History: American ordinariate gets its first priest

The announcement:

The new U.S. ordinariate for Anglican groups entering the Catholic Church achieved a milestone on May 8, 2012 when Reverend Eric Bergman became its first priest. The Ordinariate of the Chair of St. Peter was established by Pope Benedict XVI on January 1 in response to repeated requests by Anglican groups and clergy who were seeking to become Catholic. It is similar to a diocese, though national in scope.

Fr. Bergman, 41, is a former Episcopal priest who was ordained a Catholic priest five years ago for the Diocese of Scranton. Since that time, he has been chaplain to the 150-member St. Thomas More Anglican Use Society.

The group will become St. Thomas More Parish at St. Joseph Church and will be located at the former St. Joseph property in Scranton’s Providence neighborhood starting in late August. The ordinariate purchased the property from the Diocese of Scranton for $254,000, with $200,000 of that amount raised by the St. Thomas More community during a three-week period this spring.

“This is a significant moment in the young history of the ordinariate. I am grateful to Bishop Joseph Bambera and to the Diocese of Scranton for their support,” said Monsignor Jeffrey N. Steenson, the Ordinary. “The incardination of Fr. Bergman, and the reception of several Anglican communities across the United States and Canada over the past few months, are tangible signs of Christ at work in this new undertaking.”

Approximately 60 current or former Anglican priests are preparing to be ordained Catholic priests for the ordinariate, with 30 ordinations expected in the next few months. Ordinariate parishes will be fully Catholic while retaining elements of their Anglican heritage and traditions, including liturgical traditions.

Fr. Bergman noted, “I am particularly grateful to Bishop Bambera, and to Msgr. William Feldcamp, pastor of St. Paul’s Parish and St. Clare’s Church, who has been instrumental in the maintenance of our ministry over the years. St. Thomas More has thrived, and we look forward to our future as an ordinariate parish.”

Underscoring the historic nature of this announcement, Bishop Joseph C. Bambera, Bishop of Scranton, commented, “I was pleased to be able to cooperate with Monsignor Steenson in order to help facilitate Father Bergman’s incardination process. For the past five years, Father Bergman has faithfully supported the Diocese of Scranton. We are grateful for his service and wish him continued blessings in his ministry.”

Read his biography here.

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