A former Anglican minister was ordained a Catholic priest and about 70 former Anglicans from Orange and San Diego counties were confirmed as Roman Catholics during a July 3 ceremony at San Juan Capistrano Mission Basilica.

The return to communion with Rome was made possible by Pope Benedict’s 2009 apostolic constitution Anglicanorum Coetibus, which provided a way for Anglicans to rejoin the Catholic Church while retaining unique Anglican traditions and liturgical practices. Such reunions with the Church are accomplished by the creation of ordinariates — similar to Catholic dioceses — whose member parishes can then seek a formal return to the Church.

“The Ordinates were established January 1, 2012 in the United States and today the Diocese of Orange convened the first of its kind service at San Juan Capistrano Mission Basilica,” explained a diocesan news release issued July 3.

July 3 was the Feast of St. Thomas, Apostle, famously known as the disciple who questioned Christ’s resurrection in the Gospels.

During the ceremony at San Juan Capistrano Mission Basilica, Orange Bishop Tod Brown presided at the ordination of Fr. Andrew Bartus, a former Anglican priest. Bishop Brown also confirmed “into full communion” with the Catholic Church members of the Anglican-rite members of Blessed John Henry Newman parish in Santa Ana.

San Diego Coadjutor Bishop Cirilo Flores confirmed members of Saint Augustine of Canterbury Anglican-rite parish in Oceanside during the same ceremony.

Msgr. Jeffrey N. Steenson, Ordinary of the Personal Ordinariate of the Chair of St. Peter, presented the nearly 70 former Anglicans for confirmation and delivered the homily. “On this feast of St. Thomas the Apostle, who carried the Gospel to lands far off, as blessed Junipero Serra did here, this desire for authentic apostolic life continues to move the hearts of Christian people,” said Msgr. Steenson. “For those who are not in communion with the Catholic Church, this desire for apostolicity is certainly present as well — it just needs to be awakened and nurtured. This important element in the mission of the Ordinariate is part of Pope Benedict’s vision for the new evangelization.”

Blessed John Henry Newman parish celebrated its first Mass on Sunday, July 8, at St. Joseph Catholic Church in Santa Ana. According to the Anglican-rite parish’s website, the 3 p.m. Mass was a sung Mass “according to the Anglican use.” Confessions for the Anglican-rite community are available on Sundays from 2 p.m. – 2:30 p.m. and by appointment, according to the website.

St. Augustine of Canterbury Anglican-rite parish meets at 10:15 a.m. on Sundays at St. Margaret’s Catholic Church in Oceanside.

“Our friends, the clergy and parishioners of St. Augustine of Canterbury, Vista, will be formally received into the Catholic Church on Tuesday, July 3rd, at the Basilica Church of Mission San Juan Capistrano at 11:00am,” noted the July 1 parish bulletin at St. Margaret’s. “They will join other Anglican communities throughout the San Diego and Orange areas. Together with Anglican communities uniting themselves back to union with Rome, these distinct communities within the Catholic Church will be called the Ordinariate of the Chair of St. Peter. At this local reception, a former Anglican minister will also be ordained as a Catholic priest and will look after the Ordinariate communities in Orange County.”

“Until another priest is ordained, Father Cávana Wallace (pastor at St. Margaret’s) will be looking after the spiritual needs of the community of St. Augustine’s at St. Margaret’s, which will become their home and place for worship,” the bulletin announcement continued. “St. Margaret’s has hosted the St. Augustine Community at various times throughout the year. We look forward to their community finding a permanent home with us and bringing with them a rich patrimony of liturgical and spiritual life.”

In the July 8 parish bulletin at St. Margaret’s, members of the Anglican-rite parish expressed their thanks to God “for granting us the blessing of entering the fullness of the Catholic Church.”  In addition, said the statement, “Your congregation of St. Margaret’s, its staff, and especially your parish priest and pastor, Father Cávana Wallace, have sustained us with prayers, guidance, and Christian fellowship during our spiritual preparation for this historical moment.”