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