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Wednesday, May 13, 2009

“Subject: Why is there an Anglican Use Mass at your parish?”

I received this note from the website

and thought you might be interested in it and my response

“Subject: Why is there an Anglican Use Mass at your parish?”

“I am writing because I’m wondering why y’all think that it is a good idea to have the Anglican Use Mass at your Parish.  I mean I’m not a regular Catholic but the word on the street is that you are having a bunch of ultraconservative white people come trapsing (sic) into your church on Sunday morning who couldn’t care less about what is going on in your community.  I mean what do people in your neighborhood think about this, or do you really care?”

Dear ____:  A little controversy can be a good thing, but I do not expect that rumors and negativity will easily sway this parish from our commitment to worshiping God, serving our neighbors and working for justice.  You may not realize that Anglo-Catholicism has a very long tradition of social justice involvement and has the reputation of being unafraid to go into the slums in London and poor areas around the world.  For example, St. Mary’s – the Anglo-Catholic parish in Kansas City – was in the red-light district and still serves the urban poor.  Anglo-Catholic parishes have attracted the very rich as well as the very poor.

            People from outside the parish should certainly ask this same question about any of our Masses, “Why do they do things that way when we don’t do things that way at our neighborhood parish?”  We can ask those questions about each other, and for those with open minds there are very good answers.  Each of our Masses is liturgically ultra, but ultra in different ways.  We are all Catholics. We are not boring.  We are different, and if we weren’t different, there would be no reason for us to be here. 

            St. Therese has found a mission in welcoming people into our parish community who do not fit at their local parish.  Whoever is informing you about those coming to our 11:15 Mass is misinformed. The director of the Human Rights Office of the diocese is a member of this parish and attends that Mass.  People who attend that Mass volunteered for our parish Christmas Basket program, contribute the parish’s Emergency Assistance Fund, and support the 64130 Holy Ground service. The core group of our Anglican Use Mass will tell you about St. Therese’s warm and healing welcome and  they now extend that welcome to others.  As long as we stay focused on serving our neighbors, welcoming the outcast, and worshiping God, I think we will meet the purposes for which this parish exists. Very few of our members at any of our Masses live in this neighborhood, but our members from outside our neighborhood make it possible to continue to serve the residents of the neighborhood.  I welcome them, and hope there will be many more. 

I hope you will come visit sometime.

Fr. Ernie

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

"Are you a real priest?"

I was back in Fernandina Beach for Aunt Kathleen’s funeral several weeks ago.  My sons and Keen’s other great-nephews were her pall bearers.  After they carried her casket up the long flight of stairs at the entrance of Memorial Methodist Church a couple of hours before the funeral was to begin, I invited them to walk downtown to get a cup of coffee.  They stood out from the crowd, dressed in their blazers or suits, especially compared to everyone else dressed in Florida casual style.  I didn’t consider how I stood out, dressed in clerics.  

The barista stared at me when I said, “I’ll get the coffee for everyone here who is wearing a tie.” 

“Are you a real priest,” she asked me?  “This isn’t for a movie or anything?”  I assured her that I am that this was not.  Her astonished response to my assurance that I am a priest and this was not a movie flabbergasted me.  “I’ve never seen a real priest before.  And I am Catholic!”