The ordinariate reaches a milestone

The Personal Ordinariate of Our Lady of Walsingham is only seven years old, but the ordinations in Birmingham last weekend felt like a coming-of-age ceremony.

The ordinariate, set up to allow former Anglicans to retain their heritage within the Catholic Church, has eight new priests. And while six of them were fast-tracked, having worked as Anglican clergy, two others were the first ordinariate priests to have gone through the full seminary process. (Mgr Keith Newton, the ordinary, described the duo as “certainly not the last, but the first”.)

Neatly, the ceremony brings the total number of ordinariate priests to 100. If the group has grown slowly since 2011, that figure alone shows that it is an important part of the English Church and its future. By comparison, six priests were ordained on Saturday in Westminster archdiocese.

The Birmingham Oratory, which was packed, was chosen for the occasion as it is the home of the ordinariate’s patron saint, Blessed John Henry Newman. And it was Newman’s crozier that Archbishop Bernard Longley of Birmingham, who presided over the ordinations, carried. Archbishop Longley said the Mass according to the ordinariate rite, assisted by Fr Daniel Lloyd as MC. The archbishop quipped that his secretary had been relieved to hear that an experienced ordinariate priest was available.

While much of the ordination is familiar from the Roman rite, some elements are taken from the Anglican Book of Common Prayer, notably the Prayer of Humble Access said out loud before Communion, which begins: “We do not presume to come to this thy Table, O merciful Lord, trusting in our own righteousness, but in thy manifold and great mercies.”

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