Praying for those we left behind

It has been announced that the Reverend John Caster will become Priest-in-Charge of St Barnabas, Tunbridge Wells- the parish I vacated to become a Catholic priest. Revd John is currently Team Vicar in the parish of Old St Pancras in the diocese of London.

This blog is pleased that Saint Barnabas have appointed a young man with a good reputation from amongst the more orthodox minded Anglo-Catholics who remained behind in the Church of England. I hope and pray that he will succesfully help the parish forge a vision for their future as Anglicans. I will also be praying that he will prove a great friend to the school and continue the excellent work being done in the parish with young people that was one of the highlights of my own time there.

If Revd. Caster ever fancies a beer then the hand of friendship is extended to him from Pembury. Whilst we presumably hold different views on the long term prospects and viability of Anglo-Catholicism – there is plenty that we do share.

38 thoughts on “Praying for those we left behind”

  1. The actual statement – just to ensure your readers see what was actually said:

    The Bishop of Rochester is pleased to announce that the Reverend John Caster has accepted his invitation to become Priest-in-Charge of St Barnabas, Tunbridge Wells. Fr John is at present a Team Vicar in the parish of Old St Pancras with responsibility for St Mary’s Church, Somers Town in the diocese of London. The date for Fr. John’s Licensing is to be arranged for later this summer

    1. I post a warm blog in a spirit of friendship and yet still we have people wanting to lambast and criticise. Rather revealing isn’t it? And all very silly as my use of the word father or not hardly changes the validity of Anglican orders one way or another. Get a grip people and stop trying to ensure that even an offer of friendship is viewed as an act of aggression. Anyone would think he Ordinariate so challenges you that you have lost all sense of perspective…

      1. I think, Father Ed, that there has been a misunderstanding. As far as I can see, Little White Squibba was concerned to point out that ‘Revd Caster’ is a solecism. ‘Revd’ (or indeed ‘Rev’) is an adjective, not a noun, so cannot stand in for ‘Mr’. Hence the correct form is ‘the Reverend John Caster’ – whether ‘Reverend’ is abbreviated as ‘Rev’, ‘Revd’ or ‘Rev’d’ is immaterial.

        Those of us who are members of the C of E above middle stump would be glad to address Mr Caster as ‘Fr John’ if we were to meet him, but that is a separate matter. Assuredly you are to be praised for offering friendship.

          1. Of course you are – that is why you excel at ministering to your parishioners, which is clear from the posts that deal with your pastoral activities.

  2. The website correctly names him as The Reverend John Caster and then refers to him as Fr John. He will be an excellent Vicar and I think you should stop being so resentful and churlish.

    1. Oh pleeese! The important thing is that St Barnabas have got a good Anglican priest. He deserves our prayers, not attempts to use him to blacken the Revd Tomlinson (of Pembury).

  3. It is certainly encouraging that a priest comitted to traditional Anglo Catholicism is being apointed to an Anglo Catholic parish.

  4. Whatever the rights and wrongs here, there is no excuse for sloppy english! The official announcement reads: “the Reverend John Caster”, which is good grammar. The blog post makes reference to: “Revd. Caster”, which is just wrong. It is the Reverend John Caster; the Reverend Mr Caster; or the Reverend Fr Caster. “Revd. Caster” is the slang of television programes and ignorant funeral directors.

  5. The decision of the house of bishops yesterday can be found at
    So the House of Bishops has decided and now I guess a code of practice will do despite all the hot air of the past few years. It does seem to me that by being a member of the Church of England you just have to go along with its laws and regulations. Don’t pretend that your Congregational view of being a catholic works it doesn’t. It’s not what Our Lord wanted. So it’s make up your mind time

    Well at least The Reverend Fr will now know where he really will be in the future. I see that he is a member of SSC which I understood was searching for reunion with the Holy See – how does that work in the Church of England?

    1. As I tried to say before, it is not unknown for a faithful priest appointed to a parish where the previous incumbent has left the Anglican Communion to eventually follow the same path. At this time we should be praying for every member of SSC and the PEVs as they discern the path God is calling them to tread.

  6. Bravo to Father Ed showing the way . . . ‘Ubi Caritas, est vera, Deius ibe est’.
    As for sloppy english one must read the CofE Press Release which is clearly intelligible to the Laois . . . ? LOL (not the DC version)
    Prayers for Father John Caster offered here at St. Luke’s, Southend. Every blessing to his future work.
    As for St. Luke’s i’m gonna have to prepare a ‘Letter of Request under the Measure’. . . EXTRA time required . . . just like Chelsea needed.

  7. If I remember correctly, it is only right that in the announcement of an appointment that the priest being appointed is first of all referred to as “Reverend” or however you with to abbreviate it…. It then goes on further to call him Father.

    It is clear to us that Fr Tomlinson is very happy that St Barnabas has been appointed a good young Anglo Catholic Priest. We should rejoice together for this is a great appointment.

    For such silliness over the title whether it is “Father” or “Revd” or “Reverend” etc. St Barnabas now has a shepherd to guide them on their earthly pilgrimage as Anglo Catholics. It is upsetting though that people seem to focus upon Fr Tomlinson for such petty things, Father went over to the Roman Catholic Ordinariate. However this does not or should not affect our respect for him as a priest nor should it affect our friendship with him.

  8. Now, Mr Ed, I’m confused. I’m sure I remember you saying on your Blog (back in the days when you were still a vicar) that you would be succeeded at St Barnabas by an Affirming Catholic. Clearly, Fr Caster is nothing of the sort. Can you please explain how you got it so wrong?

    1. Nice try! What I actually stated and wrote to parishioners was that we might bury heads in sand and settle for another 10 years squeezed out of the barrel eeking out an existence on the margins of Anglican life-or adopt an Aff Cath position or accept that the game was up for Anglo-Catholicism. Nothing in the appointment changes my analysis.

      Given yesterday’s announcement from the house of bishops I stand by what I said. Mirfield is no longer traditionalist. staggers can count the sort of clergy who would have passed the AC grade in previous years on one hand. Quite simply who is going to train enough candidates to fill the gaps ten, fifteen and twenty years from now? And that is if the synod remain faithful to the code of practice which historic analysis suggests is very unlikely.

      That some have opted to remain and offer terminal care to a dying expression of Anglicanism puzzles me given Rome’s offer but there is precedence with the non jurors situation of old. That is unless they are planning a gradual move to towards ab AffCath position.

      I personally worry that the refusal of some to follow our bishops does rather undermine the sacrifice others have made and that it leads people down blind alleys. Hence I challenged them and asked what the vision now is. There is still no clear answer which speaks volumes.

      So I respect the decision even if it seems doomed to failure long term and even though I suspect the motivations to stay are either anti Catholic, anti unity or else based on personal needs.

      All of which leads me to conclude that if you imagine the appointment of one man signals my wrong thinking then I you very much need to wake up and smell the coffee.

      Not least because saint Barnabas has clearly moved down the candle since we left; signalled by the move towards celebrating Anglican and not Universal saints such as Wycliffe et al, its adoption of common worship, it’s advertising for a person to care for a range of theological views including those who support women priests and it’s abandonment of the term mass for the less overtly sacramental Eucharist. Now that is probably the path it needs to walk in the future – hence my belief that Affcath is round the corner- but it is a historic shift anyway for a parish that prayed daily for unity with Rome and I could never have walked it in conscience.

      If father Caster can then good for him. He has a huge job on his hands and I do not envy it.

      1. Fr Ed, first of all I am delighted that you are offering the hand of friendship to Fr Caster. I say that as one who often disagrees with you.

        You say that St Barnabas’ has “a range of theological views including those who support women priests”. Did it do so when you were its vicar – or did you require its congregation to accept your views unquestioningly, with anyone who disagreed with you being too scared to say so?

        1. Not at all. Clearly there are always a range of views and everyone seemed happy enough in my time there prior to my announcement of resignation. The change is that the parish now identifies as one in which a range of theological views are held, a point which is celebrated, whilst I applied to a parish that was solidly resolution C and would have stated clearly it’s catholic beliefs. Now it mentions traditions! Just an observation…

        1. That Matthew, is because there is nothing to know! It simply no longer exists, other than in fading memories of a bygone era.

      2. While I know nothing of St Barnabas other than is written on this blog and also on the church website, I would have thought that the adoption of Common Worship represents little more than the acceptance of Canon Law, which every incumbent makes a solemn oath to uphold at his induction. While there are differences between the Roman Calendar and Lectionary and those of Common Worship, for a great deal of the time they are very close indeed. Unless there has been a significant influx of worshipers who are pro WO over the past year or so, I would have though that Fr Ed, when he was Vicar, also had to care for a congregation with a wide variety of theological views. And I really do wonder about what the difference might be between the Mass and the Eucharist.

        1. ‘Common Worship Order One’ plus the “Orate Fratres” and a few variations to the Lectionary, and an amalgam of Eucharistic Prayers B & E, equals the Roman Rite (ordinary form).

    1. I think not. Just look at the history of the catholic movement in the Church of England and see what has happened. Many many faithful priests and lay folk have gone and churches that were once centres of excellence have become Affirming parishes. You just have to face the reality and stop fighting for something which cannot be won and move on to a place where your Catholic faith can be lived out properly. Or will a ‘Code of Practice’ now do – if that’s the case isn’t that tantamount to a broken promise – just as bad as accusing General Synod of breaking promise made?

  9. Surely the real point here is that this is good news for our friends at St Barnabas’, the wonderful school and the parish community?

    I’m sure all readers would join me in wishing the Reverend John Caster, the congregation at St Barnabas’ and all those associated with the parish every success.

    Credit to Fr Ed, too, for extending the hand of friendship.

  10. I suspect that the reason is that Fr Ed is not prescient, and his guess, made with the limited facts he had available at the time, has simply been proven wrong. I also suspect that he is quite happy to have been proven wrong.

    Of course, I could be proved wrong.

  11. Simples . . .
    Fr Ed offers the hand of friendship along with the pillar of prayer
    And bitternes is the response. Patrons, Fr Ed’s is right in his comments in paragraphs 7 & 8 above. Totally. Slow admission towards affirming catholicism is the road from fudge and denial at the offer given. Wince at the truth of it in June brethren . . . Because come July we’ll all be reaching for another language to communicate.

    1. If it’s what you think (and I believe so), sooner or later, we’ll welcome you aboard the ship, Fr James!
      + PAX et BONUM

  12. I hesitate to intrude on what appears to be a re-hashing of divisions, but even within the unity of the Catholic Church, people express prefrences for different styles of worship and “vote with their feet” by attending a church in which they feel at home – which may not be their parish church.

    As one might expect, when a CofE clergyman has resigned from his incumbency to apply for reception into the Catholic Church through the Ordinariate sometimes taking with him a significant number of the congregation and parish office holders, it is inevitable that those who remain may have a very different view as to the kind of church they want to have. While I have not come across any parish in that position being transformed overnight into into one of the full-blown “evangelical” kind, it does seem very much as if the norm during an interregum is to “dial back” on the signs of “Anglo-Papalism” perhaps in an endeavour to persuade residents of the parish who are more “middle of the road” to resume regular worship.

    We must not for a moment think that the validity of the sacramental orders of female priests or bishops is likely to be a burning topic of conversation in every CofE household. Once the CofE bishops and the generality of the clergy have intimated that it does not give them a problem, are not the majority of the CofE laity fully entitled to leave the theology to those whose job it is and accept their teaching as the teaching of the Church to which they belong?

    What I would consider to be much more difficult is the position of those CofE clerics who signed the famous July 2008 Letter to the Archbishops. In that letter, those clerical getlemen said this:-

    “It is with sadness that we conclude that, should the Church of England indeed go ahead with the ordination of women to the episcopate, without at the same time making provision which offers us real ecclesial integrity and security, many of us will be thinking very hard about the way ahead. We will inevitably be asking whether we can, in conscience, continue to minister as bishops, priests and deacons in the Church of England which has been our home.”

    Some of the signatories have of course already reached their conclusion and acted upon the dictates of their consciences. Others must now decide whether their conscience permits them to accept the piece of Anglican “fudge” which has now been served up to them.

    I can’t say I envy them their task, one can only pray for them.

  13. Without any axe to grind, and for purposes of information only, it would be interesting to know how the congregation at St Barnabus has fared in the last 12 months.

    Can anyone say what the size of a typical Sunday congregation is now?
    Does anyone know how they are doing for organists, singers and servers?
    Were new churchwardens appointed?
    Is it still Anglo-Catholic in character, or has the emphasis shifted?

    1. To be fair to Saint Barnabas they suffered a huge loss of key members which would hurt any congregation. I feel it was hard on them (and largely the fault of the C of E not those who left) and I admire how they have kept going and held things together. Numbers have been low but steady I gather.

      It goes without saying that the more catholic minded left and several joined delighted that the trads had moved out. It has made for a mixed economy though we are taking about percentages of a small number in any case. I understand that a good number of the new PCC are in favour of women’s ordination and of working with the diocese in a less ‘Roman’ and more Anglican way. This explains the use of Anglican ‘saints’ days and the favouring of the term Anglo Carholic traditions over theology on the profile etc…

      That is a good thing given where things are. One or two remain who still oppose women priests and are more typical of what went before but they are now the minority i imagine. the diocese was in favour of making this the place that could accommodate those opposed to womens ordination in TW

  14. good grief, what a lot of hot air! All Fr Ed did was to invite the new guy to share a beer……..(or whatever is his poison!)(note to the sensitive – poison is often used as a euphemism for drink – it is not meant literally)

  15. Surely, the good thing is that St Barnabas is to receive a new priest. Now is not the time or place for saying how he should be addressed, I am sure Fr John will be the first to say how he would like to be addressed.

    As Fr Ed writes here he took the announcement from their website. If Fr Ed can show friendship over a beer then who is anyone else to not do the same. St Barnabas needs prayers not pettiness over Fr John’s title.

  16. Dear Father Ed,

    Now that you have left the C of E and come under the banner of Roman Catholicism, perhaps you ought to focus on your new Church. Your faith as a Catholic is a fledgling one and there is much for you to learn. To born and bred Catholics, you are a mere foetus. It is time you allowed yourself to be nurtured in the Roman Catholic Church and get rid of the shackles of the C of E. For someone who thinks that Anglo-Catholicism is dead and gone within the Church of England, you spend an awful lot of time thinking and writing about it. I hope you are enjoying the greener grass over there.

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