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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 St. Patrick Catholic Church 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.”

Johannes de Silentio July 07, 2012 at 04:23 AM
Ex-nun, Meggy. And the fact that the Catholic Church welcomed her back after she left the convent to get married, have kids and join another church kind of leads me to wonder what Jim Capo's point was. And you should be wondering what he's talking about, too, instead of dumping on me. And once again, welcome to all the new Catholics, including Meggy's ex-nun friend...
MeggyMeg July 09, 2012 at 01:51 PM
Oops, so sorry Johannes! I meant to reply to Jim, but was typing on my phone and apparently got confused. Technology fail! Anyway, thanks for the correction! =)
Miguel F. July 10, 2012 at 05:51 PM
She is the head of a whole church which is in communion with her, not with the Pope. The day she wants to be accepted in full communion, I think nobody would oppose, but that would clearly mean the end of the Anglican church as it was founded. "The canon law of the Church of England states, "We acknowledge that the Queen’s most excellent Majesty, acting according to the laws of the realm, is the highest power under God in this kingdom, and has supreme authority over all persons in all causes, as well ecclesiastical as civil.""... Guess what happens if she asked to be catholic. Besides, how do u excommunicate a non-catholic? How do u de-excommunicate her?
Sanctus Veritas September 03, 2012 at 04:56 PM
Bartus came from St. Mary of the Angels Hollywood. Google it to see what kind of problems you may be in for. He was intimately involved with the strife. Perhaps the Catholic Church can humble him. I wish his parishioners (and Fr. Bartus himself) much luck ... God Bless!
Enzeder September 09, 2012 at 07:30 PM
Yes, I think Fr. Bartus was well prepared for the Ordinariate..Married, a child and ordained an Anglican Priest less than a year before joining the Ordinariate. Coincidence? I think not, cleverly planned to get the benefits of both churches.

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