The Apostolic Nuncio to Great Britain has celebrated the first Chrism Mass of the Personal Ordinariate of Our Lady of Walsingham.
Archbishop Antonio Mennini celebrated the Mass on Monday at the church of St James, Spanish Place, in London with 60 former Anglican clergy, including five former Anglican bishops, concelebrating. Hundreds of laity from groups across Britain were in attendance.
Archbishop Mennini celebrated the Mass at the request of the Ordinary of the Personal Ordinariate, Mgr Keith Newton.
Mgr Newton, who received the Renewal of Priestly Promises and preached at the Mass, said: “The jurisdiction given to me, unlike that of Catholic diocesan bishops, is vicarious on behalf of the Roman Pontiff.
“It is therefore particularly appropriate that our Chrism Mass should be celebrated by the Holy Father’s representative to Great Britain particularly as at this time we celebrate the 30th anniversary of full diplomatic relations between the British Government and the Holy See.”
Speaking of the priesthood, Mgr Newton said: “No man possesses the priesthood just as no one possesses baptism or marriage. They are something shared. You cannot be married on your own and you cannot live the baptised life apart from other Christians.
“No, the priesthood possesses us. It is a life. It is a particular way of living the Christian life. But it is not for ourselves but for Christ and his holy people. It is a life of sacrifice.
“Although much is written about priesthood, it is far too complex to be reduced to simple statements which we can easily understand because it is nothing less than a particular sharing in the eternal priesthood of Christ.
“That sharing is expressed visibly today as we gather round the altar to celebrate this Mass.”
In Holy Week over 200 former members of the Church of England and the Traditional Anglican Communion are expected to be received into full communion. This evening four former Anglican clergy are expected to be ordained as Catholic priests and groups of faithful in Lancashire, Kent, Essex and Surrey will be received into the Catholic Church.