An Anglo-Catholic parish in Calgary has become the first mainstream Canadian Anglican church to request to join an ordinariate in Canada.
St John the Evangelist in Alberta province in Canada’s mid-west overwhelmingly voted to take up an ordinariate when such a structure exists.
It is the first parish belonging to the Anglican Communion in Canada to make this move.
After 10 months of meetings and talks about the offer made in the Apostolic Constitution Anglicanorum coetibus, the parish overwhelmingly voted to join an ordinariate once it is established in Canada.
Fr Lee Kenyon, the priest in charge of the parish, explained that the Anglo-Catholic parish of St John the Evangelist was something of an anomaly within the Anglican Church of Canada (ACC). He said that although the ACC had started ordaining women in the 1970s, Calgary diocese remained conservative and only ordained the first women in 1989.
St John’s continued to exist in “almost splendid isolation” from the tensions that were rocking the Anglican Church of Canada over the ordination of women and acceptance of same-sex blessings.
Fr Kenyon said: “Of course it became clear by last year that the ACC was going in a different direction. One of the things you hear most from parishioners is the question about who left whom. We didn’t leave the ACC, it left us.”
With the publication of Anglicanorum coetibus, Fr Kenyon says the parish had an offer to consider –the parishioners and the vestry, the ACC’s version of the Parochial Church Council, were convinced they could no longer continue in the way they were going.
A committee was formed to explore whether the parish would remain as a parish in the ACC, join the Anglican Catholic Church of Canada, a group which belongs to the Traditional Anglican Communion, or to go through with its own process to join an ordinariate.
They contacted Archbishop Thomas Collin of Toronto who is the Catholic liaison officer for the ordinariate in Canada, and began to study the Catechism of the Catholic Church and took up the Evangelium course.
Fr Kenyon said: “It was important for us to get to grips with what the Catholic Church teaches, to see if this was for us. One thread going through this process was that we didn’t leave out of anger and that those tensions may well be the occasion for our departure from the Anglican Church of Canada, but that they should never be the reason for our conversion. There needs to be personal conversion and conviction in those people who take up the ordinariate.”
In October the vestry voted to accept Anglicanorum coetibus, and then another vote was held by parishioners. Of the 60 adult members of the parish, only two people voted against the motion and a few abstained.
Archbishop Collins has asked the local diocese to appoint a priest mentor for the next step in preparing the parish to take up the ordinariate.
Fr Kenyon said he thought an ordinariate in Canada would probably be joined on a parish by parish basis, similar to what has been proposed in England and Wales. He said there was another group from the ACC looking at joining an ordinariate from Toronto with approximately 50 lay people and two clergymen.
The ACCC, not in communion with Canterbury, voted to take up the ordinariate earlier this year. There are 27 member parishes in Canada which have indicated that they wish to take up Anglicanorum coetibus.