Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Northwest Arkansas Anglican Use Group

When the Vatican recently announced the reception of Anglican communities into the Catholic Church it was a dream come true not only for Anglo-Catholics seeking their own pastoral provision, but also for many Roman Catholics with Anglican backgrounds. Over the last thirty years there has been a quiet but steady trickle of Anglicans into the Roman Catholic Church. In the American province of the worldwide Anglican Communion, “The Episcopal Church,” it began with alterations to the Book of Common Prayer in 1979 and increased with the ordination of female clergy, along with the widespread acceptance of homosexuality.

The Northwest area of Arkansas is home to about five Episcopalian parishes and two continuing Anglican parishes. That being said, there is currently only one Anglican parish within the area that is interested in entering the emerging Anglican Ordinariate within the Roman Catholic Church. That happens to be St George’s Anglican Church which currently meets in the Chapel of Mercy Medical Center in Rogers, Arkansas. This facility was made available by the good offices of the Catholic Bishop of Little Rock, The Most Reverend Anthony Taylor.

However, that does not mean Northwest Arkansas is lacking individuals with Anglican backgrounds who have taken interest in accepting the pope's offer. That being the case, a few pioneering Christians are starting their making their way to the Evening Prayer services held at St Mary’s Chapel each Wednesday evening at 6:30. Through participating in this weekly prayer service they are declaring their support of an active group formed with the expressed purpose of establishing a Catholic, Anglican Use parish under the pastoral care of the soon to be Anglican Use Bishop.

The group is small but diverse. One is a former Episcopalian, who currently at this time actively serves as an acolyte.. The rest of the group consists of Roman Catholics who have become disillusioned with the current vernacular celebration of the contemporary mass, and are now seeking something more traditionally “Catholic” but simultaneously have no interest in the Traditional Latin Mass. Several continue to attend early mass at their respective Catholic parishes to met their obligation and then attend the Anglican mass on Sunday to show their support.

The initial intent of the group is prayer.. Once established in a regular prayer setting, they hope to grow significantly with God's blessing. Those within the group who are not currently Catholic will obviously use this time for personal reflection on the prospect of conversion and whether or not that's the right decision for them. All however, are welcome to join in prayer, regardless of where their faith journey eventually leads them.

The St. George’s group hopes to receive more help from the National Bishops Conference of as soon as the American Anglican Ordinariate is established, and an ordinary of the Ordinariate is named. In the mean time, the parish continues to work in cooperation with other similar groups. Roman Catholics are urged to continue to receive the sacraments in their diocesan parish until such a time that the Ordinariate is formed. Non-Catholics within the group might continue to go to their respective churches for Sunday services until ready to convert, or else some might consider that St. George’s their “church” for a time. It is hoped that things will work out in such a way that non-Catholics within the group will be received into the Catholic Church together, under the Anglican Use rite, at such a time when the new bishop is designated and he can provide the needed pastoral guidance. The current outlook for establishment of the American Ordinariate is early this fall.

For further information call (479) 254-0521 or (479) 721-3250