Pope Benedict names former Episcopal bishop to lead new U.S. ordinariate for former Anglicans

January 2, 2012

CONTACT: Jenny Faber, jfaber@archgh.org,
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Pope Benedict names former Episcopal bishop to lead new U.S. ordinariate for former Anglicans
Ordinariate to be based in Houston
Cardinal DiNardo of Galveston-Houston, Bishop Vann of Fort Worth to join new Ordinary at
press conference in Houston at 10:30 a.m. today

HOUSTON - Pope Benedict XVI has established an ordinariate, similar to a diocese though national in scope, for Anglican groups and clergy in the United States who wish to become Catholic. The first of its kind in the nation and the second structure like this in the world, the Ordinariate of the Chair of Saint Peter will be based in Houston, Texas. The pope also named a Houston professor and former Episcopal bishop, Reverend Jeffrey N. Steenson, to lead the ordinariate. Father Steenson has been a Catholic priest serving in Houston since 2009.

The ordinariate will include parishes and communities from across the United States. Parishes will be fully Catholic while retaining aspects of their Anglican heritage and liturgical tradition. The only other ordinariate is Our Lady of Walsingham, established in January 2011 to serve England and Wales.

More than 100 former Anglican priests already have applied to become Catholic priests for the ordinariate, and nearly 1,400 individuals from 22 communities are seeking to enter.

Father Steenson, who will be the Ordinary (or the head of the ordinariate) became Catholic in 2007 and a Catholic priest in 2009. He is married and the father of three adult children.

St. Mary’s Seminary in Houston has developed and the Vatican has approved a nine-month program of priestly formation for Anglican clergy who wish to become Catholic priests.

Father Steenson, Cardinal Daniel DiNardo, Archbishop of Galveston-Houston, and Bishop Kevin Vann of Fort Worth will hold a news conference in Houston this morning.
Monday, Jan. 2, 2012
10:30 a.m. CST
Our Lady of Walsingham Catholic Church
7809 Shadyvilla Lane, Houston, Texas 77055
Why an ordinariate
The ordinariates are the result of persistent and repeated requests from Anglican groups to become Catholic in a “corporate” manner (as groups). In November 2009, Pope Benedict XVI issued an apostolic constitution, Anglicanorum coetibus (pronounced Anglicanorum chay-tee-bus), which authorized the ordinariates. In September 2010, the Vatican appointed Cardinal Donald Wuerl, Archbishop of Washington, as its delegate for its implementation in the United States. He, Bishop Kevin Vann of Fort Worth and Bishop Robert McManus of Worcester were assisted by Reverend Scott Hurd, a priest of the Archdiocese of Washington (and a former Anglican priest). Father Hurd will serve a three-year term as vicar general of the ordinariate.

About Father Steenson

Father Steenson teaches patristics (the study of the early church fathers) at the University of St. Thomas and St. Mary’s Seminary in Houston, TX. He and his wife Debra were received into the Catholic Church in 2007, after 28 years of ministry in the Church of England and the Episcopal Church. Father Steenson was ordained for the Catholic priesthood in the Archdiocese of Santa Fe in 2009, and was instrumental in establishing the formation program for Anglican priests applying for the Catholic priesthood as part of the ordinariate.

He grew up on a family farm in eastern North Dakota and received his theological training at Trinity Evangelical Divinity School in Illinois, Harvard Divinity School and the University of Oxford, from where he received his doctorate in patristic studies in 1983.

Ordained an Anglican priest in 1980, he served Episcopal parishes in suburban Philadelphia, Pa., and Fort Worth, TX, before becoming canon to the ordinary in the Episcopal Diocese of the Rio Grande (New Mexico and far west Texas). In 2004, he was elected bishop of that diocese. He and his wife, Debbie, have three adult children and one grandchild.

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