Thursday, February 4, 2016

Great are the works of the Lord”: The Episcopal Ordination of Steven Joseph Lopes, First Bishop of the Personal Ordinariate of The Chair of St. Peter (POCSP)

Bishop-elect Lopes
They gathered from all over North America, priests, deacons, clergy wives, and laity rubbing shoulders with bishops and cardinals at the reception following Evensong on the Vigil of the Feast of the Presentation. The Chancery Great Hall at Our Lady of Walsingham in Houston, Texas was filled to overflowing as wine glasses clinked in greetings to friends not seen for some time. Sisters of the Presentation of Mary from Iowa chatted with Franciscans and Dominicans from California (Bishop Lopes’ home state).    

Cardinal Levada chats with Msgr Steenson as Msgr Lopes looks on - 2015

Sitting quietly with a Houston parish hostess was Cardinal William Levada. He is the retired archbishop of San Francisco – Bishop Lopes’ home diocese – as well as Lopes’ former boss at the CDF in Rome: a mentor indeed. Cardinal Levada’s dry humour was on display later at a dinner for family, friends, former parishioners, and colleagues in the St. John’s Hall in the soon-to-be cathedral complex of Our Lady of Walsingham (OLW).
The Rosary Garden OLW 
Later on Monday evening, a couple of hundred priests, deacons, clergy wives, religious, and lay people, were treated to Texas hospitality at a private dinner to honour the bishop-elect.  Canadians from British Columbia, Alberta, Ontario, and New Brunswick re-connected with those from all over the USA as well as greeting Monsignor Harry Entwistle from Australia and honoured visitors from Rome.

The day of the ordination, February 2nd, The Feast of Candlemas, dawned in a cloud-covered Houston with a warm gulf coast breeze blowing. Mass was the first order of the day as the shuttle buses brought many visitors from the downtown Hilton Americas Hotel back to OLW. 

A light brunch, courtesy of the OLW parishioners, was followed by an outdoor Festival of Children’s Activities, dancing, and music under a bright, sunny, blue sky which had not been in the forecast! At 2:00 p.m. the Texas Barbeque was underway – dress casual.  Bishop-elect Lopes was on hand to greet hundreds from the local community as well as those from around the globe gathered in this southern American centre of Catholic life under the pastoral care of the effervescent Cardinal Daniel di Nardo, the first-ever cardinal appointed to the “Deep South” in recognition of the massive and growing Catholic population in Texas and neighbouring states.

Cardinal diNardo has been a great and continuing friend to the Ordinariate. He convinced the Archdiocese of Galveston-Houston to gift the POCSP with the OLW church property. OLW had begun life in the 1980s under the leadership of Fr. James Ramsey and Fr. James Moore as a Pastoral Provision (Anglican Use) parish under the jurisdiction of the local archbishop.

Along with his great friend and fellow Patristics scholar, Monsignor Jeffrey Steenson, Cardinal DiNardo was able to transfer the church, now cathedral, as well as the adjoining land, which since 2015 includes the beautiful new chancery of the POCSP. We are told that a future larger cathedral is now in the preliminary planning stages.

The Ordination, broadcast worldwide on EWTN from the Co-cathedral of the Sacred Heart (the original cathedral is in the old port city of Galveston), began with the procession of scores of diocesan and visiting priests and deacons, followed by a host of Ordinariate priests from around North America. After the pageantry of the prelude and procession organ accompanied by tympani, including Parry’s “I was Glad,” all sang the opening hymn “Christ is Made the Sure Foundation” followed by the Kyrie and Gloria by Canadian composer Healey Willan.

Six cardinals, along with the many bishops and archbishops settled in the apse of the magnificent cathedral sanctuary along with the three Ordinaries, Monsignors Steenson, Newton, and Entwistle of, respectively, North America, the United Kingdom, and Australia.

In his opening remarks, the host, Cardinal diNardo, thanked the beloved retiring Ordinary, Monsignor Jeffrey Steenson, for his remarkably grace-filled leadership through the initial days, which laid the foundations of the POCSP.  He remarked upon the roles played by Cardinals Levada and Müller of the CDF who had worked with the young Fr. Steven Lopes to establish the Ordinariates following the lead of our revered Pope Benedict XVI.
Msgr Wilkinson
Monsignor Peter Wilkinson from Canada read the formal presentation of Bishop-elect Lopes.  The packed cathedral reverberated to thunderous “Amens” as Cardinal Müller prayed for the first-ever Ordinariate bishop, and the ceremony of ordination continued with the laying on of hands by the dozens of bishops.

Following his first blessing of the congregation, Bishop Lopes thanked all present, noting in particular the meaning of the motto he had chosen as bishop, Magna Opera Domini which translates: “Great are the works of the Lord.” 

The newly anointed bishop exhorted members of the Ordinariates to be zealous in the proclamation of the Gospel and evangelization.  His clear mandate, taken from Pope Francis’s encouragement to him at their recent meeting ~ “Avante!” ~ Forward, reaching out to all people in order that they may be included in the unity of Christ for which the Lord established the Catholic Church on the rock of Peter.

In the presence of ecumenical guests Bishop Lopes urged everyone to take seriously the call to unity with the Chair of Peter. The Holy Spirit was palpable in the great and glorious liturgy which has inaugurated a new chapter in the short history of this new instrument of God’s love.

At the reception following, an elderly figure sat at the entrance humbly attired in alb and stole.  Fr. Bruce Noble was one of the first priests to serve the mission of Our Lady of Walsingham, Houston which had grown, as he said in his Australian brogue, “from a small acorn” into a cathedral.  Who could have dreamt this? 
Fr. Bruce Noble (left) with his brother Fr. David Noble - Both entered into
the full communion of the Catholic Church in the 1980s.
Like a true patriarch he sat as children came to embrace him and men and women recognized him with warmth and joy.  Offering to celebrate Mass the following Monday for the Sisters of Charity who were guests at Bishop Lopes’ ordination, this frail priestly figure epitomizes the miracle that God had wrought – “great are the works of the Lord!”

Wednesday, January 27, 2016

STM TORONTO - Stewardship Report


In 2015, our offerings came to almost $59 thousand, compared to $53 thousand in 2014 and $28 thousand in 2013. St. Thomas More had 45 attributed donors in 2015, compared to 37 attributed donors the prior year in addition to numerous others giving anonymously.  If you are interested in supporting St. Thomas More on a regular basis, consider pre-authorized giving (PAG) by monthly bank debit.  Contact us at if you are interested in donating by way of PAG.
STM parishioners have given a total of $1400 to the Archdiocese of Toronto to assist with the settlement of Syrian refugees – the first of whom were, we understand, Armenian Christians welcomed at the Airport by the PM and Premier. This is a remarkable contribution from our very small parish, batting well above our weight.
As we begin our Jubilee of Mercy outreach focus, STM parishioners have already contributed $150 to this charity endorsed by the Holy See.

Worldwide, over $3 billion (Canadian) has been raised to help those caught in war or civil unrest in Syria, Iraq and many other countries. Donations may be designated by making cheques to St. Thomas More with a note. You may see some of the work being done by this papal charity. Check out the work of ACN at:

Saturday, January 23, 2016

The Anglican Tradition in Full Communion with Rome

What is the fundamental problem with decision making in Anglicanism separated from full communion with Rome?  Fr. Dwight Longenecker and others have been writing about this since the recent fractures in the Anglican "Communion."
Anglicans must determine what they want to be part of.  As Fr. Longenecker puts it:
" If the Church is Catholic, then it is founded not by a lusty and avaricious king, but by Christ himself. If a church is Catholic, then Mary is the Mother of the Church and the apostles are the pillars with Peter as the rock on which the church is founded. If the church is Catholic, then it is a divine institution not a human one. If a Church is Catholic, then it adapts where it needs to, but it does not change with every wind of doctrine and every fashion of contemporary culture.
If a Church is Protestant, however, it is founded a some point in history by a human being for what they perceive to be good reasons. If a Church is Protestant there is no idea that Mary is the Mother of the Church, and the apostolic foundation is simply one of adherence to apostolic teaching (to be found in the Bible) and perhaps a paper pedigree that claims some sort of apostolic succession. If a Church is Protestant it is founded out of the turmoil and troubles of a particular time in history and it therefore adapts and changes according to the particular turmoil and troubles of whatever culture and circumstances in which it finds itself. To be brief, a Protestant church is a man made institution and does not apologize for the fact."
The question of revelation is profoundly part of our understanding of the nature of Christian faith and of the Church itself.
Fr. Longenecker continues: 
"Beneath these realities is therefore a very fundamental difference in one’s understanding of not only the church but the Christian faith itself. The Catholic Church regards the Christian religion as revealed by God through the ultimate revelation of himself through the incarnation of his Son Jesus Christ, who took flesh of the Blessed Virgin for the salvation of the world. The Sacred Scriptures are the witness to that revelation of God in Christ and the Church is the divinely founded and inspired Body of Christ alive and active in the world–revealed and established by God to administer the sacraments of salvation to mankind.
The liberal Protestant understanding is that the Christian faith is a construct that took place at a particular point in time due to the circumstances and culture of the day. The life, ministry and teaching of Christ are the important things. The Bible is the revealed truth from God and the Church is the group of believers who follow Christ’s teaching and help to spread that good news in the place and time in which they live. Conservative Protestants would have a higher view of the Christian faith being revealed, but their primary revelation is the Bible, and that revelation is what cannot change.
. . .  Catholic minded Christians who believe their faith is revealed by God and cannot be changed, and Protestant minded Christians who believe their religion is a man made construct which must be changed according to various circumstances and cultures. If Conservative Protestants dislike being grouped with those who think their religion must change they should examine how much Evangelical positions on important moral questions have changed over the last sixty years.
This divide in Anglicanism has actually been at the foundation of their church from the beginning and throughout her history. It is a division that cannot be resolved except by continued latitudinarianism.
Two objections will be made. One might say, “But it is the most Protestant Evangelical bishops of Africa who are holding the line against the progressive changes of the Episcopal Church.” That is true, but at the foundation of it all their position is shaky. When the progressives say, “But that is only your interpretation of Scripture. We are good Christians too, but we have a different interpretation of Scripture” what will the conservative Evangelical Protestant Anglicans respond? There is no response because that is the dilemma at the heart of Protestantism. It is ultimately a system of private interpretation."

In conclusion, despite the fact that many liberal Catholics hold to a Protestant understanding of the church i.e. that it is a man made institution founded in a particular time period and that it should change according to the times, that is not the teaching of the Catholic Church which has the Magisterium (official teaching authority structure).  Only the Magisterium can correct error and call all of us to Catholic unity which is the true home of Anglicanism and its patrimony.

Thursday, January 21, 2016

UPDATE - Jubilee of Mercy Events in Toronto

Jubilee Year of Mercy 
Spiritual and Corporal 
Works of Mercy 
in Downtown Toronto

Summary from Meeting at Newman Centre, Toronto 

 – January 19, 2016 –

UPDATE ON EVENTS                          

1.  "Works of Mercy" – Jubilee Art Show and Lectures 
A juried art competition for a commissioned work of art along with the display of other works of art reflecting the theme of God's mercy.                   
Fall 2016 – Date/Locations/Times TBA     
For further information contact:

2.  Various activities at Newman Centre                                     
These and other initiatives to be publicized jointly by participating parishes, chaplaincies & groups. See

3. Ash Wednesday
Visit to the Holy Door at St. Patrick's, Toronto for Plenary Indulgence 
11:00 am - 1:00 pm       
4. Divine Mercy Sunday
Visit Holy Door at St. Paul's Basilica, Toronto  for Plenary Indulgence. 
Sunday, April 3: 
2:00 p.m. -  Meet at Holy Door  
4:00 p.m. -  Sung Mass at the Catholic Parish of St. Thomas More (S-C 381 Sherbourne St.) 5:30 p.m. -  Parish Pot Luck Supper.

5. STM Patronal Solemn High Mass and Parish Dinner  
Sunday, June 19 
4:00 p.m.                                                                                        

6. Parish Pilgrimage to Our Lady of Sorrows for a Plenary Indulgence  
This Fall - Date/Time TBA                                                                                             

7.  Blessed Calligraphy – 
Works of calligraphy focused on the theme of “Mercy” in the various languages used in the
archdiocese to be taken to Poland for   World
Youth Day, blessed and returned for distribution in hospitals, parishes, etc.           

Events under consideration as shared projects in Downtown Catholic Parishes and Chaplaincies: 

Aid to the Church in Need
An evening talk and forum about how to assist refugees and others in situations of oppression –Speaker/Date/Time TBA

Housing for Refugees and Immigrants - An evening forum hosted with CERA  (The Centre for Equality Rights in Accommodation) to assist newcomers and  others with rental and housing issues. Possibly at Our Lady of  Lourdes Parish – Date TBA

NOTE: We are attempting to establish a network of Catholic parishes, chaplaincies, agencies and groups to co-ordinate Jubilee Year of Mercy activities in the downtown area.