News (Rumour?) about US Ordinariate

HT to Dr Tighe for this story from Virtue Online:

Former Episcopal Bishop Jeffery Steenson to be named the first American Ordinary
Rome will formally announce appointment on New Year’s Day


By Mary Ann Mueller
Special Correspondent
December 22, 2011

Former Episcopal Bishop of the Rio Grande, Jeffery Steenson, is to be named the Ordinary when the Anglican Ordinariate is erected on January 1, 2012, sources tell VOL.

Word seeped out from the Vatican late last week that Steenson — who left The Episcopal Church in 2007 over TEC’s polity – has been tapped for the new post as the Ordinariate gets its first foothold in the United States.

The former Episcopal House of Bishops’ member has been deeply concerned with the continued fracturing of Anglicanism. The Episcopal Church’s insistence on autonomy has further distanced itself from other Anglican provinces and resulted in a shredding of the fabric of Anglicanism.

This reporter came into possession of a private communiqué late Wednesday revealing that Steenson is being tapped for the Ordinariate’s top post. A second confidential source has confirmed the communiqué.

When asked if the former Episcopal Bishop of the Rio Grande has received the nod to be the first Ordinary the source replied: “Yes, Jeffrey Steenson will be the new Ordinary.”

On Tuesday, a third source, The Bovina Bloviator Blog theorized that Steenson would get the miter.

“It is being noised Jeffrey Steenson, the former Bishop of the Diocese of the Rio Grande in the Episcopal Church, who was received into the Catholic Church in 2007 and is now a priest, will be named Ordinary of the American Anglican Ordinariate on January 1, 2012,” the Bovina Bloviator posted under an Ordinariate Buzz header.

Steenson’s Anglo-Catholic pedigree comes from being an Episcopal priest for 24 years including stints as the curate and rector at two Pennsylvania parishes — All Saints’ Church in Wynnewood, and Church of the Good Shepherd in Rosemont, before going on to St. Andrew’s in Fort Worth, Texas. From there he was elected, in 2004, to be bishop coadjutor for the Episcopal Diocese of the Rio Grande under Bishop Terence Kelshaw. The former Rio Grande bishop has the distinction of being the 1000th Episcopal Church bishop consecrated with his “lappets” stretching all the way back to the first Bishop of Connecticut, Samuel Seabury who was consecrated in 1784. Steenson’s consecrators included then Presiding Bishop Frank Griswold, his predecessor Bishop Terence Kelshaw, Anglo-Catholic Bishop Clarence Pope, indigenous Bishop Mark McDonald, and ecumenical Bishop Anthony Burton from the Anglican Church of Canada. Steenson became the eighth diocesan bishop in 2005. He was an Episcopal bishop for two short years before swimming the Tiber.

The Anglo-Catholic Bishop of the Rio Grande shed the purple in December 2007 and was received into full communion with the Roman Catholic Church. This was done in Rome, Italy, at the Basilica of Saint Mary Major during a private ceremony officiated by Bernard Cardinal Law, the former Catholic Cardinal of Boston and then archpriest at a Roman basilica.

The former Episcopal bishop embraced the Pastoral Provision that allows for former Anglican clergy to become Roman Catholics and eventually recoup their priesthood. The Pastoral Provision is the precursor to the unfolding Anglican Ordinariate and will operate along side of it for those converting priests who do not wish to become a part of the Ordinariate yet want to become Roman Catholic.

One year after becoming a Roman Catholic, Cardinal Law ordained Steenson as a Catholic deacon. Fourteen months late, he was priested by Archbishop Michael Sheehan in Rio Rancho, New Mexico, located within the Catholic Archdiocese of Santa Fe, which overlaps the Episcopal Diocese of the Rio Grande.

Since becoming Catholic, Steenson has kept a high profile in his new Catholic circle. He has been active at various levels and has been seen at several Anglican Use events including attending Anglican Use Conferences where he has been the keynote speaker or the preacher at the solemn high Mass. In addition, he has been actively working hand-in-glove with American Catholic bishops as they hammered out the details of how the Anglicanorum Coetibus would be implemented in the United States.

In November, Steenson was introduced to the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops by Donald Cardinal Wuerl. The Cardinal was then tasked with the implementation of the Anglicanorum Coetibus in the United States. Steenson was on hand when the Cardinal announced the January 1 date for the formal erection of the American Ordinariate.

The soon-to-be-named Ordinariate leader was educated at Harvard Divinity School and holds a doctoral degree from Oxford.

Steenson is now in Houston, Texas, where has been on the faculty of St. Thomas University and St. Mary’s Seminary. He has also been instrumental in helping to set up the theological training that his brother bishops and priests will undergo in order to become fully formed Catholic clerics. He has worked at helping to develop the specific elements needed in the formation and retraining program. The former Episcopal bishop has worked closely with both Cardinal Wuerl and Daniel Cardinal DiNardo to get the unique seminary preparation program setup and running in time for the establishment of the Ordinariate on New Year’s Day.

Once the Ordinariate is established, Steenson will be in charge of a non-geographic-type diocese, which encompasses the entire United States from Alaska to Florida and New York to Hawaii.

Since Steenson is married with grown children, according to Anglicanorum Coetibus norms, he can never be elevated to the rank of bishop. However, he will receive the honor due a bishop and will be in the temporal and limited sacramental charge of an as-of-yet-to-be-named Ordinariate; although, he will be prevented from celebrating episcopal sacraments such as ordination.

Once the Ordinariate is established, the initial membership is expected to eclipse the Rio Grande’s numbers. Waiting in the wings are at least 67 priests, as well as a bishop or two, and several established Anglican Use parishes that may or may not be incorporated in the new Ordinariate as it unfolds including the thriving Texas parishes: Our Lady of the Atonement, San Antonio; Our Lady of Walsingham, Houston; and St. Mary the Virgin, Fort Worth. Other established Anglican Use congregations include: St. Thérèse Little Flower in Kansas City, Mo; St. Thomas More, Scranton, Penn; and St. Anselem’s, Corpus Christi, Texas.

Recently, several Episcopal parishes converted to the Roman Catholic Church in anticipation of the Ordinariate. They include: St. Timothy’s, Fort Worth, Texas; St. Luke’s in Bladensburg, Md.; and All Saints Sisters of the Poor in Catonsville, Md.

There are also several Traditional Anglican Communion (Anglican Church in America) congregations scattered around the country poised and ready to convert en masse to Roman Catholicism and be brought into the Ordinariate.

Steenson was unavailable for comment.

This story is copyright, but may be forwarded and posted with full recognition of the source.

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

About Schütz

I am Catholic, married to Cathy, father of Maddy & Mia. Since 2002, I have been the Executive Officer of the Ecumenical & Interfaith Commission of the Archdiocese of Melbourne. I was once a Lutheran pastor, but a "year of grace" and soul-searching led me into the Catholic Church. It was a bumpy ride, but with the support of my (still Lutheran) wife, I was finally confirmed on June 16, 2003.
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7 Responses to News (Rumour?) about US Ordinariate

  1. matthias says:

    Very interesting given that our own Ordinariate will come into being March or April ,and that they will not be worshipping at an old Methodist Church in Caulfield-now a Community Centre- after that, but will be around the corner in an exisiting Catholic parish church.
    Two questions which you might be able to help me with Schutz :
    1/ are some of the Forward in faith parishes also joining
    2/ do we have Anglican use parishes here in oz?

  2. Adam says:

    well David as much as you may have interest in the USA and the Ordinariate there my gut feeling would be that most readers would be keenly, desperately, irrevocably, understandbly, increasingly interested in who will be appointed as new bishops of key Aussie Sees in 2012.
    Just for starters: Sandhurst (1 year today since +Joe Grech died so tragically and still not appointee – what company waits over a year to appoint a new CEO?); Hobart, Brisbane, Toowoomba, Ballarat, Perth. That’s to name just 6, three of which are archbishoprics. Must be a massive headache in Rome and the fact that Sandhurst is still vacant 12 months later means that they are having trouble finding a successor.
    Is it that there are just not enough good candidate-preists from within the Australian priestly caste? Or is it more a case of waiting and seeing which See becomes vacant in case there may have to be major rearrangements for auxiliary bishops etc?
    After all, Lismore is going to be vacant soon and, yes, its less than 5 years before +Pell and +Hart have to offer their resignations to the incumbent pope.
    Ah, what joy to be a member of the Congregation of Bishops and oh to be a fly on the wall of that Curial office.
    Bon anno !

    • Joshua says:

      I hear from very reputable sources that the problem is that good men, when approached, have turned down the offer of a mitre – apparently to be a bishop is considered such a thankless task.

      Certainly several have refused appointment to Sandhurst already.

      • Adam says:

        Ah and watch the rise and rise of +Mark Benedict.
        Just been appointed to Pontifical Council on Mass Communications along with some big names, especially +Dolan of NY.
        +MBC is on the way up and watch for a move to Rome if he does not get Sydney. One way or the other +MBC is headed for a red hat sometime in the next 5 years. Methinks it will be as a senior member of the Curia in Roma. Ad multos annos.

        • matthias says:

          Imagine a Aussie Pope. Would not the media here scream ? And members of the unrepresentative elite such as Geoffrey Robertson and of course Germaine ,as real true blue Aussies pontificate on this -from London !!!

  3. Hannah says:

    Adam it will be difficult to find a replacement for the Archdiocese of Perth. Archbishop Hickey, A shepherd in the like of Jesus will be hard to replace. And looking around the milliue of bishops there arent that many in that style mostly, a lot enamoured with their title and office and adulation accorded them. As for the rest similar problem I suppose and five years is a long time. Priests who have been ordained in the last five years will have had more experience by then. Especially good priests.
    The fly on the wall would fall asleep with boredom listening to the names available.

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