The beautiful church of St. James, Spanish Place in London was the perfect setting yesterday for the ordination of 10 transitional deacons to serve the Ordinariate of Our Lady of Walsingham.
Sadly Cardinal Pell, who was due to celebrate, had to withdraw on grounds of health so we were very grateful that Oratorian bishop, ++Byrne, was able to step in at the last minute. Both the Ordinariate and the Oratorians in England are children of Blessed J. H. Newman, and both delight in a celebration of English spirituality, so the transition was seamless.
The ten deacons will serve in settings throughout the U.K. and this was a landmark day because two of them, Thomas Mason and Jonathan Creer, are the very first men to have been ordained having been trained solely within the Catholic fold. The other eight having previously served as ministers within the Church of England.
The choir and organist were first class and really helped set a tone of reverence and majesty. Howell’s Collegium Regale the chosen setting which put the hairs up on the back of the neck at times. The Mass was, of course, celebrated according to the Ordinariate’s own rite- Divine Worship- and the congregation was healthy.
Credit must also go to the servers, who conducted themselves with dignity and honour suitable for the celebration. They included Pembury’s own Peter Ditchett who travelled down early in the morning to make the rehearsal. Also in attendance were several seminarians who have studied alongside our candidates. They seemed to heartily approve of the liturgy!
Having been accompanied by my daughter, Jemima, I sat in the congregation tokeep her company. Given how roasting hot the summer heat was this came as something of a blessing. It also allowed me to take the odd photograph to share with you. After Mass she demanded that Father Nicholas and I should take her for pizza and ice-cream at a local restaurant. It wasn’t a hard sell and a perfect way to end a very pleasant and significant day.
Ten new deacons is something worth celebrating within a church facing a crisis of vocations. And another sign of God’s continued blessing and abundance where the faith is not compromised but celebrated with vigour and passion. Long may it continue!