History: first Episcopal church in the U.S. converts under ordinariate

It finally happened.  Details:

The Rev. Mark Lewis awoke early on the last morning of his life as an Anglican priest and dressed in a suit and tie instead of his usual priestly regalia. That’s different, he thought, for the first of many times on a day when so much was different for St. Luke’s, the small Episcopal church in Maryland where Lewis had been rector since 2006.

On Sunday — with Lewis wearing lay clothing and sitting with St. Luke’s parishioners inside the Crypt Church at Washington’s Basilica of the National Shine of the Immaculate Conception — most of the parish from Bladensburg converted to Catholicism.

In doing so, St. Luke’s became the first Episcopal church in the United States to convert under new Vatican rules meant to attract curious Protestants.

“This truly is a historic moment,” said Cardinal Donald W. Wuerl, the archbishop of the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Washington, who led Sunday’s conversion Mass, which he called “a joyful moment of completion.”

Fifty-eight of St. Luke’s roughly 100 parishioners were confirmed at the applause-filled Mass, during which they were anointed by Wuerl — one by one, old and young, white and black.

Osita Okafor, a 56-year-old Nigerian immigrant, found himself first in line before Wuerl for the rite of reception. His reaction? “Oh, my God, I must be blessed.”

Read more.

UPDATE: You can read Cardinal Wuerl’s homily from the Mass right here.

UPDATE II: There’s been some debate about whether this parish was, indeed, the first to be received into the Catholic Church this way.  I asked Fr. Scott Hurd (an FOB quoted in the article) for clarification.  He wrote:

Here’e the clarification: St. Luke is the first Episcopal parish to take this step under the provisions of Anglicanorum coetibus. The Fort Worth group was the first group to be received, in anticipation of an ordinariate. However, that group was comprised of people from a number of different Anglican communitite/parishes.


  1. Praise God for this development!

    Thanks be to God for Pope Benedict for instigating the Ordinariate!

  2. Thanks be to God!!! However, the author errs in saying that it is the first parish to convert. Actually it is the second. An episcopal parish in Texas converted some few weeks ago along with both their parish priests.

    Pax et Bonum

  3. Is the purpose of the ordinariate really to “attract curious protestants”? Just asking.

  4. Perhaps, one day soon, Fr. (Mr.?) Lewis will be able to put his collar back on … as a priest of the Holy Catholic Church.

  5. Graham Lake says:

    Will he be appointed Ordinary for the USA?
    The Ordinary for England & Wales was an Anglican Bishop and following his reception and ordination in the Catholic Church the Holy Father raised him to the dignity of Protonotary Apostolic.

  6. Bless them and welcome!

  7. God bless and keep them! Welcome home!

  8. I am an ex-Episcopalian who left in 2003 and became Catholic in 2004. This post brings tears of joy to my eyes. Welcome home!

  9. Martial Artist says:

    I, like Rosemary, a former Episcopalian who was received into the Catholic Church at Pentecost 2010, join her in welcoming them home. And I pray that God will bless them all richly, and add to their number in the Ordinariate in the coming months and years.

    Pax et bonum,
    Keith Töpfer

  10. It’s sad to see division in any denomination, but I suppose if someone is uncomfortable with the idea of all of God’s children being affirmed as such, then it’s good they can find a place where they can feel comfortable.

  11. Welcome home good people of St. Luke’s. We in the Byzantine Catholic Church are happy to have you on board.

    As to Geof’s snarky little jab: The Catholic Church has always affirmed the dignity of each and every person. We just don’t affirm all their aberrant behaviors.

  12. During my life I have suffered for my belief, seen my father beaten by the Nazis for helping the Jews, I was beaten unconscious as a soldier in prison during the Korean War, suffered from a divorce and a woman who led my children into darkness, have died, and was revived during a heart operation, had two MOSH cancer operation, but I weep in joy to read about God’s chosen Saints and to have been blessed in life by having had deeply religious parents, and a sister who appeared to my brother, after she’d died.
    On my lips remain the words, Glory to you OH Almighty God.

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