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Saturday, November 20, 2010

Our Lady of Hope/St. Therese Parish

We got into the Anglican Use ministry here at St. Therese, not because we planned it, but because an opportunity presented itself. After a couple of years of experience, it appears that it has advantages and disadvantages. For the Anglicans and Episcopalians who came to us, we have been able to offer the welcome, experience, and security of being members of a Catholic parish. Granted, St. Therese is not your typical parish with a thousand or more families, so there are programs and ministries that are not available here that could be found somewhere else. But St. Therese has been able to offer the experience of being part of a larger whole, and the experience of being in a much larger parish than most Episcopalians are used to, but much smaller, welcoming and personal than most Catholic parishes. St. Therese has been able of offer opportunities for ministry - and our Anglican Use community has jumped right in - serving on the Pastoral Council, joining Knights of Columbus, volunteering with the food pantry and Christmas basket programs, participating in our neighborhood needs assessment - and on and on.

Those who might want to replicate this as a model, if it can be replicated within the overlapping structures of Ordinariate and Diocese, should know there are disadvantages, too. As a parish and as Our Lady of Hope Society, we probably suffer most from cultural and identity conflicts. Having a clear identity is a big help in doing mission and being part of a parish with an established identity means that the Anglican Use community is part of a larger whole rather than having its own clear identity. In addition, converts are enthusiastic about being Catholic, and tend to identify Catholicism with a clear set of beliefs. Episcopalians and Anglicans also tend to identify Anglo-Catholicism with a way of doing liturgy correctly. Many of our Catholic members may identify more strongly with the parish than they do with the Catholic Church and with the Catholic faith in the Catechism. Many of our members have been wounded by the Church and have found a refuge here.

As a parish, we may tolerate and even may enjoy the diversity of liturgies within the parish. Some question why "they" do the things they do, but are willing to make room for it. But if we had to make to clear choices about what we believe in order to clarify the mission of the parish and our strategies for putting our mission into practice, I think we'd have difficulty.

St. Therese is an experience of Catholicism.

Friday, November 19, 2010

St. Therese organ another step closer to completion

We got a great deal on an Austin console and it was delivered to us back in the summer. It is now refurbished and ready for action. Our team of volunteers has run the cables to the balcony where the organ donated by Avila University will be installed, and to the old choir loft where the existing pipework and additional vintage pipes will be installed. We are waiting on the delivery of the steel framework for the windchests and pipes for the balcony, and as soon as it is erected, the next stage of installation will begin. I am told the Avila University Organ will be playable by Christmas, giving our organist, Dr. Bruce Prince-Joseph an expanded instrument for his mighty talents.

His Gregorian Chant schola will begin practice soon, enabling us to offer Evensong and Benediction after the first of the year.

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Greetings from the Anglican Ordinariate in Kansas City

Thirty-two of us completed our pilgrimage in Turkey as we followed the footsteps of St. Paul, explored the seven churches of Revelation, and visited the sites of the ecumenical councils in Nicea. We craned our necks to see the mosaics and frescoes in the Church of Our Savior in Chora, and tried to grasp the vigor of the Christian empire that built the Hagia Sophia. We celebrated Mass in an abandoned rock church in Cappadocia, at St. Paul's Church in Tarsus, St. Polycarp's Church in Smyrna, at St. Anthony's Church in Istanbul and somewhat furtively in hotel nightclubs and meeting rooms. Even though I am jet-lagged, it is time to get back to work. I am sorry to be missing the Ordinariate meeting in San Antonio.

One of the congregations that will make up the Ordinariate is up and running here in Kansas City. Here at St. Therese Little Flower our Anglican Use Mass congregation is made of Catholics who are former Anglicans, Episcopalians and other Catholics who resonate to the Anglican patrimony so valued by Pope Benedict XVI. We are committed to the Catholic Church and to the Ordinariate. But we will await the appointment of an Ordinary who can help us figure out how part of our St. Therese congregation can join the Ordinariate while the majority remain members of the Diocese of Kansas City-St. Joseph. We trust that the structure of the Ordinariate will have enough flexibility to accommodate us.

We know that there are other Anglicans, Episcopalians and Catholics in the Kansas City area who are interested in helping to establish a congregation for the Ordinariate in Kansas City, and welcome all inquiries. Look for the addition of evening opportunities for Evensong and Benediction, Mass and just to get to know one another.