Hamilton Bishop Douglas Crosby, centre, welcomed this group of Anglicans into the Catholic Church in a ceremony at Hamilton’s Cathedral of Christ the King Jan. 1. Photo courtesy of the diocese of Hamilton

K-W Anglicans welcomed into the Catholic Church

By  Tony Gosgnach, Catholic Register Special
  • January 11, 2012

KITCHENER, ONT. - The new year meant a new beginning for a group of Anglicans from Kitchener-Waterloo, Ont.

On Jan. 1, 12 individuals from that area were received as a community into full communion in the Roman Catholic Church during an Anglican Use-rite Mass at the Cathedral of Christ the King in Hamilton. The liturgy was presided over by Bishop Douglas Crosby and celebrated by their former priest-mentor, now chaplain, Fr. William Foote. The group made a profession of faith and received the sacraments of Confirmation and the Eucharist.

Now known as the Sodality of St. Edmund, King and Martyr, under the oversight of the diocese of Hamilton initially, they become the second community of Canadian Anglicans to be so received, following St. John the Evangelist in Calgary, which entered the Church on Dec. 18.

For Gary Freeman, one of the 12, the event marked the completion of a long journey that began in 1977 when he left the Anglican Church of Canada because of its ordination of women as clergy to join what was then called a “continuing Anglican” parish. Subsequent years saw the Anglican Church adopt more liberal positions on issues such as abortion, homosexuality and same-sex marriage as Freeman went in search of a spiritual home. He became a congregant in the Antiochian Orthodox Church, attended Roman Catholic churches as a non-Catholic and then joined the Anglican Catholic Church of Canada.

The goal of the ACCC was always to end up becoming part of the Roman Catholic Church, said Freeman, and on Jan. 1, his group accomplished that objective.

“We’re looking forward to working with the bishop and doing what he’d like us to do,” he said.

Because of relatively small numbers of Canadian Anglicans so far seeking to join the Catholic Church as communities — although many join as individuals — it is thought that St. Edmund’s will eventually become part of a U.S. Anglican ordinariate, which was also officially begun on Jan. 1. Crosby indicated such in a statement released prior to the Mass in Hamilton, but Neil MacCarthy, director of public relations and communications with the archdiocese of Toronto, said nothing has yet been formalized.

“Unfortunately … we don’t have all the answers yet,” MacCarthy wrote in an e-mail. “Some of the decisions still have not yet been made, so it’s a little premature to announce the structure for Canada. While the U.S.A. has moved forward with it, to this point, Canada is still finalizing some of the key details.”

The current setup, however, suits Freeman and his community fine.

“From our point of view, it doesn’t matter. We’re in the Catholic Church and we don’t really care where our ordinary is. There is no urgency.”

St. Edmund’s has begun worshipping at Foote’s parish in Cambridge, with its own altar for Anglican Use-rite Masses. Those Masses were approved through a pastoral provision by Pope John Paul II and maintain features of the Anglican heritage and patrimony, including forms of prayer and music.

The community has a building fund underway and will work toward obtaining a permanent facility of its own once numbers and finances warrant it.

Msgr. Murray Kroetsch, vicar-general for the diocese of Hamilton, said the new sodality will have Foote as “a priest who can be their chaplain and can assist them until such a time as they are part of an ordinariate … once an ordinariate is established, a priest will be assigned or they will have a priest who will actually pastor them.”

The entire process was made possible by the issuance by the Holy See in November 2009 of the Apostolic Constitution Anglicanorum Coetibus (“Groups of Anglicans”) and its accompanying norms, which established a new structure within the Catholic Church to allow Anglicans who become Catholics to keep their liturgical, musical, spiritual and pastoral traditions.

Anglicanorum Coetibus is being received with varying reviews by other Anglicans who have broken off from the Anglican Church of Canada but remain in the Anglican union worldwide. Bishop Trevor Walters oversees Western Canada for the Anglican Network in Canada, which consists of Anglican churches that left to affiliate with a South American diocese mainly over the Anglicans’ blessing of same-sex unions.

“I think we’re only too glad to see groups like the ones in Calgary and Kitchener find a home. That’s a really good thing,” he said. “The folk in England have had mixed reactions to the ordinariate in the UK (founded in January 2011). Some have felt it was too forward, as it were, and if perhaps the reverse had happened … that would not have been seen to be too politically sensitive.”

(Gosgnach is a freelance writer in Hamilton, Ont.)

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