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Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Coming Home

The vestry of Mount Calvary Church (Episcopal), a small but historic Anglo-Catholic parish in Baltimore, has voted unanimously in favor of two resolutions: first, to leave the Episcopal Church and second, to become an Anglican Use parish in the Holy Catholic Church under terms of Anglicanorum Coetibus, the apostolic constitution announced last year by the Vatican that provides for "personal ordinariates for Anglicans entering full communion with the Catholic Church," while allowing them to retain most elements of Anglican worship using a modified version of the Book of Common Prayer.

The rector of Mount Calvary, the Rev'd Jason Cantania, has sent his parishioners a letter (posted below) announcing a special meeting on October 24th at which the vestry's resolutions will be voted upon by the parish. Fr. Catania writes: "The result of these developments is that the Archdiocese of Baltimore now stands ready to welcome Mount Calvary as a body into full communion with the successor of St. Peter, and the process of establishing ordinariates in various countries, including the United States, has begun."

While certainly a dramatic move, the impact of Mount Calvary's departure for Rome remains to be seen. The number of Anglo-Catholics in the United States has always been relatively small and after thirty-some years of increasing heterodoxy in the Episcopal Church, many of those not having gone theologically "soft" have already left, most to breakaway Anglican churches, a few to Rome. Not all, though, and I can think of celebrated Anglo-Catholic parishes in Philadelphia, New York and elsewhere that will regard with great interest the doings of Mount Calvary. Ultimately, however, I suspect most of them, having a visceral dislike of the Holy Catholic Church, will elect to accommodate the Episcopal Church's continuing innovations--or simply look the other way--and stick it out until the bitter end.

Liturgy and music loving Catholics in the Baltimore area, however, should rejoice at Mount Calvary's impending Tiber crossing for that church is celebrated for both. Since there are not many Roman parishes in the region for which the same may be claimed, I predict average Sunday attendance at Mount Calvary will rise more than a little if the church becomes an Anglican Use parish.

It is my understanding the Episcopal Diocese of Maryland, while saddened by Mount Calvary's decision, has indicated, happily, its willingness to negotiate an amicable separation that will permit the parish to keep its property. It is also believed there will not be objections from 815 Second Avenue in New York in as much Mount Calvary is leaving for Rome, not another Anglican entity. Let us pray it is so.



September 21, 2010

Dear Friends in Christ,

I write today to inform you of a special meeting of the Congregation of Mount Calvary Church which has been called by the Vestry for Sunday, October 24, following the 10:00 am Solemn Mass. The purpose of this meeting is to vote on two resolutions which have been unanimously approved by the Vestry. They are as follows:

Resolved: In accordance with Article 12 of the amendment to the Charter of Mount Calvary Church, Baltimore, adopted April 10, 1967, the Vestry of Mount Calvary Church hereby determines that The Episcopal Church (formerly known as the “Protestant Episcopal Church in the United States of America”) has clearly, substantially, and fundamentally changed its doctrine, discipline and worship, and that Mount Calvary Church should become separate from and independent of The Episcopal Church. The Vestry therefore calls for a special meeting of the Congregation of Mount Calvary Church to be held on Sunday, October 24, 2010, following the 10:00 AM Mass, to affirm and enact this resolution.

Resolved: That Mount Calvary Church, upon separation from The Episcopal Church, seek to become an Anglican Use parish of the Roman Catholic Church.

Most of you are fully aware of the history which has brought us to this point. That history extends all the way back to the 19th century, when Mount Calvary became well-known, throughout Maryland and throughout the Episcopal Church, for its adherence to Catholic faith and practice. Indeed, to some it was notorious for its “popish” ways, and in fact for many clergy and people over the years (including two of my predecessors as rector), Mount Calvary has been their last stop before “crossing the Tiber”. The immediate process which brings us to this historic moment began with a Vestry retreat in October 2007, where it was decided unanimously that Mount Calvary should explore the possibility of becoming part of the Roman Catholic Church. Since then, two crucial events have occurred. The first was the reception of the All Saints Sisters of the Poor, our own parish sisters, into the Catholic Church in September 2009. The second was the announcement the following month of Anglicanorum Coetibus, the Apostolic Constitution calling for the creation of “personal ordinariates” (essentially non-geographical dioceses) for groups of Anglicans entering the Roman Catholic Church while retaining elements of their tradition. The result of these developments is that the Archdiocese of Baltimore now stands ready to welcome Mount Calvary as a body into full communion with the successor of St. Peter, and the process of establishing ordinariates in various countries, including the United States, has begun.

While I know that the vast majority of you are enthusiastic about making this transition, I realize that some may still have questions and concerns about the prospect of entering the Roman Catholic Church. In the weeks ahead, prior to the congregational meeting, I will invite a series of guests to speak about their experience of life in the Catholic Church and to answer questions. Some of these guests will be well-known to you; indeed they will include former parishioners and clergy of Mount Calvary. I think all of them will be helpful in allaying any fears there may be.

Let me conclude by saying how truly grateful I am to be leading Mount Calvary Church at this moment in time. When I became your rector over four years ago, I had not the faintest idea that this would be the journey we would take together. Nonetheless, there is not a doubt in my mind that this is the work of the Holy Spirit and truly the will of God, not simply for me, but for Mount Calvary. This is not about rejecting our past and our heritage, but rather fulfilling it. We have before us the opportunity to carry with us the richness of the Anglican tradition into full communion with the wider Catholic Church. I therefore ask that each of you pray that God’s will be done in this place which we all love so dearly as we approach this momentous decision.

Yours in Christ,

The Rev’d Jason Catania, SSC


The young fogey said...

I can think of celebrated Anglo-Catholic parishes in Philadelphia, New York and elsewhere that will regard with great interest the doings of Mount Calvary.

Quoting another:

I have my doubts this is true. This isn't a world I keep up with anymore, but I can't think of an Anglo-Catholic parish in New York or Philadelphia (one still Episcopalian, that is) that isn't in the tank with all the innovations, one of which was the official ecclesial approval of a way of life that has longed marked many of these parishes. There aren't many parishes like Mt. Calvary left.

K. Töpfer (aka Martial Artist) said...

What a wonderful piece of news. And I very much like the rector's statement that "... the process of establishing ordinariates in various countries, including the United States, has begun."

Glory to God,

Keith Töpfer

Robbo said...

When I began to realize that I was on the wrong side of the Tiber, I briefly considered trying out St. Andrew and St. Margaret of Scotland Anglican Catholic Church down in Alexandria, Virginny ( as a possible intermediate step.

I never actually made it there, but it has a reputation for strict orthodoxy (1928 Prayer Book and all that). I got thinking of it again after reading this article and wondering whether it would be another prime candidate for wholesale transfer.

The young fogey said...

Probably not, Robbo. American Anglo-Catholicism never was that Roman Catholic-minded and the Anglican Catholic Church is very much in that Charles Grafton mode. Believers in their version of the English 'Reformation' and very anti-Roman.

I still think it's ironic that an outfit called the Traditional Anglican Communion (which makes me think of black scarves, the Black Rubric and quarterly Communion services) wants to go to Rome and the Anglican Catholic Church (which sounds like a possible name for AU/ordinariate parishes, like 'the Slovak Catholic church in town' or 'the Ukrainian Catholic church in town') doesn't.

+ Peter said...

American Anglo-Catholicism has always been an interesting mix of Anglophilia, Tridentine ceremonial, catholic theology, and Prayer Book worship that is rather more complex than its UK counterpart. This isn't the place for full scale essay on the phenomomen, but there have always been ANGLO-catholics and anglo-CATHOLICS. Indeed, in the days before it was sold to the establishment, the friction between the two tendancies kept the pages of the 'Church Times' moderately interesting. In the USA, the former have always been more numerous than the latter, which is probably why Continuing Anglican has proved such a popular third way here, whilst gaining comparitively little traction in the UK.

Most of the parishes that are interested in the Ordinariates come from the anglo-CATHOLIC strand. Mount Calvary, apart from a brief flirtation with the mainstream, has always been within this tradition. I think that what they plan to do is a lgical outgrowth of their theology and spirituality, but one that some other Anglo-Catholics - myself included -would find difficult to emulate.

I often wonder whether the ACC/APCK/UECNA, who are committed to finding unity with one another as Continuing Anglicans will eventually reach out to the remaining orthodox Old Catholics and eventually to Orthodoxy, rather than Rome. At the moment I am sufficiently preoccupied with working towards unity between the UECNA and its two sisters, that wider ventures are not really on the radar screen.

+Peter D. Robinson
Atchbishop of the Unied Episcopal Church of North America

The young fogey said...

All I can add to the bishop's observations is American ACism is what I call the 'Masterpiece Theatre' phenomenon: old-fashioned script made and discarded in England but loved in America by anglophiles.

The mixture of Tridentine ceremonial and Prayer Book text - and Catholic but non-papal theology - would freak out 1950s Roman Catholics. To them it'd be what another wag has called Bruce Lee liturgy for its 'dubbed' feel: like a Tridentine Mass dubbed with the sound from a Protestant service.

That said, it works IMO because despite his heresy (sorry, Bishop) Cranmer still shared a general 16th-century Godward worldview with the Catholic Church.

I first experienced full ACism this way, not at a gay shrine parish. Holdout 1940s priest; sort of the best of old RCism and old Episcopalianism rolled into one. Lots of RC statues, Stations, confessionals, votive-candle stands and holy-water stoups but also 1928 (probably American Missal on the altar), the Hymnal 1940, a married straight priest and coffee hour, in an old middle-to-working-class neighbourhood. (The parish is now gone.) I imagine parts of the Midwest were like that.

The Bovina Bloviator said...

Fogey, I can relate to your last comment: it was Maundy Thursday three years ago in my former A-C church (which was much like the one you describe) that in the midst of the undeniable splendor I suddenly got an overwhelming feeling of emptiness, that all the elaborate goings on were for naught.

I realized then and there my Episcopal/A-C days were numbered and it wasn't long afterward I wrote to a Catholic priest.

The Bovina Bloviator said...

Paul Goings, your oft submitted comment concerns a subject I don't wish discussed on this blog. That is why I keep deleting it.