Group of 11 with 'Anglican distinctiveness' enter Catholic Church at Holy Rosary
By Alistair Burns
The B.C. Catholic
Eleven former members of the Anglican Catholic Church of Canada came into the Roman Catholic Church June 30 during a Mass at Holy Rosary Cathedral. Archbishop J. Michael Miller, CSB, said the Mass, with Father Bruce McAllister, Father Glenn Dion, and Father William Ashley concelebrating.
"This has been a long, sometimes trying journey, but one filled with hope," the archbishop said in his homily. "We are celebrating, as these nine adult members are confirmed and two children come into full communion, a joyous, historic occasion."
Archbishop Miller explained the unification process had been set in motion in 2007, when the bishops of the Anglican communion formally expressed their desire "to enter into full unity with the Holy See, without losing their Anglican distinctiveness."
Two years later Pope Benedict XVI signed an apostolic constitution, a formal document which enabled groups of Anglicans to join the Catholic Church.
"Physical union with the Church does not mean absorption into a monolith; the union is better compared with an orchestral ensemble: the result is symphonic," the archbishop enthused.
After the Mass, the new Catholics congregated on the cathedral steps with the archbishop and his concelebrants.
"We were drawn in by the Pope's declaration; that's what really motivated us," said the Rev. Michael Shier, an Anglican clergyman on his way to ordination as a Catholic priest. "He understood our predicament."
The Rev. Shier also thanked the archbishop for kindly spending a few hours in a question-and-answer session with the converts at Westminster Abbey.
"This group enriches the Church by their presence, and it takes considerable humility for them to do this. It's not what they have chosen; Christ has chosen them," pointed out Father Ashley.
For Father McAllister, an Anglican who converted to Catholicism in 1998 and is now a Catholic priest, the joyous occasion was a personal cause. He was asked by Archbishop Miller last year to head the process of bringing the former Anglicans into the fold.
"The group left their church at the end of May; we had two retreat weekends for them for them to reflect on their joint decision and to review dogmas," Father McAllister said.
"This is a great day for me, and for the Church in Vancouver. Welcome home," the archbishop concluded at the end of the Mass.