On the Mt Calvary “Story”

Paul put up a link to a story from Venom Online in the thread below on Mt Calvary. I usually make a habit of not going there, and I do not link to it for two reasons: first, I find the material there to be deliberately inflammatory and mean-spirited (I know, it’s not alone in that, but that’s not a tone that I take or tolerate here); second, I find that the material there usually contains wild inaccuracies.

The story posted there on Mt Calvary and what happened there Sunday is no exception to this usual rule. There are inaccuracies in the piece and I feel compelled to say something about them. The impression one receives from the article is that my diocese—and my friends—are behaving in a high-handed fashion that serves only to reinforce all of the stereotypes held by those who read that site.

Here are the facts:

Father Parker celebrated a Sung Mass using Rite I of the BCP. I’m assuming the ceremonial was English Use as that is Fr. Parker’s custom. Not Anglo-Papalist, it’s true, but not sloppy anything-goes by a long mile.

In thinking about it, I realized that there are only four priests in the diocese that I can think of who I would trust to properly celebrate solemn high ceremonial: Fr. Parker is one, my priest is another, another friend is the third and was out of town, and the fourth is M. Too, all four would be objectionable to the departed congregation; the only one not in a same-sex relationship is M and—well—she’s a girl.

Of the men, Fr. Parker is the only one who has more than one priest at his parish—he has two assisting priests (contra the article)—and thus could be there and have coverage at his parish.

It was a small congregation, a dozen, of whom Fr. Parker brought precisely one, his server. In other words, it was a larger one than is typical for Mt Calvary’s early mass.

I’m unclear on the “unscheduled” bit. I know that Fr. Parker told Fr. Catania that a mass would be taking place at his church, the only remnant of truth here may be that there was not clarity on the time it was to occur.

In any case the article is correct that Fr. Parker’s mass started late; they did so as to not interrupt the 8 AM mass which ran late. Furthermore, they used the side chapel so as not to disturb preparations for the later high mass.

In short, it sounds to me like the diocese handled the situation appropriately. It would be one thing if they’d sent a liberal female priest to celebrate on the high altar (and I can think of some Episcopal diocesans who might have done just that…). Rather, they sent Fr. Parker, himself from a parish that does not receive women clergy at the altar, who truly understands the theological reservations of the departing congregation. A proper, dignified, prayer book mass was sung with as little disruption as possible. Is it the best of all possible worlds? No. But it assuredly could have been much worse as well.

18 thoughts on “On the Mt Calvary “Story”

  1. Paul Goings


    I didn’t know that it was a convention of your ‘blog not to link to certain sources; please feel free to remove it. Prior to Mr Virtue’s article I had seen nothing about what had transpired in the wake of the vote, and neither the parish’s web site nor the diocese’s web site had any further information.

    For the record, I have absolutely no objections to the diocese ministering to the remaining parishioners during this time of transition; in fact I would say that they have a moral obligation to do so. And I am certainly pleased that they sent someone who is male and traditional in certain respects, in line with the parish’s tradition.

    However, I do have experience of the Diocese of Pennsylvania using a traumatic event in the life of a parish to bring about liturgical mainstreaming, and I have no trouble believing that the Diocese of Maryland would act similarly. Call me cynical and paranoid, but it wouldn’t surprise me at all. If Fr Parker is going to take on this ministry in the interim, then let him learn the parish’s tradition; there are plenty of resources available to help him do so, if desired.

    All of that said, I imagine that the diocese will close down the parish and sell the land after they have made a moral stand, and kept the doors open for a few months or a year. And then traditional Anglo-Papalism will be down to four parishes (at most) in this country.

  2. Isaac

    If, as discipline from the Lord, a VO piece happens to come my way, I usually take every factual statement and believe the opposite. Glad(?) to see that he’s not letting his readers down on this item.

  3. Derek Olsen

    I can see the Bishop of PA doing that… I believe I know our bishops well enough to say that neither would do that here. I know there are changes afoot in the Mt Calvary situation but do not know any more than that.

    No, VO’d never let you down on that account…

  4. John Robison

    For the past decade they have gotten everything they want, including a Bishop Visitor who left the Episcopal Church for the Southern Cone. Now that they have left the Church that nourished them for the other shore of the Tiber the former Rector wants to police who gets to serve at the Altar he’s abandoned as having no sacramental reality. What dose it matter to him anyway, since Anglican orders are “utterly void.”

    Sprinkle in misinformation and hyperbole and we have the typical situation that feeds the Meme.

    Paul: No one fitting the criterion set forth from the former Rector exists in the Diocese of Maryland, and he knows that. As for Anglo-Papalism is can only refer you to Fr Paul Wattson’s advice.

  5. Paul Goings


    I was referring to a previous Bishop of Pennsylvania, although this one is an even more notorious closer of parishes. But by the time Dr Bennison ascended to the throne of Dr White, there were only two missal parishes, and with the other its people left of their own accord, and the parish was simply closed, and is now served by occasional Rite I celebrations.


    As I frequently remark to my friends and associates who have swum the Tiber, there are a plethora of opportunities available if one is “unmarried,” but not so much otherwise. Fr Paul surely would have been aware of that.

    Domina Adunationis, ora pro nobis!

  6. brian m

    Is it impolitic for me to ask why the ECUSAn faithful at Mt. Calvary would not avail themselves of the 10 AM High Mass at Grace and S. Peter up the street? I do understand that it is their parish and their building, and that every effort should be made to accommodate them–but wouldn’t it be a little less intrusive for all parties to say, “until we resolve the disposition of the parish and its assets, can we ask you to head over to GASP?”

  7. Derek Olsen

    The real question in my mind, Brian, is why the departing party is still saying Mass. If I understand correctly, they no longer recognize their own Holy Orders…

  8. Hoosierpalian

    I think that the problem remains the same. The Episcopalians of Mount Calvary are still presumably quite traditional in terms of sexual morality. Grace and St. Peter’s is a “Welcoming and Affirming” parish in the Diocese of Maryland and their rector is also in an openly homosexual relationship. Was the Diocese of Maryland able to find a suitably male and heterosexual priest to say Mass yesterday?

  9. C. Wingate

    Maybe I’m missing something, Brian, but the linked passages says the exact opposite: in the case cited, the priest was told to stop celebrating masses immediately and the parish was to go without the Eucharist for a period of a month.

    Paul, Maryland had a long confrontational period under Eastman (e.g. he always showed up at Al Kimel’s parish on Low Sunday) but that was for the most part abandoned when Longest took over as interim bishop.

  10. C. Wingate

    BTW I think the reason for Virtue’s claim about Parker being the only priest at his parish is that the parish website doesn’t list anyone else.

  11. brian m

    Mr. Wingate, my understanding is that the Rector is working closely with the Archdiocese to determine for how long he will offer the sacraments before the period of preparation.

  12. John Robison

    So what you are saying is that I should respect the “spiritual position” of those who won’t swim the Tiber in order to be joined with the Church with the “wholeness of Truth” because they are married?

  13. Paul Goings


    The problem with that position is that catholicism is treated as nothing more than a set of propositions. If the “wholeness of truth” excludes the fullness of praxis then I suggest such wholeness is anything but.

    Do I expect you to respect that? Not at all. I expect you to espouse the Hiberno-Jansenism which is the hallmark of the American Catholic Church.

  14. John Robison


    Other than a gratuitous swipe at my Irish ancestry, I don’t quite grasp your accusation. For one thing Jansenists are way to much into suffering and pain for me. Try as I might, I just can’t see myself into seeing the benefits of a discipline as an example. The other part of my confusion is that I am a Catholic of Anglican extraction, not a Roman. What, precisely, are you aiming at?

  15. Paul Goings


    Apparently then I completely misunderstood your previous post, and I apologize.

    My mistake was thinking that you were suggesting that Anglo-Papalism was untenable in Anglicanism in some way that other party positions aren’t. Your mention of the Graymoor Founder rather implied to me that you thought so, and that all Anglo-Papalists should simply make their submission, any other circumstances notwithstanding. I assumed that you were making this suggestion from the Roman side.

    Also, my reference was to the general Irish domination of the American hierarchy, and not to your ancestry.

  16. Hoosierpalian

    In the meantime, Bishop Rabb made his visitation of the Church of the Advent this morning. During Q & A time we learned that soon a more permanent vicar will be named for the Episcopal congregation at Mt. Calvary. Bishop Rabb repeated earlier statements that buildings and property are held in trust for the Diocese of Maryland. Apparently the Diocese of Maryland is working with the Archdiocese of Baltimore to avoid a messy and prolonged transitional period. More than this I do not know personally, but Bishop Rabb said that further developments would be posted on the diocesan website.

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