The Ordinariate of Our Lady of Walsingham has ordained 17 men to the diaconate in what the group believes is “the largest single ordination in the U.K. for many years.”
“It is wonderful to see these men ordained as deacons for service in the Catholic Church, within the Ordinariate,” said Monsignor Keith Newton, the leader of the ordinariate, after the May 26 ceremony at London’s Westminster Cathedral.
“As we continue to grow and begin our work of faithful witness to the Gospel, it is important for us all to be reminded of the charism of the deacon: proclamation, service, and Christian charity.”
All 17 men are former Anglican clergy who will be ordained in the coming months for the Catholic priesthood. Saturday’s ordinations were performed by Bishop Alan Hopes of Westminster, who is himself a former Anglican.
The celebration marks the second year of ordinations for the U.K. ordinariate, which was established by Pope Benedict in 2011 as a way of allowing Anglicans to enter into the full communion of the Catholic Church while still retaining essential elements of their liturgical and spiritual heritage. Ordinariates have also been created in the United States and Australia.
The ordination ceremony brings the total number of clergy in the ordinariate to nearly 80. A further group of diaconal ordinations is expected over the summer.
“The Church here will soon have 80 more priests than it had only a couple of years ago – 2,000 extra years of priestly ministry, I estimate, at a fraction of the normal cost – and all of us prepared to offer whatever help we can, wherever we can,” said Msgr. Andrew Burnham, the former Anglican bishop of Ebbsfleet and now an Assistant to the Ordinary, in his homily.
“Though, I must make it clear, we have rapidly learnt – If we needed to learn – we are not God’s gift to the Catholic Church. Rather, the Catholic Church is God’s gift to us – to us all – indeed, as the feast of Pentecost reminds us,” he said.
Much of the media speculation in the first years of the ordinariate has surrounded fears that a number of leading English Catholics, including some bishops, resent its creation and wish it ill.
Msgr. Burnham stated that “Catholics have a clear choice” when it comes to the ordinariate. They can either “offer wholehearted support to the Ordinariate and to the Holy Father and his express wishes” or they can “dissent, and even hope that it will fail.”
He added, though, that “the dissenters have been shown to be a dismal few” and that they had all been “amazed by the affection and enthusiasm most priests and people have shown.”