Understand that St. Anselm’s Pembury is a modest village church situated only a few miles, in either direction, from larger established Catholic congregations. Our building, to be honest, is drab from the outside and we are set back from the road and hidden. Many people do not know we even exist! As for the clergy- we are no McCarricks, thank God, but nor are we St. John Vianney! We have a long way to go, in truth, to achieve sanctification. The congregation is patient with us as we try to be with them.
So it is something of a modern miracle that, since the Ordinariate arrived and we began the beautification of our liturgy, church and grounds, returning via that process to a deeper appreciation of the ancient traditions of the church, we have been blessed with steady growth. Also the average age of the congregation has gone down. And whilst our numbers are still small by Catholic standards (our roll is c. 150: with 90-130 on any given Sunday across three services) there is a vibrancy to this parish which visitors notice and delight in. And that devotion is now paying dividends.
Take for example the statistics for 2019. We have 4 candidates for first communion and 8 for confirmation this June. 1 man is to be made deacon in July and another will be ordained priest this June. That is pretty solid for a congregation of 150. Regarding vocations we now number 7 men who have come through St. Anselm’s on their journey towards Holy orders. This includes 2 deacons and 5 priests. And we currently have two men within the congregation considering testing a vocation.
Such things I give thanks for daily. They strengthen my conviction that the Ordinariate has a healthy future and is wanted by God. Certainly the changes in our parish suggest that rejecting modernism, by embracing the faith in fullness, leads to growth and blessings from above. If only more parishes would follow suit I think the effect would be amazing. Please pray today for our first communion, confirmation, diaconal and priestly candidates. It is going to be a busy spring and summer!