Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Fr. Jeffrey Steel: "Journey Home to the Catholic Church: I Have Jumped into the Tiber to Swim Across"

Former Anglican priest Fr. Jeffrey Steel has made the journey home. Here is how he begins his story in a June 7, 2009 blog entry:
I am writing to make the announcement that I am becoming a Roman Catholic along with my wife Rhea and our six children. I realise that this decision is going to make some really happy, some very sad and others possibily angry. But, I have made the decision with the deepest sense of integrity and by conscience. I would like to share a bit of my faith journey though there are many gaps here, it is descriptive of my heart over the past few months. This is not particularly an academic account of what I have done in my studies but rather the spiritual wrestling that went on within me. The announcement was made this morning in all three parishes where I serve and is now a matter of public knowledge. My duties and licence in the parish end on 14 June 2009 (Corpus Christi Sunday) and my reception into Holy Mother Church is forthcoming.

My PhD studies really set me on my Catholic journey in a deep theological way though I did not realise it at the time. I have been looking at Bishop Lancelot Andrewes as a catalyst for ecumenism with the Catholic Church in the area of Eucharistic sacrifice. Andrewes was in regular dialogue with S. Robert Bellarmine SJ and it is in this dialogue and Andrewes’ other writings that I saw how Catholic he was with regards to the Eucharist being the Christian offering which consisted of more than a sacrifice of praise and thanksgiving. It was and is propitiatory as well as other things.

Through my time of study in Catholic sacramental theology and viewing my own priestly ministry within this theological framework the question of communio began to frequently come to mind. I had fully embraced Catholic sacramental theology and believed that I could be a Catholic in the Church of England and planned on retirement from the C of E later in life. With all that is going on around the Anglican Communion presently, and particularly within the C of E and how she makes decisions on matters of doctrine, I began to ask questions about authority. As a theologian praying for reunion with the Holy See the question I was now asking was, ‘on whose terms does this reunion take place?’

You can read the entire entry here.

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