This past weekend I was in Houston for some continuing education. Fr. Charles Hough IV, the pastor of Our Lady of Walsingham (OLW) parish, the principal church of the Ordinariate, invited me to concelebrate the Sunday High Mass while I was in town. It was wonderful to see a thriving Ordinariate parish that showed forth the best parts of our Anglican Patrimony!
OLW looks like so many of the Anglo Catholic churches of my past. Most of the parishes that became known for their Anglo Catholic worship in the Episcopal Church started out as mainstream Episcopal parishes. You could always tell by the architecture what the church had been like at its first service. Most Anglo Catholic churches have wooden altars, altar rails and accents pointing back to their past as plain churches whereas churches that were founded by Anglo Catholics tended to have more marble features like continental Catholic churches. OLW has all the wooden accents that make it looks like an old Episcopal Church that swam up the liturgical stream towards Anglo Catholicism. Even though the current OLW church was only built in the past few decades, it looks much older. It looks like the chapel and side altars where added on years later, perhaps at the prompting of a priest who spent years teaching the parish the Catholic Faith, In reality this building was put together all at the same time, but I like the fact that it looks like an older, worked on and Catholicized Episcopal parish.
Liturgically the parish is a reminder of the "Prayer Book Catholic" parishes. While there are three sacred ministers, they stand three abreast at the altar and tend to move little. It is more Parson's Handbook than Ritual Notes. The Book of Divine Worship Rite I Mass is accompanied by a vested choir using the 1940 Hymnal and adding the minor propers along with a Des Prez motet last Sunday. Distinctive to OLW is their tradition of offering both species of the Holy Eucharist by intinction, as opposed to offering the chalice as I believe most Ordinariate parishes do currently.
The OLW family is warm and welcoming and truly understand their place and their responsibility as torch bearers for us in the Ordinariate.
If you are in Houston, or are with in driving distance, you owe it to yourself to check out OLW.