My hometown is Toowoomba in Queensland and I was brought up Lutheran.
I moved to Brisbane in 1991. I finished my schooling and studied electronic engineering, a profession I worked in for 15 years. Yet I wanted to help people and felt unfulfilled.
My search for fulfilment drew me to Anglicanism and eventually a vocation as a priest of that faith.
Within the Anglican Church I came to know the Catholic faith in terms of Anglo-Catholicism, which is similar to High Church Anglicanism.
I studied theology and listened to homilies of Catholic-minded priests. Eventually, I accepted Catholicism to be the truth.
On January 22, 2012, I said my last Anglican Mass and one week later I was received into the Catholic Church by Bishop Jarrett, Apostolic Administrator of Brisbane.
Archbishop Coleridge ordained me Deacon in October 2012 and, in January 2013, I moved to Perth to assist with the Perth Ordinariate parish.
I’ve always wanted to help others and what better way to do that than to prepare them for this life and their eternal destiny?
I wanted unity with the Catholic Church but my journey was through Anglicanism and I wanted to be faithful to that. That’s why I became a priest of the Ordinariate.
I developed a conviction in my time as an Anglican priest to become a Catholic priest because that was what I was called to do. Because I am a priest of the Ordinariate it means that legally I belong to the Ordinariate and that is where my ministry is primarily.
I was ordained a Catholic priest on March 1, 2013. As priest of the Ordinariate, my ministry is primarily in the Ordinariate; however, I am also assisting at All Saints Parish, Greenwood.
People must understand that the Ordinariate is part of the Catholic Church, we are former Anglicans and the priesthood that I exercise is the same as any other Catholic priest.
The mission of the Ordinariate is the same mission that the entire Catholic Church has and the Ordinariate’s purpose is to show that Christian unity can work.
Being Catholic doesn’t mean everyone has to be the same. The Church has brought us into her family but allowed us to retain a distinctly English way of being Catholics.
We have our own liturgy, approved by Rome, which is heavily based on the Anglican Book of Common Prayer. Congregational hymn singing is very important as is the Bible, evangelical preaching and Gospel teaching.
The Offices of Morning Prayer and of Evening Prayer or Evening Songs are very important. Mass is the source and summit of the life of the Church but it isn’t the only thing.
The richness of the Catholic Church is far more than that. That’s one of the reasons that I became a Catholic priest.
The Ordinariate parish has a long tradition of Catechesis. Father facilitates small groups, providing sound material and there’s a group leader for each group to keep it focused. Anglican patrimony is very community focused.
People will still be there half an hour after Mass has finished, talking, and they expect Father to be there.
The Church is about communion, it is about the people. One of the great things emphasised by the Second Vatican Council is the notion of the People of God.
In 2009, Pope Benedict created structures that allow groups of people from the Anglican tradition to enter into the fullness of Catholic communion.
Within the Ordinariate there are groups of former Anglicans that have been established in Australia since June 2012 and canonically they are parishes.
The parish of St Ninian and St Chad is a parish of the Ordinariate just as All Saints Parish, Greenwood is a parish of the Archdiocese of Perth.
My being at the Greenwood parish demonstrates that the walls between the Ordinariate and the Archdiocese have nice arches that people can walk through both ways.
This July in Brisbane was our very first gathering for all of the Ordinariate clergy around Australia. The Ordinariate has been established for more than one year now.
When it began there was just Mgr Harry Entwistle in Perth. Since June 2012 there’s been a gradual process of getting the groups up around Australia.
Mgr Harry Entwistle, head of the Ordinariate of Our Lady of the Southern Cross has been doing that. Now we have quite a lot of the groups up so it was a good time to bring the clergy together.
Because we are scattered (the Ordinariate will always be like that here as it covers all of Australia) it’s important we do things that emphasise the unity of the priesthood and also our unity as Catholics.
The overwhelming feeling of that week in Brisbane was excitement from everybody and it was very positive.
We are blessed that there’s been a mostly warm welcome from the Catholic Church. We have had that local network with the local dioceses as a general rule so that helps a lot. But we must remember we’re not priests of the dioceses.
We are priests of the Ordinariate and so we always need to keep contact with our brother priests of the Ordinariate. The Ordinariate is established in Australia, England and the USA.
Not long after I became very interested in Anglo-Catholicism someone gave me an essay that he had written about Blessed John Henry Newman (1801-1890) and suggested I read his autobiography Apologia Pro Vita Sua.
In it, Newman speculates whether unity was possible between the Catholic Church and the Church of England. He was an evangelical Oxford academic and priest in the Church of England and became a leader in the Oxford Movement.
This grouping of Anglicans wished the Church of England to recover some of its Catholic roots. Newman converted to Catholicism and eventually became a cardinal.
I find him inspiring because Blessed John Henry Newman was there at the beginning of the Anglo-Catholic movement, becoming Catholic on his own because that was all that was available then.
For many Catholic priests in the Ordinariate it was a case of being at the right moment in history because really, since the Reformation, there had always been Anglicans who hoped for reunion.
The key to my becoming Catholic was accepting the teaching office of the Church.
The Church was constituted by Jesus so the Church is divinely created. I accept Sacred Tradition so I accept that Jesus created a college of Bishops beginning with his apostles.
He imparted truth to his apostles and then his apostles handed it on to their successors and so on.
That’s called apostolic succession which is not just about being ordained but the handing on of tradition.
Tradition actually means handing on and it is the Catholic faith that is handed on.
The Pope is a stabilising part of the Church and the Reformation shows there can be no Catholicism without the Pope.
Each Pope is exercising an office that comes to him from Jesus Christ.
If I could bring one thing to the Church, it would be lifelong catechesis.
That’s what the Catholic Church is all about – getting to know Jesus Christ because we hope to spend eternity with him. It is what we are created for.