05 May 2012

OLA and the Ordinariate


Here are two letters I sent to parishioners and friends, discussing the decision to withdraw our request for transfer into the Personal Ordinariate of the Chair of St. Peter.

The first one:


Dear Friends,


Fr. Jeffery Moore (our parochial vicar) and I had a good meeting with Archbishop Gustavo Garcia-Siller and Bishop Oscar Cantu to discuss issues surrounding the Ordinariate and what that might mean for the parish. All of us desired to do what is best for the people of Our Lady of the Atonement Church, and it was in a spirit of cooperation that it became evident to me that for the sake of the continued stability and unity of our parish community, the best course of action at this time is to withdraw our request to enter the Ordinariate and to remain in our present status as a Personal Parish of the Anglican Common Identity, as is stated clearly in the Decree of Erection by which we were founded in 1983.

The archbishop recalled his recent visit to the parish, commenting on how impressed he was with the Academy students, with our facility, and with the sense of the sacred found here. He expressed his respect for the fruitful and particular ministry of our parish, and he looks forward to strengthening our bond of communion, as do we.

What does this mean in practical terms? Our liturgical and devotional life does not change, our patrimony remains intact, and our clergy and people remain together as one parish family.

I’m grateful for the archbishop’s warmth and for the respect he has for our heritage, and we look forward to deepening our relationship with him.

From the time of our founding we have been under the maternal care of the Blessed Virgin Mary, Our Lady of the Atonement. She has never failed us, and she did not fail us today. We continue under Our Lady’s patronage, and that of her Divine Son, in union with the Holy Father and with the bishops in communion with him.

Thank you to all who prayed for this important meeting. All of us there felt the presence and power of the Holy Ghost.

Yours in Christ,

Fr. Christopher G. Phillips

And the second:



Dear Friends,


It’s difficult to communicate important information by way of email – there’s an understandable tendency for recipients to forward them all over the place, and there is always the strong possibility of someone misinterpreting them. However, I do want to reiterate some of the points I made in yesterday’s email about my meeting with Archbishop Gustavo Garcia-Siller and Bishop Oscar Cantu.


1. The archbishop is NOT preventing the parish from seeking entrance into the Ordinariate at this time, or at some future time. He was clear about that, and is very respectful of our right to make that request any time.


2. It is important to all of us that we preserve the integrity and unity of our parish – church and school, clergy and people, buildings and patrimony – and at the present time the only way we can insure this is by remaining as we are; namely, a Personal Parish of the Pastoral Provision, rather than a parish of the Ordinariate. We all want the parish to be able to continue as it is, with our clergy and people intact, and with our church and school serving those who want to be here. At some point we may be able to have that in the Ordinariate -- but this is not the time.


3. Our way of worship – our liturgy, our devotional life, our music…everything we treasure and maintain – will be able to continue uninterrupted, and the archbishop and his auxiliary bishop have stated their support and admiration for what is done here.


I know the decision to withdraw our parish request to enter the Ordinariate is unexpected, and some of you might be perplexed. As you know, I have been very excited about the prospect of being in the Ordinariate, but I had to weigh every aspect of this, and decide what would be truly best for us. The stability of our parish is something I know you would not want to discard lightly, and this decision provides us with the best and safest way to continue to “preserve, nurture and share” our Anglican patrimony, as we have done for the past twenty-nine years.


As we have opportunities to deepen our communion with our Father-in-God, Archbishop Gustavo Garcia-Siller, let’s make the most of them. He was genuinely moved to learn that we will be remaining in his jurisdiction for now, and he looks forward (as do we) to strengthening our ties with the archdiocese which has been our home for so long.


The time may come when we are prepared to enter the Ordinariate, and when the Ordinariate will be in a better position to receive us as we are. We can be grateful that God has used our parish, in some small way, to prepare the ground for the establishment of the Ordinariate in this country. As strange as it seems for us not to be part of it from the very beginning, the time is not yet right.


Let’s all pray for the success of the Ordinariate, and especially for the men who are preparing for ordination over the next few months. No matter what jurisdiction we’re in, we’re all working for the same end – the building up of God’s Kingdom!


Yours in Christ,


Fr. Christopher G. Phillips