Pastoral Letter from the Ordinary

Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ

I hope you have enjoyed the wonderful season of Christmas as individuals, as families and, of course, as worshipping communities of the Ordinariate of Our Lady of Walsingham. As we begin a new calendar year we also mark 7 years since the Ordinariate was erected on 15th January 2011; much has been achieved, while much remains to be done. There have been many encouraging signs over the past twelve months. We established our first personal parish in Torbay and have raised the money to build a proper presbytery within one of the existing church halls on the site of our church there. We have strengthened our presence in the north of England with new initiatives in York and in South Manchester.

A highlight last year was the Ordination of ten deacons at St James, Spanish Place in London. Two of those deacons, Simon Beveridge and Cameron Macdonald, have already been ordained priest to help with the growing Ordinariate mission in Scotland and they joined Fr Ian Westby as our new priests in 2017. The remaining eight men will be ordained priest on 30th June at the Birmingham Oratory, and I hope as many of our people as possible will be there to support these men as they take this important step.

The Ordinations are not the only thing to look forward to this year. Our first Lay Conference will take place at Worth Abbey in August. The Ordinaries from North America and from Australia will be visiting Britain in October and a programme of meetings and events is being planned. In September the Catholic Church in England and Wales is holding a National Eucharistic Congress in Liverpool, the first such national event since 1908 and I hope that the Ordinariate will have a strong presence. Please speak to your priest for more details of these events.
This year also marks a significant milestone in the life of the Ordinariate of Our Lady of Walsingham as the first Governing Council completes its term of office later in the year. The Governing Council advises me on all aspects of the pastoral activities of the Ordinariate and will draw up a short-list of names to present to Rome for my successor as Ordinary when that time comes. A new Council will be elected in the summer and it be will its task to help me put policies and structures in place to move the Ordinariate from being a new expression of the Catholic church in this country, to being an established partner in the Church’s mission. Of course, the Ordinariate will not grow through our structures but through each and every member of the Ordinariate – lay and clergy – being faithful and committed to Pope Benedict XVI’s prophetic ecumenical vision.

One distinguishing mark of a mature organisation is that it properly finances its activities. I know that the faithful of the Ordinariate are generous givers and your support is at a level that most diocesan parishes would envy. I thank you for this with all my heart and ask you to continue to do so as unlike the dioceses we have no endowments that we can draw upon. Similarly most of our groups are committed to meeting their obligations in financing the national activities of the Ordinariate. Our central costs are remarkably low but they must be met through the contributions of the groups and missions in exactly the same way as the regular Catholic parishes are required to fund their own diocese’s central costs. The beginning of a new year is a good time prayerfully to review your own contribution.

For the Ordinariate to flourish we do need to focus on additional fundraising for some particular objectives. You will be aware that Catholic parishes have regular second collections. Some of these are universal such as ‘Peters’ pence’ and the Good Friday collection for the Holy Places; some are mandated by the bishops of England and Wales and others by the local diocese. To date we have not had any specific Ordinariate second collections. The Governing Councils has now decided to ask all Ordinariate groups to hold just three second collections each year. Later in the year – around the feasts of St Augustine of Canterbury in May and Our Lady of Walsingham in October there will be collections for the Clergy Training Fund and for the Clergy Relief Trust. The Clergy Training Fund supports the costs of training new clergy to serve in the Ordinariate – something that is essential to its continued existence. The Clergy Relief Trust is a separate charity to support the clergy of the Ordinariate and their dependents in ill-health or retirement – this will become increasingly important as our many of younger priests will not have a Church of England pension to fall back on.

Firstly, though, I am asking you to give generously to a new fund – the Ordinariate Families Fund. Those of our clergy with families suffered particularly when they gave up their Church of England posts. There was the move from their family home to accommodation that might not be particularly satisfactory for family life or in very good repair. There was the disruption to schooling or the extra time and cost of getting children to school from their new locations. Less obvious was the loss of access to sources of additional support that were available to clergy in the Church of England. There are no such funds for Ordinariate Clergy families. The Ordinariate Families Fund seeks, in a small way, to begin to fill this gap. It will be formally launched in the early part of the year and we have already set up a restricted fund and sought grants to begin to resource it. If this fund is to be of any real benefit we will need people to give generously to it. The date set for this second collection is the Sunday nearest to January 15th, the anniversary of the founding of the Ordinariate. Falling as it does, close to the feast of the Epiphany when we recall the gifts of the Magi to the Christ Child I hope that this collection will be generously supported by the faithful of the Ordinariate, so that those who have given up much to serve in the Ordinariate may be supported.

With prayers best wishes for 2018
Yours sincerely in Christ

Monsignor Keith Newton

Epiphany 2018

    A statement from Fr Neil

    This weekend Fr Barry Anderson is announcing his retirement as parish priest of Christ the King, Langney, and will leave the parish at the end of January.

    Although there are still some details to be sorted, Bishop Richard, with the permission of Mgr Keith, has asked me to be Parish Priest of Christ the King. This will obviously have an impact upon the Ordinariate mission here in Eastbourne and hopefully allows for greater development of the mission.

    It is a slightly strange situation because although I’ll be ministering my diocesan duties at the Christ the King my Ordinariate duties will still entail, amongst other things, mass on Sunday at 4pm at St Agnes and on Monday night, 7.30pm, at Our Lady of Ransom. What will be new for the Ordinariate is that the 5pm Saturday vigil mass at Christ the King will be an Ordinariate mass as well.

    I would like to convey a deep sense of thanksgiving for the support the parish has given me over the last six years in the transition into the Roman Catholic Church and the space to explore and express the gifts of the Ordinariate.

    I ask that you continue to hold me and the Eastbourne Ordinariate Mission in your prayers, as I begin this new venture.

      Red Wednesday

      This evening, 22nd November there will be an Ordinariate Use Mass at Our Lady of Ransom Church on Grange Road at 7:30pm. This mass is being held to support “Red Wednesday,” a compaign by Aid to the Church in Need to highlight the plight of persecuted Christians around the world. As the charity highlights on their website Christians today are the largest faith group to suffer persecution. The Red comes from the colour of the blood shed. It is the colour the Church uses to celebrate the feast of any Martyr. ACN is asking Catholics to go to one extra Mass this week “for someone who can’t.” The intention for the mass is those who are persecuted for their faith and all are invited to wear something red. There will be a retiring collection for ACN.

        Sacrament of Reconciliation

        ConfessionFrom Sunday 12 November, Confessions and the Sacrament of Reconciliation will be routinely offered 3:00–3:30pm, before Mass, rather than afterwards. Clergy are also available as published in the diocesan parish newsletter (usually on Saturdays, at Our Lady of Ransom 11:30am–12:30pm and 5:15–5:45pm, and after the 4pm Saturday Mass at S Agnes), and by appointment.

        Bishops’ statement on abortion

        This statement , published by the Catholic Bishops of England, Wales and Scotland, on the occasion of the 50th anniversary of the 1967 UK Abortion Act, is addressed not only to Catholics of our countries, but more broadly to all people who seek to uphold the dignity of human life and protect the unborn child. Over the last fifty years, the bishops of our countries, along with many other people, have spoken consistently in favour of the intrinsic value of human life and both the good of the child in the womb and the good of the mother. This anniversary provides an opportunity to lament the loss of life due to abortion and seek a change of minds and hearts about the good of the child in the womb and the care of mothers who are pregnant.

        Fifty years ago, few envisaged the possibility of that there would be almost 200,000 abortions in Great Britain in 2015. Every abortion is a tragedy and few consider that abortion is the desirable or best solution to a pregnancy, which may be challenging on account of many different factors. The complex set of conditions in which a woman finds herself pregnant and may consider having an abortion may limit the exercise of freedom and diminish moral culpability. When abortion is the choice made by a woman, the unfailing mercy of God and the promise of forgiveness through the Sacrament of Reconciliation are always available. There is always a way home to a deeper relationship with God and the Church, as recent Popes have emphasised, which can heal and bring peace.

        Today the language of ‘choice’ dominates discourse about marriage, gender, family and abortion. This needs further exploration. Choice has come to mean doing whatever I feel to be right for me — a very subjective view of the good — rather than taking into account a wider set of fundamental values. This is a very inadequate understanding of free choice, which requires an education in important truths about what is truly good and the possibility of other options. In this case, these must include the good of the unborn child, care and support for pregnant mothers, and the responsibility of the father.

        This statement presents a number of different challenges for the future: a new understanding of the intrinsic value and worth of every human life in the womb, a better protection of unborn children diagnosed with a disability, a great need for education in moral responsibility about human sexuality and the meaning of sexual expression within marriage. Many professionals face the challenge that respect for conscientious objection against abortion has been eroded. Personal conscience is inviolable and nobody should be forced to act against his or her properly informed conscience on these matters. We encourage greater debate about this right and these challenges in our society.

        Finally we thank many people, of religious faith and none, who have sought to protect unborn life and the life of the mother over the last fifty years; mothers who have continued their pregnancies in difficult circumstances, politicians who have sought to reform the legislation to better protect unborn life, those people whose prayers have been offered for greater respect to be shown to the wonder of the life in the womb, for mothers and those whose lives are cut short by abortion. Together let us better cherish life.

        Full statement

        Editorial note: The image which accompanies references to this post on social media is by Lennart Nilsson in his collection A Child is Born and was not included in the bishops’ statement.

          Annual Report 2016/17

          The diocesan parish of Our Lady of Ransom with St Agnes and St Gregory held its AGM on Thursday 20 July. We presented a report of our activities for their information.

          For the last eighteen months we have been using Divine Worship on a Monday evening at 7:30pm, at OLR. This is the Ordinariate Use Missal that draws on Anglican prayer, the Extraordinary Form and the Novus Ordo, all united in traditional language. It is beautiful to pray and has been fruitful in aiding prayer and worship.

          Since Advent this liturgical year, we have also used Divine Worship at the Sunday afternoon Mass at St Agnes. This is a sung Mass. Some have found the transition difficult, while others have found it has deepened their experience of the Mass and have been drawn to it.

          In February, we had a group retreat to Bournemouth, which was such a great success that we have booked up to go again. During this week we walked, prayed and ate together, and it was good to make contact with the Ordinariate group there too. We made one-day trip to the New Forest, where most of us ended up in a tea salon with teapots that poured from the bottom! For one day we were joined by Fr James Bradley, an Ordinariate priest currently based in Southampton. He recently completed a doctorate on Divine Worship, and was able to share some of his insights and give a wider perspective to its history and use.

          We have had four young people confirmed this last year, with Mgr Keith presiding. A few months before this, Mac was also confirmed and took his First Holy Communion aged 91! We will be looking to begin another confirmation course later this year.

          More recently, there has been our annual pilgrimage to England’s Nazareth in Walsingham. This year we began with sprinkling in the Priory grounds before our procession to the Shrine and Mass in the Ordinariate Use. The pilgrimage will take place on the same weekend next year (23–24 June) and is open to any who wish to reconnect with our own native shrine to Our Lady.

          We continue to seek to encourage the use of Morning and Evening Prayer as a foundation for our prayer life. We have a sung Compline once a month at OLR on Sunday evenings at 8pm. We will aim to get this in the parish diary so that more people can experience its sheer beauty.

          We are hoping in the near future to have training on singing plainchant, and something should be appearing in the newsletter about that. We will be able to forward details in due course.

          The 4pm Mass community continues to work alongside the parish as cleaners, flower arrangers, extraordinary ministers, servers and readers at weekday masses. Our members also provide support with music on Sunday mornings and we have also worked together contributing to evening celebrations for major feasts and solemnities.

          PDF version of this report