Fr Foote’s Visit to the Toronto Group
May 31, 2011
Fr Bill Foote, appointed by Archbishop Collins to visit and mentor groups of Anglicans and Catholics who wish to enter the Ordinariate, visited the Toronto Group on 29 May. As Fr Foote put it, in guiding groups of Anglicans toward entering into the full communion of the Catholic Church, his job is to be “the horse’s mouth.” Here is what we heard from the horse’s mouth:
Anglicanorum Coetibus does not propose to establish a kind of uniate structure, where entire jurisdictions “unite” with Rome. Rather, the Apostolic Constitution provides a bridge or doorway, so that individuals and groups may journey together to enter into the Catholic Church, and find room within the Latin rite for former Anglicans, now Catholic, to preserve their liturgical, spiritual and pastoral traditions, a gift for the whole Church.
Fr Foote emphasized the necessity of personal choice and commitment. To enter into the full communion of the Catholic Church – to become Catholics – each person must make a profession of faith, to the effect that he or she believes everything that the Catholic Church believes and teaches. If an individual is already baptized, he or she will then be confirmed.
The Toronto Group is relatively small. Our contact list extends to about 60 people, but we have not tracked how many have sent letters to Archbishop Collins, and therefore how many are prepared, at present, to be received into the Catholic Church, or (if already Catholic) to enter the Ordinariate. However, Fr Foote stated that very few are needed to constitute a viable worshipping community. Jesus said, “For where two or three are gathered together in my name, there am I in the midst of them” (Matt 18.20). The 14 people we had gathered to hear Fr Foote on Sunday would be enough to provide the basis for building a parish. (With reference to numbers, Fr Phillips has provided a reflection on little acorns.)
Accordingly, an Ordinariate parish in Toronto will be established.
Fr Foote speculated that it would be very possible for the initial group of Anglicans, who wish to enter into the full communion of the Catholic Church, to begin catechetical instruction in September (possibly using the Evangelium program), with a view to being received in Advent. This would mean that an Ordinariate parish in Toronto might be able to celebrate its first mass by Christmas.
Importantly, Fr Foote made the point that catechesis beginning in the fall could accommodate people who aren’t yet sure of their decision. To enter a program of preparation does not imply an obligation to be received! At least initially, then, anyone would be welcome who wishes to join catechesis in order to explore the Catholic faith and discern whether God is calling them to enter the Church through the Ordinariate.
Finally, Fr Foote raised the issue of irregular marriages – that is, anyone who has been remarried should consult a Catholic priest to determine what should be done in their situation. He made the point that divorce is not an issue, but that remarriage is potentially a barrier to communion.
We are grateful to Fr Foote for spending time with us, despite the demands of his regular Sunday duties and the concerns of a large parish, and welcome his guidance, and that of Archbishop Collins, as we joyfully seek to respond to the Holy Father’s invitation.