Father Christopher Phillips, the charismatic Founding Pastor of the Parish and Church of our Lady of the Atonement in San Antonio, graciously invited me, a few years ago, to spend some time in his Parish and in its Academy. I found this a truly wonderful experience ... not only because of the vibrancy and deep devotion of both Parish and Academic life ... and not only because of the warmth of the welcome I received from Father and from JoAnn and their congregations ... but something else as well. Let me explain.
Long decades before the Ordinariates were much more than just a gleam in the eye of our dear Professor Ratzinger, he had encouraged the setting up of "Anglican Use" parishes in which former Anglicans would continue to enjoy their Anglican Patrimony ... in theology, spirituality, yes; but especially in Liturgy.
The project worked so well that flocks of cradle Catholics with no "Anglican Previous" flocked in. San Antonio being San Antonio, this included many Latinos. They were entranced by the solemnity and dignity of what Fr Phillips ... or perhaps I should write, the Holy Ghost ... had got going. How packed that Church was!
And I was immensely moved by hearing English Tudor liturgical formulae (written by a poor misguided old Zwinglian who learned his errors in Cambridge and paid for them outside the Master's Lodgings of Balliol College in this University) on the lips of Hispanic Catholics; men, women, and children whose ancestors might easily have sailed in the Armada.
The God of Surprises again!! A great ecumenical coming-together; fruit of the vision of a small number of far-sighted Anglican priests such as Fr Phillips and Fr Hawkins ... and of Joseph Cardinal Ratzinger, Pope Benedict XVI; the first and highly successful example of ecclesial communities from each side of the Reformation divide coming together and living in perfect amity and orthodox unity.