Posted by: Fr. C. | December 26, 2017

West, East or In the “Middle”? A Call.

In early November, Roman Catholic Bishop Steven J. Lopes formally dedicated the formerly-Episcopal church of St. Barnabas in Omaha, Nebraska as a site of Catholic worship. Lopes is bishop of the Personal Ordinariate of the Chair of St. Peter, the nationwide collective for the 45 Anglican congregations in the United States and Canada that have been brought into the Catholic Church.

Since January, a Catholic priest and former clergyman, the Rev. Jason Catania, a friend of this blog’s author, began spending part of his time at St. Barnabas, Omaha, taking over its administration. I have known Fr. Catania for more than 16 years and can vouch that he is a most-dedicated priest, having weathered some stormy seas in an  Episcopal Church and diocese grown increasingly…shall we say…heterodox. The church also has a new music director. And recently, renovations to its 102-year-old building in the Joslyn neighborhood were completed in anticipation of Bp. Lopes dedication.

Pope Benedict set up the process for Anglican churches to become Catholic, he made it possible for those congregations to keep some of their liturgical practices. They use some of the same language in the Book of Common Prayer, adapted in places to fit the Catholic Mass. Musically, the church follows a classical repertoire in English and Latin, and employs chant.

But there is another game in town.  Also building and growing in Omaha is Holy Cross Orthodox Church.  It is a vibrant and active parish located in the Ralston suburb of Omaha and is pastored by Fr. Victor Novak, who also is a long-time friend of the author of this blog and another former Anglican.  I note here that Fr. Novak is one of the hardest-working, nost dedicated clergy I know.  Holy Cross is a Western Rite parish of the Russian Orthodox Church Outside of Russia (ROCOR), “committed to outreach with the Gospel, rebuilding the Western Church, and to caring for those most in need.”  At Holy Cross, like its Roman catholic counterpart, one finds Gregorian chant, traditional Christian hymns, and a formal and reverent Liturgy.

In the wake of the Atlanta “unification Synod” last October, the pace of clergy and parishioners crossing the Tiber or Volga does not seem to have diminished.  Indeed, one of the reporters on that Synod, Fr. Thomas Janikowski (Diocese of Quincy, ACNA), departed that gathering to the Orthodox Church, closing Quadcities Anglican Radio and launching Western Rite Radio.

In a recent interview, Metropolitan Hilarion, head of ROCOR, noted that Anglicans are the largest single group of converts to the Orthodox Church in the United States. Fr. Novak asserts that, “there are hundreds of Orthodox clergy in America who are former Anglican clergymen, and they are serving in both the Eastern and Western rites. When I am asked, Where have all of the Catholic Anglicans gone? My answer is always the same: To the Orthodox Church!”

Well, the good people of St. Barnabas may likely differ with Fr. Novak’s assertion, but the fact remains that many good and talented clergy are leaving the Anglican house, and certainly it is the case that a substantial number of them are heading to Orthodoxy, especially in the Western Rite of ROCOR and, albeit to a lesser extent, to the Western Rite Vicariate of the Antiochian Church.  Indeed, my valued associate priest at my own parish here in Richmond, will be departing for the ROCOR Western Rite after the first of the year.

The flow of clergy in the opposite direction across the Thames, particularly to the “continuing” churches does not seem…well…as robust.

I began this blog some years ago both to satisfy my own curiosity and to foster an honest discussion as to the reasons for leaving the continuing church to travel East or West, or whether to stay the course in the good ol’ via media.  With the recent growth of ROCOR’s Western Rite and the successes of the Ordinariate over the years, the question remains fair game.  Indeed, with apparently diminishing numbers of Anglicans, particularly traditional Anglo-Catholics in the United States, “East, West or the Middle Way?” is a timely question to ask.

So, I am issuing a call to clergy and lay folks who have gone to Rome or to Orthodoxy or who, like I, have stayed the course as Anglo-Catholics.  I’d like you to share with the readers the following:

1.  In which jurisdiction are you?

2.  Where did you come from, if you left?

3.   Why did you leave, or, if you remained, why did you stay?

4.  What do you see in store for the Catholic expression of Anglicanism in 5-10 years?

Please send your responses to  or you can post them as comments.  I think regular article format would be preferable. I ask that you try to be as brief as possible, and, while I reserve the right to edit a submission for length or (heaven forbid) any pejorative content, be assured that I will discuss any changes with the author before publishing.

Christmas! blessings to all!

Canon Nalls


  1. 1. I’m in ACA.
    2. Brought up Lutheran (LCMS), entered Ecusa in the 6os at Advent, Boston. Left and became a Pentecostal preacher in the 70s. After 25 years I literally crossed the road to Trinity ACA (Rochester NH. Am not ordained.
    3. Entered ECUSA in a search for a more Catholic expression of the faith. Left when I sensed that church was abandoning the Gospel (women’s ordination was an issue, but not the malor one). When Trinity built across the road, I began to visit and discovered that this was what had always been home, even though I’d bought into a less complete religious system. I am AngloCatholic, but value alos much of what emerged at the Reformation. RCC and Orthodoxy never were an option due to their exclusiveness and to their insistence on the dogmatic necessity of propositions I can tolerate but cannot embrace. I’m 76 and Continuing Anglicanism is my final church.
    4. I (very fallibly) foresee rigid AngloCathilicism as a transient phenomenon, destined to lead to the Roman or Orthodox churches. I don’t see the Ordinariate or the Western Rite as anything other than waystations to the ordinary life of the respective churches. I have hopes that the Continuing Churches, will be united and will join with Reasonable AngloCatholics and reasonable Reformation Anglicans in a broad-spectrum orthodox Anglican body, If they are to survive this will have to happen. In the 5-10 yr period, I hope to witness a slow and clumsy development in that direction. ECUSA is fated to die and ACNA is destined to split asunder. Neither has long-term viability.

  2. 1) Personal Ordinariate of the Chair of St. Peter

    2) Our parish left TEC in 2007 after 137 years there, originally founded as an Oxford Movement parish. We waited patiently in the Anglican Church in America (ACA) until July 10, 2013.

    3) We found we had reached the point we were unable to credibly claim to be a C/catholic witness and still be associated with TEC. We discussed the Pastoral Provision locally but were told if we could wait a bit, something better was coming.

    As to leaving TEC, one is definitely judged by the company you keep. It got old trying to say – well others in TEC think X but we think Y.

    4) I see that as being increasingly non-existent in Canterbury based Anglicanism.

    I hope the past trend of very limited growth in the Continuing Church is able to improve, but am skeptical.

    I think the externals and the familiar trappings of Anglo-Catholic worship will thrive in the Ordinariate, due to its obligation to maintain and promote these things. Our experience has been the Ordinariate is a good fit for us.

  3. Many modern Anglo-Catholics leave for Rome or Orthodoxy due to ignorance of, and prejudice against, the truth about their own heritage. Many are bullied by self-appointed missionaries of one or the other of the Two One True Churches because they overestimate their respective One-Truishness. I have met several people who made that mistake, realized it, and came back to Continuing Anglicanism. As for the parish I serve, we have attracted new members and continue to do so. But, then again, we don’t have the deficient kind of clergyman who busies himself to build someone else’s church instead of his own. We really don’t need those who shoot themselves in the foot.

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