I’m writing this on St David’s Day. When Pope Benedict XVI visited Britain he blessed and dedicated a new mosaic of St David at Westminster Cathedral. There are chapels to St George, St Andrew and St Patrick in the Cathedral, but none to St David. When the Cathedral was being planned and built in the first years of the 20th century, there were very few Catholics in Wales and no one came forward with any funds for a St David chapel!
As part of a project called “Continuity”, which promotes the Christian history of Britain, there are Catholic History Walks around London. The next is on March 29th and starts on the steps of Westminster Cathedral (Come and join us! No need to book – just turn up! Starts 6.30 p.m., after the sung High Mass at 5.30 p.m. Wear comfortable shoes and suitable clothing – we’ll be walking whatever the weather!
The late Mgr Graham Leonard – the former Anglican Bishop of London who became a Catholic in the 1990s – was a patron of Continuity. When the Church of England Synod voted in 1992 for the ordination of women, a number of Anglican ministers became Catholics. Then, some twenty years later, another chapter of the saga opened with the Ordinariate of Our Lady of Walsingham, announced by Pope Benedict XVI. This allowed Anglicans to come over as groups – a parish group led by its own clergy. They would retain Anglican traditions in worship and in parish life. The Ordinariate is now flourishing. A large group of its members have just returned from a pilgrimage to Rome. They prayed – using traditional Anglican-rite prayers – at the tomb of St Peter. They attended one of the big Papal audiences in the Paul VI and were greeted by the Pope – and sang “Praise to the Holiest in the height”, John Henry Newman’s great hymn.
Ordinariate groups meet for Mass at present in Catholic churches. As things grow and develop, some will need churches of their own. These things grow quietly and under the providence of God.
There is goodwill among “cradle Catholics” – a recent special celebration of Evensong organised by the Ordinariate and held at St James church in London’s Spanish Place – was packed.
A support group, the Friends of the Ordinariate of Our Lady of Walsingham, has been launched. A celebration in London, some generous donations, small events such as a coffee morning and a couple of film-evenings (a good Catholic movie, snacks and drinks), and now things are growing nicely. But more help is needed. The Friends would be keen to hear from anyone who would like to offer support: Friends of the Ordinariate, 19 Spencelayh Close, Wellinborough, NN8 4UU. It’s a registered charity.