On the excellent Anglicanorum Coetibus Society Blog the webmaster, Shane Schaetzel, has shared 8 recommendations for Ordinariate growth. I applaud them and believe we should embrace them in the UK to the extent that each group make them part of the vision moving forwards.
1. Get away from established Catholic Parishes. You can’t build your own house in somebody else’s backyard. Embrace the missionary spirit. Move away from your host parish and set up shop in a populated area where no Catholic parishes are nearby. Even if you have to meet in somebody’s home, or in a storefront, its better than trying to build your own house in somebody else’s backyard.
Pembury reflection: There is no doubt coming to a small mass centre, ranked low in terms of diocesan importance and presumably heading for closure, helped establish the Ordinariate in Pembury. As did splitting away from Paddock Wood which gave me pastoral control. Where colleagues have been tasked with running large diocesan parishes, or serving under diocesan priests so that 90% of their time is given to diocesen work, Ordinariate progress has, unsurprisingly, suffered.
Caveat: in Pembury we have no plan to break free from the diocese-holding dual identity is healthy- but the need for ordinariate priests to have control/space to flourish is essential; without autonomy we could never have developed St. Anselm’s to reflect an English patrimony. Our beautification project would have stalled.
2. Get a good website and reliable contact info. Make sure people can easily find you.
Pembury reflection: The blog is widely read and has brought several people to worship in Pembury. This includes locals who joined the congregation and holidaying visitors from as far afield as the USA, Italy and Australia!
3. Behave like a parish. Make sure you’re offering Mass and reconciliation regularly.
Pembury reflection: This is true. The Ordinariate won’t thrive long term where it exists only in one Mass per week during a grave yard slot in a busy diocesan setting. In Pembury the liturgy of the Ordinariate is in regular use. Evensong is taken from the Customary of Our Lady of Walsingham and we offer Saturday 9am Mass and 9:15am Solemn Mass on Sunday according to Divine Worship. We swap around a bit at other times -save for the 11am Sunday Mass which is always Novus Ordo. We favour Divine Worship for all occasional offices.
4. Make sure you have a parish name- patron saint- don’t go by “Ordinariate community” Nobody understands what that means.
Pembury reflection: Detractors of the Ordinariate love alluding to a fantasy- that we are not part of the Latin Rite. So certain Anglicans say “were I to become Catholic I would to it properly“. It is nonsense and our clergy only differ from any other in England and Wales in the way a priest from one diocese differs from another. Hence St. Anselm’s is the only Catholic Parish in Pembury open to all. Schisms exist outside the body not within.
5. Accept everybody, even cradle Catholics looking for a new home. Remember, people don’t have to be Ordinariate eligible to become members of an Ordinariate parish. Also think outside the box when it comes to evangelism. If you’re only reaching out to Anglicans, you are doing something wrong. You need to reach out to all non-Catholics. Remember, any non-Catholic (regardless of religious background) who is received into the Catholic church through an Ordinariate parish is automatically eligible for membership.
Pembury reflection: Most people come to Pembury simply because it is the local parish or because we value tradition. Our being Ordinariate hasn’t been a barrier to growth hence we have attracted Keralan and Opus Dei members in recent years. We are a diverse parish like any other. Praise God!
6. Offer highly traditional liturgy. Youth are more attracted to tradition these days. Don’t fall for the hippy happy-clappy trap. Nothing is more dated than contemporary worship. If you want young people to join your community, you need to offer old traditional liturgy. The more “high-church” the better. So use that Divine Worship Missal regularly and vigorously.
Pembury reflection: Message received and understood. Mass is only ever celebrated Ad orientem and we use plainsong for the Sunday Novus Ordo. Our use of hymnody is wide ranging but we only embrace hymns with solid theology appropriate to the liturgy of the day. The Ordinariate must be distinctive to survive and we clearly have a mandate to be part of the much needed reform of the reform.
7. Offer challenging homilies. People today are sick and tired of watered-down, non-offensive homilies that don’t challenge them to live the faith. Don’t get me wrong. We need to show the love of God in all of our teaching, but at the same time we need to clearly define sin and challenge people to overcome it.
Pembury reflection: For others to judge. Though I assure you the clergy of this parish like nothing watered down in life, including whiskey!
8. Don’t over-explain yourself. There is a tendency to want to explain the whole thing when it comes to the Ordinariate, Anglican Patrimony, our history, etc. Don’t do that. Just answer people’s questions as they ask them, and only give them the information they ask for. Don’t over explain it. That confuses average visitors and makes them think something is “fishy.” Just tell people what they need to know, only when they ask. Then carry on as if what you’re doing is the most natural thing in the world.
Pembury reflection: I agree. It can be a challenge though because people remain woefully ignorant about the Ordinariate and its purpose. What I tend to do is give new comers a free copy of the CTS booklet Understanding the Ordinariate That way I can smile and they can read at home should they be interested. Must order more today….