ABOUT 900 ex-Anglicans, including 60 of the clergy, are to be received into the RC Ordinariate of Our Lady of Walsingham this Easter, it emerged this week.
A total of 795 former Anglicans attended RC cathedrals at the weekend for the Rite of Election gathering, which is part of the Rite of Christian Initiation of Adults. The gathering inaugurates the final period of preparation before reception into the Church of Rome.
A spokesman for the Catholic Communications Network said that figures obtained by Fr Keith Newton, Ordinary of the Personal Ordinariate, suggested that 900 former Anglicans were expected to join it, but that about 100 of these had not attended the Rite of Election at the weekend.
Among this “first wave” were 167 former Anglicans at St George’s RC Cathedral, Southwark. Ivan Aquilina, formerly Vicar of St John’s, Sevenoaks, was with a group of 40 from the parish of St John’s who took part. He said that he felt “a huge sense of peace” now the process was under way, and his new congregation would meet in St Thomas’s RC Church, Sevenoaks. “I will be made a deacon in the Roman Catholic Church at Easter, and priested around Pentecost, God willing.”
He said that it was sad for him to leave St John’s, and he was now house-hunting, a “new experience” for him, but the archdiocese of Southwark was being “most generous” with its support.
About 60 former Anglicans from the south-west Ordinariate group gathered at Plymouth RC Cathedral to be enrolled with catechumens for confirmation at Easter. The Revd Ian Hellyer, former Rector of Moretonhampstead, in the diocese of Exeter, was joined by a group of 14 lay people from Devon, as well as Ordinariate groups from Torbay, and St Austell in Cornwall, and he said that it was “a very heartening and moving occasion”. They were called to the altar by Fr David Silk, one of five former Anglican bishops who have joined the Ordinariate. Fr Hellyer’s new congregation will meet at Buckfast Abbey.
The Revd Ian Grieves, Vicar of St James’s, Darlington, said that his congregation did not take part in the Rite of Election at the weekend, but intended to join the Ordinariate next year. The group has found alternative accommodation in an RC church, but still holds out hope of being allowed to stay in St James’s, which has been renovated at a cost of £750,000 during his incumbency over the past 20 years. “The majority of the congregation of 100 are coming over with me, and these are the ones who give financially,” he said.
The total of 60 Anglican clergy who are joining the Ordinariate excludes the five bishops now serving as priests in it.