Those who have attended Mass at Saint Gregory the Great or the first sessions of our Bible Study/Catechesis/Fellowship FOR THE LOVE OF CHRIST over the last two weeks have had the opportunity to meet Kelly Clark, a visitor from the youngest and (to us) most distant of the Ordinariates, Our Lady of the Southern Cross. Arriving unexpectedly, she participated fully in the life of our community during her time among us; she now leaves to experience other aspects of the Church Stateside before returning to Australia in early December. She was kind enough to write something about her stay for our website; after you read it I’d like to offer some of my own thoughts raised or brought into focus by the visit of this devout, intelligent and quite remarkable young woman. Here’s Kelly:
As I prepare to leave Massachusetts, I cannot help recalling the many passages in Scripture where Paul leaves a community of Christians. I am no apostle, merely a pilgrim in the Universal Church; but to the community of Saint Gregory the Great I can say with the Apostle I thank my God in all my remembrance of you, always in every prayer of mine for you all making my prayer with joy, thankful for your partnership in the Gospel from the first day until now. And I am sure that he who began a good work in you will bring it to completion at the day of Jesus Christ. It is right for me to feel thus about you all, because I hold you in my heart, for you are all partakers with me of grace… [Phil 1:3-7a, RSVCE]
From the first day I was in contact with this parish until now I have been welcomed with generosity and openness. To use Kevin McDermott’s phraseology, “I carried no Epistle with me,” as in the days of the early Church; but I can hope I have at least brought some news of the Ordinariate of Our Lady of the Southern Cross and, in particular, the Parish of St Ninian and St Chad. Perhaps this and the exchange of bulletins (I have forwarded the latest copy of Australia Wide and Musings of the Ordinary) will contribute to closer visible ties between the Ordinariates of the Chair of Saint Peter and of Our Lady of the Southern Cross. Under any circumstances as we all await promulgation of Divine Worship: The Missal it has been good for me — a “Roaming Catholic” who supports, loves, and worships with the Ordinariate of OLSC — to see and hear; to learn about the Anglican Patrimonial expression in America. Thank you for the McDermotts and the Coverts for their hospitality; and to Father Liias and the entire community of Saint Gregory for your loving welcome: I am thankful for you each and all. And it is my prayer that your love may abound more and more, with knowledge and all discernment, so that you may approve what is excellent, and may be pure and blameless for the day of Christ. [Phil 1:9-10, RSVCE]
To quote a personal Patron, Saint Maximillian Maria Kolbe: “Nos cum Prole pia benedicat Virgo Maria.” [May the Virgin Mary bless us with Her loving Child] Maneo servus vester, per Eos. [I remain your servant, through Them.]
Those of us who did not have the opportunity to meet Kelly personally during her stay will surely be able to form a picture of her from this short message; those who were present at the catecheses and able to profit by her thorough understanding of the Faith (and deep — and ready — knowledge of the Fathers and documents which support it) are unlikely to soon forget her. Hopefully we will not have an opportunity to do so as I very much hope she will stay in touch and — should she return to the States — visit us again.
Kelly refers to a conversation (one of many) the first evening she stayed at our home. I told her of another visit we had had, even more unexpectedly than hers, shortly after our community moved to Stoneham: we were seeing new faces every Sunday…but it was a shock when a young woman revealed herself as another Ordinariate member…from a parish in British Columbia (about as far away as you can get without going to Australia…)! There was much excitement; many, many questions; and the sharing of news. It struck me immediately that this must have been very much what it was like during those first few hundred years of the Church’s history, with communities scattered around the mediterranean: a Christian gets off a ship…makes a few discrete enquiries as to which house it is where the local community gathers…and, on the Lord’s day (after passing the Deacon’s scrutiny) meets the Brethren: everyone wants to know how the other Brethren are getting on? Everyone is joyful and uplifted, having physical evidence — and news — proving their community is indeed part of something larger than itself…not only in hope, but here on earth, as well. All of that felt so real and true it made my hairs stand on end…but something — and something important — was missing; as I considered it, it left a rueful aftertaste: where were the epistles from the other communities that first-century visitor would probably have had in their baggage? Our first visitor brought news of her parish in BC; Kelly brings news of hers in Perth. But — with the communications technology of the ancient world — those early travelers were carrying news between all the communities (and doing it so well we’re still reading the best of them, every Sunday, two millennia later). And us?
The Ordinariates have many similarities to the early Church: perhaps most tellingly in being composed of widely-distributed, mostly small, communities of limited means. When I had the opportunity to visit the Principal Church of the English Ordinariate last year I heard much the same comment from the Faithful after Mass: each community felt itself fairly isolated; it was difficult to form a sense of being part of a larger whole. This is certainly not a good thing…and, given the possibilities available to us through the internet, it is difficult to imagine why things are as they are.
The youngest of the Ordinariates — Our Lady of the Southern Cross — seems to have stolen a march on her older sisters in this regard: Monsignor Entwistle writes a newsletter sent to his communities every two weeks. Kelly’s visit — bringing copies of these “Musings” — is perhaps the concluding touch of a series of events which might suggest the Holy Spirit is interested in forging a link between our community and our brothers and sisters of the Ordinariate of Our Lady of the Southern Cross: the first was our own Greg Rodway’s trip back to his native Australia last month, where he visited a number of communities and came back with many ideas; I have been in touch with Father Ramsay Williams (one of the individuals with whom Greg met) and shortly will be posting some of his work. With Monsignor Entwistle’s permission, we will be posting Australia Wide and his Musings. In short — in a very brief time there seems to be a great deal of activity across the hemispheres; we will see by the fruits if the Holy Spirit is indeed behind it! Please remember Kelly, Monsignor Entwistle, and all our brothers and sisters of the Ordinariate of Our Lady of the Southern Cross in your prayers.
Saint Gregory the Great Church
A Catholic Community of the Personal Ordinariate of the Chair of Saint Peter