Personal Ordinariate of Our Lady of Walsingham
In 2009, Pope Benedict XVI published a high-level document - an Apostolic Constitution
- called Anglicanorum coetibus, which allows groups of Anglican laity
and their pastors to enter into the full communion of the Catholic Church, whilst
retaining elements of their heritage which are in keeping with the Catholic faith.
To enable this to happen, Ordinariates have been established.
[The Ordinariate] should be seen as a prophetic gesture that can contribute positively
to the developing relations between Anglicans and Catholics. It helps us to 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 an enrichment to us all.
— His Holiness, Pope Benedict XVI
What is the Ordinariate?
An Ordinariate, more properly known as a Personal Ordinariate, is a jurisdiction
of the Catholic Church, very similar to diocese. However, rather than being based
on geography, membership of a Personal Ordinariate is by individual choice - hence
‘Personal’. Membership of one of these Personal Ordinariates is open to those people
who come from the Anglican tradition or who have family in the Personal Ordinariate.
When former Anglicans become members of a Personal Ordinariate, they cease to be
members of the Anglican Communion (or other Anglican body), and become full members
of the Roman Catholic Church with all the rights, privileges and obligations of
any other Catholic. They are subject to the current 1983 Code of Canon Law and subscribe
to the teachings of the Catholic Church as explained in the Catechism of the Catholic
In January 2011, the Holy See established the first of these structures, the Personal Ordinariate of Our Lady of Walsingham in England
In Full Communion?
Members of the Personal Ordinariate of Our Lady of Walsingham are fully integrated
into the life of the Catholic Church, by virtue of having been received into full
communion. They are in every sense Catholics, whilst also retaining some of the
distinctive elements of their Anglican heritage.
These rich traditions, which have helped bring their Christian faith to maturity
and enabled them to seek entrance into the full communion of the Catholic Church,
are often referred to as ‘Anglican Patrimony’. They include a wide range of different
elements, from liturgical services to approaches to pastoral ministry in parish
Anglican traditions developed from older Catholic traditions, especially in Britain,
and so many of these elements are very similar to the services, devotions and traditions
already familiar to Catholics. Unlike the Eastern Catholic Churches, we cannot describe
this as a different Rite or Church, but rather a nuance of the Latin, or Western,
As members of a Personal Ordinariate are full Catholics, they may receive the sacraments
in any Catholic Church. Likewise, any Catholic may receive the sacraments from a
Priest of a Personal Ordinariate - it is no different from stepping into a neighbouring
diocese. Attending a Sunday Mass celebrated by a Priest of a Personal Ordinariate,
for example, fulfils the normal obligation.
Whilst upholding and defending the Church’s discipline of celibacy, on a case-by-case
basis former Anglican clergy who are married may be ordained for service in a Personal
Ordinariate. This is a decision which is made by the Ordinary, and which must be
approved by the Holy See.
‘The Ordinary’ is the title given to the head of a Personal Ordinariate. This man
must be a Priest or a Bishop but, according to the Tradition of the Church, a married
man can never be granted permission to be ordained as a Bishop. The Ordinary has
overall responsibility for the Personal Ordinariate, and has the same rights in
Canon Law as a Diocesan Bishop, and he sits as an equal on the Bishops’ Conference.
Within the Personal Ordinariate certain services may be celebrated which have been
drawn from the Anglican tradition. These include the traditional celebration of
Evening Prayer, known as Evensong, of Morning Prayer (Mattins), and a Marriage and
Funeral service familiar to those formed in the Anglican tradition. Priests of a
Personal Ordinariate may celebrate Holy Mass using certain texts which have been
approved for use by the Holy See, or according to the Roman Rite in either the Ordinary
Form or Extraordinary Form.
In all of these celebrations, the richness of the Anglican musical tradition can
often be found. Particularly in collections of hymns and anthems - often with a
traditional choir - rich theological and devotional language is found set alongside
well-written music which has a broad appeal and is easily learned.
The Lectionary (Readings at Mass) used in Ordinariate services is the Revised Standard
Version (Second Catholic Edition), which draws on the English bible tradition of
translation, keeping many of the phrases and sayings found in literature and poetry.
Only those elements of the Anglican tradition which are compatible with the Catholic
faith are authorised for use in the Catholic Church, whilst other elements of the
Anglican tradition may be revised to bring them into conformity with the wider understanding
of the Catholic Church.
In the Parish
Clergy who come from the Anglican tradition will often have had a different experience
of parish ministry from that of most Catholic clergy. Differences may include their
approach to visiting or ministry to the entire local area - rather than just those
registered to the parish. Obviously this approach comes from having smaller congregations,
but it also reflects the practice of pre-Reformation parishes in England.
Within the Personal Ordinariate of Our Lady of Walsingham there is a particular
charism for mission and evangelisation. The Ordinariate exists to promote and teach
the Catholic faith alongside fellow Catholics in England and Wales, while also bringing
this experience of parish ministry from Anglicanism. As the Ordinariate grows, an
emphasis on the importance of the bringing of all people into a greater relationship
with Christ and the Church will remain at the heart of its daily work.
Find out more
If you wish to find out more about the Personal Ordinariate of Our Lady of Walsingham,
you can visit the website.
If you are considering becoming a Catholic through the Personal Ordinariate of Our
Lady of Walsingham, you can find your nearest group on the website where a Priest
will be able to guide you through the process.
If you would like to assist the work of the Personal Ordinariate of Our Lady of
Walsingham, you can find more details through the Friends of the Ordinariate of
Our Lady of Walsingham, who can be contacted through the same website.
The following Ordinariate Groups operate within our geographical area:
Chelmsford Ordinariate Group
Contact: Fr Ivor Morris
T: 01245 353914
Holy Name Church
165 Lucas Avenue
Harlow Ordinariate Group
Contact: Fr John Corbyn
T: 01279 453 848
The Church of The Assumption
Hockley Ordinariate Group
Contact: Fr Jeffrey Woolnough
T: 01702 525323
M: 07956 801 381
St Pius X Church
Colchester Ordinariate Group
Contact: Fr. Jon Ravensdale
T: 01206 870460
St John Payne Church
London (Leytonstone) Ordinariate Group
Contact: Fr Robert Page
T: 020 8519 0813
Our Lady of Lourdes Catholic Church