By Maria Wiering
The majority of members of St. Timothy’s Episcopal Church in Catonsville have decided to enter the Catholic Church through the Personal Ordinariate of the Chair of St. Peter, according to a Feb. 20 statement from the ordinariate.
St. Timothy voted Feb. 10 on whether to leave the Episcopal Church and whether to enter the ordinariate.
“This has been a long process of discernment, guided by the Holy Spirit,” said Father Terry Sweeney, rector of St. Timothy, in the statement. “I am grateful for the gift of faith nurtured within the Episcopal Church and for the opportunity for those members who have been called to continue their journey of faith within the Catholic Church to be able to do so without losing the beauty of Anglican traditions.”
Father Sweeney plans to retire as an Episcopal priest on April 1, according to the statement.
Father R. Scott Hurd, vicar general for the ordinariate, was present for the vote, along with Father Sweeney and Father Scott Slater, canon to the ordinary for the Episcopal Diocese of Maryland.
“We welcome the members of St. Timothy who are making this faith journey, and thank the Episcopal Diocese of Maryland for being open to working with the community during this transition,” Father Hurd said in the statement.
Eighty of St. Timothy’s 100 parishioners were present for the Feb. 10 vote, 55 of whom were voting members. Of the voting members, six abstained. Eighty-three percent voted to leave the Episcopal Church, and 76 percent voted to join the ordinariate.
“This has been a thoughtful, prayerful process,” Father Slater said in the statement. “While the Episcopal Diocese of Maryland is saddened when any of its members leaves one of its parishes, we rejoice that several members of St. Timothy’s have found a new spiritual home and we wish God’s blessing on them.”
St. Timothy’s parish property at 200 Ingleside Ave. is held in trust for the Episcopal diocese. The new Catholic community plans to identify its new home after Easter. Until then, the site will host two Sunday liturgies, one for those who plan to remain in the Episcopal Church, and one for those entering the ordinariate.
Pope Benedict XVI established the Personal Ordinariate of the Chair of St. Peter in January 2012, a year after establishing a similar ordinariate in England and Wales for Anglicans who wished to enter the Catholic Church. A similar ordinariate also exists in Australia. Communities in the ordinariate are fully Catholic but retain elements of their Anglican traditions and heritage.
Within the Archdiocese of Baltimore, Christ the King, Towson; Mount Calvary, Baltimore; and Sacred Heart of Jesus, Mount Airy have also joined the ordinariate.
The U.S. ordinariate functions like a diocese, but is national in scope. It includes 36 communities, 30 priests and more than 1,600 people in the United States and Canada.