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Rev. Jeffrey N. Steenson appointed as first Ordinary

posted Jan 1, 2012, 1:00 PM by Rochester Ordinariate

Pope Benedict XVI appointed Rev. Jeffrey N. Steenson as the first Ordinary of the Personal Ordinariate of the Chair of Saint Peter on January 1, 2012.

Fr. Steenson teaches patristics (the study of the early church fathers) at the University of St. Thomas and St. Mary’s Seminary in Houston, TX.

He and his wife Debra were received into the Catholic Church in 2007, after 28 years of ministry in the Church of England and the Episcopal Church. Fr. Steenson was ordained for the Catholic priesthood in the Archdiocese of Santa Fe in 2009, and was instrumental in establishing the formation program for Anglican priests applying for the Catholic priesthood as part of the ordinariate. 

Ordained an Anglican priest in 1980, he served Episcopal parishes in suburban Philadelphia, Pa. (from 1983), and Fort Worth, Texas (from 1989), before becoming canon to the ordinary in the Episcopal Diocese of the Rio Grande (New Mexico and far west Texas) (in 2000). In 2004, he was elected bishop of that diocese. Fr. Steenson was educated at Trinity College, Trinity Evangelical Divinity School, Harvard Divinity School and the University of Oxford, where he received a doctor of philosophy degree in 1983.

Fr. Steenson has been keenly interested in the question of Catholic unity for many years, drawn to this path, as so many Anglicans and others have, through the writings of the church fathers.  Patristic study is one of the glories of the Anglican theological tradition, and perhaps no text better illustrates this trajectory as well as these words from St. Irenaeus of Lyon in the later 2nd century: “It is necessary that all churches be in accord with this church [Rome] on account of her more excellent apostolic foundations” (Against Heresies 3.3.2).

Personal background

He was born on April 1, 1952 in Camp Rucker, Alabama and raised on a family farm in the Red River Valley of eastern North Dakota. He and his wife have three adult children (Kristina, Eric, and John) and one grandson (Peter). He is a general aviation enthusiast, both as a licensed pilot and an aircraft builder (a floatplane almost ready for the flightline).