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Victory Attained: Our Lady of the Atonement San Antonio Made Part of Anglican Ordinariate – UPDATED March 22, 2017

Posted by Tantumblogo in awesomeness, Basics, Ecumenism, episcopate, General Catholic, Glory, Grace, Latin Mass, Liturgy, priests, sanctity, the struggle for the Church, Tradition, Virtue.

With a hat tip to reader Camper for the link, Our Lady of the Atonement parish is, effective today, no longer a part of the Archdiocese of San Antonio and is now a part of Anglican Ordinariate, as the parish clergy and laity had requested.  I don’t know what this means for Fr. Phillips reinstatement, or whether that has already occurred (I could find no news attesting to this because I am not on Facebook!, where everything seems to be these days.  See update below, Fr. Phillips is back at Atonement with faculties in the Ordinariate), but I am certain there is great rejoicing today (but in actuality, there are signs the people of Atonement have been aware of the decision for at least a few days) among those who have such a great devotion to this reverent Anglican Use (and sometime Novus Ordo Latin) parish:

Brilliant News!!! The Holy See has directed that theTexan parish of Our Lady of the Atonement in San Antonio is, with effect from today, part of the Ordinariate of the Chair of S Peter, the American Ordinariate.

‘Atonement’ was the first (in 1983) of the parishes set up to perpetuate within the Roman Unity groups adhering to their Anglican Liturgy, Spirituality, and theological tradition. It was spectacularly successful, under its dynamic and charismatic Pastor Fr Christopher Phillips.

When the Ordinariates were set up, the position of parishes adhering to the ‘Anglican Use’, but operating as units within ordinary dioceses, became anomalous. After all, the Holy See had set up the Ordinariates specifically to include such communities.

The Archbishop of San Antonio was understandably anxious to keep such a vibrant parish and its academy within his own diocese and jurisdiction. But he is an honourable man. So he made it very clear that he would ensure the continuation at the Atonement of the provisions made by the Holy See for Anglicans who had entered the Catholic Church upon a certain understanding.

But that proposed arrangement misses the point. It treats the Anglican Use as merely something provided as a condescending kindness for ex-Anglicans or their descendants. This would mean that the Use could die out when the original ‘converts’ had died, unless new converts from Anglicanism had continued to trickle in so as to keep the arrangement on a life-support machine.

That is quite simply not how things can be allowed to be in a Church which takes Mission in any way seriously. A flourishing and orthodox Christian community will inevitably attract others, particularly those from the peripheries of the Church, where people may have a residual association with Catholicism but have grown disillusioned or alienated within the ‘mainstream’ or ‘diocesan’ Church.

It is a natural suspicion that Gerhard Cardinal Mueller has been involved in this wise decision, which is good news not only for the Atonement but for all members of the three Ordinariates. It demonstrates that the See of S Peter is as committed to Pope Benedict’s bold ecumenical experiment as ever it was. We were not ‘taken up’ just so that we could be ‘dropped’!

That’s certainly an ebullient opinion from Fr. Hunwicke, who I am certain is quite pleased.

This is about the best possible outcome for the vast majority of those associated with Atonement Parish and it’s school – this is very much what those souls wanted.  It also does lend some credence to notions I’ve heard bandied about that much of the furball that developed in recent months with the removal of Fr. Phillips and the allegations against Deacon Orr was ideologically motivated.  As I stated all along, that is most likely the case, though difficult to prove (as such things always tend to be in a Church dominated by secular modernists).

I’m very happy for the people of Atonement and the Archdiocese of San Antonio generally.  Whatever Phillips’ future status, they have one more reverent and relatively orthodox option for liturgy, catechesis, and formal schooling.  San Antonio is even more of a liturgical and catechetical wasteland than Dallas, which tells local readers something, anyway.  I don’t know whether it’s surprising or not that Rome made this decision, and so quickly, but it certainly appears to be the right and just one.

A Deo Gratias for Atonement parish and the good people of the Archdiocese of San Antonio.  I don’t know if this move has any implications for the TLM at St. Pius X parish or the SSPX at St. Joseph chapel, but we’ll see.  For now it appears the good guys won one for once, to quote some of those in the comments.

UPDATE:  Via commenter RM, the following comes from Fr. Phillips’ Facebook page, announcing his return as “pastor emeritus” at Atonement:

This has been an historic day. Our Lady of the Atonement is now a parish of the Personal Ordinariate of the Chair of St. Peter. Fr. Moore and I are incardinated as priests of the Ordinariate………

…………I return to the parish as Pastor Emeritus to carry on my regular pastoral, liturgical, and sacramental ministry, and especially what I love the most — back to my place in the school with our wonderful students.
“I am delighted with this! As I told some of our people today, “I get to continue to do all the things I love, and poor Fr. Perkins has to do all the hard stuff!”
“As of today we return to being the parish family we have always been, but poised for even greater adventures. I am grateful for our years in the Archdiocese of San Antonio — it was the soil in which we grew and flourished. But I am now looking forward to new relationships in the Ordinariate, and to serving God under a new bishop, His Excellency, the Most Reverend Steven Lopes

Well it appears this ugly saga is behind Atonement, and good for them.  With more coming out now, including what I am told privately is a dismissal of the allegations against Deacon Orr that surfaced earlier this month, it seems almost certain that what transpired in the removal of Fr. Phillips was the playing out of an ugly ideological agenda trying to keep a vibrant parish and its unusually valuable property from “leaving” the control of the Archdiocese, and in the process breaking the parish of most everything that made it unique.   Of course, as the progressive modernists holding the reins of power in most dioceses are extremely adept at manipulating the system to their advantage, proving that is all but impossible, but the strange turn of events in public really speaks for itself.



1. Amillennial - March 22, 2017

Deo gratias! San Antonio is indeed a wretched hive of…well, you know. Atonement is definitely an oasis of orthodoxy in what is otherwise a barren desert of heterodoxy.

2. Richard Malcolm - March 22, 2017

What happened to Fr. Phillips?

Well, what has been announced is that he has been received, along with Fr. Moore, into the Ordinariate as clergy of the Ordinariate; and that he will remain at Our Lady of the Atonement as “Pastor Emeritus,” with specific duties or compensation not detailed, but which apparently are sizable enough to leave him happy.

Since not everyone is on Facebook (or desires to peek there), I will copy what he said on his FB page yesterday evening:

“This has been an historic day. Our Lady of the Atonement is now a parish of the Personal Ordinariate of the Chair of St. Peter. Fr. Moore and I are incardinated as priests of the Ordinariate.

“Of course, there is an immense amount of work to be done in moving from one jurisdiction to another. Bishop Lopes described it as “trying to untangle fish hooks.” There will need to be ongoing conversations and cooperation with the Archdiocese of San Antonio as our property, including all the buildings, are transferred. We have construction loans presently guaranteed by the archdiocese which now need to be redone. The list of practical details go on and on. Because of that, the Vicar General of the Ordinariate, Fr. Timothy Perkins, has been appointed to be Administrator in order to facilitate those things. He will, of course, continue his work in Houston, visiting the parish once or twice a month. Bishop Lopes is in conversation with the archbishop, working out the details concerning the continued service of our faithful and long-time deacon, Dn. Michael D’Agostino, and Fr. Moore is appointed to be Parochial Vicar.

“I return to the parish as Pastor Emeritus to carry on my regular pastoral, liturgical, and sacramental ministry, and especially what I love the most — back to my place in the school with our wonderful students.

“I am delighted with this! As I told some of our people today, “I get to continue to do all the things I love, and poor Fr. Perkins has to do all the hard stuff!”

“As of today we return to being the parish family we have always been, but poised for even greater adventures. I am grateful for our years in the Archdiocese of San Antonio — it was the soil in which we grew and flourished. But I am now looking forward to new relationships in the Ordinariate, and to serving God under a new bishop, His Excellency, the Most Reverend Steven Lopes.”

He also posted some nice photos of Bishop Lopes’ visit to a very packed and very deliriously happy fellowship hall/undercroft at OLA. He apparently resumed celebrating Mass at OLA this morning.

It is definitely a story with a happy ending. That is a rare thing in the Church today.

Tantumblogo - March 22, 2017

Thank you Richard I updated the post. I find I am missing more and more not being on Facebook, some entities anymore don’t post anything on their blogs or websites and just put everything on Facebook. Rorate more and more seems to be spending most of their effort on Twitter. But I’m not going back.

Baseballmomof8 - March 22, 2017

I left it five years ago… not going back either. And you are right… whether it’s the grandsons Little League schedules or the “snow day” announcement…. EVERYTHING is on that blasted Facebook 😡

Richard Malcolm - March 23, 2017

The same thing happened with Iowahawk, and I would have been deeply saddened by that, if it weren’t for the fact that the guy is every bit as brilliant at tweeting as he was in long-form satire. I do miss the satire stories, though.

Fortunately (for those curious), Fr Phillips keeps his FB settings on full public, so he’s easy to find, and easy to read, without even having to log into FB – if you’re doing research on what he’s up to.

3. Richard Malcolm - March 22, 2017

BTW, I believe Fr. Hunwicke is quite right to suspect that Cardinal Mueller was a moving force in all this. From my own involvement in the Ordinariate in its first years, I know how often I was told that he very much desired that all the Pastoral Provision parishes* end up within the Ordinariate. He was content at that time not to push too hard, since they were steadily moving in; but in this case, I think, the canonical suits gave him the excuse to act – and apparently his boss decided not to overrule him. Which frankly surprises me a little bit.

(*For those curious, these are parishes erected under John Paul II’s 1980 Pastoral Provision, special diocesan parishes set up by local bishops for incoming communities of Anglicans, to be centered on a special Anglican Use liturgy devised by the Holy See, under their own convert clergy. OLA was the first one established, 1983; there were about 8-10 total, all in the U.S., half of them in Texas, which for some reason ended up having the most bishops actually open to the idea. As of yesterday, there were only two left which had not joined the Ordinariate – OLA, and St Athanasius in Boston. As of today, it would seem, they’re both in the Ordinariate, and that closes down that aspect of the old Pastoral Provision for good.)

Ludovicus - March 23, 2017

We should not discount the part Bishop Lopes played in this. He evidently has a large capacity to get things to happen in Rome.

Richard Malcolm - March 23, 2017

Lopes used to work at CDF. He is close with Mueller. So that’s quite probable.

That said: Lopes is very much a Ratzingerian, and García-Siller seems to have become a fully-fledged #FrancisBishop. (See their respective episcopal statements on Amoris Laetitia.) I feared Lopes’ connections with Mueller would not be enough to win the day.

David - March 23, 2017

For those who don’t know, as a young priest (Lopes is very young for a bishop, he is around 45) Lopes was tasked around 2007 to help Pope Benedict XVI with the transition of former Anglicans interested in crossing the Tiber. This was one reason Lopes was made the first bishop of the Ordinariate for the Chair of St Peter – it was his familiarity and effort he put in with former Anglicans.

On 1-1-2012, Msgr. Steenson (whom I have met ) was appointed the head of the Ordinariate when it was formed. Although Msgr. Steenson was a bishop in the Episcopal Church, he was ineligible to be a Catholic bishop, since he is married. Now, Bishop Lopes is the head of the Ordinariate for the Chair of St Peter.

Richard Malcolm - March 23, 2017

Actually, Bishop Lopes is only 41!

When he was appointed last year, he was the youngest Catholic bishop in the entire world (today, he’s the fifth youngest – the four younger ones are all Eastern Rite bishops).

But yes, you’re right – Lopes was working at CDF, and took on the assignment of helping establish the ordinariates. He was instrumental in drawing the (surprisingly good) Ordinariate missal, Divine Worship – it is largely through his efforts that it ended up as traditional as it did.

Most (nearly all) of the Anglican clergy who were accepted for ordination into the ordinariates were/are married, which of course makes them ineligible to be consecrated as bishops. This included even the several Anglican bishops who came in. Nonetheless, three of them were named as ordinaries of the new ordinariates – Jeffrey Steenson for the US Ordinariate, Keith Newton for the UK Ordinariate, and Harry Entwistle for Australia. They were given titles as protonotary apostolic, which made them monsignors; and as ordinaries, they could do everything a bishop could do except for the conferral of sacraments reserved to the order of bishop (like ordaining priests). But Msgr Steenson felt it was important for the US Ordinariate to have a bishop, as it would make it easier for the Ordinariate (and its ordinary) to be accepted as equals by other bishops in the conference. Msgr. Lopes, being a celibate priest *could* be made a bishop, and his intimate knowledge of the ordinariates made him, it was felt, a good fit notwithstanding his lack of Anglican background. So now, at least, one of the ordinariates has a bishop; since the expectation going forward is that new vocations in the ordinariates will be celibate, eventually all three ordinaries should be bishops at some point.

The US Ordinariate is in better shape in many ways than its sister ordinariates – more laity, more parishes, more property, more resources – but it remains quite small (less than 10,000 laity total, 62 priests, 47 parishes) and quite fragile – contrast with (say) the FSSP (270 priests, 154 seminarians, 124 apostolates, 2 seminaries). Gaining Our Lady of Atonement is a great boon to them, as it is larger and better resourced than any other existing Ordinariate parish. And, of course, it will be a great boon to OLA as well.

4. David - March 22, 2017

Tantumblogo et. al.:

Recently, I spent part of a weekend in Austin. St. Mary’s Cathedral downtown (I think it’s at 10th and Congress, it’s walking distance from the Capitol) has the TLM on Sunday afternoon at 3:30 p.m. I don’t know if it’s celebrated by an FSSP priest or a diocesan priest. However, if any of you are traveling through the Hill Country, this can be marked on your calendar.

Glad to hear that Atonement is now officially part of the Ordinariate. That’s three in Texas, and I think there’s now and Ordinariate parish in Philadelphia. I attended Our Lady of Walsingham sometimes when I visit Houston.

Richard Malcolm - March 23, 2017

“St. Mary’s Cathedral downtown has the TLM on Sunday afternoon at 3:30 p.m.”

I wonder how long they’ve been doing that? First I have heard of this. Perhaps it’s the sort of thing that the chancery doesn’t want advertised too much…

NickD - March 23, 2017

I think it’s been for awhile. The priest who offered that Mass every Sunday got transferred to a parish a couple of hours up the road, and much to his disappointment (so I hear), it isn’t within his grasp to continue that at his new parish. He’s the only priest there, with 4 Masses every Sunday, so he has quite a workload already. However, he does offer the traditional Mass on “special” days. He offered a sung Mass on All Souls’ Day and another one is scheduled for the Annunciation.

5. Rebecca Cash - March 23, 2017

I would not call allowing this priest and Deacon or to get away with sexual abuse of the boys at the parish and school a victory

Richard Malcolm - March 23, 2017

If there’s a credible case to be made against Dcn. Orr, people really need to take this to the local DA’s office.

But whatever he (or Fr Phillips) did or did not do, that’s no reason to punish the people of OLA by blocking their application to join the Ordinariate, which is where they really belong – and where the liturgy and spiritual formation they treasure will be far more likely protected and supported.

Tantumblogo - March 24, 2017

Agreed. Whatever the issues with Orr and Phillips, the OLA situation exists above and beyond all that.

Numbskull - March 27, 2017

Richard, do you live in Houston or San Antonio? We have a mens get together every month at OLW in Houston.

Richard Malcolm - March 27, 2017

No any more, I’m afraid! Stuck in DC now.

The one upside is that there’s no lack of TLM’s around here….

Numbskull - March 27, 2017

That’s good to hear.

NickD - March 23, 2017

You are clearly uninformed as to the particulars of this situation. Simply following the links in this post would make your misunderstanding clear.

I second Mr. Malcolm’s reply. Whatever one clergyman did or another overlooked is no reason to seize and (metaphorically) demolish a parish

Tantumblogo - March 24, 2017

See Richard’s comment. These are two different things. OLA entering the Ordinariate does not mean justice has been frustrated.

6. R Dal - March 23, 2017

Whether or not Dcn. Orr committed the abuse which was alleged, I have no knowledge. I do have knowledge of several instances where he has come between families, even causing children to move out from their parent’s home into his. Ask around. I can count on my fingers past two hands the number of families he has caused serious problems in. Many left the parish because of Dcn Orr.

I do like Fr. Phillips. He is a brilliant and talented man, a great teacher, and on some levels he does seem to care. But I cannot deny that he has a share in these problems – because he did nothing.

NickD - March 23, 2017

I was speaking with someone who’s been at the parish all of her life, and she made a cogent point as to Father’s apparent inaction over the issues surrounding Dcn Orr.

She said that, for 10 or even 20 years, Dcn Orr was Fr Phillips’ only ally in building the parish. Fr. Phillips is human, too, so she wondered if that may have induced Fr. Phillips to fear losing that ally (even if he has many more allies now; he may not have known about them, and old habits die hard, as they say).

This isn’t to say that these allegations are horrible and I think Fr. Phillips should’ve overlooked the issues with Dcn Orr which were brought to him. I simply will give, and ask that others give Fr. Phillips a rather generous benefit of the doubt, and know that we obviously don’t have all of the facts

Richard Malcolm - March 23, 2017

It could well be that this might factor in Bishop Lopes’ decision to only keep Fr Phillips on as pastor emeritus, and have Fr. Perkins run the parish until he decides who would be best to run Atonement long-term.

But I’m just guessing.

NickD - March 23, 2017

That may be the case. We’ll wait and see

7. R Dal - March 23, 2017

NickD – Fr. Phillips had MANY allies in building the parish. Many gave freely of their savings and their time. This about Dcn. Orr being his only ally, is nuts. In fact, I would go as far as to extend that Fr. Phillips could not have built the parish if it wasn’t for the hard work of many parishioners – many of whom eventually came in the way of Dcn. Orr. Fr. Phillips has a HUGE EGO. He always puts himself first and Dcn. Orr played to that, and lived vicariously through him. He even moved next door to him. Orr kept people away from him and worked his opinion. Why he never disciplined Dcn. Orr is unknown.Truth be told, much of the problems the parish had with the Archdiocese was because of Dcn. Orr. He hated the Archbishops and was even asked to step out of the Deaconate program one year for disrespecting the Bishop.

Camper - March 23, 2017

No, Fr. Phillips does not have a huge ego as you would know if you had spent a relatively small amount of time at the parish. He is obviously a humble man. I didn’t get to know Deacon Orr well, but there is a good chance that you are a troll from the Archdiocese. The archdiocese is… arguably very vicious and should be ashamed of its conduct with respect to Atonement.

NickD - March 23, 2017

Seconded, particularly the viciousness and vindictiveness of the mealy-mouthed progressives in the chancery

Camper - March 24, 2017

Dear Tantumblogo, We should ban this guy R Dal, who is slandering Fr. Phillips, saying things that indicate he is completely out of touch with reality.

NickD - March 23, 2017

Perhaps ally isn’t the right word. Rather, confidant. It’s lonely at the top, as they say, and there wasn’t even a vicar at OLA until 2010

Tantumblogo - March 24, 2017

That is true. He was alone as clergy for over 20 years.

Tantumblogo - March 24, 2017

There was plenty of economic support, any way. I’m not sure what is being meant by this word ally – it could mean many things – but there was obvious support materially for the parish going back years. They had amazingly fine facilities built very quickly for a start up.

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