse Shaw neighborhood two blocks from the Walter Washington DC Convention Center. The congregation will now be known as, Saint Luke’s at Immaculate Conception.

The move accommodates its present parishioners from DC, Maryland, and Northern Virginia in a more centralized location, and hopes to attract new members who can now easily reach St. Luke’s by Metrobus and Metrorail Green and Yellow lines at the Mt. Vernon Sq. 7th St/Convention Center.

For its inaugural Mass at Immaculate Conception (8:30 am on Sunday, Sept. 7), St Luke’s is honored to host Monsignor Jeffrey N. Steenson, as celebrant and preacher...

Read the full press release and see video at PR Web.

Tuesday, August 26, 2014

New Ordinariate Chant Schola in DC

As the Saint Luke ordinariate community moves to downtown Washington DC next month, a new initiative is beginning, to build on an existing tradition of Sacred Music. Named in honour of Saint Benedict and the Benedictine tradition of Gregorian chant, and with a nod of gratitude to Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI (who founded the ordinariates), the women of The Saint Benet Schola will provide the chant at the 8.30am Sunday Mass at Immaculate Conception, 8th Street NW. The group will draw on the Anglican plainsong tradition, whilst at the same time emphasizing the universal, Catholic nature of our worship, by singing the ancient chants and texts of the Sacred Liturgy.

More details here:

Hat tip to Charles Cole at The New Liturgical Movement.

Friday, August 22, 2014

US Ordinariate begins publishing "Ordinariate Observer"

The Ordinariate of the Chair of St. Peter has completed an important item on its to do checklist with the publication of the initial issue of The Ordinariate Observer.

This initial publication has articles on the move of the congregations of St. Luke's from Bladensburg, MD to Washington, DC and St. Gregory the Great's from Beverly to Stoneham, MA. Monsignor Steenson writes on "The Joys and the Challenges of Growing our Congregations".

Other articles include "News from our Principal Parish: Our Lady of Walsingham"' "Target Date for our New Chancery: Early 2015"; "And there I was in Afghanistant: Special Report by Fr. Jerry Sherbourne"; "Reports from Our Clergy"; "Presbyteral Assembly in October Needs the Help of All of Our Congregations"; "Clergy Retirement Plan Approved"; "A Beautiful Church Plus Beautiful Country: A Perfect Place to Live?" about Holy Nativity in Payson, AZ; "Father Paul Manning to Lead Fall Retreat in Belleville, IL"; "First Combined Ordinariate Mass Celebrated in California"; "From Philadelphia: New Ordinariate Community Begins From Former Anglican Fellowship"; and "St. Gregory's Journey From the Winter of 2012 to Today: A Journey of Joy." 

Latest version of St. Edmund's Update released

The August issue of the always excellent Update from the Sodality of St. Edmund has been released and you may download it here; it includes an article on the Ordinariate's Divine Worship book by Msgr. Stephen Lopes, including this section on baptism:

Divine Worship: The Order of Holy BaptismIn order to provide for the range of pastoral situations in the pastoral life of the Ordinariates, Divine Worship provides rites for the Baptism of adults and older children, for the Baptism of infants, for conditional, private, and emergency Baptism, and for the public reception of one who has been privately baptized. Perhaps particularly appropriate for Ordinariate communities, there is also a rite for the entrance into full communion with the Catholic Church.
The baptismal rite begins with an invitation to prayer and an invocation that the fruits of Baptism be poured out on the one to be baptized. The preparatory rites include the consignatio (tracing the Sign of the Cross on the forehead), an optional imposition of blessed salt, and a prayer of thanksgiving said by the celebrant and people together. Following the Liturgy of the Word, the rite continues with the Promises which, in the case of infant Baptism, includes the anointing with the Oil of Catechumens and the profession of faith formulated as questions addressed to parents and godparents. Adult Baptism maintains an explicit renunciation of sin on the part of the catechumen who, in keeping with Anglican custom, then professes the faith by reciting the Apostles' Creed. In both instances, the profession of faith is followed by supplications and the blessing of water.
One feature of Divine Worship: Order of Holy Baptism which warrants further comment are what is known as "The Duties" which, in the order of infant Baptism, follow the Lord's Prayer, and immediately precede the final blessing. The Duties are exhortations to the parents and godparents concerning their sacred duty to provide for the religious formation of the child. Their specificity is striking, reminding the parents and godparents of their obligation to teach the child the Creed, the Ten Commandments, the Lord's Prayer, the Hail Mary and to instruct the child in the Catechism so that the child may be presented to the bishop for Confirmation and admitted to Communion in the Body and Blood of Christ. In addition to being a rather felicitous articulation of the role of parents and godparents in sacramental initiation, the Duties were judged to be integral to the Anglican tradition and therefore included in the current liturgical provision for the Ordinariates.
Monsignor Steven Lopes, Official of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith - June 12, 2014

Tuesday, August 5, 2014

Mass for the Feast of the Assumption of the BVM in Baltimore

On a personal note, I'll be in the mid-Atlantic next week, and I'm looking forward to visiting Mount Calvary for this feast day and renewing my acquaintance with my Baltimore friends.

Monday, June 16, 2014


Vatican City, 16 June 2014 (VIS) – The awareness that the objective of unity may seem distant, but is always the aim of the path of ecumenism and common concern for the ills of humanity, especially human trafficking, were some of the key themes in the Holy Father's encounter with His Grace Justin Welby, archbishop of Canterbury, in the Vatican this morning.

“The Lord’s question – 'What were you arguing about on the way?' – might also apply to us. When Jesus put this question to his disciples they were silent; they were ashamed, for they had been arguing about who was the greatest among them. We too feel ashamed when we ponder the distance between the Lord’s call and our meagre response. Beneath his merciful gaze, we cannot claim that our division is anything less than a scandal and an obstacle to our proclaiming the Gospel of salvation to the world. Our vision is often blurred by the cumulative burden of our divisions and our will is not always free of that human ambition which can accompany even our desire to preach the Gospel as the Lord commanded”.

Despite these difficulties, “The Holy Spirit gives us the strength not to grow disheartened and invites us to trust fully in the power of His works. As disciples who strive to follow the Lord, we realise that the faith has come to us through many witnesses. We are indebted to great saints, teachers and communities; they have handed down the faith over the ages and they bear witness to our common roots”.

The bishop of Rome went on to remark that yesterday, on the Solemnity of the Most Holy Trinity, the archbishop of Canterbury celebrated Vespers in the Church of San Gregorio al Celio, “from which Pope Gregory the Great sent forth Augustine and his monastic companions to evangelise the peoples of England, thus inaugurating a history of faith and holiness which in turn enriched many other European peoples. This glorious history has profoundly shaped institutions and ecclesial traditions which we share and which serve as a solid basis for our fraternal relations”.

“On this basis, then, let us look with confidence to the future. The Anglican-Roman Catholic International Commission and the International Anglican-Roman Catholic Commission for Unity and Mission represent especially significant forums for examining, in a constructive spirit, older and newer challenges to our ecumenical engagement. He also emphasised their shared “horror in the face of the scourge of human trafficking and forms of modern-day slavery” and thanked Archbishop Welby “for the leadership you have shown in opposing these intolerable crimes against human dignity”.

“In attempting to respond to this urgent need, notable collaborative efforts have been initiated on the ecumenical level and in cooperation with civil authorities and international organisations. Many charitable initiatives have been undertaken by our communities, and they are operating with generosity and courage in various parts of the world. I think in particular of the action network against the trafficking in women set up by a number of women’s religious institutes”. He concluded, “Let us persevere in our commitment to combat new forms of enslavement, in the hope that we can help provide relief to victims and oppose this deplorable trade. I thank God that, as disciples sent to heal a wounded world, we stand together, with perseverance and determination, in opposing this grave evil”.

From the Vatican Information Service's Daily Bulletin.

See also the address by Pope Francis to His Grace Justin Welby earlier today.

Friday, June 6, 2014

The Daily Office; beginning with the Portal Magazine's essay on the Ordinariate Use liturgy

In the June 2014 issue of the Portal Magazine, Msgr. Andrew Burnham has a very comprehensive, yet concise, article on the Ordinariate Liturgy. He begins his essay with this story.

There is a story about Mgr Graham Leonard, formerly Anglican Bishop of London, being asked by Cardinal Hume what he valued in the worship of the Church of England and would miss as a Catholic. He replied that it would be the Prayer Book Offices of Matins and Evensong, and in particular the psalms in course, following the Coverdale Psalter, as set in the Book of Common Prayer.

There is no doubt that the daily services are the jewel in the crown and, when both Pope Paul VI and Pope Benedict XVI expressed their admiration for Anglican worship, it was the public celebration of the Offices that they had most clearly in mind. Small wonder then that the Ordinariate clergy in the United Kingdom particularly value the availability to them, as Catholics, of Morning and Evening Prayer in the Prayer Book tradition, as distilled in the Customary of Our Lady of Walsingham.

There is a wealth of material in the Customary, which I've been reading through again in recent weeks. And while Msgr. Burnham does not focus exclusively on the Daily Office in his essay (which you should go and read for all that it contains), I think that greater emphasis needs to be placed on the Daily Office as a truly daily experience of prayer in the life of Catholics, and particularly for those of the Anglican Use, for whom this is a particular heritage and tradition.

A recent post on the blog Gerry Lynch's Thoughts... asks "Why is Cathedral Evensong Growing and What Does It Mean?", and one of his answers is that he sees "weekday Evensong as ecumenical, interfaith and vital for a growing, healthy, Church." Evensong is ecumenical and interfaith, because anyone can participate, even those not yet baptized. While the Mass is undoubtedly important for evangelization, it also necessarily excludes some people from what, to many, will seem the central rite of the Eucharist, the Communion. But there is no part of Evensong (or Mattins) that I, as a confirmed, baptized Catholic, can do as a member of the congregation, that an unchurched seeker cannot do; whatever barriers there are to participation will be wholly interior, but that removes a modern complaint about erecting barriers; because in this service, we erect none.

And yet, as the author goes on to note: "Evensong is not necessarily undemanding. It gives tremendous space for daily study of Scripture, and disciplined prayer sustaining a life of Christian service."

For both reasons, evangelization and growth in Christian discipleship (and more), the Daily Office should be a key element of every parish, and particularly, every Ordinariate and Pastoral Provision's life.

Thursday, June 5, 2014

Announcement from Saint Lukes Church, Bladensburg

My dear brothers and sisters--
Soon after Anglicanorum Coetibus was promulgated in 2009, many of us gathered rejoicing and worked for a day when there would be a parish for the Ordinariate here in the nation's capital.  When St. Luke's [Bladensburg] became the first Episcopal Church in America to enter the Catholic Church through Pope Benedicts XVI’s Apostolic Constitution, the decision was made that it would form the basis of that presence here in the DC metro area. Now, St. Luke's is planting its roots in the city. As of September 7th of this year, Sunday Masses using the Divine Worship Liturgy will be offered by St. Luke's at Immaculate Conception; Mass will be at 8:30 am with coffee hour to follow at 10 am in the school auditorium.
For those of you unacquainted with the beautiful Immaculate Conception Church, it is located at the corner of 8th and N Streets NW. Built in the 1870s, this Gothic Revival brick building contains an historic 19th century organ, a high Gothic altar of Italian marble, and Stations of the Cross painted by Franz Kaspar Huibrecht Vinck, a famous late 19th Century Belgian artist. Photos of the interior may be viewed at
To begin our life together as a DC parish, an Ordinariate Day is planned for June 28th at 10 am at Immaculate Conception Church. We will begin with Mass, followed by a tour of the church, and discussion and fellowship. I urge you all to join us that morning and on each Sunday morning beginning this fall as we seek to build a community that will bear fruit for the Kingdom in our capital city. Please feel free to contact me with questions or concerns. We look forward to laboring with you all as we build a new urban parish for the Ordinariate in service of our Lord.

Friday, May 30, 2014

The Miracle of Pentecost

The Miracle of Pentecost refers to the Apostolic preaching on the first Pentecost after the Resurrection of Jesus when the crowds in Jerusalem, from countries all around the ancient world, were able to understand the Apostles. The story is related in the second chapter of the Acts of the Apostles.

At St. Athanasius in Boston, we have always had the custom of having the lesson from Acts 2 read in as many languages as possible by readers from the congregation. We have had most of the Romance languages, ancient Greek and Latin, Chinese, Afrikaans, Dutch, German and Dinku all proclaimed within the liturgy.

The practical aid for this is a book compiled by C. David Burt called, aptly enough, The Miracle of Pentecost. It has the lesson from Acts 2:1-11 in many dozens of languages, grouped by continent. You can find the book at his Partridge Hill Press site on The bound book is $88.00, but you can also download a PDF of the book, from which you can print just the languages needed if your congregation wishes to employ this custom. The direct link for the PDF is: