A priest from the Archdiocese of Washington and FOB (Friend of the Bench), Fr. R. Scott Hurd has been tapped to be the Vicar General for the Personal Ordinariate of the Chair of Saint Peter. He’s well-suited for the job — being a former Episcopalian priest himself. He’s also the Executive Director of the Archdiocese’s Office of the Permanent Diaconate. To top it all off, he’s a husband, a dad, and the author of a fine book called “Forgiveness.”
Anyway: the Washington Post just published a thoughtful essay by him on his journey across the Tiber:
At a beautiful little church in a small Texas town in 1996, I celebrated my final Eucharist as an Anglican priest of the Episcopal Church. After the closing blessing, the choir and I processed out to the classic hymn, “Faith of Our Fathers.” A week later, I found myself in Washington, D.C., a layman sitting in a pew, anticipating my first Sunday Mass as a Catholic, and wondering what to expect. But when the opening hymn began, I knew that I was in the right place. The hymn? “Faith of Our Fathers.”
It was as if God was reassuring me that my entrance into the Catholic Church was simply a continuation of the spiritual journey I had begun as an Episcopalian. I still cherish the memory of that day. Not only did it confirm for me that my future rested in the Catholic Church, it also made me grateful for my Episcopal past. I am a “cradle” Episcopalian. It was within the Episcopal Church that I met the Lord, grew in faith, and heard a call to ordained ministry. An Episcopal high school is my alma mater, and it was at an Episcopal altar that my wife Stephanie and I exchanged our vows. As an Episcopal priest, I ministered in God’s name, preached His Word, and served His people.
My Anglican past is something I still treasure, even though I’ve been a Catholic for 15 years, and a Catholic priest for 11. In my mind, becoming Catholic wasn’t a rejection of my Anglican past; it was its completion. There were many good and wonderful things about my years as an Episcopalian. At the same time, I came to believe that something was missing. Namely, the authority that undergirds Catholic teaching; an authority I believe was given by God.
It was for this reason that I “crossed the Tiber to Rome,” as is joked, and became Catholic. Many people had taken this same journey before me, and many have taken it since. For leaving Anglicanism, we are labeled as “malcontents” or described as “disaffected” by some. But for the most part, I’ve found that not to be true. We don’t look backwards in bitterness. Instead, we look forward in faith.
You”ll want to read it all.
And, btw: Looking for some superb preaching? I can highly recommend the good padre’s homilies. He actually posts them every day at his blog. (Doesn’t this guy have enough to do?)