17-February-2012 -- Vatican Information Service |

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New US Anglican ordinariate head stresses Catholic unity

As he was installed as the head of the U.S. ordinariate for former Anglicans on Feb. 12, Father Jeffrey N. Steenson called for Catholic and Christian unity and reflected on the sacrifices that requires.

"With all our hearts, let us thank Pope Benedict XVI for this beautiful gift, the Personal Ordinariate of the Chair of St. Peter, and let us pray that it may further the goal of Catholic unity," Fr. Steenson began his homily.

The Houston-based Ordinariate of the Chair of St. Peter is a church jurisdiction erected under Pope Benedict's 2009 apostolic constitution "Anglicanorum Coetibus." The structure is for former Anglicans who wish to have full communion with the Catholic Church while retaining elements of their liturgical and ecclesial heritage. It is only the second ordinariate created thus far.

Cardinal Donald Wuerl of Washington, D.C., Cardinal Daniel DiNardo of Galveston-Houston and 10 other Catholic bishops concelebrated Msgr. Steenson's installation Mass Sunday afternoon at the Co-Cathedral of the Sacred Heart in Houston.

His homily reflected on the Gospel reading from Matthew 18, "You are Peter and on this rock I will build my Church." He said that the Church exists to "bring souls to Christ" and that Jesus invested the Apostle Peter with "a ministry of fundamental importance."

This commission did not end with Peter. Rather, the Gospel passage anticipates "the whole life of the Church on earth."

Fr. Steenson drew from prominent figures in Church history and praised the heroism of the third century Popes who tried to restore Christians who had fallen away from the Church or had broken communion. He saw the ordinariate as a similar effort from Pope Benedict.

Christian unity is the "first principle" of the ordinariate, he continued.

"We thus open our hearts, in humility and love, to all Christians divided by culture and circumstance and misunderstanding. We extend our hand in friendship to all who seek the Truth. These are our companions along the way," he said.

Fr. Steenson praised the liturgical spiritual and pastoral patrimony of Anglicanism. However, he added that "so many people" during the centuries of Anglicanism's separation from Rome have "prayed fervently and made great sacrifices for this day to come."

The new ordinariate head, a former Episcopal bishop, will be given the title of monsignor. As a married man, he cannot be ordained a bishop. However, he will be a full member of the U.S. bishops' conference and was presented with the symbols of the crozier and miter during the Mass.

Fr. Steenson joined the Catholic Church in 2007 and was ordained a Catholic priest in 2009. He is on the faculty of St. Thomas University in Houston. He and his wife, Debra, have three adult children.

Over 100 former Anglican priests have applied to become Catholic priests through the ordinariate and some may be ordained in June, the ordinariate reports. Another 1,400 individuals from 22 communities are seeking to join.

Read more: http://www.ewtnnews.com/catholic-news/US.php?id=4897#ixzz1meRXD9MO

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