WCR PHOTO | CHRIS MILLER
The Rev. David Skelton, Cynthia Cordery, Fr. David McLeod (Catholic mentor priest), Mary Skelton, Audrey Swinton, Clare Bennett, Keith Bennett and Bryan Donegan plan to join the Roman Catholic Church.
EDMONTON – Six Anglicans from Edmonton want to join the Roman Catholic Church under special provisions handed down by the pope two years ago.
In 1976, about 700 Anglicans met in St. Louis, Mo., and decided to establish a new church that would uphold the traditional teachings of the Anglican Church, particularly in regards to apostolic succession. The new church adopted the name, "Anglican Catholic Church."
The Rev. David Skelton, a local Anglican priest, said those with "Catholic leanings" wanted to eventually seek full communion with the See of Peter. He referred to this long process as one of "prayerful waiting."
"About 40 different communions around the world decided that they would come together and constitute what was known as the Traditional Anglican Communion (TAC). The United States had the Episcopal Anglican Church of America, and we were the Anglican Catholic Church of Canada," said Skelton.
The Anglican Catholic Church of Canada was founded in 1979, and continues to maintain an all-male clergy and recently has criticized what it considers to be the parent Church's increasing acceptance of homosexuality.
Various branches of the Anglican Communion adopted the ordination of women in 1984, and the Church of England took that step in 1992. This led to several Anglican priests defecting to Catholicism.
Both the Anglican Communion and the Roman Catholic Church recognize the Baptism each confers, agree that the Scriptures are the unique and normative witness to divine revelation, and recognize the grace and unique vocation of the Virgin Mary.
The group is Anglican in background and tradition, but has much in common with the Roman Catholic tradition. The Anglicans felt reassured that their liturgy and doctrines would not be diminished by union with Rome.
They are set up in such a way that corporate reunion of former Anglicans with the Catholic Church is possible, while also preserving elements of a distinctive Anglican patrimony. For example, the traditionalists use the 1962 Book of Common Prayer exclusively and rejects the possibility of remarriage after divorce.
"All of us knew that union with Rome is where we were headed. We didn't know how or in what way, but that was our goal," said Clare Bennett who, along with her husband Keith, left the Anglican Church in 1980.
In April 2005, the Edmonton group met with Peter Wilkinson, the current bishop of the Anglican Catholic Church of Canada, to determine the best way to proceed in seeking union with Rome.
A small contingent of Anglo-Catholics went to Rome in 2007, and the pope told them to be patient and prayerful, that the Holy Spirit was at work.
All 40 TAC bishops met in Port Smith, England, and decided that they would make a formal application to the pope.
Three of the bishops went to Rome and requested formal entry into communion with Rome, said Skelton.
Two Anglican Catholic dioceses were formed in Canada. One was the Diocese of Canada, which Skelton suspects will never reach full communion with Rome. The other, which the Edmonton contingent belongs to, is the Diocese of Our Lady of Walsingham.
Eventually the pope offered through the document Anglicanorum Coetibus, to establish personal ordinariates for Anglicans entering into full communion with the Catholic Church.
Since then, the Edmonton traditionalist Anglicans were fortunate to find a group of traditional Lutherans who were willing to make their church, Redeemer Lutheran Church, available to them. They also hold midweek services in people's homes.
"The interesting thing is that we entered into a eucharistic fast. It really has been a fast because we have not received Communion. We've had spiritual communion every day and that, of course, has been sustaining and upholding and wonderful, but it isn't the same as receiving the body and blood of Our Lord.
"That is what we're really aching for at this stage," said Skelton.
Once they have been accepted as Roman Catholics, they will be able to partake of the Eucharist again.
Cardinal Thomas Collins of Toronto appointed the Anglican Catholics throughout Canada with mentor priests. The mentor priest for the Edmonton group is Father David McLeod, recently retired from the military.
"A friend of mine, Father Michael Storey from Calgary, who was asked to look after Alberta, called me and asked if I would look after the Edmonton group. I said yes," said McLeod, who has been celebrating Mass for Edmonton's Anglo-Catholics.
Priests from St. John the Evangelist Parish, an Anglo-Catholic parish in Calgary, were ordained earlier this year. They took a 15-week distance learning course from Texas. The Anglo-Catholic clergy from Edmonton will go through a similar process starting in August.