21 October 2009

Twenty-five Years in the Making: Welcome Home, Ecclesia Anglicana

TE DEUM laudamus!

Like all other Catholic members of Anglican Use parishes in the USA, I have been so ecstatically happy over the announcement from the Holy See that my feet have yet to touch the ground. I had expected a generous response to the petition by Archbishop Hepworth and the TAC, but what we are receiving in this Apostolic Constitution is so much more than any of us have allowed ourselves to imagine that it seems the stuff of dreams.

But Praise be to God! this is reality, and the Holy Father, who knows us well, has heard our cries for a simple structure in which our Anglican Heritage as part of the Catholic patrimony may continue to grow and flower within the garden of Holy Mother Church. Already today I have had two friends ask if the announcements in Rome and London really took place yesterday. Yes, they most certainly did. We live in an unimagined period of Church history where the Pope has acted prophetically as the good father who runs to welcome home the prodigal son! Hallelujah!

I am moved to think especially of my dear friend Fr. James T. Moore, PhD, who twenty-five years ago was ordained a Catholic priest under the Pastoral Provision of Pope John Paul the Great. Fr. Moore poured his life into the establishment of Our Lady of Walsingham Catholic Church in Houston, Texas. I pray that this announcement from the Holy See will be to Father Moore a confirmation of the value, validity, and surpassing worth of all of his efforts over the 25 years since his ordination in the Catholic Church.

I shall say it very simply: I and my parents would not have been reconciled to the Church but that Fr. Moore was the very ambassador of Christ for us. I know many, many former Anglicans and Lutherans who feel the same way about Father Moore: he led us Home to safety in Christ's Church.

After I entered the Church and my health collapsed, Fr. Moore continued to support and encourage me. And in his retirement, as my health has rather more precipitously declined, Fr. Moore has offered Masses for me and continues to pray for my healing. I have never known a priest to be as kind and generous as Fr. Moore, and while I have met many marvellous priests in the Catholic Church I shall always carry in my heart the firm conviction that Fr. Moore is one of those rare priests like St. John Vianney who inspire you to strive for the holiness of Christ and who lead you into the loving arms of the Holy Virgin.

So with all of the celebrations afoot I pause to give God hearty thanks for Fr. Moore who with Fr. Ramsey (our current pastor of Our Lady of Walsingham) started our Anglican Use parish 25 years ago. I am convinced that the Anglican Use parishes in Texas -- Fr. Christopher Phillips, Our Lady of the Atonement, San Antonio; Our Lady of Walsingham, Houston; and, Fr. Allan Hawkins, St. Mary the Virgin, Arlington -- provided the proof of the pudding, so to speak, when the Holy See looked at the Pastoral Provision experiment in the States and decided to expand those provisions and apply them worldwide through the new Apostolic Constitution (the highest form of law that can be decreed in the Catholic Church).

I invite you, gentle reader, to give God thanks for Fr. Moore whether you know him or not because through him so many have been reconciled to the Catholic Church. And if you are rejoicing over the new Apostolic Constitution and the ordinariates, remember with joy Fr. Moore and the faithful priests, deacons, and laity who set down the foundations for this Apostolic Consitution through hard work and untold sacrifices over the last twenty-five years in the parishes, mission, and congregations of the Pastoral Provision in the USA.
+Laus Deo.