On the eve of the Feast of Saint Thomas More . . . . Mgr Steenson, has officially designated Thomas More as our new patron saint [of the Toronto Ordinariate parish in formation].
In January 1993, a small group of Anglicans met in downtown Toronto on a freezing Saturday afternoon to discuss joining the Catholic Church as a parish set up according to the Anglican Use (AU), similar to existing parishes in the United States as authorized by Blessed Pope John Paul II. While being fully Catholic in every respect, AU churches, parishes and groups retain an Anglican identity in terms of language, liturgy and music.
The group continued to meet for two years and, having chosen Sir Thomas More as its patron, became known as the Society of Saint Thomas More. Evensong was held monthly at St Cecilia's Catholic Church on Annette St. Exploratory meetings were held with Catholic officials in Toronto and then . . . nothing. Rumour had it that Cardinal Ambrozic had raised the matter with the bishops’ conference, but no positive response was ever received.
While hopes and prayers for the Anglican Use in Toronto never ceased, nothing more was able to happen until the promulgation of Anglicanorum Coetibus (AC) by Pope Benedict XVI in late 2009. This deeply visionary and pastoral act of Pope Benedict’s dramatically responded to the long-standing hopes and prayers of many Anglicans throughout the English-speaking world by greatly expanding the free use of the Anglican liturgy in the Catholic Church and by enabling those parishes and groups of Anglican heritage to unite under their own hierarchy as Personal Ordinariates, similar to but distinct from territorial dioceses.
Interest in the Anglican Use continued to grow in Toronto, and in March 2011 the Archdiocese of Toronto hosted a national conference on the Anglican Ordinariate, which included, on the Feast of the Annunciation, the first ever AU Mass in Canada. A few weeks later, on the 1st of May, a new group of Anglicans and former Anglicans, incorporating many of the members of the old Society of St Thomas More, began meeting regularly once again – this time on a weekly basis – for Sung Evensong, catechesis, fellowship and discussion at the Newman Centre at U of T.
After just over a year of weekly Evensong, the Toronto Anglican Use Sodality, as it had become known, was able to begin offering weekly Anglican Use Sung Masses and received a number of Anglicans into the full Communion of the Catholic Church. Now, after yet another year, we are continuing to grow and are on the verge of receiving some more Anglicans into full Communion.
Our meeting last Sunday was full of enthusiasm and goodwill. There was strong support for adopting the name and patronage of St Thomas More, and within days the Dean, Fr Kenyon, passed along the joyful news that Mgr Steenson had officially given his approval. We look forward to the permanent assignment of a priest and pastor in the coming months and in the meantime will continue our beautiful weekly Sung Masses in Sacre-Coeur church under the care of Fr Eric Rodrigues.
As we celebrate our newfound patronal feast day today and the patronal of the Canadian Ordinariate Deanery on Monday (St John the Baptist), we can trust that St Thomas More’s prayers for us, as well as the intercessions of the Baptist and so many other great saints, are most efficacious, and our Lord’s mercies are great.
As always, our Sung Anglican Use Mass is every Sunday at 1:45pm at Sacré-Coeur, 381 Sherbourne St. AU Masses fulfill Sunday obligation for all Catholics, regardless of whether or not they are of an Anglican background. There is parking immediately north of the Church and coffee hour afterward.
Everyone is welcome to attend and we hope to see you there. Have a blessed feast day!
Laus Deo! St Thomas More, ora pro nobis!
Saint Thomas More Catholic (Anglican Use), Toronto