Catholic diocese is separating Catholic/Episcopal services

The first question to ask is, why has this been going on for 30 years? This will be a painful transition for all involved in this for so long. I’m still trying to figure out what a “combined liturgy” is. (emphasis mine)

The Roman Catholic Diocese of Richmond has told the nation’s only blended Catholic and Episcopal parish it must change its worship services so Catholics and non-Catholics meet in separate rooms for Holy Communion.
The parish, Church of the Holy Apostles, is led by Catholic and Episcopal co-pastors and has worshiped together for more than 30 years.
It’s an arrangement, parishioners say, that over the years has allowed families in mixed marriages to worship side by side and has helped build bonds that transcend denominational boundaries.
In an emotionally charged meeting Monday with parish leaders, representatives of the Catholic diocese voiced support for the ecumenical congregation, said the Rev. Michael Ferguson, the parish’s Episcopal pastor.
But the officials made it clear the current worship practice – using a **combined liturgy **in which the priests move to separate altars in the same room to say the Eucharistic prayers – was unacceptable, Ferguson said.

They instructed the parish to come up with a plan that provides for separate liturgies in separate rooms, Ferguson said.
“What was left in our laps was to develop a way to be together in those parts of the service where it would be acceptable to the diocese for us to be together and then to separate…without making it disjointed,” Ferguson said.
Once a plan is developed, Ferguson said, it will need approval of both Catholic Bishop Francis X. DiLorenzo and Bishop Herman Hollerith of the Episcopal Diocese of Southern Virginia.
Ferguson said he is confident an acceptable arrangement can be worked out.
“It could have been much worse,” he said.
Ferguson said parishioners at the church on Lynnhaven Parkway are still upset by DiLorenzo’s removal of the parish’s Catholic co-pastor, the Rev. James E. Parke, earlier this month.
DiLorenzo gave no reason for Parke’s dismissal, which was communicated in a letter to the parish on Nov. 2 – one day after the parish celebrated its 35th anniversary. Parke has been temporarily replaced by Monsignor Raymond Barton, the parish’s founding Catholic pastor in 1977.
In the same letter, DiLorenzo said he was sending in a team to determine whether the way the parish worships is consistent with Catholic doctrine.

I wonder what they are supposed to do in the meantime? And if what they do in the meantime is keep doing what they have been doing, then obviously, it can’t be all that bad.

The whole thing sounds dubious, how its lasted 30years is beyond me. Its one thing to share the building its another to use it at the same time in the same room!

From the comments in the news article:

I think we need to pray especially hard for this bishop because it sounds like there are a lot of extant issues that he needs to deal with to bring this diocese back into line.

Two altars - my goodness. It saddens me that this went on for 30 years unquestioned. I pray fervently for unity in the Christian family, but this is not the way. It sounds like this place compromises Catholic principles and laws in order to pander to ecumenism.

Quoting from the History page of the parish website

The concept of a shared Episcopal/Roman Catholic parish was conceived during an after-dinner conversation in 1974 between two men with a dream - Walter F. Sullivan, Roman Catholic Bishop of Richmond, and David S. Rose, Episcopal Bishop of the Diocese of Southern Virginia. A year later the two Bishops announced the formation of a Joint Committee charged with giving that vision shape, to develop guidelines for the establishment of an ecumenical shared parish.

After three years of dedicated labor by religious and lay leaders, the “Summary Statement of Joint Committee for A/RC Parish” was published on All Saints Day, 1 November 1977. The Rev. Donald W. Gross (Episcopalian) and the Rev. Raymond A. Barton (Roman Catholic) were installed as co-pastors by their respective Bishops. Within one year, the congregation presented to the Bishops a ratified constitution for their signatures. This enabling document provided the framework by which the people of Holy Apostles could develop a parish reflective of the convergence of the Episcopal and Roman Catholic Churches. Additionally, the Mission statement was adopted.

Our first home was the school chapel at James Barry Robinson Home for Boys. During the early years at James Barry Robinson Chapel in Norfolk, our efforts were concentrated on defining the structure and form of our life as an ecumenical symbol. As we outgrew our space there, we moved to St. Stephen’s Episcopal Church in Norfolk where we shared a facility with the existing parish. This time offered additional challenges as the dream took shape using the many of the gifts of the community.

An unexpected and exciting opportunity to purchase a permanent home in Virginia Beach brought challenge to all. Active and former parishioners, as well as friends of Holy Apostles raised $60,000 within four weeks. The Episcopal Diocese of Southern Virginia turned over one third value of the property; this was matched monetarily by the Bishop of Richmond. By providing a gift of two thirds ownership, both Dioceses expressed their commitment to the future of Holy Apostles. Thus we were able to move to our present building in the Green Run section of Virginia Beach, Virginia, USA. We have since enlarged our building.

There is only one altar since there is only one Real Presence. However, I’m with you on the bolded part. Unfortunately, when I hear about this sort of thing I’m not surprised anymore. I can’t even put into words how angry this gets me.

I so very think these kinds of things are a pastoral disaster.

On the other hand, I fully support the singing of Vespers in an ecumenical setting, even on a regular (weekly) basis, as long as the liturgy is celebrated according to Catholic sensibilities. I think this kind of thing, if well-regulated, can provide an excellent conversion opportunity. Do it with the Anglicans, the Lutherans, even the Evangelicals if they will come.

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