Sisters Thomas Aquinas and Amata Veritas, both raised Catholic in the Roman Rite, share their experience in a relatively new and quite unique apostolate, working with the Ordinariate of the Chair of Saint Peter. This ordinariate is one of three in the world that serves the Anglicans who have converted or come back into full communion with the Catholic Church. Sisters Thomas Aquinas and Amata Veritas give us a glimpse into the process, the people, and the faith that overflows abundantly throughout this apostolate.
Sister Joseph Andrew Bogdanowicz: Today you are doubly blessed because two of my wonderful sisters are in an unusual apostolate for our community.
Sister Amata Veritas: Both of us work for the Personal Ordinariate of the Chair of Saint Peter. It was established by the document Anglicanorum Coetibus, of which we are now celebrating the tenth anniversary. It streamlined the way that Anglican converts or other denominations can enter into full communion with the Catholic Church. This is a way to promote Christian unity. There were groups that desired union with the Catholic Church, and Anglicanorum Coetibus makes it easier.
Sister Thomas Aquinas: [Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI] started the Ordinariate because parish communities are coming into the Catholic Church. Why don’t they integrate into the Diocesan system that we have?
The genius of Pope Benedict was allowing these communities and clergy to retain a unique identity that they have as Anglicans, the tradition and the patrimony of English Christianity, their saints, their form of worship, their hymnody, their architecture, and the way that they emphasize the roles of ministers within the Holy Mass. That’s what Pope Benedict had in mind, not only the salvation of souls but also there is this group that has a gift to give to the Universal Church and to actually put it forward.
The liturgy is not called the ‘Anglican Rite’ or ‘Anglican Usage’, but their missal has been approved by the Sacred Congregation. It’s now referred to as the Ordinariate Form of the Liturgy. It’s within the Roman Rite. We have the Extraordinary Form. We have the Ordinary Form, and now we have the Ordinariate Form. Any Roman Catholic of any stripe is allowed, so to speak, to attend these Masses, and they enrich Roman Catholic Faith.
Sister Amata Veritas: It is in English, and in some ways, the missal retains a lot of the Elizabethan character, so that language is unfamiliar to common Americans.
Something I would emphasize as an essential connecting point between our community and the work that they’ve asked us to do in the Ordinariate is, ‘How can we use this? How can we promote this as a way of educating and as a way of evangelizing?’ That is one of Pope Benedict’s major themes in theology: the worship of God evangelizes.
Sister Amata Veritas: I work on the Chancery staff for the Personal Ordinariate. One thing to help people understand is that an Ordinariate is a diocese. There are three Ordinariates throughout the world. There’s the one based [in Houston, Texas] that’s comprised of the United States and Canada. Then there’s the Australian Ordinariate [of the Southern Cross], and then there’s the Ordinariate in England [of Our Lady of Walsingham]. They’re dioceses, but instead of slicing based on geography, like the Diocese of Lansing, this diocese is based on the patrimony of the Anglican tradition that’s brought in with those who convert. That means our parishes are scattered all over the United States and Canada. There are over forty parishes. Many of these came into the Church as a parish led by their pastor after Anglicanorum Coetibus was promulgated.
I mainly work with Bishop Lopes, who was consecrated as the Bishop in 2016. Our staff reaches out and supports the parishes and priests of the Ordinariate. The priests of the Ordinariate are [mostly] converts to the Faith, and many of them are married and have children, and they were former Anglican priests and came to understand that the Catholic Church is the one true Church.
When they come to [know] that the Catholic Church is the one true Church, it means that in some ways they risk everything for which they have worked. They’ve gone to school to become Anglican priests. They have a whole parish. Their parish is their livelihood. It’s how they support their family, their wives, and their children.
There are also a couple of seminarians who have found their call to the priesthood from these Ordinariate parishes.
Sister Thomas Aquinas: Sister Amata Veritas works in the Chancery, so she has a bird’s eye view. I’m working more on the ground level with a specific community.
It’s beautiful, and it’s been enriching for me. I work closely with Father Charles Hough. He’s the Rector and Pastor of the Cathedral. It’s been a real privilege to work with him; he’s a married clergy with children. He’s very young, and he’s on fire for his Faith and for his community.
I’ve been asked to look at some of the current educational initiatives within the Cathedral and see how these can be enriched in any way. Basically it’s a contact point between the life of the Ordinariate and the mission of Catholic Education in the United States.
Sister Joseph Andrew Bogdanowicz: On behalf of all the Dominican Sisters of Mary, Mother of the Eucharist, we thank you for being present today. This certainly has enkindled many more questions, so you’ll have to go on the various websites to read more. You will have to go visit Our Lady of Walsingham in Houston, Texas and see for yourself the incredible things God continues to do for His Church because He promised and will be with us until the end of time. God bless you and thank you.