Ordination before formation or formation after ordination?

Maybe some of my informed readers can help me out on this.  Are there different policies concerning the formation of incoming Ordinariate clergy, depending on the country?

For instance, in the United States, what has been the length of time required ahead of ordination for clergy?  In the United Kingdom?  In Australia?

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20 Responses to Ordination before formation or formation after ordination?

  1. Rev22:17 says:

    Deborah,

    You asked: Maybe some of my informed readers can help me out on this. Are there different policies concerning the formation of incoming Ordinariate clergy, depending on the country?

    For instance, in the United States, what has been the length of time required ahead of ordination for clergy? In the United Kingdom? In Australia?

    Prior to the late 1970’s, the numbers of former Anglican (and former Lutheran) clergy who sought ordination in the Catholic Church were few so their formation for Catholic ordination was more or less ad hoc under the direction of their bishops. Two significant developments in the 1970’s changed that.

    >> 1. There was a general recognition by the magisterium of the Catholic Church that many seminaries were not providing adequate formation for ordained ministry. As a result, the magisterium, operating at various levels, established new standards for seminary formation that began to take effect around 1980.

    >> 2. The 1977 decision of the Episcopal Church – U. S. A. (ECUSA), now known as The Episcopal Church (TEC), to ordain women drove many orthodox clergy to flee that body, and many of those departing then sought ordination in the Catholic Church. Pope John Paul II responded to this development with the so-called “Pastoral Provision” and appointment of an “Apostolic Delegate” to facilitate the process.

    The convergence of these developments gave rise to the establishment of a more or less standard program of formation for former Anglican clergy seeking ordination in the Catholic Church, building upon their previous formation in the Anglican Communion, that normally takes about two years. The normal practice is for Catholic ordination to come at the end of the program of formation. Alas, in 1983, the case of Fr. Christopher Phillips, who brought a congregation (now the “Anglican Use” Parish of Our Lady of the Atonement in San Antonio, Texas) with him, required an exception: there was a need to ordain him as expeditiously as possible so he could resume his role as pastor of that congregation. Thus, he completed most of the program of formation after his Catholic ordination. This obviousy set a precedent for the handful of former Anglican clergy who came to the Catholic Church with congregations, though probably with some adjustment based on the experience of the previous cases.

    The ordinariates are undoubtedly building on the experience of the pastoral provision, but they are working with (1) much larger numbers of former Anglican clergy and congregations and (2) clergy coming from “Continuing Anglican” bodies, some of whom have not completed the full program of seminary formation of the Anglican Communion. Here, the initial wave of the Personal Ordinariate of Our Lady of Walsingham and the first group of clergy for the Personal Ordinariate of the Chair of St. Peter seem to have followed the same basic pattern, consisting of an academic semester of formation before ordination and the balance after, even though their circumstances are very different. The tenative schedule for your administrator, beginning the formation program this month with ordination around the end of November, is fully consistent with this pattern, which undoubtedly will hold for all former Anglican clergy who completed a full program of seminary formation in the Anglican Communion. Of course, this timeline is also susceptable to alteration if unexpected issues arise, as in the case of Fr. John Hunwicke of the Personal Ordinariate of Our Lady of Walsingham.

    The situation of clergy who received their formation for ministry in various “Continuing Anglican” bodies is more difficult to assess, and the ordinariates probably will have to address it case by case. Much will depend upon the ability to obtain documentation of their past formation. Those who can produce documentation showing formation equivalent to an Anglican seminary will follow substantially the same track as those who completed an Anglican seminary program. At the other extreme, those who cannot produce documentation or whose documentation contains major gaps may have to complete a full Catholic seminary program. Of course, there are many degrees of “in between” — some probably will be able to cure deficiencies in their documented prior formation with a semester or two of additional formation in a Catholic school of theology (or seminary) before their Catholic ordinations. Here, the case of Fr. James Bradley of the Personal Ordinariate of Our Lady of Walsingham is instructive: he was an Anglican seminarian, ordained as a transitional deacon, when he came into the Catholic Church, so he received Catholic ordination to deaconate fairly quickly, then completed his seminary training in a Catholic seminary prior to ordination as a presbyter.

    The Personal Ordinariate of Our Lady of the Southern Cross has not progressed to the point of ordaining its clergy, but I have seen no indication that its processes will differ substantially from those of the Personal Ordinariate of Our Lady of Walsingham and the Personal Ordinariate of the Chair of St. Peter.

    Norm.

    • frphillips says:

      Norm, I must post a correction about the time and sequence of my preparation/ordination. I was assessed and began my formation shortly after arriving in San Antonio, while giving pastoral care to those former Episcopalians who would become the first members of Our Lady of the Atonement Church. I continued my studies and was examined by a mentor priest in San Antonio, and then went to Catholic University in Washington for my final examinations. It was only after successfully completing my exams that an ordination date was set — in all, the process took about a year and a half. Meanwhile, my people and I were waiting outside full Catholic communion. I was received six weeks or so before the congregation. They made their Profession of Faith at my priestly ordination, and were confirmed very shortly after during a visit to our parish by one of the Auxiliary Bishops. The time period for all this was from January 1982 to August 1983.

      To summarize: my formation and examinations at Catholic University all took place before my ordination.

      • Rev22:17 says:

        Fr. Phillips,

        I’m ecstatic that you are now joining the discussion on this blog, and I hope that you will continue to contribute!

        I must post a correction about the time and sequence of my preparation/ordination. I was assessed and began my formation shortly after arriving in San Antonio, while giving pastoral care to those former Episcopalians who would become the first members of Our Lady of the Atonement Church. I continued my studies and was examined by a mentor priest in San Antonio, and then went to Catholic University in Washington for my final examinations. It was only after successfully completing my exams that an ordination date was set — in all, the process took about a year and a half. Meanwhile, my people and I were waiting outside full Catholic communion. I was received six weeks or so before the congregation. They made their Profession of Faith at my priestly ordination, and were confirmed very shortly after during a visit to our parish by one of the Auxiliary Bishops. The time period for all this was from January 1982 to August 1983.

        Thank you for the correction. I was aware, from your previous posting of the timetable on another blog, that you were received into full communion a few weeks ahead of your congregation and that your congregation was received on the date of your ordination as a Catholic presbyter, with your congregation observing a eucharistic fast and your ordination to the deaconate occurring during the interim period. I was not previously aware that this whole sequence was awaited the end of your Catholic formation. In any case, the ordinariates clearly are proceding to Catholic ordinations after the first semester of Catholic formation.

        Not to change the subject, but can you tell us the reasons for deferring your parish’s transition from the Archdiocese of San Antonio to the Personal Ordinariate of the Chair of St. Peter indefinitely? I can engage in educated speculation as well as anybody, the obvious potential issues being the ordinariate’s capacity to support the school and the potential presence of parishonners on the parish’s roles who are not eligible to join the ordinariate (one would think that the Vatican would grant dispensations fairly readily for the latter), but I would rather know the truth.

        Norm.

  2. Peter Karl T. Perkins says:

    I’ve noticed that the four men to be ordained for the Australian personal of the Southern Cross on 8th September, the Feast of the Nativity of our Lady, are all recent members of the Anglican Church of Australia. Not one of them hales from the TAC. I am wondering how many Australian TAC priests have received the nulla osta and when they will be able to enter formation programmes leading to ordination. In Canada, only two priests from the Canterburian Anglican Church of Canada have entered the American Ordinariate. As it happens, they are the only two to have been ordained as Catholic priests so far: not even one of the former TAC priests has been ordained as a Catholic priest.

    The Mass at Perth as reported on this blog was just the Novus Ordo with two short prayers thrown in from the Anglican patrimony. Now we find that the clergy, apart from Msgr. Entwistle, will be all non-TAC clergy at first. I am beginning to wonder how much the Australian Ordinariate will resemble the Australian TAC. Will the two have anything in common at all?

    P.K.T.P.

    • Rev22:17 says:

      Peter,

      You wrote: I’ve noticed that the four men to be ordained for the Australian personal of the Southern Cross on 8th September, the Feast of the Nativity of our Lady, are all recent members of the Anglican Church of Australia. Not one of them hales from the TAC.

      The Personal Ordinariate of Our Lady of the Southern Cross is receiving parishes and clergy from both bodies. It’s likely that former TAC clergy were not named in that announcement because their ordinations will occur in different locations and at different times.

      You wrote: In Canada, only two priests from the Canterburian Anglican Church of Canada have entered the American Ordinariate. As it happens, they are the only two to have been ordained as Catholic priests so far: not even one of the former TAC priests has been ordained as a Catholic priest.

      The clergy of the Anglican Catholic Church of Canada (ACCC) and the Patrimony of the Primate here in the States apparently missed the deadline for inclusion in the first class for the Personal Ordinariate of the Chair of St. Peter, but will be included in the second class (scheduled to start this month).

      You wrote: … apart from Msgr. Entwistle…

      It appears that you have promoted Fr. Entwistle prematurely. I expect that he will be named an Apostolic Protonotary, like the other ordinaries, in due course, but the web site of the Australian Conference still lists the ordinary as “Rev Fr Harry Entwistle” so it apparently has not happened yet.

      Norm.

    • Joshua says:

      PKTP,

      My source who attended that Mass in Perth also said – as I believe I did – that they were working toward using the BDW, but, as Fr Entwistle is at present their only priest, it was adjudged easiest – for the sake of any local diocesan priests who might have to fill in for him while he makes his way round the continent – to say Mass in the modern Roman Rite’s Ordinary Form, albeit facing east, with kneeling communion, etc., plus a few Anglican prayers, and good music, rather than confront any local priests having to come and assist with a rite to them unknown.

  3. Pingback: Ordination Before Formation or Formation Before Ordination? « Fr Stephen Smuts

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  5. Foolishness says:

    I have heard there are another five former priests, all from the TAC, who will be ordained some time soon in Australia. Have also heard there will be more TAC priests than from other sources once everyone is in.

    As for formation, in Australia it seems—-but maybe someone on the ground there can correct me—ordination is taking place more on the front-end with formation to follow and continue afterwards. In the UK there was a short pre-ordination formation, no? and then continuing shoring up afterwards.

    We are hoping there will be ordinations of at least some of the former TAC priests in Canada some time this year. Don’t want to say anything further as I don’t want to ruin anything.

    I also heard that John Hepworth and some others have resigned from the Anglican Catholic Church of Australia and it is now in the hands of the new TAC, but I don’t have details or a sense of when this may have happened.

    The Mass at Perth was done that way largely because in this interim period when the Ordinary will be away a lot. It’s not the end of the world and I believe it is a temporary measure until priests are ordained and the Ordinary does not have to rely on visiting Catholic priests to celebrate Mass in his parish while he’s traveling. We here in Ottawa have our beloved “Liturgy Nazi (as in the Soup Nazi on Seinfeld) providing training and help for any of the priests who come in to celebrate Mass with us. As the young priest who celebrated Mass for the first time with us yesterday, it’s a lot more complex than what he’s used to. But he was glad to have done it. And he was a big hit with us, as they all have been.

    • Rev22:17 says:

      Deborah,

      You wrote: As for formation, in Australia it seems—-but maybe someone on the ground there can correct me—ordination is taking place more on the front-end with formation to follow and continue afterwards.

      I rather suspect that their formation started before Fr. Entwistle’s Catholic ordination. It may have been concurrent with Fr. Entwistle’s. The Apostolic Delegate, Bishop Peter Elliott, probably coordinated it.

      You wrote: In the UK there was a short pre-ordination formation, no? and then continuing shoring up afterwards.

      The initial wave actually began their training in January of 2010 even though they did not formally resign from the Church of England until the start of Lent. The preponderance of ordinations to the order of presbyter occurred in June of that year.

      But yes, they are doing a fairly extensive reading program that’s expected to take about two years (more or less, depending upon individual circumstances and other responsibilities) for completion.

      You wrote: We are hoping there will be ordinations of at least some of the former TAC priests in Canada some time this year. Don’t want to say anything further as I don’t want to ruin anything.

      Yes, it’s unfortunate that nearly all of the clergy coming from the Patrimony of the Primate here in the States and from the Anglican Catholic Church of Canada apparently missed the deadline for inclusion in the first group to begin Catholic training for the Personal Ordinariate of the Chair of St. Peter. But your comments to date indicate that the services provided by your chaplains in the interim have been more than satisfactory. I hope and pray that the other congregations affected by this are similarly blessed!

      You wrote: I also heard that John Hepworth and some others have resigned from the Anglican Catholic Church of Australia and it is now in the hands of the new TAC, but I don’t have details or a sense of when this may have happened.

      A split of the Anglican Catholic Church in Australia, one group remaining with Archbishop John Hepworth and another going with the new Traditional Anglican Communion, would not be a surprise.

      Norm.

  6. David Murphy says:

    Norm, you seem to be very well informed and to present all your information in a very balanced way. I concur with your explanations.

    It is fairly clear that there is no discrimination whatsoever against former TAC clergy. Already several of them have been ordained, in fact in each of the Ordinariates, and the whole exercise is only 20 months old – thus they have all been ordained within the previous two year period which applied to Anglican trained clergy.

    I think the most obvious proof that the TAC is being treated no differently from other Anglican churches is the fact that a TAC bishop, Harry Entwistle, i.e. not a bishop of the Anglican Communion who later joined the TAC, like Robert Mercer, but one who was appointed and ordained bishop within the TAC, has been appointed Ordinary in Australia in the same way as his “official” Anglican colleagues in England and the U.S..

    And like the three ex-bishops in the U.K. he has been ordained immediately after being received, without any previous Roman Catholic formation whatsoever.

    So I would be grateful if we could end the conspiracy theories.

    • Rev22:17 says:

      David,

      You wrote: And like the three ex-bishops in the U.K. he has been ordained immediately after being received, without any previous Roman Catholic formation whatsoever.

      I don’t believe the last clause (“without any previous Roman Catholic formation whatsoever”) to be accurate. Prior to 2011, the five former bishops of the Church of England were engaged in active discussions with the Vatican and at least two of the active bishops took leaves of absence for periods of study, with no official statement as to what they were studying, so it appears that the five completed program of formation for Catholic ministry before coming into the Catholic Church. I see no reason to presume that former bishops of the Traditional Anglican Communion, now Msgr. Robert Mercer and Fr. Harry Entwistle did not complete a similar program of Catholic formation prior to their receptions into full communion and Catholic ordinations, either. The process of Msgr. Mercer’s reception lasted over a year and the erection of the Personal Ordinariate of Our Lady of the Southern Cross took about two years, so both certainly allowed plenty of time for the respective individuals to complete Catholic formation programs. Of course, these formation programs would be the subject of public statements we would hear of them only if a reporter happened to ask the right question during a press conference (which, to my knowledge, didn’t happen).

      You wrote: So I would be grateful if we could end the conspiracy theories.

      As would I.

      Unfortunately, the conspiracy theories pertaining to the TAC are fueled by naysayers who decided to remain in the TAC because they are absolutely certain that the ordinariates are just smoke and mirrors that won’t be what they really want. The conspiracy theories that relegate the TAC to second place will lose credibility pretty quickly once the ordinariates are up and running and the former TAC members are full equals, but that will take some time. Of course, that won’t stop the naysayers from advancing new conspiracy theories, either: there are those even now who suggest that the ordinariates are temporary quasi-diocesan structures that will be suppressed in due course, relegating their members to the regular diocesan structure. The better outcome obviously would be for the ordinariates to grow into full-blown personal dioceses, but that will take some time. But undoubtedly some who remain skeptical will join the ordinariates after they are up and running.

      The reception of the whole of the Global Anglican Futures Conference (GAFCON) would change the picture dramatically by forming ordinariates where the numbers are not now sufficient. Such a development probably is at least five or ten years away, but the present ordinariates clearly show the provinces of GAFCON the plausibility of such an arrangement. The lessons learned in the present process obviously also will be useful in implementing this process on a larger scale when the time comes.

      Norm.

      • William Tighe says:

        “The reception of the whole of the Global Anglican Futures Conference (GAFCON) would change the picture dramatically by forming ordinariates where the numbers are not now sufficient.”

        Which is about as likely as snowfall on Midsummer Day in the Mojavi Desert, as most of the GAFCON bishops and churches are enthusiasts for the pretended ordination of women to the priesthood, and most of those opposed to it do not think it any “big deal.”

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  8. EPMS says:

    Some TAC clergy, like Fr Entwistle, completed the equivalent of an M.Div and were ordained in the CofE, or other mainstream Anglican body, before they left to join a TAC denomination. This seems to be the key to the fast track. Norm has mentioned several times that ACCC clergy ” missed the deadline” for the first round of ordination preparation in OCSP. But they initially submitted their dossiers in 2010, so this seems unlikely.

    • Rev22:17 says:

      EPMS,

      You wrote: Norm has mentioned several times that ACCC clergy ” missed the deadline” for the first round of ordination preparation in OCSP. But they initially submitted their dossiers in 2010, so this seems unlikely.

      Let me amplify on the situation.

      Although clergy of the Anglican Catholic Church of Canada (ACCC) may have submitted their dossiers to Archbishop Collins in 2010, there were issues surrounding the ACCC as a body, and the Traditional Anglican Communion (TAC) as a whole, that persisted until the summer of 2011. Thus, Archbishop Collins could not forward their dossiers to the Vatican until the TAC gave the ACCC the proverbial “green light” to proceed. The same issues surrounded the TAC parishes that had moved to the Patrimony of the Primate here in the States. All of this delayed the submission of TAC dossiers to the Vatican, where they hit an overwhelmed bureaucracy that probably decided to shuffle the cases that appeared to be “pro forma” (very easy) to the top of the stack to get as many processed as quickly as possible. When the dust settled, most of the TAC clergy did not receive the nulla osta in time to be part of the first group of clergy to begin the ordinariate’s formation program in January of this year.

      Here, I should point out that the dossiers of the clergy of St. John the Evangelist Parish in Calgary were not affected by this situation. Rather, it was clear that St. John the Evangelist Parish would enter the Catholic Church as a personal parish of the Diocese of Calgary until it could move into an ordinariate. Thus, its clergy received the nulla osta in plenty of time to join the first group of the formation program. There obviously was a lot of coordination going on between the apostolic delgate, the Bishop of Calgary, and the Vatican behind the scenes to make this happen, and it also explains the timing of Cardinal Collins’s request to the ordinary to “assist in the reception of Canadians” before the formal announcement of plans for the Canadian deanery.

      Norm.

      • EPMS says:

        Well, somebody at the Vatican must have seen the dossiers because a number of ACCC clergy received notice therefrom, last year, that they could not proceed to ordination because of previous membership in the Catholic church.

  9. Mourad says:

    I agree with all the posts above which suggest that there is no discriminination as between the different Anglican jurisdictions per se. What you do see is a very high degree of flexibility to meet specific circumstances and needs and (for Catholics) that degree of flexibility is very unusual and shows the concern of the Holy See to make the process work.

    A distinction has to be made between the administrative process and the formation process.

    So far as the administrative process is concerned, an Ordinary cannot issue dimmisoral letters to a Bishop to ordain a candidate until a document known as a “nihil obstat” is received from Rome. “Nihil Obstat” translates as “nothing stands in the way” and it is therefore the Papal licence to proceed. This means, inter alia, that for a married candidate the Holy Father personally has approved a dispensation from the usual Catholic requirement of priestly celibacy and also that on examination of the candidate’s personal dossier there is nothing untoward which would otherwise disqualify the candidate. These tend to be issued in batches.

    But so far as the formation process is concerned, that can begin before the administrative process is complete and can and does continue after ordination. The aim is to eventually bring the candidate up to at least the same level of traning that a Catholic priest would have received in the ordinary way. This involves an individualised assessment of what training the candidate has already received – and where. For CofE clergy in the UK that is relatively certain, but the range of possibilities for other candidates may be wider.

    Ordinaries are also given a degree of flexibility as to how they arrange training. In the UK (where distances are much smaller) all the initial formation has been done in collaboration with the Westmnister Diocesan Seminary, Allen Hall. In the USA/Canada the sheer distance has imposed a greater use of modern technology. Australia is also much bigger than the UK so they will devise their own arrangements.

    In the UK – which has been going longer – the clergy formation days continue and in addition (i) numbes of priests are now doing degree courses in theology, canon law and other subjects with Catholic higher educational insitutions such as Maryvale and the University of Louvain; (ii) priests are also participating in doicesan continuing formation programmes.

  10. frphillips says:

    Norm, you wrote in your comment above, “Not to change the subject, but can you tell us the reasons for deferring your parish’s transition from the Archdiocese of San Antonio to the Personal Ordinariate of the Chair of St. Peter indefinitely? I can engage in educated speculation as well as anybody, the obvious potential issues being the ordinariate’s capacity to support the school and the potential presence of parishonners on the parish’s roles who are not eligible to join the ordinariate (one would think that the Vatican would grant dispensations fairly readily for the latter), but I would rather know the truth.”

    I’d prefer not to outline the reasons that Our Lady of the Atonement Parish is not part of the Ordinariate at this time, and speculation from others wouldn’t really be helpful. I can tell you however, that “the ordinariate’s capacity to support the school” has nothing to do with it, because the school does not need any support. The parish (church and school combined) operates with an annual budget in excess of $4 million, and additionally, the school has more than $2 million in the bank in preparation for the large expansion of our facility to ease our over-crowding.

    You also mentioned the “presence of parishonners [sic] on the parish’s roles who are not eligible to join the ordinariate.” Again, this is not an issue. We carried out a careful census of our members, and fully two-thirds of our families are automatically eligible for ordinariate membership. As for our remaining one-third, most of them have belonged to the parish for years, and we certainly have seen in the reception of other ordinariate groups that there are always a number of “Catholics restored to communion,” so that would not be a reason (I’m sure our people would not be held to a standard different from other groups).

    I’d really prefer to leave it at that, and state again that there are reasons that the parish is not entering the ordinariate at this time. That doesn’t mean “never,” it simply means “at this time.” I have communicated with Msgr Steenson often, and have made it clear that we, as a parish, are fully supportive of the ordinariate, and that I am more than willing to be of whatever assistance which might be desired. Of course, my primary responsibility is to the families entrusted to my pastoral care (nearly three thousand souls between the church and the school), but if our thirty years of experience in maintaining the Anglican patrimony within the Catholic Church is useful to anyone, we are very happy and willing to share it with those in the ordinariate.

    • Rev22:17 says:

      Fr. Phillips,

      You wrote: I can tell you however, that “the ordinariate’s capacity to support the school” has nothing to do with it, because the school does not need any support. The parish (church and school combined) operates with an annual budget in excess of $4 million, and additionally, the school has more than $2 million in the bank in preparation for the large expansion of our facility to ease our over-crowding.

      Sorry for any misunderstanding, but I really did not intend the reference to “support” in the financial sense. Rather, I was referring to the central administrative functions that a diocesan office of Catholic schools would normally provide.

      You wrote: … there are reasons that the parish is not entering the ordinariate at this time. That doesn’t mean “never,” it simply means “at this time.”

      Yes, I understood that quite well from your announcement to your congregation. I look forward to the day when the present obstacles are resolved so your parish can move to the ordinariate.

      Norm.

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