24-February-2013 -- Vatican Information Service |

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Fourth Maryland church to join Catholic ordinariate

Members of St. Timothy's Episcopal Church in Cantonsville, Md. have voted to join the Catholic Church through the Ordinariate of the Chair of St. Peter, following suit with three other churches in the state.

"We welcome the members of St. Timothy who are making this faith journey, and thank the Episcopal Diocese of Maryland for being open to the to working with the community during this transition," Father Scott Hurd, vicar general of the Ordinariate of the Chair of St. Peter, said Feb. 20.

"This has been a long process of discernment, guided by the Holy Spirit," said Rev. Terry Sweeney, the rector of St. Timothy's Episcopal Church.

"I am grateful for the gift of faith nurtured within the Episcopal Church and for the opportunity for those members who have been called to continue their journey of faith within the Catholic Church to be able to do so without losing the beauty of Anglican traditions."

On Feb. 10 the majority of the church's voting members elected to enter the ordinariate. Eighty of 100 parishioners were present, 55 of whom could vote. Six voters abstained. Eighty-three percent of voters chose to leave the Episcopal Church and 76 percent voted to enter the ordinariate.

The ordinariate is a special church governing structure that allows clergy and groups to join the Catholic Church while retaining aspects of their religious customs and liturgical traditions.

Rev. Sweeney told EWTN News Feb. 22 that for "decades" the church's membership and leadership had disagreements with some policies of the Episcopal Church.

"About eight months ago, it just came to a point where the leaders said 'I think we need to look elsewhere,'" he said. "As a result of that my bishop Eugene Taylor Sutton, I think very kindly, gave us the six months to discern what God might be calling us to do. He didn't inhibit us in any way."

He said parishioners looked to the ordinariate because of its success at two other parishes in the Baltimore area.

Christ the King Anglican Church in Towson and Mount Calvary Episcopal Church in Baltimore entered the Catholic Church through the ordinariate in 2012. Another church now in the ordinariate, St. Luke's Church in Bladensburg on the District of Columbia's eastern border was received into the Catholic Church in 2011.

Rev. Sweeney said Fr. Carlton Jones, O.P. was "extremely helpful" to St. Timothy's parishioners. Fr. Jones is the chaplain to the All Saints Sisters of the Poor Convent in Cantonsville, which left the Episcopal Church in 2009 to join the Catholic Church.

Rev. Sweeney said the Episcopalian parishioners had the primary goals of congregational unity, "faithfulness to the Gospel in good conscience" and a desire to keep the church building and grounds if possible.

The parish was founded in 1844 as the first church in Cantonsville. Its church building dates back to 1854.

"It's been with us the whole time," Rev. Sweeney said.

However, the vote means the parish community will need a new home. The church property is held in trust for the Episcopal diocese. The congregation's search for a new church will begin after Easter.

Until then, two different worship services will be held on Sundays for those who are remaining in the Episcopal Church and for those entering the ordinariate.

The St. Timothy's vote was held in the presence of Fr. Hurd and Rev. Scott Slater, canon to the bishop of the Episcopal Diocese of Maryland.

Rev. Slater said that the process has been "thoughtful, prayerful and respectful."

"While the Episcopal Diocese of Maryland is saddened when any of its members leaves one of its parishes, we rejoice that several members of St. Timothy's have found a new spiritual home and we wish God's blessing on them."

The Episcopal Diocese of Maryland has 22,000 households in 111 congregations.

There are 1,600 people, including 30 priests, in 36 communities in the Ordinariate of the Chair of St. Peter. The ordinariate was established for the U.S. and Canada in January 2012. There are two other ordinariates in the United Kingdom and Australia.

Read more: http://www.ewtnnews.com/catholic-news/US.php?id=7093#ixzz2Lvm40akn

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