Congregation of St. Athanasius celebrates 20th year

BRAINTREE -- When in 1996, Father Richard Bradford, rector of the Episcopalian Parish of All Saints in Ashmont, left the Episcopal Church, several dozen parishioners left with him. It wasn't that they had lost their faith; just that they had discovered another one, Catholicism, and it spoke to them.

The Archdiocese of Boston welcomed the former Episcopalians in with open arms, and 29 members of the congregation, including Father Bradford, were received into the Catholic Church in September 1997. Father Bradford was accepted for ordination as a Catholic priest, and the archdiocese erected it's first, and only, chaplaincy dedicated to the Anglican Use of the Roman Rite -- the Congregation of St. Athanasius.

Sept. 29 will mark the chaplaincy's 20th anniversary, celebrating two decades of providing services for former Episcopalians and holding Catholic Mass with elements of the Anglican liturgy.

Father Bradford was ordained as a Catholic priest in May of 1998, becoming the chaplain of the Congregation of St. Athanasius, a position that he still holds today. Married with two children, his ordination was possible thanks to Pope St. John Paul II's 1980 Pastoral Provision, which gave permission for married former clergymen coming from the Episcopal Church to be ordained, as well as allowing for the formation of worship communities that retain elements of the Anglican liturgy.

Masses, while incorporating Anglican customs, remain Catholic and "fulfill Sunday obligation for anybody that attends," said Father Bradford, speaking to The Pilot Sept. 15.

After he left the Episcopal Church, which he did partly because he felt it was being "pulled in a more Protestant direction," Father Bradford met with then Archbishop of Boston, Cardinal Bernard Law, to discuss his possible transition into the Catholic Church.

Cardinal Law had been involved in the development and implementation of the Pastoral Provision, and was very receptive to the idea. Father Bradford and his former congregation were received into the Church only a year later.

It was a "very smooth transition" for us, Father Bradford said. "Everybody has always been very supportive of us. Without that support, we probably wouldn't have survived 20 years."

The chaplaincy has a relatively small congregation, with only a few dozen people. A Mass is celebrated in the Anglican Use every Sunday at St. Lawrence Church in Chestnut Hill, and most Saturdays at St. Theresa of Avila Church in West Roxbury, where Father Bradford is a parochial vicar.

There are three categories of people who generally attend Mass, Father Bradford said: Former Episcopalians, lifelong Catholics who simply enjoy the Anglican Use Masses, and people considering or preparing to join the Catholic Church.

With the last group of people, the chaplaincy almost acts as a force for evangelization, Father Bradford explained.

Many Protestants, he said, don't have a clear picture of what the Catholic Church is, so "when we do meet up with Protestants ... some of them seemed pleasantly surprised that we're cared for as we have been, and that gives them a chance to maybe rethink their own way into the Church."

The chaplaincy's anniversary celebrations will kick off with a special Sunday Mass, held at St. Lawrence Church on Sept. 24. Father Anthony Aarons, a former Anglican clergyman from Jamaica who also converted to Catholicism, will preach at the Mass. He will also be present at Evensong, a form of evening prayer in the Anglican tradition, at Stonehill College's Chapel of Mary later that day.

Similar services are held yearly, Father Bradford said, and are part of a joint celebration with St. Paul's Episcopal Parish in Brockton.

On Sept. 29, the actual anniversary of the Congregation of St. Athanasius, Father Joseph Wilson of the Diocese of Brooklyn, a longtime friend of the chaplaincy, will preach at a special Mass. He will also preach at a Sunday Mass on Oct. 1, and will give a keynote at a luncheon following.

Additionally, the congregation has been invited for a dinner and a vespers service with the Benedictine Monks of St. Benedict Abbey in Still River. The monks invited the congregation to a similar gathering after they were received into the Church, and have always been supportive of them, said Father Bradford.

While the congregation is busy preparing for the upcoming anniversary, Father Bradford noted that this might be one of the last anniversaries for the chaplaincy in its present form.

The Congregation of St. Athanasius is the only U.S. chaplaincy established under the Pastoral Provision that remains under diocesan care. The rest, about 40, have entered the Personal Ordinariate of the Chair of St. Peter, a sort of non-geographic diocese established by the Pope Benedict in 2012 for congregations that celebrate services with elements of Anglican liturgy.

Currently, the Congregation of St. Athanasius is working to raise finances and attendance to eventually join the Ordinariate, which would bring the congregation out from under the auspices of the archdiocese.

Indeed, several members of the congregation are actually already part of the Ordinariate, Father Bradford explained. Several years ago, an Ordinariate parish, St. Gregory the Great, was formed in the Boston area. However, when the founding pastor left and no replacement could be found, parishioners joined the Congregation of St. Athanasius.

"Here we have one congregation that, in a sense, is answering to two bishops," Cardinal Seán P. O'Malley and Bishop Steven Lopes, the bishop of the Ordinariate, said Father Bradford.

However, if enough finances can be raised, "when I retire, whenever that will happen, or even before, if we get the adequate numbers in the congregation, the whole congregation will become a member of the Ordinariate," he said. "And I will continue as what I always have been -- an incardinated priest in the Archdiocese of Boston."

Be grateful to parents, never insult them, pope says

VATICAN CITY (CNS) -- Honoring mothers and fathers means being grateful for the gift of life and Christians should never insult anyone's parents, Pope ...

Canadian cardinal: Women should help screen, train priest applicants

Poznan, Poland, Sep 18, 2018 CNA.- Increasing the role of women in screening and training priests is among the steps that should be taken to prevent future ...

Vatican delegation will travel to China this month to finalize agreement, Chinese newspaper reports

Beijing, China, Sep 18, 2018 CNA.- A newspaper tied to the Chinese Communist Party reported Tuesday that a delegation of Vatican officials will head to ...

Cardinal Marx says mistakes were made, calls for change in German church

Cardinal Reinhard Marx, head of the German bishops' conference, admitted that mistakes were made in the German church's handling of sex abuse of minors ...

Church crisis response: Healing Masses, listening sessions, fasting

WASHINGTON (CNS) -- In response to the sexual abuse crisis in the church, Catholics are praying for victims, talking about their frustration and anger, ...

Pope names Minnesota priest as auxiliary bishop of Hartford

WASHINGTON (CNS) -- Pope Francis has appointed Father Juan M. Betancourt, a priest in the Archdiocese of St. Paul and Minneapolis, as auxiliary bishop ...

Listening church: Pope gives new vision for Synod of Bishops

VATICAN CITY (CNS) -- The Synod of Bishops increasingly should be a structure for listening to the Catholic faithful, demonstrating a local bishop's concern ...

Director of Courage releases letter on Penn. abuse report

Washington D.C., Sep 17, 2018 CNA.- Courage International, an apostolate to support people with same sex-attraction in leading chaste lives, has issued ...

Richmond bishop apologizes to victims; commits to opening, reviewing files

RICHMOND, Va. (CNS) -- In celebrating the Diocese of Richmond's first Mass of Atonement for victims of abuse Sept. 14, Bishop Barry C. Knestout apologized ...

Stanford University to remove saint's name from some properties

WASHINGTON (CNS) -- California's Stanford University will strip the name of 18th-century Franciscan friar, St. Junipero Serra, from some of its properties ...

Catholic Charities distributes disaster relief to areas hit by Florence

RALEIGH, N.C. (CNS) -- The Carolinas were hard hit with record rainfall and flooding rivers from tropical storm Florence since it made landfall Sept. ...

Archbishop Lori assures diocese he's with them in journey toward healing

WHEELING, W.Va. (CNS) -- In his celebration of Mass at the Cathedral of St. Joseph in Wheeling Sept. 15, Archbishop William E. Lori of Baltimore said ...

Bishop takes a (sky) dive to get pilgrims to Lourdes

HOVE, England (CNS) -- "The Moth has landed," tweeted the Diocese of Arundel and Brighton. The tweet Sept. 14 and a similar post on the diocesan Facebook ...

Words, promises are not enough to prevent abuse, archbishop says

VATICAN CITY (CNS) -- Inviting presidents of the world's bishops' conference to the Vatican to discuss abuse prevention reflects an understanding that ...

Pope praises Capuchin order's charism of authenticity, simplicity

VATICAN CITY (CNS) -- Capuchins are called to be men of peace, reconciliation and prayer and to be close to all people, Pope Francis told members of the ...

Path to healing starts with seeking forgiveness, Cardinal Wuerl says

WASHINGTON (CNS) -- A "Season of Healing" for sexual abuse survivors began in the Archdiocese of Washington with a Sept. 14 Mass at the Cathedral of St. ...

Archbishop McCarrick's unofficial role in Vatican-China relations

Vatican City, Sep 17, 2018 CNA.- Following reports that the Holy See and the People’s Republic of China could be about to sign an agreement ...

Archbishop Chaput: When we forget faith, we forget our humanity

Spokane, Wash., Sep 14, 2018 CNA.- When man tries to cling to reason and separate himself from faith, he forgets who he is and loses his source of hope, ...

Pope Francis warns priests against living a double life

Palermo, Italy, Sep 15, 2018 CNA/EWTN News.- During a day trip to Sicily Saturday, Pope Francis told priests and religious to fight their vices and strive ...

What is the pontifical secret?

Vatican City, Sep 14, 2018 CNA.- Following the allegations made by Archbishop Carlo Maria Viganò about the case of Archbishop Theodore McCarrick, ...

Vatican publishes list of synod participants, including papal nominees

VATICAN CITY (CNS) -- To the list of members of the Synod of Bishops elected by national bishops' conferences, Pope Francis added cardinals from 14 countries, ...

Addicts and their loved ones talk about life with opioid addiction

ARLINGTON, Va. (CNS) -- It was a Saturday night, and Billy was eating pizza and watching a sporting event in the basement bedroom of his residence, a ...

Signers of letter hope Vatican meeting will bring needed steps on crisis

WASHINGTON (CNS) -- Signers of an open letter from Catholic women to Pope Francis urging "truth" and "transparency" on the growing sex abuse crisis expressed ...

Community 'overwhelmed and shell-shocked' after gas explosions, says pastor

LAWRENCE -- Volunteers at St. Patrick Church's Cor Unum Meal Center were serving dinner when multiple natural gas explosions and fires broke out in homes ...

Down to earth: Vatican brings together world's meteorite curators

CASTEL GANDOLFO, Italy (CNS) -- Rocks, mineral debris and even dust from space are kept in special collections, museums and laboratories all over the ...

Algerian martyrs to be beatified in Algeria Dec. 8

VATICAN CITY (CNS) -- The beatification of 19 martyrs of Algeria, including the seven Trappist monks of Tibhirine, will be celebrated Dec. 8 in Oran, ...

'Anything but a picnic' - Cardinal Dolan on the Church's summer of scandal

New York City, N.Y., Sep 14, 2018 CNA.- Cardinal Timothy Dolan has spoken about how the extended sexual abuse scandals facing the Church have taken a ...

Restoring and reimagining: Transformation at the Cathedral of the Holy Cross

BOSTON -- Considered by many to be the heart of the Archdiocese of Boston, the Cathedral of the Holy Cross is the largest Catholic church in New England, ...

Archdiocese says Cardinal O'Malley will personally review all abuse letters

BRAINTREE (CAN) -- The Archdiocese of Boston has announced changes to the way it will process and respond to letters addressed to Cardinal Séan P. ...

CM receives $2.5M grant from Yawkey Foundations

West Roxbury -- Catholic Memorial, a college-preparatory school for boys in grades 7 to 12, announced Sept. 5 that they have received a $2.5 million grant ...

Father Christian Ohazulume removed from ministry

BRAINTREE -- The Archdiocese announced on Sept. 11 that it had removed a priest from ministry after receiving an allegation that he sexually abused a ...

From Cardinal Seán's blog

This week I am in transit to Rome in anticipation of the next meeting of the C9 Council of Cardinals. So, I have asked Vivian Soper to share some reflections ...

Kavanaugh's birth control comments spur controversy -- What did he say?

Washington D.C. (CNA) -- Opponents of Judge Brett Kavanaugh have suggested that a reference to birth control pills as "abortion-inducing drugs" during ...

Missouri to enforce abortion regulations in wake of appeals court ruling

Jefferson City, Mo. (CNA) -- Missouri's health department announced Monday that it will immediately being enforcing state laws regulating abortion clinics ...

Book tells about behind-the-scenes search for St. Peter's bones

HOUSTON (CNS) -- Two Houston men shared a journey through centuries of history and a decades-long archaeological dig under the Vatican to unveil a story ...

Update way priests are chosen, accompanied, pope tells new bishops

VATICAN CITY (CNS) -- The best way to help the Catholic Church, Pope Francis told new bishops, is not by pointing fingers and creating scapegoats, but ...

Vatican confirms ongoing Sistine Chapel Choir finance inquiry

VATICAN CITY (CNS) -- The Vatican confirmed an ongoing investigation into financial irregularities involving the directors of the Sistine Chapel Choir. ...

After meeting pope, cardinal says he's hopeful about addressing crisis

VATICAN CITY (CNS) -- Cardinal Daniel N. DiNardo of Galveston-Houston struck a determinedly hopeful tone after his long-awaited meeting with Pope Francis ...

DA clears Indiana bishop of misconduct, says claim has harmed prelate

FORT WAYNE, Ind. (CNS) -- The Diocese of Fort Wayne-South Bend welcomed findings by a Pennsylvania district attorney that cleared Bishop Kevin C. Rhoades ...

Cardinal DiNardo calls meeting with pope lengthy, fruitful

Vatican City, Sep 13, 2018 CNA/EWTN News.- Cardinal Daniel DiNardo has called a Sept. 13 meeting between Pope Francis and leaders from the Church in United ...

What do Church abuse policies mean by 'vulnerable adult?'

Denver, Colo., Sep 12, 2018 CNA.- A Vatican summit this February will gather the presidents of bishops’ conferences from around the world. While ...

'Elitist, clericalist' church allows abuse to thrive, pope says

VATICAN CITY (CNS) -- Sexual and physical abuse by priests and religious and the scandal of its cover-up by church authorities thrive in countries where ...

Cardinal Wuerl to ask pope to accept his resignation

Washington D.C., Sep 12, 2018 CNA.- An archdiocesan spokesman has confirmed that Cardinal Donald Wuerl will soon ask Pope Francis to accept his resignation ...

Pope accepts resignation of West Virginia bishop as inquiry into abuse claims launched

Vatican City, Sep 13, 2018 CNA/EWTN News.- Pope Francis Thursday accepted the resignation of Bishop Michael J. Bransfield from the pastoral government ...