Early in October last year, we were looking for a place to worship, our minister was awaiting ordination as a Catholic priest, and our congregation was enthusiastic, but at the same time apprehensive.
What a difference six months makes in the life of the Ordinariate in Gippsland. Fr Ken Clark was ordained on 19 October, celebrated his first mass at Sion Chapel, and with the agreement of Fr Hilarion and Bishop Christopher Prowse, was given permission to use the Heyfield church on Sunday mornings, and Cowwarr church during the week for all Ordinariate worship.
Having a permanent home for worship has been a blessing.
We celebrate Sunday mass at 10am, and every fourth Sunday afternoon at 4pm we have Solemn Evensong and Benediction.
During the week we celebrate a mass every Wednesday at Cowwarr, and every second Saturday of the month we celebrate mass at Sr Barbara's place in Mirboo North.
At all times people have been very friendly, inquisitive, and welcoming, and as we are the 'new kids on the block', so to speak, we have the occasional person/people coming through and having a look.
Perhaps the major difference that people see at our masses is the priest facing the tabernacle, oriented towards God, where the priest offers the Sacrifice of the Mass to the Father, while the faithful unite themselves to that Sacrifice.
The priest, and people, who are doing the offering are facing the One who receives the offering; thus we stand before the altar, positioned ad Orientum, facing the Lord leading his people in adoration and worship. Not all like this, but it is the Ordinariate way, and one that our people prefer.
Fr Ken Clark has been called on to assist in Maffra and Cowwarr during busy times, such as Easter and Christmas, and has been pleased to assist the Cathedral parish by doing some supply work in Rosedale and Briagalong.
This makes for very interesting times given that Fr Ken and his wife Carmel also manage the Maffra Motor Inn. Alongside that, people often ask why Fr Ken is not working fulltime as a priest and leaving the running of the Motel to Carmel.
The reason for this is that the Ordinariate is a very young Diocese in Australia and has no sustainable finances to pay any form of stipend, though there are hopes for this in the future.
The only way that the ministry can be funded here in Gippsland is to have a priest "engaged in secular employment compatible with the exercise of priestly ministry" ( Anglicanorum Coetibus, Complementary Norms, Art 7:3).
For our small congregation to come into communion with the Catholic Church six months ago has been a blessing.
In many ways we have come home, back to the Church from which our former denomination left over five hundred years ago.
We have been truly blessed with a fine organist who plays for us on Sundays, and Evensong. At Easter we had a High Mass using the high altar at Heyfield for the first time, with a server, music, and incense – truly bliss.
Our numbers are growing, slowly but surely, as people 'come and see'. Some like what they see and stay.
This year the Ordinariate will have for the first time its own missal, devised for use by Ordinariates throughout the English-speaking world as a way of putting into practice Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI's vision of allowing former Anglicans who wish to enter the full communion of the Catholic Church to do so whilst retaining aspects of their spiritual and liturgical traditions.
Benedict XVI described these as "precious gifts" and "treasures to be shared". The new liturgy – the work of a special commission established by Rome and now approved by the Holy See – includes material from the Anglican Book of Common Prayer (1662) as well as the Roman Rite.
The Ordinariate in Gippsland has three principles:
• To enshrine the Eucharistic sacrifice of His Body and Blood at the heart of the parish, celebrating the liturgy with reverence, beauty, and awe for the mysteries celebrated, facilitating the encounter with Christ during the Mass.
• To be a sacramental community open to God through prayer, by the movements of God in love toward each and every member placing prayer at the parish core.
• To enhance fellowship where "True joy comes from a profound harmony between persons and this feeling of deep joy is the presence of God, the presence of God in the family and his love, which is welcoming, merciful, and respectful towards all" (Pope Francis) and flows from the encounter with Christ in the Eucharist.
If you wish to join the Ordinariate, it is open to those faithful, of every category and state of life, who, originally having belonged to the Anglican Communion, are now in full communion with the Catholic Church, or who are received into it because they are part of a family belonging to the Ordinariate; or anyone who has not completed the rites of Catholic initiation, including Catholics who have been baptised but not confirmed.
One final thing, you do not have to be a member of the Ordinariate to worship with us, or to join our congregation; just turn up, you will be most welcome.
From the Gippsland Ordinariate News.