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WASHINGTON, DC: Jeffrey Steenson Installed as First Ordinary for U.S.Ordinariate

WASHINGTON, DC: The Rev. Jeffrey Steenson Installed as First Ordinary for the U.S. Ordinariate

By Randy Sly
Catholic Online
February 13, 2012

The Personal Ordinariate of the Chair of St. Peter holds historic Mass of Institution

The Personal Ordinariate of the Chair of St. Peter officially has an Ordinary. At a historic Mass of Institution held at the Co-Cathedral for the Archdiocese of Galveston-Houston. Cardinals Donald Wuerl and Daniel DiNardo were joined by nine other bishops for the installation of Msgr. Jeffrey Steenson. A former Episcopal bishop, Steenson was received into the Church in 2007 and ordained through the Pastoral Provision in 2009. Photo by Melissa Phillip, Houston Chronicle

Rev. Jeffrey Steenson, at the time of his conversion to the Catholic Church in 2007 after being an Episcopal bishop, thought that his future ministry would be in a small parish. On Sunday his name was written in the history books as he was installed as the first Ordinary for the U.S. Personal Ordinariate of the Chair of St. Peter (www.usordinariate.org).

Cardinals Donald Wuerl of Washington and Daniel DiNardo of Galveston-Houston along with nine other bishops from across the nation joined Fr. Steenson for this historic Mass of Institution held at the Co-Cathedral of the Sacred Heart in the Archdiocese of Galveston-Houseton.

During the ceremony, Cardinal Wuerl read the letter of appointment. Then, as the leader of the second Ordinariate jurisdiction established by the Holy Father, Steenson was then presented with the symbols of his new office, a crozier and a miter. He also received the title of Monsignor.

The new Ordinary, although not ordained a bishop since he is married, will assumed the same responsibility as the chief shepherd of Ordinariate parishes and other groups and will be given a seat in the United States Conference of Bishops. His role will be somewhat different than a diocesan bishop, however, as the geographic jurisdiction for the Ordinariate is the entire United States and Canada.

The Mass of Institution was the first time an Anglican Use Mass was held at the Co-Cathedral or at any parish in the Archdiocese except Our Lady of Walsingham, which is an Anglican Use parish. The Mass used the Book of Divine Worship, which is an approved version of the Episcopal Book of Common Prayer approved for Catholic use. They also included Anglican hymnody and settings.

The headquarters and principal church for the Ordinariate will be Our Lady of Walsingham in Houston, Texas. In their parish bulletin, Their pastor, Rev. James Ramsey wrote, "For some of us the wait for this day has been thirty years in coming. It is something none of us could have ever imagined when Our Lady of Walsingham was begun as a house church in 1982 by Father Moore, myself, and about twelve people.

"With the Lord's blessing and the prayers of the Blessed Mother, and through much hard work, patience, and perseverance, we have arrived at today, a day which is truly historic: it marks the first time since the Protestant Reformation in the 16th century that the See of Peter has admitted a Reformation body back into its ranks while allowing us to retain our Anglican Patrimony."

Just one year ago the Ordinariate of Our Lady of Walsingham was created for England and Wales, headed by another former Anglican Bishop, Msgr. Keith Newton. A third Ordinariate is soon to be announced for Australia, where reports are circulating that this one will be called the Personal Ordinariate of Our Lady of the Southern Cross. No starting date has been made public.

To date, over 100 former Anglican priests have applied to become Catholic priests through the Ordinariate in the United States and Canada; some 50 are beginning studies in a formation program, with some ordinations possible in June. Another 1,400 individuals from 22 communities also are seeking to enter the Ordinariate. Since September, two former Anglican parish communities in Maryland and a group in Fort Worth, Texas have been received into the Catholic Church.

The Ordinariate of the Chair of Saint Peter is based in Houston, Texas. Its main church is Our Lady of Walsingham. Only one other ordinariate exists, in England.

The ordinariates are the result of requests from Anglican groups to become Catholic in a "corporate" manner (as groups). In November 2009, Pope Benedict XVI issued an apostolic constitution, Anglicanorum coetibus (Anglicanorum chay-tee-bus), which authorized the ordinariates. In September 2010, the Vatican appointed Cardinal Donald Wuerl, Archbishop of Washington, as its delegate for its implementation in the United States. He, Bishop Kevin Vann of Fort Worth and Bishop Robert McManus of Worcester were assisted by Reverend Scott Hurd, a priest of the Archdiocese of Washington (and a former Anglican priest). Fr. Hurd is serving a three-year term as vicar general of the Ordinariate.


Randy Sly is the Associate Editor of Catholic Online and the CEO/Associate Publisher for the Northern Virginia Local Edition of Catholic Online (http://virginia.catholic.org). He is a former Archbishop of the Charismatic Episcopal Church who laid aside that ministry to enter into the full communion of the Catholic Church.

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