Dear Friends in Christ,
A blessed and holy Advent to you all. I am most pleased to be writing to you as the new priest in charge of the Sodality of St. Edmund, King and Martyr. Please permit me to take this opportunity to introduce myself, and to share some initial thoughts about the future of St. Edmund’s. As most you know, I am an American, but please don’t hold that against me. Originally from New Jersey, I was ordained in the Episcopal Church (the body to which most American Anglicans belong) in 2000. I come to Ontario from Baltimore, Maryland where until recently I was the priest administrator of Mount Calvary Church. I became rector of Mount Calvary in 2006, when it was an Episcopal parish. In 2010, the parish and I discerned a call to separate from the Episcopal Church in order to enter into full communion with the Catholic Church. After lengthy negotiations with the Episcopal Diocese of Maryland, we reached an agreement to keep our church property, and on January 22, 2012, the congregation and I were received into the Personal Ordinariate of the Chair of St. Peter. On June 9 of that year, I was ordained a Catholic priest by the Most Reverend William Lori, Archbishop of Baltimore.
Having just arrived at my new home in the rectory of St. Mary of the Seven Sorrows Catholic Church in Kitchener, I am still getting settled in, and I have only barely begun to get to know the people of St. Edmund’s and the Catholic scene here in the Tri-City area. But my initial impression is that St. Edmund’s move to St. Mary’s affords the congregation with significant opportunity for growth, and for ministry to the wider community. I commend the people of St. Edmund’s for your persistence in remaining together since coming into the Church in January 2012, and appreciate the support provided to you by Fr. Foote and the Diocese of Hamilton.
Yet now, with a more central location and a more convenient Sunday Mass time, I believe St. Edmund’s has the potential to be more than just a safe refuge for its original members within the Catholic Church, but to become a center from which to share the best of our Anglican tradition with the Catholic community in Kitchener and beyond.
In his apostolic constitution Anglicanorum coetibus, by which he called for the creation of personal ordinariates for former Anglicans within the Catholic Church, Pope Benedict XVI refers repeatedly to the “Anglican patrimony”. To me, this phrase suggests, first and foremost, the historic liturgical practice (codified and purified for Catholic worship) proper to Anglicanism. We see this expressed in the liturgies for Baptism, Confirmation, Marriage, the Burial of the Dead, and especially the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass, which thus far comprise “Divine Worship”, the provision approved by the Holy See for use by the Ordinariates. A key component of the worthy celebration of these rites is the musical expression which is so characteristic of historic Anglican liturgical practice. For that reason, I am looking forward to making St. Edmund’s Sunday Mass a weekly full Sung Mass, incorporating the hymns, chants, settings of the Ordinary of the Mass, and other music which characterize the best of our Anglican heritage. I also hope to supplement the Sunday Mass with weekday celebrations and seasonal observances. And since the sacrament of Penance is of such vital importance to the spiritual life of every Catholic, each Mass at St. Edmund’s will be preceded by opportunity for confession.
Beyond the liturgy, I also view teaching and fellowship as integral components of our Anglican patrimony. Therefore I expect to provide regular teaching on various aspects of the Catholic faith, most likely on a weekday evening. Finally, given the fact that one of the elements which so often draws people to Ordinariate communities is a greater level of intimacy amongst the laity and between laity and clergy than one finds in the typical Catholic parish, I hope to follow each Mass with some opportunity for fellowship. This would take the form of sharing in refreshments, as well as occasional dinners and other events.
As I am just beginning my ministry to St. Edmund’s, it will take a little time before all these things can be put in place. And of course, I will of necessity rely on the help and support of the current members and friends of the congregation. Furthermore, I will also be exercising my priestly ministry in some capacity in the Diocese of Hamilton, at the direction of Bishop Crosby. Nonetheless, I have great hope that my time among you will be fruitful. I ask for your prayers and that I might be an instrument, by the grace of God, in helping St. Edmund’s become a true beacon of Anglican patrimony and orthodox Catholic witness in this place.
Wishing you all a blessed Advent and a happy Nativity,
Father Jason Catania, December 10, 2014