By Kevin Kelly Catholic Key Associate Editor
KANSAS CITY — A regional conference exploring the possibility of “ordinariates” within the Roman Catholic Church being established for Anglicans and Episcopalian parishes seeking full communion will be held Feb. 25 and 26.
The conference, entitled “Becoming One,” will begin with Evensong, an Anglican form of Vespers, on Feb. 25, and will conclude with the celebration of Noonday Prayers Feb. 26 at St. Therese Little Flower Parish, 5815 Euclid, in Kansas City. The conference will also include celebration of the Anglican Use Mass.
“Becoming One” will be hosted by Father Ernie Davis, a former Episcopalian priest who was ordained into the Roman Catholic priesthood in 2002. Administrator of St. Therese Little Flower Parish, Father Davis has celebrated a weekly Anglican Use Mass at the parish, beginning with a community of Anglicans who were received into full communion with the Roman Catholic Church in 2008.
The conference will explore the 2009 apostolic constitution Anglicanorum Coetibus and its Complementary Norms in which Pope Benedict XVI set a structure for accepting and governance of Anglican communities seeking full communion. The constitution was written following a request by the worldwide Traditional Anglican Communion, once part of the broader Anglican Communion, to be accepted corporately into the Roman Catholic Church while retaining Anglican traditions and liturgies.
Father Davis said one goal of the conference is to bring together leaders of scattered Anglican communities who are discerning full communion with the Roman Catholic Church.
“We are talking about scattered groups of very small communities,” he said. “These are groups who have left the Episcopalian Church and have carried on courageously for maybe 20, 30 or 40 years. They have been heroic with sticking with the essentials of the Christian faith. It is that group that went to the pope and said, ‘We want to be received into the Catholic Church.’”
Featured speakers at the conference will be Traditional Anglican Bishop David Moyer, rector of Good Shepherd Parish in Rosemont, Pa., and Father Christopher Phillips, pastor of Our Lady of the Atonement Catholic Parish in San Antonio.
Father Davis said that Father Phillips, a former Anglican priest, was received and ordained along with a community of 18 Anglicans in 1983, and established the “personal parish” or parish without boundaries for Anglicans in San Antonio. Today, the parish has grown to some 500 families with a school.
“He (Father Phillips) represents the good of what could happen, but maybe not everywhere, of a fully Roman Catholic parish in the Anglican tradition,” Father Davis said.
Father Davis said an “ordinariate” for Anglicans being received into the Roman Catholic Church would be like a “diocese without borders” existing side by side, but not apart from, Roman Catholic dioceses.
It would be similar to, but not exactly like, the “personal prelature” established for members of Opus Dei, as well as the dioceses and eparchies existing along with Roman Catholic dioceses for Eastern Rite Churches in full communion with Rome.
“The biggest difference is that the Eastern Rite Churches are all churches like the Roman Catholic Church that are in union with Rome,” he said.
An ordinariate for Anglicans in full communion “will be a subset within the Roman Catholic Church,” he said.
“This is very much people bringing their small ‘t’ traditions into the Roman Catholic Church, but at the same time saying, ‘We believe in the capital ‘T’ Traditions of the Catholic Church,” Father Davis said.
Father Davis said that St. Therese Little Flower Parish also stands as a model of a Roman Catholic Parish community, with its own Gospel Mass traditions, existing side by side with an Anglican Use community in union with Rome.
“There is an excitement at the opportunity to do something brand new in the Catholic Church, to create in Kansas City an Anglican Use parish” within a thriving Catholic parish.
“That is why St. Therese (Parish) has something to offer,” he said. “By joining forces, you can have a win-win situation.”
The model at St. Therese Little Flower may not be possible in other places, but other possibilities will be explored at the Becoming One conference, he said.
Already 25 people have registered for the conference, including Anglican and Episcopalian clergy from an area stretching from Nebraska to Arkansas.
“What I hope is that it will give people the opportunity to meet and to see what else is out there as we try to build a sense of optimism, a sense of trust that they will be able to go forward together,” Father Davis said.
The fee for the conference is $25 per person and includes dinner on Feb. 25 and lunch on Feb. 26. Registration can be made at www.diocese-kcsj.org by clicking “Event Registration” on the right side of the Web page and scrolling down to “Ordinariate Conference — Becoming One.”