Wednesday, December 31, 2008

2 Anglican vicars, father and son, who became Catholic priests

In what is believed to be a "first" in the modern era, two former Anglican priests, father and son, have become Roman Catholics and are now both serving as Catholic priests in the UK.

And in a further ecclesiastical twist, Father Dominic Cosslett, 36, and his father, Father Ron Cosslett, 70, are both serving in the same archdiocese under the leadership of Archbishop Vincent Nichols in Birmingham, the favourite to succeed Cardinal Cormac Murphy-O'Connor as Archbishop of Westminster when he steps down early next year.

Father Dominic, formerly an Anglican priest, was ordained by Archbishop Nichols on Saturday December 20 at the Church of Christ the King & Our Lady of Lourdes, Coventry.

Fr Ron Cosslett, aged 70, also a former Anglican priest, was ordained as a Catholic priest by the Archbishop of Birmingham on July 3, 2005. He is now priest-in-charge at St Joseph’s, Darlaston in the West Midlands.

Father Dominic, who is not married, has from a young age felt called to a celibate lifestyle. "Although as an Anglican marriage was open to me the way I live my life is naturally a celibate one," he told The Times. His mother converted five years ago at the same time as his father and his sister and their children followed them over about a year ago.

Father and son concelebrated, celebrating the Eucharist at the older Father's parish, for the first time at Christmas.

"Both of us were in the Catholic tradition of Anglicanism," said Father Dominic. "Like a lot of us in that tradition, we had always felt the Catholic Church was the rock from which we were hewn. It was always part of our journey, our faith, to seek unity with Rome. We came to the point where we felt we could not exercise our understanding of Catholicism within Anglicanism. It was time for us to go home. "

Under the guidelines agreed in the Catholic Church for the reception of Anglican clergy who wish to become Catholic priests, Father Dominic, who studied theology and Lampeter and trained for the Anglican priesthood at the high church Mirfield College of the Resurrection before being priested in 1997, underwent a shortened training as to be a Catholic priest. He spent a year in the Spain at the Royal English College at Valladolid and then went to seminary at St Mary's Oscott.

As an Anglican, he served his curacy in Abergavenny in the Monmouth diocese when his bishop was Dr Rowan Williams, now Archbishop of Canterbury. He moved to his own parish in the Birmingham diocese when its bishop was Dr John Sentamu, now Archbishop of York. He speaks highly of both men, but neither was enough to make him stay.

"I realised my own journey was to seek unity with Rome. Balanced with that was the awareness that the Anglican Church was going in a very different direction with various decisions it was making. I just felt I could not agree with those decisions. It comes down to authority. As an Anglican, it was sometimes very difficult. One parish might believe one thing. Another might believe something else.

"There is an incredible rainbow of thought in the Anglican Church. Perhaps I was looking more for a central authority of teaching that the Catholic Church has. It was something I had always been looking for."

He recognises his situation, with his father as a priest, might appear unusual to some but for him it feels normal. There is a long tradition in the Anglican church of father-and-son priests. The ministry often runs in families.

Asked whether he believes all Catholic priests should be allowed to marry, he said: "That is not my decision. The teaching of the Church is there. The Holy Father has graciously allowed those who are former Anglicans who are married to become priests. The teaching remains the same and that is certainly not for me to comment on."

But he was careful to emphasise that his new path was not a reaction against Anglicanism. "Becoming a Catholic is not so much about being disatisfied with being an Anglican as about having a positive engagement with the Catholic Church. I am very grateful for my Anglican days. But I realised there is something else in the Catholic Church. That is very much what lay behind my decision."
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(Source: TTUK)

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