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Unusual Mass Turns Anglicans Catholic

An Episcopal priest and Anglican congregations from Orange and San Diego counties join the Catholic Church in San Juan Capistrano on Tuesday.

Nearly 500 years after the Church of England broke away from Roman Catholicism, a small group of Episcopalians returned to the fold Tuesday during a special Mass at in San Juan Capistrano.

As part of a reunification program authorized by Pope Benedict, two Episcopal congregations and a married Anglican priest were welcomed into the Catholic faith during the service, which was led by Bishop Tod Brown.

The Anglican churches, Blessed John Henry Newman of Santa Ana and Vista-based Saint Augustine of Canterbury, are now organized in “ordinariates,” geographic regions similar to a Catholic diocese.

In addition, Anglican priest Andrew Bartus was officially ordained as a Catholic priest Tuesday, even though he is married and has a child. Like others joining the Catholic Church across the nation, his congregation will maintain distinctive elements of Anglican practices.

All told, about 70 members of both congregations were confirmed as Catholics at the ceremony.

“What a joy it is for me to be a part of this holy work today," Msgr. Jeffrey N. Steenson told the crowd. Referring to the New Testament's book of Ephesians, he said the newcomers were “no longer sojourners or travelers … you are citizens, like all the saints, members of God’s household.”

In the audience, Fred and Barbara Wood of Oceanside said they couldn’t wait for the times to catch up to them. They recently left the Episcopal Church earlier – where Fred was a deacon – and joined St. Margaret, a Catholic parish in Oceanside. They made the trip to San Juan because they knew many of the newly confirmed and wanted to show their support, they said.

With everyone together again, it felt “absolutely” like home, Fred Wood said.

In 2009, Pope Benedict XVI paved the way for reunification with willing Episcopalians. The U.S. Ordinariates were formed at the beginning of the year, and Tuesday’s Mass was the first of its kind for Orange and San Diego counties.

Although the media have reported conservative Episcopalians are joining Catholics as a response to liberal policies, such as allowing gay bishops and female priests, there was no talk of such issues at Mission Basilica on Tuesday.

“I’m here to support my mother,” said Marie McCarron of Vista, who belongs to in Carlsbad. Her mom, Irene Gilmore, had been Episcopalian. “It makes me glad we’re now the same faith. We’re blessed. I feel blessed.”

The coming together was also poignant for Msgr. Arthur Holquin of Mission Basilica.

“I was ordained in 1974, just 10 years after the [Second Vatican Council],” Holquin said. The great goal of the council was to realize the Lord’s dream in the Last Supper that all might be one.”

What do you think of this ceremony? Tell us in comments.

J. Stock July 04, 2012 at 02:00 AM
What is missing in this new report is the vast amount of Roman Catholics (Rome is not the only Catholic church and never has been the only Catholic church) who have "turned" Episcopalian or have joined other Catholic denominations that are not Roman. Glad these people feel they are at home. Everyone should have a place where they feel safe and comfortable. For those who are not welcomed by the Roman Church, please feel free to search for an Alternative Catholic denomination near you who accept women priests, and invite all Christians to Eucharist....you know...like Christ did.
Divine Word Radio July 04, 2012 at 02:58 AM
If you expect them to do like Christ did, they should stay with the Church, and not flee to what seems more comfortable.
rosanne s July 04, 2012 at 02:02 PM
Yes, Christ invites us to do uncomfortable things like actively loving even our enemies, being humble and forgiving. God commands love and yet there are no divine commands that only celibate men can be priests. Is it time to get back to basics? to do what God commanded at the expense of male celibacy (which God never commanded/ mandated) but clerics in charge do mandate? What will we say at the gates of heaven when God asks us what did we do to further the Word of God, what did we do to further sacramental access when the requirements of being celibate and being male obstructed access to sacraments and access to God's Word? Thousands of priests are kicked out for marrying and still want to serve God as priests and yet over 50,000 churches have no priest and over 100,000 missions have no priest to help. That is a sin and for that we should be UNCOMFORTABLE!
Rob July 04, 2012 at 03:58 PM
The "thousands" of priests that left to marry shouldn't have been part of the priesthood to begin with. Leaving the priesthood to marry is a public acknowledgement of that fact. They were poorly vetted.
Fr Fred July 04, 2012 at 04:58 PM
120,000 of us were not "vetted"? That is the most IGNORANT comment ever.
david denzer July 04, 2012 at 05:13 PM
The Holy Spirit guides the church in every aspect, that why we are here twenty one hundred years later, give or take a year. If women were meant to be priests it would have happened long before now.
Rob July 04, 2012 at 06:40 PM
So, you are saying that throughout the entire process of priestly formation you didn't give your superiors any indication at all that you preferred to spend your life with a woman? All 120,000 of you? Did anybody ask?

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