US Episcopal parish joins Church
— Cardinal Wuerl receives first community ahead of official launch of US ordinariate
Cardinal Donald Wuerl, Archbishop of Washington, received the first US Episcopal parish into the Catholic Church at the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception, Washington DC on Sunday.
Fifty-eight of St Luke’s roughly 100 parishioners, which included many immigrants from Africa and the Caribbean, and their former pastor, the Rev Mark Lewis, were received into full communion with the Catholic Church at Sunday’s Mass and—during his homily—Cardinal Wuerl, who spoke of the event while in Scotland last month, expressed his personal delight at ‘receiving these faithful pilgrims.’
“This is truly a historic moment,” Cardinal Wuerl (above) said. “A joyful moment of completion.”
The cardinal, who was in Scotland recently for the National Conference of priests and permanent deacons, spoke of the increasing momentum towards unity in the Church since the Second Vatican Council, with the Anglican Ordinariate the most recent response to those who wish to enter the Catholic Church.
“In recent years there have been communities in the Anglican Communion who said: ‘We’re ready,’” Cardinal Wuerl said. “Pope Benedict XVI, hearing that call, said: ‘Why do we not prepare a vehicle to allow this corporate reunion to take place?”
Cardinal Wuerl stated that, following Pope Benedict’s apostolic constitution, the St Luke’s community eagerly anticipated the announcement of the ordinariate in the US and their establishment as a Catholic parish with the ordination of their pastor.
Mr Lewis was anointed last on Sunday, in an act of symbolism, and he commented: “A good shepherd must be sure his flock gets through the gate.”
Members of St Luke’s said they converted to the Catholic Church because of their longing for one clear religious authority.
They said they didn’t like the range of views that Anglican clerics expressed on issues such as same-sex relationships and Christianity’s sole claim to God. Mr Lewis, who is now working to become a Catholic priest, said the conversion was a ‘natural progression of our faith.’
“We considered ourselves a Catholic parish to begin with,” he said.
“We aligned ourselves much more closely with Catholic theology than Protestant theology. If you really weren’t a student of religion, you would say nothing has really changed. What’s taking place is internal. Becoming Roman Catholic was a natural progression of our faith.”
Mgr Keith Newton, head of the Personal Ordinariate of Our Lady of Walsingham in England and Wales, the first ordinariate established following Pope Benedict’s apostolic constitution anno-uncement, will celebrate Mass with the St Luke’s community on Sunday.