|A fragment of farmland within a half mile of Hemel's estates|
Hemel Hempstead was once a small market town set in rural Hertfordshire. Then the planners came along, London spilled over, and the result is the New Town. The Catholic Church has a considerable presence despite a shortage of priests, and the Ordinariate shares the Parish Church of St Mark, a Church within a Catholic secondary school. The Group has had a tough time, since for the past two years it has been without its own pastor. They have even bought a house for their priest - yet still they wait an appointment. There has been a succession of priests helping out. Today, and on one or two Sundays each month, Fr Anthony Homer commutes in from central London to celebrate their 8.45am Mass.
It was a great pleasure for me to be able to concelebrate with Fr Anthony, and then with my wife to meet members of the Group - many of them old friends from our time in St Albans, when we often went over to St Francis', Hammerfield, the former Anglican home of many in the Group. As in Bournemouth, refreshments after Mass provide part of the clue to how such a Group holds together. They know one another very well, and are supportive of everyone.
|A classroom in not an ideal meeting-place; but better than nowhere.|
Brian Cox is Chair of the Group's Council, and despite a cataract operation earlier in the week was present to introduce the Novena which our Ordinary is asking us all to support. Mgr Keith visited Hammerfield a week ago; but had no further news about a permanent Ordinariate priest for them. There are former Anglican priests on the way to Ordination within the Catholic Church; but there seems to be some resistance to ordaining individual priests for the Ordinariate - instead they are expected to go down the 'ordinary' (that is to say Diocesan) route.
|Pray for the Hemel Ordinariate|
Unless there is a relaxation in this insistence, the Ordinariate is doomed to die out within a generation and Pope Benedict's vision will have been frustrated.. Surely the Ordinariate must be able to produce and ordain its own men? The argument appears to be that Anglicanorum Coetibus was designed for Groups
of Anglicans. So it was. But individuals can join, and that needs to include Anglican clergy who may, or may not, be accompanied by other lay people. There are Groups without priests. There are Anglican clergy seeking a ministry within the Catholic Church. Where is the problem?
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