Here’s a great article by my EWTN colleague Kathleen Naab for the National Catholic Register about Tuesday’s ordination of Bishop Steven Lopes as Bishop of the Ordinariate of the Chair of Peter. I say “colleague” as we are both in the EWTN family but I never did meet her in Houston!

The photos and explanations are mine.


National Catholic Register – Kathleen Naab

HOUSTON — In a majestic Mass at Houston’s Co-Cathedral of the Sacred Heart on Tuesday evening, history was made for the Anglican ordinariates established by Pope Benedict XVI: Their first bishop was ordained.


“In a nutshell, it means we’re here to stay,” summarized Msgr. Harry Entwistle, the ordinary of Australia’s ordinariate, which is under the patroness of Our Lady of the Southern Cross.


The new bishop, Stephen Joseph Lopes, 40, a native of California, was in fact instrumental in the creation of the ordinariate that he now leads — the Personal Ordinariate of the Chair of St. Peter.


The ordinariates were established as the Vatican’s pastoral response to repeated and persistent inquiries made by Anglican individuals and groups who desired full communion with the Catholic Church, in a history that goes back to at least Pope Pius XII.

Three of the six cardinals at the ordination Mass: Donald Wuerl, Gerhard Mueller and William Levada. Also present but not in this photo were Cardinals Daniel DiNardo, Roger Mahony and Edwin O’Brien.


In November 2009, in response to these inquiries from Anglican groups worldwide, Pope Benedict XVI issued an apostolic constitution, Anglicanorum Coetibus. This document authorized the creation of “ordinariates” — communities that would be fully Catholic yet retain elements of Anglican heritage and liturgical practice.


So far, there are three ordinariates globally: The first was established in the United Kingdom (the Personal Ordinariate of Our Lady of Walsingham) in 2011. The following year, an ordinariate was established here in the United States, with jurisdiction also including Canada, and another in Australia.

(This man in black with a small staff or baton-like item is a verger. A verger (or virger, so-called after the staff of the office) is a person, usually a layperson, who assists in the ordering of religious services, particularly in Anglican churches. This is part of the Anglican tradition that was allowed when the personal ordinariate was created)


Bishop Lopes was working in the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith (CDF) as this process unfolded, having been named an official of that congregation in 2005. For seven of his 10-plus years at the Vatican, he served as secretary to the cardinal prefect, and he was in effect the coordinator for the three ordinariates. Hence, he knows well his flock and their unique home in the Church.

Cardinal William Levada, former prefect of the CDF, Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, gave a beautiful homily.


Cardinal Gerhard Mueller, prefect of the CDF, ordained Bishop Lopes:


An act of humility by the bishop-to-be before the laying on of hands and anointing as the faithful chant the litany of the Saints.


Placing the Gospel over the bishop’s head:


Anointing the new bishop:


Blessing the staff or crozier:







‘Stories of Faith and Courage’

Bishop Lopes explained at the end of his ordination Mass that his episcopal motto — Magna Opera Domini (“Great are the works of the Lord”) — flows from this intimate knowledge of the ordinariate.


Addressing the priests gathered for his ordination — just for the U.S.-Canada ordinariate, there are 62 of them, along with six deacons, four candidates for the priesthood or diaconate and one seminarian, in service to 42 parishes and communities — he noted, “I have met each one of you.”

Reminiscing about a clergy assembly held several years ago in Florida, he explained that the event was one of the first occasions that he had to put faces to the names and autobiographies that he had read and studied at the CDF.

“Yours were stories of faith and of courage, and of a passion and zeal for the truth and the search of the truth in sacred Scripture,” Bishop Lopes told the priests. “And they were also often enough stories of sacrifice, suffering and the anguish of leaving what was familiar and comfortable in order to embark on an unknown and sometimes lonely path toward the fullness of Catholic communion.”

Seeing the faces of these priests and knowing their stories, he said as he named some of them by name, “in that moment, beholding, if you will, before me, the great work of communion manifest in that chapel, my heart was moved to only one thought: We did not do this. God did this. This is the work of the Lord, and great are the works of the Lord!”

For his priests as well, Bishop Lopes’ long involvement with the ordinariates is a source of consolation and hope.

“We all know him very well. He knows each one of us priests very well,” explained Father John Vidal, pastor of St. Anselm Catholic Community in Corpus Christi, Texas. “It’s like a brother priest is being ordained. He’s not coming from the Anglican Communion, but he knows it just as much as we do, if not better, which is really exciting.”

Father Vidal remarked that Bishop Lopes is, in fact, “kind of the one who defined who we were.”

“I’m just thrilled,” he said. “For him, but even more for us.”

Proper Catholics

The ordinariates are still in their infant stage (what’s five years in the history of the Church?), so much of the work before Bishop Lopes is furthering their establishment.

And many Catholics are still unaware that the ordinariates even exist. Msgr. Keith Newton, the ordinary of the U.K. ordinariate, in a presentation prior to the ordination Mass, joked that he still gets Catholics asking him, “Why don’t you become a proper Catholic?”

But the ordination of a bishop will undoubtedly help to further awareness of the ordinariates and their mission.

With our own bishop, said Msgr. Entwistle, “we have become a particular Church. This is a statement of confidence from the Holy Father.”

The Australian ordinary added that the ordinariates’ mission is for the entire Church: “We have a spirituality and a distinctiveness that will enrich the whole of the Catholic Church,” he said. “So we are not a ship passing in the night. … The influence of that English spiritual, theological and pastoral tradition will in fact hopefully enrich [the whole Church].”

Cardinal Daniel DiNardo, the archbishop of Galveston-Houston and thus the host for Tuesday’s celebrations, echoed those thoughts, noting the distinctiveness of the ordinariate now having a bishop. He said the ordination underlined “a sense of the unity of the Church” and “a true sense of unity with Peter, too.

Said Cardinal DiNardo, “I think it’s great.”

(For further information, the website of the Personal Ordinariate of the Chair of Peter is here:



February 2 – As I write I am in the co-cathedral of the Sacred Heart in Houston, Texas, awaiting the episcopal ordination of Steven Lopes as the first Bishop of the Ordinariate of the Chair of Peter.  I got here very early to get a good seat and, in fact, I have a terrific seat with the family and close friends of the ordinand! The cathedral is just magnificent as you will see later in some photos. I am surrounded by beautiful people, many friends and family members of the bishop-elect whom I have met in the past 48 hours. This is a moment of history for both Steven and the Church and I feel so happy and privileged to be a part of it all.

I arrived in Houston Sunday afternoon after spending the night in Chicago, having arrived about 8 pm from Rome after what I wish I could say was an uneventful trip. Details some other time!

The Ordinariate arranged for out-of-town guests to stay at the Hilton Americas, which was a wonderful idea as it brought together so many friends under one roof. I have seen so many priests, bishops and cardinals I know, many friends from NAC, the North American College, and from around the US or from Rome. Present were 6 Cardinals:  William Levada (CDF emeritus prefect), Donald Wuerl of Washington, Edwin O’Brien (Grand Master of the Order of the Holy Sepulchre), Gerhard Mueller (prefect of the CDF, Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith – he will ordain Steven), Roger Mahony, emeritus of Los Angeles, and Daniel DiNardo (of Houston-Galveston).

Also present: Archbishops Joseph Kurtz (president of the USCCB) Salvatore Cordileone (San Francisco) and Augustine DiNoia (secretary, CDF), and George Niederauer, (emeritus San Francisco) to name a few.

Msgr. Keith Newton, ordinary of the Ordinariate of Our Lady of Walsingham in the UK, and a very good friend, is also here for the ceremonies, as was Msgr. Harry Entwistle, ordinary of Our Lady of the Southern Cross in Australia.

The ordination is a two-day event. The highlight for all of us yesterday was the 5 pm vespers ceremony, called evensong in the Anglican tradition. This is one of the remarkable and very beautiful elements of the Ordinariate. The Personal Ordinariate was created in 2009 as a structure in the Catholic Church to welcome Anglicans who wanted to enter in full communion with Rome. One of the important provisions in the creation of this structure was that which allowed the Ordinariate to retain many of its liturgical traditions, music, hymns, etc.

Evensong last night was a supreme example of the indescribable beauty of the Anglican tradition. As we listened to the choir of the church of Our Lady of Walsingham, or as we sang along, only one word came to my mind to describe the music – sublime! That same word could have described the entire ceremony. The choir was spectacular but even more so was the singing by the faithful. It was as if this was the last time everyone would sing….or as if we were all trying out for top prize in a best congregation contest. The feeling, the robustness of the participation, people’s voices just exploding in harmony and vigor and joy. Most amazing was the fact that it was as if we had rehearsed for days….the timing was perfection it was the same when we chanted the Creed!

The liturgy was the talk of the evening as we all headed from this very beautiful church to the adjacent chancery hall for a reception, which was followed by a magnificent dinner for family and close friends. The adjacent St. Jude Hall was transformed into a very classy room for the evening.

To return to the Ordinariate liturgy for a moment.

There was such beauty last night in the music and hymns and chants. The language of the readings and of song was old English, Shakespearian almost, the language many of us grew up with in the Mass and liturgy before the changes from Vatican Council II. It is a language that is imbued with beauty and the sacred, creating space in your heart and mind for prayerful recollection. God is so real. His Son is so real. We yearn, in our hearts and with our voices, to praise God’s majesty, to praise His Son. And I felt that Monday. This is what I came away with from the magnificent evensong.

This was the beauty I remember from my pre-Vatican Council II childhood. Changes were made to the liturgy to help us “understand” things better. But, as the movie title says, I feel something was lost in translation – beauty and the sacred. That was a feeling shared by many last night in our conversations.

Words to one hymn were written by Rabanus Maurus – 780-856! Composers dated from the 15th and 16th to the 19th century.

I will admit to something: I am happily a lector at church because if you heard me sing, you’d ask me to be a reader! Well, I sang my heart out Monday – and it was a joyful experience!

The highlight of the evening was Bishop-elect Lopes’ reading the formula of the Profession of Faith, followed by his recitation of the Oath of Fidelity to be Sworn by Bishops. After that, he signed all necessary documents on the altar, co-witnessed by Archbishop DiNoia, the papal representative at the ceremony, and Ms. Laurel Miller, Chancellor of the Ordinariate of the Chair of Peter. Abp. DiNoia then blessed the Episcopal insignia.

(More to come as soon as I return to Rome! I leave tomorrow morning, returning Friday a.m. in Rome. The photos you see now are from the Monday vespers)



Time has not been very generous with itself during my time in Houston for the episcopal ordination of Steven Lopes as the first Bishop of the Personal Ordinariate of The Chair of Peter. That takes place in several hours at Houston’s co-cathedral. I will write at length in coming days about this momentous event and will post a lot of photos,

A brief mention of events of the last two days and two photos – probably also history-making – have been posted on my Facebook page:

More to come so stay tuned!

Say a pray for the new Bishops!