Msgr. Carl Reid giving communion after his ordination in 2013 Photos courtesy Msgr. Carl Reid

Canadian’s future heading Down Under

  • April 26, 2019

OTTAWA - Msgr. Carl Reid, a married Catholic priest, expected to retire in his adopted home of Victoria, B.C., in another six years or so, but Pope Francis had other plans for him and his wife.

Those plans will uproot him from everything comfortable yet keep him on a trajectory of fostering Christian unity and Catholic faith that he began when he was an Anglican concerned about the direction of his denomination.

On March 26, Pope Francis named Reid, 68, as the new ordinary of the Personal Ordinariate of Our Lady of the Southern Cross in Australia, a diocesan-like structure to serve former Anglicans now in full communion with the Catholic Church.

His reaction, and that of his wife Barb, was “Shock, disbelief, why me? It was simply not in our frame of reference.”

“It took a lot of prayer, a lot of sleepless nights, but here we are and so, I’m prepared to serve as Mother Church has called me to serve,” he said.

On Aug. 27, Reid will be installed as ordinary of POOLSC in the Cathedral of St. Mary in Sydney, Australia. He will have all the jurisdiction of a bishop and be able to wear a mitre and carry a crozier, but as a married priest he cannot become a bishop and ordain priests.

Pope Benedict XVI’s historic 2009 Apostolic Constitution Anglicanorum coetibus paved the way for the erection of the ordinariates.

Reid has been serving as pastor of the North American Personal Ordinariate of the Chair of St. Peter (POCSP) parish of Blessed John Henry Newman in Victoria and as Dean of the Canadian Deanery of St. John Baptist of the POCSP.

Prior to moving to Victoria in 2014, Reid had served as suffragan (auxiliary) bishop of the Anglican Catholic Church of Canada (ACCC) in Ottawa from June 2007 to April 2012, when he brought his small flock into the Catholic Church on Divine Mercy Sunday. In January 2013 he was ordained a Catholic priest.

Reid grew up in the Anglican Church of Canada, serving at the altar and singing in the choir, but once he started studying engineering at Queen’s University, he drifted away from attending church. “I had hit the pause button,” he said.

After graduation, with a degree in geological engineering with a specialty in micro-paleontology, he moved to Victoria because he had fallen in love with the west coast on a previous visit.

“I didn’t even have a job,” he said. “But you can do that if all your possessions fit into two boxes.”

He eventually found a job in civil engineering, wrote another thesis and became registered as a civil engineer.

“The company I worked for had a bunch of active Christians,” he said.

“A lot of people tend to think people involved in the empirical sciences don’t gravitate towards Christianity. That certainly wasn’t true in my experience.”

They encouraged him to go back to church. “All I needed was a little push and they were there to do it.”

Reid discovered the Anglican Church had plans to change the Book of Common Prayer (BCP) and the sacrament of holy orders. He hadn’t realized how “near and dear to me” the words of the BCP were from his childhood. “And now they were going to take them away.”

In 1977, he joined about 2,000 Anglo-Catholics concerned about the direction of the Episcopal and Anglican Churches over changes to the prayer book and over the ordination of women in St. Louis for a historic congress.

The Congress of St. Louis issued the Affirmation of St. Louis, a document that affirmed a desire for unity with all that share the Catholic and Apostolic faith. It also marked the birth of the so-called Continuing Anglican movement that saw bodies break away from the national Anglican churches that were dashing long-held Anglo-Catholic hopes for unity with the Catholic Church.

Reid and others joined a Continuing Anglican body for North America, from which later formed the Anglican Catholic Church of Canada.

After the formation of the ACCC, Reid began getting nudged by priests and bishops who told him, “I think you have a vocation to the priesthood.”

“I said, ‘Look, unless I get a direct call from the Almighty, I don’t believe you,’ ” Reid said.

That call came during a sermon at a synod of the new Continuing Anglican church in Edmonton on “the importance of not only a bishop but of any clergy to be a good shepherd to his flock,” Reid said. “I was completely convicted.”

After the sermon, Reid, who was in the choir trying to sing both the alto and the tenor parts, “suddenly stopped singing.”

“The choir director looked up and thought, ‘Something’s happened to Carl!’ ”

On the flight back to Vancouver, where he was then living, he had “the profound sense I wasn’t going home,” he said.

He soon had two job offers in Ottawa, moved there and began studying for the priesthood in 1986. He was ordained a deacon in 1988, a priest in 1990, and subsequently a suffragan bishop in 2007.

In 1998, he met his future wife at a dinner party organized by one of his neighbours on Easter Day. A year and a half later, they married at Knox Presbyterian Church.

It was the “hottest day of the summer,” and the incense used for the ceremony set off the fire alarms, he said. “In marrying later in life, the first time for both of us, we were not subsequently blessed with children — at least not biological children.”

As a married Catholic priest, however, Reid is not agitating for the Latin Church to change her discipline regarding clerical celibacy. “Anglicanorum coetibus explicitly states that clerical celibacy remains the norm in the Catholic Church, while making provision for married Anglican clergymen to become Catholic priests,” he said. “I understand and support the Church’s ratio for clerical celibacy.”

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