jQuery Slider

You are here

HOUSTON, TX: Steven Lopes enthroned as first bishop of the Anglican Ordinariate

HOUSTON, TX: Steven Lopes enthroned as first bishop of the Anglican Ordinariate
Pope Francis commands "Avanti" ... go forward!

VOL Feature Story

By Mary Ann Mueller
VOL Special Correspondent
Feb. 11, 2016

While most Americans in the U.S. were focused on whether Punxsutawney Phil saw his shadow and celebrating Ground Hog Day (Feb. 2) Christians were commemorating Candlemas -- remembering the Presentation of the Baby Jesus in the Temple and the ritual Purification of Mary after her Son's birth. Candlemas marks the final end of the yearly Christmas story and is more or less midway between Christmas and Easter depending on the length of Epiphanytide.

One group of Christians in particular was focused on events unfolding at the Co-Cathedral of the Sacred Heart where six cardinals, 25 bishops and archbishops, 150 priests, six deacons, four candidates for ordination, one seminarian, and three Ordinariate prelates as well as Anglican and Lutheran ecumenical visitors were joined by a host of laity to witness the consecration and enthronement of Steven Lopes as the first bishop and second ordinary of the Personal Ordinariate of St. Peter. The cathedral, which holds 1,800, was filled to over flowing as a new chapter in the life of the Ordinariate was launched.

The three prelates in attendance were the mitered monsignors from the three Anglican ordinariates: Monsignor Keith Newton, Our Lady of Walsingham Ordinariate in England and Wales; Monsignor Harry Entwistle, Our Lady of the Southern Cross in Australia and Japan; and Monsignor Jeffrey Steenson, the Chair of St. Peter Ordinariate in the United States and Canada. Monsignor Steenson, who towered over his shorter counterparts, is now the ordinary-emeritus following the elevation of Bishop Lopes as the new sitting ordinary of the American ordinariate. It's not very often that the ordinaries of the various ordinariates get an opportunity to be together under one roof since their jurisdictions are in different hemispheres and different parts of the world. What unites them is the English language, the Anglican background and, now, the Catholic Church.

Monsignor Steenson, who lead the American Ordinariate through its birth pangs, now steps into the background and back into academia where he will continue teaching his passion -- the Patristic Fathers -- at St. Thomas University in Houston.

This is the second time that Daniel Cardinal DiNardo, the cardinal-archbishop of the Archdiocese of Galveston-Houston has turned his Houston co-cathedral, altar and pulpit over to the Houston-based Ordinariate for a large liturgical celebration reflecting the cooperation and friendship that exists between the archdiocese and the Ordinariate. The first time was in 2012 when then Father Steenson was elevated to the rank of protonotary apostolic monsignor and enthroned as the founding ordinary of the newly-erected Ordinariate and where he celebrated the first Anglican Use Mass at the cathedral's deep red marble pillared altar.

Our Lady of Walsingham -- now raised to cathedral status -- the Ordinariate's principal church, is too small for a ordinariate-wide gathering of all the clergy and faithful to congregate around their new bishop. The North American ordinariate spans all of the United States and Canada and has about 6,000 souls worshipping in nearly 45 congregations which are served by more than 70 priests. Hundreds of Ordinariate members streamed to Houston from across the U.S. and Canada with one goal in mind -- to be a witness to history-in-the-making and to meet their new bishop as well as give a fond farewell to their retiring ordinary Jeffrey Steenson.

The two-day celebration started Monday (Feb. 1) at Our Lady of Walsingham with a choral Candlemas Eve evensong celebrating Bishop-designate Lopes' new ministry among the clergy and people of the Ordinariate. Evensong was followed by a reception.

The next day Bishop-designate Lopes (rhymes with ropes) and his new flock were feted with food and festivities in anticipation of that evening's liturgical celebration. Monsignors Newton and Entwistle reported on their respective ordinariates and tours were held for both Our Lady of Walsingham Church and the Chair of St. Peter's recently-dedicated chancery. The soon-to-be Bishop Lopes, a California native, and all the visiting clergy and faithful were treated to an authentic Texas BBQ as a part of the Ordinariate Festival.

Members of the Ordinariate who flooded to Houston for the consecration and enthronement of their new bishop were not the only ones to witness the event. EWTN -- the global Catholic television network founded Poor Claire nun Mother Angelica in Irondale, Alabama -- live streamed the Anglican Use liturgy during its Cathedrals Across America segment. Originally EWTN allotted two hours for the event but when the Mass ran over the scheduled time the network did not cut away from the on-going service. However when the Mass ran more than two and a half hours, EWTN did cut away for its live evening news program, lopping off Bishop Lopes' first remarks and the recessional. ETWN has a potential worldwide audience of 250 million.

As always the Anglican influence was highly visible during the Catholic service. The difference between the dignified Ordinariate celebration and ruckus Episcopal pageantry is as different as night and day. Where Episcopal bishops march into the sights and sounds of a swaying Gospel choir, native American drummers, clashing cymbals, shaking maraca gourds and long streamers floating over head during the enthronement of Presiding Bishop Michael Curry last November, Catholic bishops processed between the colorful ranks of the Knights of Columbus to Entrata Festiva, a majestic organ prelude by 20th century Belgium composer Flor Peeters.

Last Tuesday EWTN viewers got their first glimpse of an Anglican Use service. Although Monsignor Steenson, as well as other Ordinariate and Pastoral Provision priests, have been a frequent guests on various EWTN programs including The World Over Live and The Journey Home, an Anglican Use service had not be broadcast.

YouTube has several Anglican Use liturgies posted including many Masses and several Choral Evensongs from Ordinariate and Pastoral Provision congregations in the United States and Canada.

The EWTN commentators and other mainline Catholic journalists seemed fascinated by the Anglican Use service. They excitedly highlighted the differences they witnessed -- the enthusiastic full-throated hymn signing of all verses not just two as is the current custom of many Catholic congregations; the chanted Introit; the Collect for Purity ... "Almighty God unto whom all hearts be open ..."; the Summary of the Law ... "Hear what our Lord Jesus Christ saith: Thou shalt love the Lord thy God ..."; the Nine-fold Kyrie by Healey Willian (#710 in the 1940 Hymnal) ... the unique four-part Anglican Chant of the Psalms rather than Gregorian plainsong; the fact that the Gospel is chanted in the center aisle among the people and the sermon is preached from usually a raised pulpit; the Latin Rite Roman Canon of the Mass rewritten in 16th century Elizabethan English; the Fracture ... "Christ our Passover is sacrificed for us ..."; the Prayer of Humble Access ... "We do not presume to come to this Thy table ..."; the joint recitation of the Post Communion Prayer of Thanksgiving ..."Almighty and ever living God, we most heartily thank Thee ..." and the myriad other prayers and actions so familiar to Anglicans which have remained in the Anglican Use liturgy as a part of retaining the Anglican patrimony and bringing it as a gift into the Roman Catholic Church.

A perfect mixture of Anglican and Roman Catholic liturgies resulted in Divine Worship: The Missal (DV:TM) which is an outgrowth of the original Anglican Use service in the Book of Divine Worship, the original Anglican Use prayer book style tome.

"Divine Worship: The Missal preserves such features and elements that are representative of the historic Anglican Books of Common Prayer and Anglican Missals, in conformity with Catholic doctrinal and liturgical norms, and is therefore at once distinctively and traditionally Anglican in character, linguistic register, and structure, while also being clearly and recognizably an expression of the Roman Rite," DW:TM explains on page 121.

Divine Worship: The Missal's first universal use came on the First Sunday of Advent 2015 and Bishop Lopes' consecration is the first time a Catholic bishop has been ordained to the bishopric using an Anglican Use liturgy. All Ordinariate priests in the world and Pastoral Provision parishes in the United States now use DW:TM since the beginning of Advent 2015 as the Book of Divine Worship was suppressed on New Year's Day 2016.

Monsignor Lopes became Bishop Lopes at the hands of German Cardinal Gerhard Müller and American cardinals Donald Wuerl and William Levada. The soon-to-be Bishop Lopes' cathedra (bishop's throne) was transported to Sacred Heart from the Ordinariate's principal church of Our Lady of Walsingham for his enthronement. This is the first time that many of the priests and faithful of the far-flung Ordinariate have been able to come together in unity with their bishop, who is in unity with Pope Francis -- the Bishop of Rome.

To make sure that Bishop Lopes' consecration was approved by Pope Francis an Apostolic Letter was examined the Ordinariate's Governing Council and read to the assembly.

Following a prayer seeking God's abundant grace for Monsignor Lopes, the bishop-to-be lay prostrate on the floor before the steps leading to the high altar with only a Persian rug to soften the hard marble floor as the chanted words of the Litany of the Saints swirled around him. He closed his eyes and breathed deeply as various saints were called upon for prayer together with some saints who normally do not make the litany including St. Gaspar del Bufalo and St. Walburga, an English-born abbess in 8th century Germany.

Cardinal Müller was Bishop Lopes' primary consecrator. He laid hand on the bishop-to-be in silence invoking the Holy Spirit to come with His divine power and confer on the new bishop the fullness of the priesthood as He did with the Apostles. Cardinal Müller's silent action was then followed by cardinals Wuerl and Levada as co-consecrators. Then the rest of the cardinals followed -- Cardinal DiNardo, Cardinal Roger Mahony and Cardinal Edwin O'Brien. The cardinals were followed by the assembled archbishops and bishops as they also silently welcomed their new brother-bishop the US Catholic Conference of Bishops -- the Catholic version of the Episcopal House of Bishops.

The new bishop can trace his lines apostolic succession back to at least 1541 and the consecration of Scipione Rebba an Italian cardinal during the height of the English Reformation. Cardinal Müller's is the German line (he was consecrated by Cardinal Friedrich Wetter of Munich); Cardinal Wuerl's is the Polish line (he was consecrated by Pope -- now Saint -- John Paul II of Krakow); and Cardinal Levada is the American line (he was consecrated by Cardinal Timothy Manning of Los Angeles.) But all three apostolic lines weave back to Cardinal Rebba of Sicily. Wikipedia reports that more than 95% of the more than 5,200 living Roman Catholic bishops (including Pope Francis) can trace their episcopal lineage back to him. Whoever consecrated Cardinal Rebba has been lost to history.

The German cardinal then anointed the new bishop with oil pouring a small amount of fragrant sacred chrism on his head. The last time I witnessed the consecration of a bishop was when an archbishop consecrated a new bishop. The consecrating archbishop was very generous with his chrism and the oil streamed down the forehead of the new bishop past his cheeks to his chin and dripped onto the floor. Watching that I could just envision the anointing oils running down Aaron's beard as Moses anointed him.

Following the anointing the new bishop was presented with the symbols of his office. The Book of Gospels was to remind the new bishop to preach and teach the Gospel. He was also presented with his bishop's ring, his miter and his crozier -- the shepherd's crook and a symbol of his authority to correct vices, stimulate piety, and administer discipline for the sake of souls.

The bishop's ring and miter were on display next to the lectern on Candlemas until they were presented to the new bishop, but the evening before they were placed in front of Bishop-designate Lopes on the Gospel side of the choir during the celebration of Choral Evensong.

Monsignor Steenson, the retiring Ordinary handed his crozier to Cardinal Müller to present to newly-consecrated Bishop Lopes showing he is relinquishing his authority and passing it on to his successor. Then Monsignor Steenson stepped into the shadows, his task complete.

The retiring monsignor, with nothing more than the words penned by former Pope Benedict XVI and the Decree of Establishment, started the Personal Ordinariate of the Chair of St. Peter from scratch -- no priests, no people, no buildings, not even paperclips. Nothing was in place but an idea and a long-hoped for dream to come true and a few Complementary Norms coming from the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith in the Vatican. Monsignor Steenson helped the Ordinariate come into being and guided it through its early days. Legally and ecclesiastically he helped get the Ordinariate up and running and developed its first Governing Council. He established Saturday Seminary to train and spiritually form Episcopal and Anglican clergy to become new Catholic priests. He safely guided Our Lady of Walsingham into the Ordinariate from the Archdiocese of Galveston-Houston without civil litigation or bad feelings for use as the principal church and he built the chancery for the Ordinariate to have a permanent and secure home base. He also travelled far and wide to meet with parishes, celebrate the Sacraments, confirm converts and encourage the growing flock while cooperating with local Latin Rite bishops for the ordinations of his priests in addition he was a member of two conferences of Catholic bishops -- one in the United States the other in Canada.

The name Monsignor Jeffrey Steenson will forever be a part the historical record of the Ordinariate and he will always have the distinction of being the first ordinary of the American ordinariate. His contribution to the founding of the Ordinariate is chiseled in history. A former Episcopal bishop himself (VIII Rio Grande), the monsignor had the wisdom to grow the Ordinariate from nothing to a point that he realized that a Catholic bishop was needed to continue its temporal and spiritual growth and then he had the humility and grace to step back.

When all was completed with the consecration process Cardinal Müller stepped away from Our Lady of Walsingham's cathedra and Bishop Lopes was seated. The Ordinariate congregation burst into applause ... their bishop was duly consecrated and enthroned. A new chapter in the life of the Ordinariate was beginning and they were witnessing it. They were a part of it.

Bishop Lopes' first action as bishop was to celebrate the Eucharist with his new Ordinariate family. His new ring sparkled, flashed and shone in the lights illuminating the altar. He saved a special smile for his widowed mother Barbara Jane Lopes who brought up the gifts along with his godmother. As an only child he knew that he would never present his mother with grandchildren nor pass on his father's sir name, but she had witnessed her son become a priest and a bishop. This is a particular joy for a Catholic mother, an answer to years of heartfelt prayers and the realization of hopes and dreams.

All the priests and bishops present wore simple matching cream chasubles with rich ivory brocade bands. The cardinals, archbishops, bishops and prelates wore plain miters, save for Cardinal Müller who wore a more ornate miter signifying his position as chief consecrator. There was also one Orthodox bishop visible in his distinctive white and silver crown. Without their miters the cardinals' striking red watered silk zucchettos stood out in stark contrast to the sea of fuchsia skullcaps worn by the bishops and mitered monsignors. Only Bishop Lopes, the man of the hour, wore a rich ivory brocade chasuble accented with a muted celadon green and gold trimmed orphrey. His miter matched his chasuble and was adorned with the same celadon green and gold color combination.

The majestic To Thee, O Gracious Father was the offertory anthem. The stirring hymn was originally composed by English orchestral composer Gustav Holst. The modern words were written by Fr. Christopher Phillips, the rector of Our Lady of the Atonement in San Antonio and it has become an Anglican Use classic both in Ordinariate settings and within Pastoral Provision parishes.

Bishop Lopes had chosen as his episcopal motto "Magna Opera Domini" which translates into English as "Great are the Works of the Lord." A special Communion anthem "Magna Opera Domini" was commissioned by Our Lady of Walsingham Church in honor of Bishop Lopes' consecration and enthronement. It was performed by the Cathedral of the Sacred Heart Cathedral and the Archdiocese of Galveston-Houston combined choirs.

Bishop Lopes is not an Anglican convert but a cradle Catholic who was born in California 40 years ago. He received a Catholic school education from Kindergarten all the way through seminary. He was ordained priest in 2001 by Archbishop-now-Cardinal Levada. He then followed Cardinal Levada to Rome where he became familiar with the Anglican patrimony through his work with the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith which was charged with implementing Anglicanorum Coetibus, the document which sets up the various Ordinariates.

Last Tuesday Steven Lopes walked into Sacred Heart Cathedral a priest. Three hours later he processed out of the Houston cathedral a bishop and the transformation was witnessed by his priests and people, the EWTN audience, and the whole host of heaven. As a new bishop he takes over the spiritual leadership, care and nurturing of the Ordinariate. He realizes that the Ordinariate is a great work of the Lord. He also feels he has a personalized mandate from Pope Francis: "Avanti!" To go forward and preach the Gospel.

The consecration and enthronement of Steven Lopes as the first bishop of the Personal Ordinariate of the Chair of St. Peter is more than just a "Catholic" story, it is also an "Anglican" story. For the most part the Ordinariates are peopled and priested by former Episcopalians and Anglicans. The various Ordinariates' DNA will always be Episcopal, or Anglican and Continuing Anglican, or Church of England. The richness of Anglican patrimony complete with its music, hymnology, architecture, language, liturgy, culture, ethos, and pageantry is making its way into the Roman Catholic Church through the Ordinariates and is cross pollinating the Catholic Church making it richer. The Anglican Communion spreads across 165 countries and ordinariates could eventually be erected anywhere Anglicans choose to swim the Tiber -- Africa, South America, Europe, Oceana, New Zealand, the Caribbean, or...

On Quinquagesima Sunday Bishop Lopes was welcomed to Our Lady of Walsingham and took possession of his new cathedral. Monsignor Entwistle joined him as he visited the Ordinariate's cathedral church before returning to Australia and Monsignor Newton found himself at Our Lady of the Atonement's altar in San Antonio before returning to his duties in England.

YOU TUBE: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vwsChqnhaiA

Mary Ann Mueller is a journalist living in Texas. She is a regular contributor to VirtueOnline

Get a bi-weekly summary of Anglican news from around the world.
comments powered by Disqus
Trinity School for Ministry
Go To Top