In keeping with the promise of updates, at least from Bl. John's, I would like to share about a Sunday in the life of an Ordinariate priest in Southern California.
Yesterday morning, my family and I were honored to be present at the Cathedral of Our Lady of the Angels, as I was invited to concelebrate a special Mass with Archbishop José Gomez of Los Angeles, who ordained me to the diaconate. But it wasn't just with Abp. Gomez. It was also with a priest who has become a friend, and a friend to all Anglicans seeking unity with Rome: Msgr. William Stetson. It was Father's fiftieth anniversary of ordination, and in his homily he recollected those whom he knew and who influenced him most, particularly St. Jose Maria Escriva; lest anyone think the homily was a name-dropping session, no acolytes had to clean up the floor of business cards, I assure you! Msgr. Stetson, in his usual self-effacing manner used these men as examples of what it means to be a holy priest and a faithful Catholic and encouraged us to follow their paths in similar Eucharistic devotion. A particularly timed homily in light of today's festivities to venerate a relic of the tilma.
After a nice brunch, we drove back down to Orange County to begin setting up for Bl. John's Anglican Use Mass at 3:00 pm. We are graciously hosted by St. Joseph's, Santa Ana, until - or if - that day comes when, Lord willing, we can save up enough money to purchase our own building. We just finished our fifth mass today and it gets better and better! I am truly honored to serve this group of extremely faithful, devout, committed and energetic people. Our numbers are small: our first mass on July 8 we had seventy people exactly, the second week we had fifty two, the third week we had twenty six (many people out of town), and yesterday we had about forty. As I said, I intend to be realistic about our parish journey on Anglican Patrimony - but even still, every week we consistently have new people coming to check us out, and I am pleased we do have a small confirmation class starting this month!
(New mission's first Mass)
Mass was wonderful, though remembering the minor adjustments of the Book of Divine Worship celebrated in its full manner is so close to the American Missal I knew, that I have made a few mistakes every Mass. I hope that I'm learning it, as I don't seem to be making the exact same mistake two weeks in a row! Our acolyte team is superb, and as I told them yesterday before the Mass, I'd put them up against any other! We are blessed to have such a devoted group of young men. We're in the stage of simply trying to normalize our regular way to say Mass each week, both ritualistically and musically, but as soon as we get comfortable with that, we'll move on to other aspects of creating a parish life: children's and adult classes, outreach activities, parish meals, social activities, etc.
Every Sunday, we have a small reception ("bunfight", as Fr. Edwin Barnes reminds us) with snacks, usually of wine and cheese, soda, water, crackers, cookies, and other variations on a theme. The children under three are running around in the grass, with the older children. I can see an informal young mother's group forming rather naturally in the future, as well as a couple of men's groups. But what I see overall is a bunch of happy Catholics of the Anglican Use who genuinely are learning to care for each other and bond as a new parish of the Ordinariate. Yes, we all treasure the best of our former Anglican/Episcopalian parishes - or even other various protestant parishes - and we don't forget who we are are and where we've come from.
But at the same time, we are coming together as Catholics, not as refugees; and for that reason, Bl. John's, Orange County has a bright future.