July 21, 2017

Ordinariate bishop visits community in Indianapolis

Bishop Steven J. Lopes, leader of the Houston-based Personal Ordinariate of the Chair of St. Peter, distributes Communion during a June 16 Mass at Our Lady of the Most Holy Rosary Church in Indianapolis. (Photo by Sean Gallagher)

Bishop Steven J. Lopes, leader of the Houston-based Personal Ordinariate of the Chair of St. Peter, distributes Communion during a June 16 Mass at Our Lady of the Most Holy Rosary Church in Indianapolis. (Photo by Sean Gallagher)

By Sean Gallagher

The bishops of the Church are the successors of the first Apostles who followed Christ’s instruction to them before he ascended to heaven to “make disciples of all nations” (Mt 28:20) by traveling far from their home in the Holy Land to proclaim the Gospel.

While today’s bishops share this call of evangelization, their mission field is usually more limited than those of Jesus’ Apostles because they are assigned to lead a local Church in a particular place, such as the Archdiocese of Indianapolis.

The geographic breadth of the mission of Bishop Steven J. Lopes, however, more closely resembles those of the Apostles as he shepherds former Anglicans across the entirety of the United States and Canada who have been received into the full communion of the Church.

He visited one such community on June 16 at Our Lady of the Most Holy Rosary Parish in Indianapolis, celebrating Mass and sharing a meal with the former Anglicans, now fully Catholic. They are members of the St. Joseph of Arimathea Anglican Use Society, which is part of the Personal Ordinariate of the Chair of St. Peter.

“It’s wonderful,” said Bishop Lopes, who was appointed to lead the ordinariate in November 2015. “I’m still going around and meeting the communities. This is my first visit here.

“It’s been kind of a whirlwind to get to as many communities as possible. But it’s always good to come and meet a community and hear their particular journey into the Catholic faith, their particular challenges and joys they’ve experienced.”

In 2009, Pope Benedict XVI established the possibility of groups of Christians in communities tied to the Anglican communion to be received into the full communion of the Church, and maintain its own spiritual and liturgical traditions.

The Houston-based Personal Ordinariate of the Chair of St. Peter, made up of 41 communities across the U.S. and Canada, functions like a diocese. The Eucharist is celebrated there according to texts drawn from the Anglican Book of Common Prayer tradition that have been approved by the Vatican.

Over the past year and a half, Bishop Lopes has largely lived out of a suitcase, usually visiting three ordinariate communities each month.

“I spend far too few nights in my own bed,” he said. “It might be naïve on my part, but I’m hoping that once I’ve visited all of the parishes, I can be a little more regular about the travel. It’s still going to be a lot.”

Father Luke Reese is an ordinariate priest who leads the St. Joseph of Arimathea Society and serves as associate pastor of Holy Rosary Parish, where members of the society gather for worship.

He was the first ordinariate priest ordained by Bishop Lopes, and was happy to welcome his shepherd to Indianapolis.

“It was really the fulfillment of a dream that not only we have had, but others in the ordinariate, too,” said Father Reese. “To have a bishop and have him come to be here with us to give us his blessing, it’s tremendous for us as a community.”

Bishop Lopes said his visits to ordinariate communities is “extremely important” since they are so spread out.

“That sense of being connected to the life of the larger diocese is something that we have to be very intentional about,” he said. “That’s why these visits are more than formalities or niceties.

“It’s a reminder to them that they’re part of something, part of a Church, part of a diocese and that there are other communities around the country and in Canada that are experiencing life in the Catholic Church very much as they are. And it’s a reminder to me of the diversity and vitality of the ordinariate.”

Holy Rosary parishioner Caren LeMark, a member of the St. Joseph of Arimathea Anglican Use Society, was also glad to have Bishop Lopes visit Indianapolis.

“I felt a part of the larger ordinariate community, really, for the first time,” she said. “We have a bishop.… He’s our shepherd.”

Father Reese expects that the visit of Bishop Lopes to his community will add to its vitality.

“We have our Apostle here,” he said. “That strengthens the body of Christ. As he is here in Christ’s stead for us, that gives us the food that we need for our hearts and minds.”
 

(For more information on the Personal Ordinariate of the Chair of St. Peter, visit ordinariate.net. For more information on the St. Joseph of Arimathea Anglican Use Society, visit sjoaindy.com.)

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