In the sunshine, yesterday, priests and laity from Ordinaraite groups along the south coast gathered for mass at Greyfriars church in Priory Park, Chichester. Built in 1269, the chapel was originally a Franciscan Priory until the dissolution of the monasteries. Since then it has been the town hall, a court building, used for the army and a museum. Now owned by the local council, many of us made the trek to celebrate the first Catholic mass in the building since the Reformation.

The chancel is all that is left of the original priory buildings.


The mass was very different from the one that would have been celebrated by the original friars. Using the Book of Divine Worship and traditional Anglican hymns this mass reflected our own patrimony.



As the building is basically a stone shell everything had to be brought to it, altar, staging, vestments, flower stands. Several people worked tirelessly on Friday and Saturday to make this possible. After all that effort the building did look more like its original purpose.

As Fr Neil pointed out, the ordained members of the Ordinariate have times when they get together but the laity have less opportunity so it was good to meet people from other groups before and after mass. Those present represented Portsmouth, Isle of Wight, Chichester and of course Eastbourne!

By the end of mass we were all hungry and some of us settled down for a picnic…

while a local team played cricket on the pitch in front of us.

All in all it linked so much of who we are: English Catholics, with a faith formed in the Anglican Communion, with a mission to work for unity.