Four or five years ago it seemed that having an "Anglican Use" community as part of St. Therese Little Flower Parish could be a long-term mutually beneficial solution. I was thinking that I could remain at St. Therese until retirement. The Anglican Use community added resources to the struggling inner-city parish, and the parish provided space to worship, a link to the wider Catholic community, and assistance with pastoral programming. We began some projects that assumed we would have a long-term home at St. Therese.
When I was thinking that I could remain at St. Therese long-term, I didn't realize was that St. Therese Parish and the Anglican Use community had a deep and basic conflict. St. Therese Parish depends on attracting people who feel like they don't fit in a regular parish. St. Therese Parish can be very warm and welcoming and some neighborhood parishes can be very cold. But some of our key parishioners had a deep animosity toward the church hierarchy and Catholic dogma and discipline. On the other hand, I and the other former Anglican converts who joined me at St. Therese had made an adult choice to enter the Catholic faith. And to enter the full communion of the Church we had affirmed that we believe what the Catholic Church believes. This was a rift that simply could not be bridged, and it continued to feed the suspicions of some parishioners that our presence and my pastoral leadership could not be trusted. It became clear to me that I would not be able to remain at St. Therese long-term, and it also became clear that one person could not be pastor of both communities.
The Anglican Use community at St. Therese never discussed this. Instead our discussion focused on our future. Our study of Anglicanorum Coetibus and the mission of the Ordinariate of the Chair of St. Peter convinced us that we needed to take charge of our own future and find a way to enter the Ordinariate.
Now that we are Our Lady of Hope Catholic Church we can embrace our Catholic identity in a way that would never have been possible at St. Therese Little Flower. Converts make joyful Catholics, and that should make us good evangelists. I am convinced that this is our fundamental mission, more important than anything else, that we put Christ first. We are taking steps to put our money and our program where our mission is, and to keep from getting diverted into things that will take lots of energy but aren't directly related to our mission.
More to come!