We made it home!

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.

45 thoughts on “We made it home!”

  1. Last night was an incredibly moving occasion. The atmosphere was one of joy and love. Seeing so many people come up – one by one – to embrace the Catholic faith was inspiring. The Holy Spirit is at work in all of this. Congratulations to all of you.

  2. The largest group to convert en masse since the Reformation was in 1904 or thereabouts when Fr Evans brought the greater part of the congregation, about 150, of St Michael’s, Shoreditch, into the Church. They walked in procession from St Michael’s to St Mary Moorfields and were received there. During the final service, as they were leaving, Fr Sandys Wason led the rosary from the pulpit; he himself remained in the Church of England.

  3. Congratulations! Looking forward to joining you in the Universal Church tomorrow night.

    Last week my sponsor reminded me that I’ve been talking about becoming a catholic for the last 20 years – now the time is at hand!

  4. Congratulations and welcome! Of course, for all of you, getting the balance right will be important. The Church does not need ‘Anglicans’ who have become Catholics (but are still spiritually/culturally Anglican) but more Catholics. It will be important that the Ordinariate is seen to be a full expression of Catholic faith and not a (mere) Anglican expression of it. I think you’ll have your work cut out to do that authentically. I was a bit worried to see you ‘dressing up’ the church of St Anselm to make it an “ordinariate church’. Whatever could that mean? You are Catholics now. Not Anglicans. It’s important that you behave like Catholics.

    That is not meant in any shape or form to be a criticism, but a challenge. I have every reason to believe that you’ll readily rise to such a joyful task!

    God bless and keep you all.

    1. If you read the constitution you will see that our brief is not to simply assimilate but is precisely to retain our patrimony. Exactly what you chastise me for! We must both embrace the church we join whilst also ensuring we preserve our culture. This is why special liturgy is being written- this is why we have an ordinary of our own. I urge you to look again at the ordinariate- I think you miss it’s point, this is something much bigger than mere group conversion- though wondefully it is that as well.

      Thus the vision is for S Anselms to have BOTH it’s usual mass AND an Ordinariate mass. Everyone is welcome at both. Bu if they are not different what is the point?

      1. Congratulations Ed and well said about there being a difference or what is the point! (Sorry you won’t make the Guiness Book of Records – although given previous comments concerning said beer perhaps that is no bad thing!)
        Anyway I’m writing about 2 greengrocer’s apostrophes!
        “it’s usual mass” is incorrect – it should read “its usual mass” -remember it’s is short for it is……. as in it’s my turn…..
        Sorry to be pedantic, and you don’t have to publish this – just remember us in your prayers we are being recieved at the Vigil

          1. Letters correcting some one else’s spelling or grammar nearly always contain mistakes.

  5. I doubt whether any single group will outnumber the 150 Fr Evans led from S Michael’s, Shorditch, the biggest I am aware of is the 90+ from S Margaret’s, Leytonstone, received at Wanstead last night. But if we understand the references to “en masse” to refer to the ordinariate itself – i.e. Bishops, Priests & People moving together – then the numbers really are stacking up.

  6. Congratulations and welcome home! God is indeed great and merciful and we are all so happy to have our brothers and sisters back with us again.

  7. Have been following your blog since I came across it accidentally a few months ago.
    To you and all who have come with you I send my very best wishes and congratulations.Some people talk about ‘swimming the Tiber’.I do not see things that way.I see you as coming out of the creek where you were before into that wide river which is the Universal Church and we are now all in the same boat swimming together towards our eternal destiny,each one with his or her ‘paddle’.

    Happy Easter ! As our Holy Father will probably say on Sunday :
    Buona Pasqua nella gioia della Risurrezione ! Frohe Ostern in der Freude des auferstandenen Herrn ! Joyeuses Paques ! Felices Pascuas ! Dobra wielkanoc !
    Kolo Pascha !

  8. Maurice – I think the Church really does need “Anglicans who have become Catholics” and it is very important for the groups to retain and express Anglican patrimony. Whether that’s the English Hymnal or the ‘big six’ or less tangible attributes such as a universal pastoral emphasis to the whole people of this country…or aspects of Anglican spirituality…this is quite authentically Catholic, just a different emphasis. Clearly the Holy Father sees much of value in the Anglican heritage.

    I think I sense where your concern comes from, but I don’t think you need to worry.

  9. So much to be grateful for, it’s difficult to know what to say first…Welcome, welcome, welcome! What a long, arduous journey you all have made, and been courageous throughout. I am so happy, every bit for us as for you ! Thank you for your perseverance and what it demonstrates to all of us: “…the cross is the price of unity.” (Pope Benedict XVI)

    Your metaphor of color is apt: in some ways, it is as apt as *kata holos*: according to the whole. Nothing has been lost, everything has come into completion. May the whole spectrum of color, of joy, be yours in Christ, and in His Church.

    Pax Christi, Greg

  10. Shoreditch may not be far out, but perhaps the largest number was in fact slightly to the East. In the mid 1990′s when vast majority of the congregation of St Matthew’s Bethnal Green were received into the Church. On Pentecost Sunday over 130 were received at a Catholic Mass celebrated in the Anglican Parish Church… where we continued to worship for some years. By the end of the process 153 (the number of the Petrine draft of fish!) people were received… the curate and a few others had gone ahead, whilst the Rector remained for a while to enable the sharing of the church. The Assistant and the Parish Deacon were ordained as Deacons on the following Saturday, and as Priests on All Saints Day, and continued to serve the Community. In the end that particular pilgrimage into the Communion of the Catholic Church provided 4 priests for the Archdiocese of Westminster. This was by far the largest of the London parish groups in the ’90′s.

    1. Memorably, St Matthew’s provided one retired Anglican priest whose ordination to the Catholic priesthood took place in the Royal London Hospital shortly before his death.
      Another point worth noting is that the Parish Deacon, though married, was eventually given dispensation to be ordained as a Catholic priest never having been an Anglican one.

  11. A welcome from the wilds of South Africa. I also have been following your progress since day one. As you so rightly pointed out, it is very different being on the inside than what you imagine it is like….I also like the analogy! I was an Anglican ordinand when I made the decision some 40 years ago…..my father is an Anglican priest and it still rancour’s with him….so I have an inkling of the personal issues that are created!

  12. Welcome home! I’m a typical Spanish cradle Catholic reading anglo-catholic and ordinariate blogs from Madrid. Please, feel at home, dear brothers, keep as many anglican heritage as you want, love the Chuch and the Holy Father and evangelize your country. I’m a fan of Tolkien, Lewis and Chesterton and humankind needs strong Catholics in England witha strong desire for unity, defendig life, family and the Gospel. God bless you!!!

  13. Maurice takes an incredibly narrow view. He has to be in a small minority of Catholics.
    Does he not know that JPII was responsible for setting up the Anglican Use parishes in the USA in the 1980s! BXVI carries on the good work. Both popes clearly want the Anglican patrimony to come over with the converts. Maurice does not appear to have even read BXVI’s constitution.He is not going to like the Ordinariates to be set up in Australia, USA & Canada.

    1. Yes, he has taken a more narrow view but if he is the same Maurice I think he is, he used to be an Anglican priest before converting and is now a Catholic priest. So, please, let us all be charitable in our views. God is great, our brothers and sisters are coming home so let’s roll out the red carpet and have a party!

  14. Congratulations , welcome home !
    I hope , very sincerously , that all the rich spiritual , liturgical and musical Patrimony of the Anglicnas will enrich very much our Mother Church , the Holy Roman Catholic Church.
    I am praying for you all !
    God bless you and all our brothers that are entering into full communion with the Catholic Church.

  15. I am sure there will be many cradle Catholics who will wish to attend Ordinariate Masses and services. I attend the TLM and there are many Catholics who love aspects of Anglicanism which the Church would benefit from: well-ordered liturgy, the warmth of Anglican clergy especially to strangers and visitors, the serene atmosphere in many Anglican Churches, the participation in parish life through the vestry system, the seeking out of members of the parish who stop attending Mass – and all of this now coming to us to enrich us. Rejoice and be glad for what you had, what you bring and what you will receive in the Catholic Church.

    1. Absolutely right – all the things sadly lacking in many English Catholic Churches today. Bring on the Ordinariate, and let’s have peals of bells ringing from church towers.

      1. Let us try to be excited about the Ordinariate whilst also valuing what is already present in the English Catholic church. We Ordinariate members are receiving far more than we bring

  16. “Thus the vision is for S Anselms to have BOTH it’s usual mass AND an Ordinariate mass. Everyone is welcome at both. But if they are not different what is the point?”

    Exactly – vive la difference! Congratulations and welcome.

  17. Congratulations to you all! These are great days for the Church and for the Ordinariate(s) that will enrich her and be enriched by her. I shall pray Evening Prayer in Rite I of the Anglican Usage tonight in your honor.

  18. I would like to add my welcome to the many others posted here. I became a Catholic, as a teenager, in March of 1959 and it was the best decision of my life. I hope it is the same for all of you. God Bless!

  19. Welcome to Holy Mother Church to you, Haley, Jemima, Benjamine and all the good folk of the Tunbrideg Wells Ordinariate.
    I have been following your blog since late 2009 and have always enjoyed it. Often, you have caused me to re-examine my own faith and hopefully I am a better Catholic for it. Again, I say, WELCOME!!

    Pax et Bonum

  20. I just listened to “One Church, One Faith, One Lord” after reading your article. Brought tears to my eyes. Welcome Home!
    Pray for the Ordinariate in the US, please.

  21. Dear Mr Tomlinson,
    I am delighted that the Ordinariate, or at least you, realise you will receive more than you can give in your joyful acceptance into the Catholic Church.
    Your Anglican patrimony not only includes great music, the maintenance of a great deal of costly church buildings, acquired dubiously by Henry VIII, for the spiritual and aesthetic pleasure of everyone, but also King Charles the Martyr-Maker, called by some “St Charles”!!
    I am sure that, in time, God will guide you into playing a full part in the Catholic Church, and valuing our multicoloured community. Nowhere else in TW do you see the unity of humans of all heritage as in the Catholic Church; which is one of our strengths.
    I’m also a convert, 5 years ahead of you, but come further. Since my reception I’ve been connected to St Augustine’s as with an umbilical cord, my magnetic North.
    It may be difficult for the Ordinariate to provide Masses at least twice daily, a Church open most of the 24 hours, the social responsibilty of the Soup Bowl, SVP, CTTW, etc., Adoration, Benediction, etc. as fully as we can, so get involved.
    Deus vobiscum.

  22. From a Catholic in the American South, where the dominant traditions are life-loving Anglican cavalier vs dour Presbyterian (and variants) frontiersman, a warm welcome. A Virginia lady from the former tradition converted to Catholicism and told her family (cf your own analogy): “Catholicism is like being Christian in Technicolor.” Amen.

    It’s good to remember that some years ago Pope Benedict wrote that the sister faiths have charisms that we don’t have in The Church. (Caps are mine.) Thanks for all the charisms you bring. Don’t ever let go of them. New and needed colors for the palette.

    It’s almost Easter!

  23. Welcome home, fellow Catholics! The great Catholic historian and Englishman, Hilaire Belloc, said that Protestantism in Europe would have failed in the sixteenth century, had England not become Protestant. Perhaps now, with England leading the way, all Protestants will return home, and we will all be one again. Remember, please, that you will find the greatest treasure in the Holy Eucharist.

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