Former Episcopalian priests react to news of Anglican Ordinariate and Bishop Vann's appointment

By Tony Gutiérrez

Associate Editor

Former Anglican priest Timothy Perkins shares his joy at being received into the Catholic Church with members of St. Peter the Rock community, Sept. 25, in St. Patrick Cathedral. That day 24 members of their community were received into the Roman Catholic Church. (NTC Photo / Juan Guajardo)

Former Episcopalian priests who have been received into the Catholic Church over the years expressed joy following the Nov. 15, announcement of Bishop Kevin Vann’s appointment as Ecclesiastical Delegate for the Pastoral Provision in the United States, and that the Personal Ordinariate for former Anglicans in the U.S. would be established Jan 1, 2012.

Bishop Vann succeeds Archbishop John Myers of the Archdiocese of Newark, New Jersey, in this role, and will assist former Protestant ministers, most of whom come from the Anglican tradition, to receive Holy Orders in the Catholic Church. The Ordinariate, under the direction of

Pope Benedict XVI’s apostolic constitution Anglicanorum Coetibus, will allow former Episcopalians in the U.S. to come into the Church and still retain much of their liturgical heritage and patrimony.

“The news that Bishop Vann was appointed Ecclesiastical Delegate, I couldn’t think of a better bishop for that job,” said Charles Hough, a former Episcopalian priest who was among 24 members of the St. Peter the Rock community who were received into the Catholic Church Sept. 25 of this year. “He’s in a diocese with a long history with the Pastoral Provision,” Hough continued, “and has an excellent relationship with the Episcopal Diocese of Fort Worth.”

Hough is one of three spiritual leaders for the community which had been meeting at the diocesan Catholic Center until recently. The community is divided into three fellowships: St. John Vianney in Cleburne, which Hough leads; St. Peter the Rock in Arlington, led by Timothy Perkins, another former Episcopalian priest; and Blessed John Henry Newman in Keller, led by Louis Tobola, also a former Episcopalian priest who is still in the process of coming into the Catholic Church with the members of his fellowship.

Hough said he hopes the three fellowships will plant the seeds for new parishes in the Ordinariate once it is established.

“We’re fully Catholic, but we’re bringing with us a heritage the Holy Father thinks is going to be a great value to the Church,” Hough said. “It’s the culmination of the Oxford Movement. All of us have prepared for full reunion, and this allows this to happen. The Holy Father is reaching out to Anglicans, including myself.”

Perkins said he has been encouraged by not only the members within his community, but by other Catholics as well.

“People are encouraged, enthused, and inspired by what’s going on,” he said. “I think they see the fruit of God in this.”

Hough said that he, Perkins, and Hough’s son, Charles Hough, VI, also a former Episcopalian priest, have all been accepted into St. Mary Seminary in Houston, where they will begin a six- to nine-month program of priestly formation in January.

Though these men are at the beginning of their journey toward ordination as Catholic priests, the Diocese of Fort Worth has several priests who have already received Holy Orders under the Pastoral Provision. In interviews with the North Texas Catholic, they expressed their own excitement at the news of the establishment of the new ordinariate and Bishop Vann’s appointment as Ecclesiastical Delegate for the Pastoral Provision.

 “We’re excited. It’s simply a time of thanksgiving,” said Father Allan Hawkins, pastor of St. Mary the Virgin Parish in Arlington, which is the only Anglican Use parish in the diocese and hosted the national Anglican Use Conference this summer.

 “I spent my life working toward this,” said Fr. Hawkins, who was ordained under the Pastoral Provision in 1994. “At 14, I realized the need for unity within the Church, and for Anglicans, that meant reunion with Rome.”

Father James Hart, pastor of St. Elizabeth Ann Seton Parish in Keller, who was ordained under the Pastoral Provision in 1996, said it was a great honor for Bishop Vann to be appointed Ecclesiastical Delegate.

 “It’s a big responsibility. He’s been so very much involved in the affairs with Episcopalians in this diocese, simply because this area is the area from which most of them come,” he said.

Fr. Hart also added that the apostolic constitution was a “very generous, gracious, and truly gospel-oriented outreach of the Holy Father to those in the Anglican Communion... As head of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, [then-Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger] was very instrumental in overseeing the Pastoral Provision, and it was under his purview that I was received into the Church.”

Father David Bristow, pastor of St. Mary of the Assumption Parish on the near South Side of Fort Worth, who was ordained under the Pastoral Provision in 1998, said he was excited just to renew his friendships with other former Episcopalian priests with whom he had served.

“I was an Episcopalian priest for a long time (25 years),” he said. “A lot of men who will be coming in through the Ordinariate are friends of mine, and it will be a very happy day for me to be close to them again the way we were when we were Episcopalian.”

Former Episcopalian priests who have been received into the Catholic Church over the years expressed joy following the Nov. 15, announcement of Bishop Kevin Vann’s appointment as Ecclesiastical Delegate for the Pastoral Provision in the United States, and that the Personal Ordinariate for former Anglicans in the U.S. would be established Jan 1, 2012.

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