WNC Mission, Plan & FAQ
Members of the Ordinariate are seeking to start a new Roman Catholic parish in Western North Carolina. Sunday and weekday gathering have been taking place since the beginning of the summer. On July 5, the first Ordinariate Form Mass was celebrated in the open air at St. Barnabas Catholic Church in Arden, NC, with over 126 in attendance. View pictures here.
Ordinariate Priests will be traveling to WNC to offer Ordinariate Form Masses as frequently as possible, generally once a month. In between these Masses, we gather on Sundays to attend Mass and fellowship afterwards. In August, our weekday gathering will begin the Footprints of God series. These gatherings are attended by those intending to become Catholic, those investigating the faith and those already Catholic.
Our long-term goal is to have an Ordinariate priest and established parish in WNC, a parish that brings forth the roots of the faith with newness and vitality. We are excited to bring the Ordinariate’s charism and work with Charlotte Diocese parishes and clergy to bring more souls into Christ’s one Holy, Catholic and Apostolic Church in Western North Carolina!
Why a new Catholic parish? Is it not the mission of every Catholic parish to evangelize?
Jesus Christ’s last instructions before ascending into heaven where to teach and baptize all nations (Matthew 28:18-20). This mandate applies to every Catholic, in every parish, and in every place. What makes the Ordinariate mission unique is Who & How We Evangelize.
Who: Our focus is outreach to Christians who are not in full communion with the Catholic Church. This focus does not exclude the evangelization of the un-churched and fallen away Catholics. But our first priority is welcoming and journeying with non-Catholic Christians.
How: The “Who” drives our “How”
#1 We Evangelize through Beauty
We evangelize first through the beauty of our Eucharistic Worship. The Divine Worship Mass, an “English” expression of the Roman Rite is transcendent & reverent, yet warm. It has a “meet” or “fitting” orientation of intentionality – when the priest addresses God, he faces the altar, when he addresses the people, he faces the congregation. Our liturgy profoundly and poetically expresses our sorrow and unworthiness at several points, but following each penitential expression comes comforting words from scripture that assure us of our Heavenly Father’s love and forgiveness. Herein our liturgy contains a distinct scriptural piety that both lifelong Catholics and those coming from a Protestant background can appreciate.
An important part of our worship is our musical patrimony. The English choral tradition is known worldwide for its beauty. Out of this comes both Anglican Chant, used primarily in our Divine Office, and choral music. While sung in the great cathedrals of England, much of this music is attainable by small parish choirs that have a mix of both adults and children, as we anticipate our will be as we start out.
Our musical patrimony also includes a vicarious tradition of majestic hymnody & congregational signing. The hymns we use are oriented towards the glory, mercy and love of the Triune God. They are at the same time sing-able, poetic and aid the soul in lifting our hearts to the Lord in Eucharistic worship.
Our liturgy is rich in its engagement of senses. Incense is used and readings are chanted every Sunday. We seek a noble aesthetic for the altar and architecture that builds on the natural, is rich and worthy of our royal King yet sober enough to foster reflection. Our liturgy is both heard and acted out with bodily action: “Draw near with faith and make your humble confession to Almighty God, meekly kneeling upon your knees.” While not laboriously slow or quiet, the Mass and Divine Office, particularly Choral Evensong (Evening Prayer led by a choir) are contemplative in pace, reflecting an English Benedictine spirituality, leaving space for God to speak in the silence of the heart so that one is nurtured to serve God in the work he has called them to.
#2 We Witness in our Preaching and Teaching.
Conscious of the often deep and lifelong relationships our separated brethren have with our Lord, we are intentional to affirm what is shared. Yet we never shy away from explaining our Catholic beliefs. We take an approach with author and former Anglican priest Fr. Dwight Longenecker coined “More Christianity.” This approach acknowledges all the truth and strong relationships with Christ that are often found in Protestant communities. It also challenges them to discover “more Christianity” in the Catholic beliefs rejected by Protestants.
#3 We Evangelize Through our Eucharistic Life Together
Flowing from Christ’s love and grace in Word & Sacrament, we are intentionally but organically welcoming. The mandatum “No Visitor Leave Un-introduced” is in our DNA. Our vision for a smaller, close-knit parish is more naturally conducive to growing in friendship with existing members and those investigating the Catholic faith. We will seek to follow the examples of other Ordinariate parishes in building a culture where folks live life together, where there is an open-ness to talk about the Lord’s work in your life and yes, even vulnerability with each other.
What we propose is not simply “sharing feelings” or a shallow feel good atmosphere, but one of rich and abiding friendships. As rich culture will then emanate: one that deeply celebrates feasts and fasts, both in the domestic church and in the parish. Art and music will be an important part of celebrations. Our desire is for the musical and artistic traditions of the Appalachian to have a integral connection with our community. We wish to host festivals for local artists, Catholic and non-Catholic alike, and have a property where outdoor music and gatherings can be offered for the wider local community.
As the parish grows, the Ordinariate way is not to grow to a mega-parish, but for members who are further out geographically to be sent out to plant another parish. Our hope is to cultivate a heart for those in need. A heart that impels us to leave the four walls, ministering to both spiritual & corporal needs.
What are our next steps?
The plan for our community is to be hosted by Immaculate Conception in Hendersonville, with a weekly Sunday Mass in the Ordinariate Form being offered for our community and all who wish to attend. Steps are currently being taken to make this a reality. Until then, we will continue to attend Sunday Mass together, fellowship together and have mid-week gatherings / home groups.
What does it to take to become a parish?
The Ordinariate has provided clear guidelines in its document “Architects of Communion.” Our first step is for Bishop Lopes to establish us as “Community in Formation.” We already have the required thresholds of membership, we need only to continue meetings and establish consistent financial support for a period of a few months. The second step is to be formed as a mission and the third, to be formed as an established parish. You can view a one-page summary chart of these thresholds here. Ultimately, each step is taken after careful discernment with the community and the Ordinariate leadership in Houston. As we are under the pastoral care of Bishop Lopes, it is ultimately he who plants a parish.
I am already a Catholic, can I be a part of this?
Absolutely! If you feel God is calling you to live life with us and be a part of this mission, we want to talk. We need Catholics of all backgrounds,"converts", "reverts" and "lifelong." While a "convert" background may be helpful in relating to those coming from a Protestant background, the witness of lifelong Catholics and their own conversions and deepening commitments to God is also a powerful witness.
I am drawn to the liturgy but am not sure about committing, where do I fit in?
Anyone is welcome at our liturgies. Catholics may fulfill their Sunday obligation and may receive Holy Communion at Ordinariate liturgies (provided they are not conscious of grave sin). We understand there will be varying levels of commitment, and some may just wish to simply attend for a time. While invitations will be made, there is never any pressure or baseline levels of commitments for those just wishing to partake in our liturgy. Our hope, is that the beauty and love experiences will impel all to spread the Good News of Jesus Christ.