Starting an Anglican Patrimony Group

Divine Worship Mass, Incarnation Catholic Church, November 26th, 2017

I know you're out there. Many of you are Catholics, who some time back, entered the Catholic Church from Anglicanism or Methodism. You love the Catholic Church (and you should) but deep down inside you miss some of the liturgical aspects of the Anglican Patrimony. Maybe you've still got that old Book of Common Prayer tucked away in a dresser drawer. Maybe it's on your nightstand. Or maybe it's on your bookshelf. Every once in a while you take it out, dust it off, and recite some of those beautiful prayers you haven't heard in so long.

It's natural. Anglicanism (and in some cases Methodism) actually played a big role in leading us into the Catholic Church. The liturgy of the Book of Common Prayer, along with the smells and bells of high-church worship, served as a tutor, preparing us for full-communion with the Catholic Church. It's no wonder that we sometimes miss it.

Perhaps you've heard about the Personal Ordinariates of former Anglicans, set up by Pope Benedict XVI before he retired. Perhaps you've thought of looking into one, just for curiosity's sake, but alas there are none near you. Perhaps you've been discouraged and thought that you could never be part of such an Ordinariate anyway because you are already Catholic.

If you'll indulge me for a moment, I would like to clear up some possible misconceptions, and then outline ways you can bring the Anglican Patrimony back into your home as a Catholic, and also do your part in sharing this treasure with other Catholics. In case you're wondering, I am a member of the Personal Ordinariate of the Chair of Saint Peter. I helped found an ordinariate community in Republic, Missouri. And I am on the executive board of directors for the Anglicanorum Coetibus Society, an organisation dedicated to the growth of the Ordinariates and the Anglican Patrimony within the Catholic Church.

First and foremost, Rome wants the Anglican Patrimony to grow in the Catholic Church, particularly in English-speaking nations. The Anglican Patrimony (abruptly taken from Rome by King Henry VIII in the 16th century) has been re-adopted by Rome after exile for nearly five centuries. This Patrimony originally came from the Catholic Church, and it has now returned to the Catholic Church as a treasure to be shared by all. If you're an English-speaking Catholic, the Anglican Patrimony has a part in your linguistic and cultural heritage, even if you were never an Anglican or never had any connection to Anglicanism. Rome has seen the value in this Patrimony and desires all Catholics (especially English-speaking Catholics) to have some familiarity with it.

Second, if you are a convert who came from any form of Anglicanism or Methodism, you are automatically eligible for membership in the Ordinariate, even if there is no Ordinariate community nearby, and even if you originally entered the Church through a normal diocese. You have the right to apply for membership, and once accepted, you can be part of this jurisdiction. Membership in the Ordinariate does not have any effect on your regular parish membership, nor does it in any way inhibit your ability to fully participate in regular diocesan parish life. What it does do is change your bishop. Upon acceptance into the Ordinariate, your episcopal jurisdiction would transfer from your diocesan bishop to the Ordinariate bishop in Houston, Texas. Your diocesan parish membership would remain the same, but your bishop would be different. The reason why you would want to do this will be explained below.

Third, if any person of your immediate family is a member of the Ordinariate, that person would likewise become eligible for membership in the Ordinariate. So for example, if you're a convert from Anglicanism, and your spouse is a cradle Catholic, and your children are cradle Catholics too; all of you would become eligible for Ordinariate membership once you apply. In fact, it is common for families in such scenarios to apply for membership together, even though only one member was formerly an Anglican or a Methodist.

Fourth, you don't need to be a member of the Ordinariate to celebrate the Anglican Patrimony in your own home. If you like the prayers of the Anglican Patrimony, just pray them. If you want to do the Daily Office like members of the Ordinariate, just do it. If you want a statue of Our Lady of Walsingham in your home, just buy one, have it blessed, and put it on the mantel. The Anglican Patrimony is open to all Catholics as a treasure to be shared. You don't need to be a member of an Ordinariate, and you don't even need to have been formerly Anglican. If you're Catholic, then it's for you.

Fifth, Ordinariate communities (once established) are permitted to evangelise any non-Catholic they want and bring them into their community as Ordinariate members. Furthermore, Ordinariate communities can also bring some lapsed Catholics into the Ordinariate too, if they haven't received all the rites of initiation yet. So for example; if a lapsed Catholic decides to come back into the Church through an Ordinariate community, and he/she hasn't received the sacrament of confirmation yet, he/she can be confirmed in the Ordinariate and thus made a member of the Ordinariate as well.

Sixth, any Catholic may become a member of an Ordinariate community, even if said Catholic is not eligible for episcopal oversight by the Ordinariate bishop. So that means if you're a Catholic, who likes the Anglican Patrimony, and you want to be part of an Ordinariate community, you can be. Period. There are no prohibitions, no restrictions, nothing is stopping you. You can sign up on the parish roster, transfer your sacramental information, and it's done. You're now a member of an Ordinariate parish, even though you're technically not a member of the Ordinariate itself. Your parish is the Ordinariate parish. Your priest is an Ordinariate priest. But your bishop remains your local diocesan bishop. This is because membership in the Ordinariate itself is strictly related to episcopal oversight. In other words, it has to do with who your bishop is. It has nothing to do with being a member of an Ordinariate community, or where you go to mass. It has nothing to do with your love and devotion to the Anglican Patrimony. It's strictly related to who your bishop is. So if you're a member of the Ordinariate, your bishop is the Ordinariate bishop in Houston, Texas. But if you're not a member of the Ordinariate, then your bishop is probably your local diocesan bishop. That's it. Where you go to mass, who you pray with, and your preferred spiritual devotion, is your business. It's no different for regular diocesan Catholics who prefer to worship at parishes run by traditional societies, such as the Priestly Fraternity of St. Peter (FSSP), or the Institute of Christ the King, Sovereign Priest (ICKSP). Both of these are traditional Catholic societies, in full communion with Rome, and usually in good relations with the local diocese. Any regular Catholic can join these parishes and become part of parish life there. They don't need to be members of the societies themselves. The same is true with Ordinariate parishes and communities. Any regular Catholic can take part and join them. They don't need to be members of the Ordinariate itself.

As you can see, the ordinariates have a tremendous ability to grow within the Catholic Church, and they are by no means limited just to former Anglicans. But if any Catholic can participate in Ordinariate communities, why would anyone want to become a member of the Ordinariate itself?

The simple answer is Divine Worship.

Divine Worship is the form of liturgy, approved by Rome, specifically for use within the Ordinariates. Divine Worship is the liturgical aspect of the Anglican Patrimony that Rome wants to share with the whole Catholic Church (particularly English-speaking Catholics). Divine Worship consists of the mass, a baptismal rite, a confirmation rite, a wedding rite and funeral rite, as well as a Daily Office. It's comprised of the prayers and music particular to the Book of Common Prayer, the Anglican Missal, and the medieval Sarum Use. Divine Worship is the synthesis of these things, in what can be described as a Vatican reboot of medieval English Catholicism, taken organically from the traditions and customs of Anglicans. One portion of Divine Worship can be celebrated by anyone, in any home, Catholic or non-Catholic. It's called the Daily Office, and it's a form of the Divine Office that clergy use but specifically tailored to English heritage, and used by Anglican clergy and laypeople for centuries. It has now been brought back into the Catholic Church, and Catholics everywhere are finding that it improves their appreciation for the psalms, strengthens their prayer life, and overall makes them better Catholics. So the Daily Office of Divine Worship is attractive to many Catholics, even those who cannot be members of the Ordinariate. If you would like to begin the recitation of the Daily Office, you can do so here. It's open to all.

However, Divine Worship is obviously not limited to the Daily Office. There is also the Missal for mass,  as well as Occasional Services for weddings, funerals, baptisms, etc. Only an Ordinariate priest can celebrate these liturgies unless of course a diocesan priest is given special permission to. Regular diocesan Catholics, who are not members of the Ordinariate, cannot request these additional liturgies. (Well, they can request them, but nothing will happen.) No diocesan bishop is required to provide these liturgies, and no diocesan priest normally has the faculties to celebrate them. Like I said, a diocesan priest must obtain special permission to celebrate these liturgies, and that can be very hard to come by unless certain circumstances exist. So in order to get these liturgies into a particular area, there must be Ordinariate members willing to request them. Only if there are Ordinariate members in a specific area, requesting such liturgies, will the Ordinariate make some kind of effort to supply them. So membership in the Ordinariate has this one special benefit. It allows said members to officially request the Divine Worship mass, and other Divine Worship liturgies, along with pastoral oversight by an Ordinariate priest when one is available. Nobody else can request this -- only Ordinariate members can.

So if you ever want to see a Divine Worship mass regularly celebrated in your area, you must start accumulating Ordinariate members in your area who are willing to request it. There is no other way.

What Any Catholic Can Do
What Only Ordinariate Members Can Do
  • Request the Divine Worship mass, baptism, wedding, funeral rites, etc.
  • Request Pastoral oversight from an Ordinariate priest when one becomes available.
  • Make special requests, of various types, from the Ordinariate.
  • Observe the Catholic faith according to the Ordinariate calendar, Ember Days, etc.

This is why an online support network for "Anglican Patrimony Groups" was created by the Anglicanorum Coetibus Society (ACS). Just for those not familiar, it's pronounced: Ang-lick-an-OR-oom CHAY-tee-boos, and it's a direct reference to the apostolic constitution by the same name, which was signed by Pope Benedict XVI in 2009 making the ordinariates and Divine Worship possible.

Anglican Patrimony Groups are a method through which groups of Catholics, who were formally Anglican or Methodist, can organically organise small prayer groups with the hope that they might eventually become established Ordinariate communities. These groups are organic because they rise up on their own, spontaneously, by people who love the Anglican Patrimony and want to see its further growth in their area. They can be missionary outreaches by the Ordinariate itself, but this is not usually the case. Most of the time these groups originate from the ground up, formed by laypeople with a particular love and attachment to the Anglican Patrimony. Some of them might actually be Ordinariate members, but they may also be joined by regular diocesan Catholics who share their affection for the Anglican Patrimony. Together with them, there might be some non-Catholics (Anglicans and some other Christians) who are seeking entry into the Catholic Church through the Ordinariate. These Anglican Patrimony Groups, or "Patrimonial Groups" for short, regularly meet to pray the Daily Office (at least monthly) while their members continue to attend mass in a regular Catholic parish, until such time that an Ordinariate priest is made available to them. These groups are by nature organic, ecumenical and evangelistic. They limit their liturgical function to the Daily Office as seen here, and when they meet it's usually just for fellowship purposes. They don't usually engage in other activities such as Bible studies or teaching of any type. After prayer time, discussions are usually limited to such things as the Catechism and the Anglican Patrimony if any religious-type discussion happens at all. Beyond that, it's just coffee, tea, cookies and fellowship time, getting to know one another. Those eligible to join the Ordinariate should do so, and they make their request for pastoral oversight known to the Ordinariate. The rest just patiently wait and enjoy their prayer with friends. That's all there is to it.

To assist these Patrimonial Groups, the ACS provides certain services designed to network these groups together and provide them with the materials they need to grow and develop the Patrimony. Therefore, it is required for at least one member (preferably the group leader) to have membership in the ACS, though its beneficial if more do.

The first service the ACS provides is listing on the ACS map for Patrimonial Groups. This service allows other interested parties nearby to easily find a group. Requirements for listing on the map are displayed below. The second service is the availability of liturgical files that can be downloaded from the website, customised and used in Patrimonial Groups as well as established Ordinariate Communities. The third is "Shared Treasure" which is the official publication of the ACS, providing in-depth articles on various aspects of the Anglican Patrimony. These services are only available to ACS members. The ACS also provides podcasts and blogging to the general public, with more services on the way. Anyone interested in furthering the mission of the ACS may do so by becoming a member and/or donating to the cause.

To start an Anglican Patrimony Group in your area, these are the requirements...

  1. Register as a member of the Anglicanorum Coetibus Society (ACS):
  2. A regular meeting place must be established with a real address that can be published on the map. This can be as simple as somebody's house, or an office space, or a library room, or a Catholic chapel if available, etc.
  3. Provide the ACS with a contact person (name, phone number and/or email address) along with the physical address of the meeting place to be published on the map:
  4. The group must meet minimally once a month but may meet more often as the group desires. 
  5. During each meeting, either Morning or Evening Prayer must be said (whichever is appropriate), according to the approved Ordinariate Daily Office, or the office as published at 
  6. Additional time for visiting and fellowship is encouraged whenever possible. Religious studies are NOT necessary. However, we encourage pastoral oversight by a member of the Catholic clergy if any religious studies are to be done. Materials for such monitored religious studies should be limited to the Catholic Bible and the Catechism of the Catholic Church.
  7. Contact the ACS with all this information, and keep the ACS updated regularly.

This is how you start an Anglican Patrimony Group, and this is probably the best chance one has of growing the Anglican Patrimony in a particular area, which includes the hope for an eventual celebration of the Divine Worship mass.

Now I think it's important to include a footnote here. Catholics of the Anglican Patrimony are still Roman Catholic in every way. We do not change rites by joining the Ordinariate. We remain under the Roman Rite. Not only are we in full-communion with Rome, but in all cases, we should have a friendly working relationship with the local dioceses we operate in. Under no circumstances should our private devotions, Patrimonial Groups or Ordinariate Communities be seen as "separate" or "divisive." We are here to complement local dioceses, not compete with them, and we are partners with them in the New Evangelisation. This is why patrimonial groups are encouraged to work with local dioceses, not against them, and develop a warm relationship with the local bishop and clergy wherever possible. It's important to always keep this in mind. Because you see, there are some nasty people out there, some of them on the Internet, who would like to drive a wedge of division between the Ordinariate and local dioceses. It's important to ignore such sad and bitter people who do this for inexplicable reasons. The Anglican Patrimony is a gift to be shared in the Catholic Church, and those who work against the ordinariates are working against Vatican II, ecumenism, Saint John Paul II, Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI, Pope Francis and the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith. Shame on them!

Rome has spoken on this. Catholics with Anglican (or Methodist) background have the right to celebrate this Patrimony and allow it to grow. Furthermore, such Catholics have the right to request liturgies related to this, and Ordinariate pastoral oversight, provided they are members of the Ordinariate. Nobody can stop or discourage Catholics with this heritage from doing these things, so long as it is always done with a spirit of good cheer and brotherly love. It's a matter of Canon Law now. Furthermore, if regular cradle Catholics have an attachment to the Anglican Patrimony, they too can celebrate it in their homes insofar as what is allowed for lay participation (Daily Office, Patrimonial prayers and devotions, statues and medals of Our Lady of Walsingham, etc.). Nobody can stop or discourage them. They can also participate in Anglican Patrimony Groups and established Ordinariate Communities. They can even become members of these groups/communities, without becoming members of the Ordinariate itself. The Anglican Patrimony is part of the Catholic Church now. It's been re-established by Rome. Its growth is inevitable. The only question is; will you be part of it?

If you have questions about starting your own Patrimonial Group, contact the Anglicanorum Coetibus Society here. Questions about this essay, in particular, should be directed to the blogger here.

This map shows the Personal Ordinariate of the Chair of St. Peter (in blue)
and the Anglican Patrimony Groups (in red).


Shane Schaetzel is an author of Catholic books and a columnist for Christian print magazines and online publications. He is a freelance writer and the creator of '' Your support is what makes essays like this possible. This essay and all of Shane's Internet resources come to you (ad-free) thanks to the generosity of benefactors. Please consider becoming a benefactor.

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John Burford said…
To expand on one of your points, a common way for people to join the Ordinariate is for one of their children to receive a sacrament (baptism, confirmation, etc.) at an Ordinariate parish.

So for example, we have several families at my parish who attended as unofficial members, and then became official members when one of their kids got confirmed at my parish, or they had another child and got them baptized at my parish.

1 kid receiving 1 sacrament qualifies the whole family to come in.
John Burford said…
I attend Incarnation Catholic Church in Orlando, by the way. That's the parish whose Mass is shown in the video at the top of this post.
Todd said…
Fabulous post and very informative. You are doing great work!! I will look into registering with the society- as I am very supportive the more I learn about it. Surprised that there is no personal ordinariate parish in Manhattan or boroughs where I live. FYI I am a former LCMS who was received into the Church in 2005.

Todd V