A small congregation of conservative Anglicans in the western province of Alberta, has become the first to accept an invitation from the Pope to join the Catholic Church.
Most of the 70 members of the St John the Evangelist Anglican parish in Calgary, voted in favour of the change last month after a year of talks with Catholic Church officials.
“We accept, unreservedly and with humility and gratitude, the invitation of His Holiness Pope Benedict to enter into the full communion of the Catholic Church,” reads the motion the congregation approved.
The parish priest, Fr Lee Kenyon, a married father of two children, was not available for comment. In a message on the parish website on Monday, he said:
“As we go forward on our new spiritual journey, we welcome your prayers and understanding, but please respect our privacy during these trying times."
Rev Kenyon and his parishioners will now undergo a course of religious instruction before they join the Church next Easter.
Issues such as ownership of the church building have yet to be discussed. The Anglican Diocese of Calgary has not commented yet.
Neil MacCarthy, a spokesman for Archbishop Thomas Collins of Toronto, who has been appointed by the Vatican to work as the liaison for cpnversions from the Anglican Church said: “We want to welcome them and express joy at their desire to become members of the Catholic community,”
“At the same time we also have to recognize that there is still a process that needs to be undertaken. We are responding from a request from the community. It is not a case where we are actively trying to go after communities saying, ‘Hey, we want you to join here.””
MacCarthy said Calgary’s St John Anglican congregation was the first parish to take such a step in Canada, but there were others also expressing interest.
He said it was too early to say whether the Catholic Church in Canada would set up an Ordinariate for Anglicans on the lines of the model being developed in the UK.
For more information see: www.theanglocatholic.com/2010/10/st-john-the-evangelist-calgary/