The Personal Ordinariate of Our Lady of Walsingham has established its first formal parish, based in the town of Torbay in Devon.
Mgr Keith Newton, the Ordinary, signed a decree on Sunday 28 May establishing the parish at a former Methodist chapel that was purchased by the Ordinariate in 2015. Fr David Lashbrook is the first parish priest.
The parish comprises members of the Ordinariate who were formerly associated with the Torbay Ordinariate Mission which has met in Chelston for the last six years.
Until now, the Ordinariate has operated as a single canonical entity across England, Wales and Scotland, acting as one large diocese without territorial parishes. Priests and congregations have met as “groups” or “missions”, primarily in churches belonging to local dioceses.
The Ordinariate says other groups may now petition to become full parishes as they demonstrate stability and the potential to lead a full parochial life.
The Torbay church, which has been dedicated to Our Lady of Walsingham and St Cuthbert Mayne, was purchased following a successful appeal two years ago.
At the time, Mgr Newton said: “If we are to grow and flourish in the way that Pope Benedict intended when he set up the Ordinariate, we need to acquire buildings of our own so that we can establish them as centres for our particular mission and purpose.
“The purchase of this church provides a wonderful opportunity to do just that.”
The Personal Ordinariate of Our Lady of Walsingham was established by Pope Benedict XVI in 2011 to allow former Anglicans to seek full communion with the Catholic Church while maintaining elements of their liturgical traditions.