The UK Ordinariate Three Years Later: A Snapshot | Joanna Bogle | CWR
Some former Anglican communities thrive, some still struggle to find a permanent home after crossing the Tiber.
“Auntie Joanna, can I help you with your knitting?”
The difference between tapestry and knitting was not apparent to an uninitiated small boy, fascinated by the intricacies of bright wool and needles. Not one to discourage youthful enthusiasm, I gingerly showed my young nephew how to insert the wool through the mesh with the special blunt-ended needle, and with deep breaths of satisfaction he produced some creditable stitches. His contribution to the kneeler for St. Anselm’s, Pembury was small, but in a way he was helping to make history.
There are a great many magnificent and ancient churches in England, but St Anselm’s is not one of them. It’s a smallish, bleak hall, standing on a green rising up from the main road in Pembury, a village near Tunbridge Wells in Kent. It has bare walls, plastic chairs, a cramped feel, and no external ornaments to indicate its sacred use. And it is rented out for much of the week for ballet classes and a children’s playgroup.
But the reason for its place in history is important. The hall is part of the Catholic parish of Tunbridge Wells. When Pope Benedict XVI created the Ordinariate of Our Lady of Walsingham, an Anglican clergyman, the Rev. Ed Tomlinson—then vicar of a large Anglican church in Tunbridge Wells—responded with eagerness. Pope Benedict’s call, in his message Anglicanorum Coetibus—“to groups of Anglicans”—was an invitation to come into full communion with the Catholic Church, bringing along Anglican traditions, music, and what has been generally described as “Anglican patrimony.”
Father Ed—having been ordained a Catholic priest after due discernment, study, and acceptance—had to give up the beautiful church of which he had been vicar.