And Then There Were Two (Updated)

Anglo-Catholic parishes in the Episcopal Church in Baltimore…

This has been rumored for a while and I’d heard through unofficial channels but it is now officially announced: Mount Calvary is seeking to leave the Episcopal Church and join the Roman ex-Anglican Ordinariate. This comes as no surprise to those who know the church or the rector.

I’ve heard from off-line sources further rumors that they are in negotiations with the diocese to purchase the property. All I can say is, with the way that the Roman Church closes down low-attendance parishes, it would be a tragedy if they left and were able to buy the building only to have their new church close them down and consolidate them into some 1970’s space…

Update: The parish voted this weekend to join the Ordinariate. According to some sources, both votes (one for leaving, one for joining the Ordinariate) were about 85%. The upshot is that the remaining 15% have decided to remain within the Episcopal Church. Thus, the remaining congregation will be retaining the property. Legal difficulties will, no doubt, ensue.

18 Replies to “And Then There Were Two (Updated)”

  1. Well, this process won’t happen overnight. First they have to have the congregational vote, and then I don’t think they can become an Anglican Use or Ordinariate parish until the issue of title is resolved. It’s not impossible that the Diocese of Maryland would consent to an amicable arrangement, but such situations are uncommon. When the parish has a clear title then it can be conveyed to the Archdiocese. The the parishioners would need to be received and confirmed, and their marriages regularized in some cases. Fr Catania and any other assisting clergy will also need to be ordained to the diaconate and priesthood.

    If this happens (relatively) quickly then they’ll have to use the Book of Divine Worship (essentially the ’79 BCP with a bowdlerized Gregorian Canon) until additional liturgies are authorized.

    And I believe that Mt. Calvary serves the two remaining All Saints Sisters, so they will have to find someone else to say Mass for them.

  2. One parish more or less in a large metropolitan area is no big deal–after all, we are talking about a few dozen people here. Many of Baltimore’s parishes are small but precious to the people who belong to them. In the Midwest and South, however, I think it is vital that the Episcopal Church maintain a presence wherever possible. In every generation in every diocese, there is a rector who would lead his parish out of the Episcopal Church if he could. For example, the parish in Indiana in which I was confirmed would have undoubtedly joined ACNA if it had existed in the 1980s, but is now happily MOTR in the Diocese of Indianapolis. If that parish had been lost to the national church, faithful Episcopalians would have had to drive 40 miles to Columbus, 45 miles to Louisville, or 60 miles to Frankfort to attend the nearest weekly Eucharist.
    So, Godspeed to the people of Mount Calvary–no doubt their numbers will grow quickly when Latin-Rite Catholics are permitted to attend their beautiful and dignified Masses. As for the Baltimore Anglo-Catholic parishes remaining in the Episcopal Church, this is a challenge to greater and more effective evangelism: we must always remember that we are calling people to follow Jesus Christ. The candles, smells, and bells are only the honor due his Holy Name, not the objects of worship themselves.

  3. One should point out that Grace & St. Peter’s is but a few blocks away.

    The rumor I have heard is that the diocese is willing to allow them to have the property. I have to suspect that 815 may step in and attempt to overrule that, though given remarks from the PB it may be the case that they only care about keeping the property out of the hands of rival Anglican churches.

  4. Now that the parish has definitively voted to leave the Episcopal Church and become an Anglican Use parish in the Roman Catholic Church, I understand that the Episcopal Diocese of Maryland has appointed a vicar to arrange for the celebration of the Sunday Eucharist for any remaining Anglicans. The question which remains is, “Where?”

  5. Yes, a local senior priest—and I’m happy to say a traditional, well-grounded priest—has been appointed to say mass. The vote was not absolute and I understand that there is a group within the congregation who does not wish to leave. My current understanding is that since this presence remains, the building and all property will be retained with them.

    It’s going to get legal.

  6. Certainly the Archdiocese has plenty of buildings, but will they pay Fr Catania’s salary? I tend to think that his ordinations could take place very soon–he’s very knowledgeable–so the new A.U. congregation could start worshipping together in short order. That is unless they intend to contest the ownership of the property, in which case they’d be in limbo until that was resolved.

  7. The readers of this blog may be interested in the press release now on the Diocese of Maryland’s website.

  8. I saw that press release yesterday afternoon. My interpretation is that the diocese’s position is that the remaining members now constitute Mt. Calvary as the lawful custodian of the properties and assets of the parish, and not the members who have chosen to leave. This is in line with the way similar occurrences have been viewed by the other dioceses in ECUSA and the courts. A gentlemen who refers to himself as the “Bovina Bloviator” has an entirely different interpretation, but I believe that he is incorrect.

  9. There used to be a third church in the cluster of A-C parishes there: St. Paul the Apostle on Washington Blvd. in Pigtown. It’s been closed for some years and is on the market now (in fact it appears the diocese has given up trying to sell it and is now looking for someone to lease it instead), so perhaps they could cut a deal that way. I’m not so sure what to make of the boilerplate but in practical matters a small fraction of a parish with an ASA of 40 is not even vaguely viable.

  10. St Paul the Apostle is a huge building–can’t really see reopening it to house a parish. IIRC, in the 1950s there was even a bowling alley in the undercroft. Church of the Advent in South Baltimore is the third of the A-C parishes in Baltimore and doing OK numbers-wise.

  11. I think that three or so voted to stay. That might be enough for the courts to decide in their favor, but I obviously couldn’t say. The votes cast were about half of the eligible votes, so that might be taken into account as well, especially if there was any hint of intimidation.

    Another relevant issue is that the physical plant is next to the Maryland General Hospital, which has been greatly expanded in recent years, so I suspect that the diocese could easily find a buyer. The building is not on the National Register of Historic Places, to the best of my knowledge, and thus the property is not ineligible for repurposing.

  12. I suspect the Episcopal diocese wants to be generous in dealing with this issue, however, I cannot understand how such a tiny community could afford to keep and maintain this facility without a large endowment, which from what I have heard isn’t really there. Will the RC archdiocese really want to maintain such a facility (looking at it in terms of money alone) for such a small group even if they do manage to attract some larger numbers when so many places close down when they reach a couple of hundred parishioners? I can’t see it.

  13. Yes, well the diocese does have an obligation to the remnant, but I hope this doesn’t get ugly…

    And frankly I keep wondering about this Ordinariate – announced a year ago and still it doesn’t exist. What is Rome waiting for? It certainly can’t pastorally help the individuals and parishes who wish to submit to the Holy See to leave them waiting in the wings.

  14. Well, certainly Fr Catania and his supporters can be established as an Anglican Use parish, which is their stated intention at this point in the absence of the Ordinariate. This means that they will use a modified version of the 1979 B.C.P., and not the missal, which is currently being used at Mt. Calvary.

    I certainly support the right of the diocese to provide ministry to the remaining parishioners, but I would hope that they are able to provide someone who will use the missal, and not take this opportunity to ride roughshod over them.

  15. Ah, I had thought they were part of the Ordinariate, not another AU parish.

    As to the missal – I’m with you on that, of course. The authorities (RC or TEC) generally don’t get it.

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