By Peter Jennings.
Mgr Keith Newton, Ordinary for the Ordinariate, under the Patronage of Blessed John Henry Newman, who took part in the deeply moving and memorable ceremony, said that the number of priests in the Ordinariate now numbered 35.
Bishop Mark Jabalé OSB, Parish Priest of Chipping Norton, Mgr Canon John Moran, Vicar General and Canon Gerry Breen, Dean of the Cathedral, together with more than 30 priests, concelebrated the Mass with the Archbishop of Birmingham.
Celebrating their first Mass as Catholic priests – in order of ordination – were: Fr Richard Smith, Fr John Pitchford, Fr John Lungley, Fr Paul Burch, Fr Christopher Marshall, Fr Matthew Pittam, Fr David Mawson, and Fr Paul Berrett.
During his homily, Mgr Keith Newton addressed the eight former Anglicans and said: “You have been called by Christ – a truth you must never forget – and that calling has been ratified by the Church.
“There is for you all both a sense of continuity and of change. There is continuity because that call to Christian ministry first came to you some years ago, in some cases many years ago. You have many years of faithful service and experience to bring with you, but you will also be aware that your ministry in the future will be set in a totally new context as priest of the Catholic Church.
“Your ordination today will be a fulfilment and completion of all that has gone before. It will also be radically different, as you will exercise that ministry of word and sacrament from the heart of the Church in communion with the successor of Peter, whom Pope Benedict reminded us in his homily at Westminster Abbey ‘is charged with a particular care for the Unity of Christ’s flock’.
Mgr Newton stressed: “First and foremost then you are to be ordained a priest of the Catholic Church. What happens to you today will give you a new authentic authority to your ministry.
“You will discover in the words of Lumen Gentium that ‘There can be no genuine priestly ministry except in communion with the Supreme Pontiff’ and you will share that priestly ministry with every other priest of the Catholic Church.
“One of the most moving parts of the Ordination Rite is the giving of the Kiss of Peace by your brother priests. This profoundly expresses the unity of the priesthood in the Catholic Church.”
Mgr Newtown said: “Though you are ordained for the whole Church you will also be priests within the Ordinariate of Our Lady of Walsingham. You have all been involved in a spiritual journey, certainly over the last year and probably for much longer than that. It has been a journey not without its difficulties.
“Archbishop Bernard will remind you to: ’model your life on the mystery of the cross.’ These are profound and penetrating words.
“As you look back over the years I am sure you will see the providence of God at work in your lives and that he has brought you now to this joyful moment.”
Mgr Newton emphasised: “As some of the first priest of Our Lady’s Ordinariate you have that special responsibility to help bring to fruition that vision which the Holy Father sets out in the Apostolic Constitution Anglicanorum Coetibus.”
Mgr Newton quoted the words of Pope Benedict XVI in his address to the Bishops of England, Scotland and Wales at St Mary’s College, Oscott, on 19 September 2010: “This should be seen as a prophetic gesture that can contribute positively to the developing relations between Anglicans and Catholics. It helps us set our sights on the ultimate goal of all ecumenical activity: the restoration of full ecclesial communion in the context of which the mutual exchange of gifts from our respective spiritual patrimonies serves as enrichment to us all”.
Mgr Keith Newton concluded: “We will do that with humility knowing how much we will be receiving. May God bless you as you serve him as priests of the Catholic Church.”
Before Archbishop Bernard Longley gave the final blessing, Mgr Keith assured the priests of the diocese present that the newly ordained priests of the Ordinariate of Our Lady of Walsingham, wanted to “work co-operatively and fully” with them.