Last night was a hugely significant occasion all in the Tunbridge Wells Ordinariate group. Why? Because we entered S. Augustine’s church as one thing but left as something else entirely- members of the universal Catholic church in full communion with 1.4 billion people and the Holy Father himself. It was a night of great blessing and joy charged with emotion and love.
The service began with the great hymn ‘One Church, One Faith, One Lord’ which set the tone for all that would follow. The focus was on the unity of the whole church – something which those entering the Ordinariate believe they are passionately involved in. We travel deeper into the heart of the church blazing a trail which we pray others will follow. ‘That all may be one’.
The moment of reception and anointing was particularly beautiful. Seeing so many people enter into communion with Rome was really very powerful. I wonder – was this the largest group conversion since the time of the Reformation itself? And even so it is not quite finished yet! We have another family of five to be received as soon as possible (dad is away in Europe with a work commitment), three housebound people who will be received in the coming weeks also and one wonderful teenage lad who is currently away on a school trip. At this point we will number 72.
The offertory hymn was ‘the church’s one foundation’ and it was very humbling to be asked to administer the chalice alongside our other soon-to-be-ordinariate priest Nicholas Leviseur. ‘Sweet sacrament divine’ was our post communion hymn and we finished, in honour of Our Lady of Walsingham, with the joyous hymn ‘Ye who own the faith of Jesus’. After Mass I came forward with the children to lead the singing of the Angelus. We sang before the new image of Our Lady of Walsingham unveiled for the first time last night and picked up from Walsingham after a long drive on Monday. She will remain with our local group from this point on that we may be united with our Patron.
Photographs of the occasion can be viewed here. Huge thanks to James Bradley who was present to take photographs- quite an effort given that he was also present at the Westminster Chrism mass and at Allen Hall earlier in the day. Thanks also to Fr. Peter Stoddard who welcomed us at S. Augustines and to Fr. Behruz who assisted with the service and has cared for us so well at S. Anselms. And finally thanks to the members of the Ordinariate themselves and to those family and friends who supported us. What a wonderful occasion as together we continue to move forwards in faith.
So how does it feel to be in full communion with the Catholic church universal? Great! It is like being coloured in having been in black and white for many years- a strange analogy but it makes sense to me. Nothing new has been added to my knowledge or beliefs but everything is much fuller and it is so good to be in a church that can unite around one altar and proclaim a common creed. There is much work ahead for our group locally but now we are building safe on the rock of S. Peter.