Ordinariate Bishop Steven J. Lopes visits Notre Dame

The Most Reverend Steven J. Lopes, bishop of the Personal Ordinariate of the Chair of St. Peter (POCSP), visited the University of Notre Dame from Thursday, September 23 through Saturday, September 25 as a participant in the Society for Catholic Liturgy’s conference “That They May Be One: Liturgical Reconciliation.”

Established in 2012, the POCSP “was created to provide a path for groups of Anglicans to become fully Roman Catholic, while retaining elements of their worship traditions and spiritual heritage in their union with the Catholic Church,” according to its website. It is one of three Personal Ordinariates across the world, along with Our Lady of Walsingham in the United Kingdom and Our Lady of the Southern Cross in Australia. Each of these Personal Ordinariates equates to a diocese, headed by a bishop who serves under the direct authority of the Pope.

His Excellency Bishop Lopes was ordained on the Feast of Candlemas, February 2, 2016, in Houston, Texas, where the POCSP is currently headquartered. Raised in Southern California and educated at Moreau High School, Bishop Lopes was first ordained a priest of the Archdiocese of San Francisco. He eventually went on to become an official of the Congregation of the Doctrine of the Faith in 2005 before being named bishop of the POCSP by His Holiness Pope Francis in 2015.

Bishop Lopes began the conference by celebrating a Solemn Mass according to Divine Worship: The Missal in the Basilica of the Sacred Heart. Divine Worship contains the Mass used by the Ordinariate, a liturgy that blends the Sarum Rite Mass, 1549 Book of Common Prayer, and other liturgical texts. It features “a sacred vernacular in a ‘high’ verbal register—with ‘thees’ and thous’—one that is both elevated and intimate,” according to the website. Following Mass, the Bishop delivered the conference’s plenary address, entitled “Reconciled and Reconciling: Unity and Diversity in Catholic Liturgical Life.”

His lecture covered a wide range of discussion on the practical life of the POCSP, from the origins of Divine Worship: The Missal to its implementation in the everyday worship of an Ordinariate parish. The address culminated with the reality that the liturgical life of the POCSP is one that is both reconciled and reconciling.

The POCSP is reconciled in that the “liturgical life of the Ordinariate is the liturgical life of the Universal Church,” and that this liturgy, as with all liturgy, “participates in the return to the Father in and through the Triumphant Son.”

It is reconciling in that it represents English Christianity and issues from the various reforms of and following the Second Vatican Council (see Sacrosanctum Concilium  § 1&7, and Anglicanorum Coetibus). Its continuity with English tradition exists in the resurrection of the traditional Votive Mass of the Five Wounds, to cite one example.

To conclude, His Excellency emphasized the pastoral mission of the POCSP, namely that it is a mission for unity—both outside and within the arms of Holy Mother Church. He echoed the Gospel of John and the Conference’s theme in saying that the POCSP’s mission is to be “there for all, so that we might be one.”

Senior Nicholas Orr, who attended the conference, remarked that he “appreciated the approach [the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith and the Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments] took when planning and implementing the Missal for the Ordinariate,” especially in that they “ensured and preserved the traditions of numerous Anglicans converting to Catholicism by including [the traditions] in the Ordinariate’s liturgical texts.”

Senior Patrick Gouker commented on the reconciliatory power of His Excellency’s focus on unity as the Church being “united in a single purpose but with diverse expressions, all rooted in that common faith and certain common liturgical practices.”

Although situated firmly in the English Christian liturgical tradition, the Ordinariate not only serves former Anglicans but also aims to be an “evangelical mission” in the Bishop’s eyes. Bishop Lopes understands this task as an expression of the Benedictine charism of hospitality that is ingrained deeply in English Christianity, also evident in other Anglican patrimonial confessions.

In an interview with the Rover, His Excellency shared that “the Ordinariate has lots of deep Hispanic roots in Texas.” The bishop also observed that many people who grew up Catholic are joining the Ordinariate because of the beauty of the liturgy. Upon attending an Ordinariate Mass, one parishioner told him, “I feel like I went to church for the first time in 10 years.”

Consonant with its spirituality of hospitality, the Ordinariate has become a home for certain individuals who are considered irregular in terms of canon law, such as married priests, and those with roles considered obsolete in the modern Roman Rite, including subdeacons and acolytes.

The evangelical mission of the Personal Ordinariate of the Chair of St. Peter radiates dynamism and an ever-evolving character. Finding itself stationed as a welcoming arm of the Roman Rite of the Church, the POCSP serves those desirous of entry who come enriched by their English tradition as well as Roman Catholics seeking to deepen their own spirituality. This Ordinariate manifests its mission, as the words of Thanksgiving at the close of Evensong declare, “for the means of grace, and for the hope of glory.”

Jack Consolie is a senior from Knott Hall studying Theology and Arabic Studies. He serves as a Resident Assistant in Knott Hall, in addition to other roles in Campus Ministry, and can be easily found wherever coffee is sold. He can be reached at jconsoli@nd.edu.

Josh Gilchrist is a junior in the Program of Liberal Studies with a supplementary major in theology. When he’s not in the library or the PLS lounge, you can find him running around the lakes, mixing drinks, or enjoying a good conversation over a cigar. You can reach him at jgilchri@nd.edu.

Photo credit: Bishop Steven J. Lopes at St John the Evangelist, Calgary, 8 May 2016. Victor Panlilio on Flickr – licensed under Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 2.0 Generic (CC BY-SA 2.0) License