"The Preachers chiefly shall take heed that they teach nothing in their preaching, which they would have the people religiously to observe and believe, but that which is agreeable to the Doctrine of the Old Testament and the New, and that which the Catholick Fathers and Ancient Bishops have gathered out of that Doctrine." A proposed canon of Elizabeth I, 1571

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Location: Bedford, Texas, United States

I am a presbyter in the diocese of Fort Worth, Texas (Anglican Church in North America). I serve as Chaplain at St. Vincent's School and as a canon of St. Vincent's Cathedral Church in Bedford, Texas. In addition to my parish duties and teaching Religion classes in the school I am also the Middle School Social Studies teacher.

Monday, May 01, 2006

A Thank You to the Priests of Our Diocese

I am not certain what brought it particularly to my mind today. Perhaps it was the week-long absence of our dean while he, Bishop Iker and several other senior priests of the diocese of Fort Worth were on pilgrimage to Rome. But today I was strongly reminded of a conversation I had a few years ago with a good friend of mine in Chicago. My friend is also a conservative Anglo-Catholic, and we were lamenting the sorry state of affairs for doctrinally orthodox Episcopalians in that area. Then he turned to me and said words to this effect: "You know, Randall, I have been worshipping in parishes in this diocese of years now. The sad fact is that I don't know a single Episcopal priest whom I truly respect as a priest. I know some who are likeable as people and have been decent to me, but not a one that I truly admire and trust as a priest."

I knew immediately what he meant. There were a few ECUSA priests I knew in Chicago who were doctrinally orthodox and treated the liturgy with respect, but there were elements of their personal lives or their personalities that were less than admirable to me. Then there were the vast majority: the teachers of unsound doctrine, advocates/practitioners of unhealthy lifestyles, and leaders of folly-ridden worship that made up the majority of ECUSA priests I met in my six years there. There were some ECUSA priests that had been decent to me personally, but I had no desire to emulate them--or even go to them for confession. This realization brought me low. Here I was prayerfully considering a possible vocation to the priesthood, and I didn't have regular contact with a single priestly role model in Chicago!

Then I came back home to Fort Worth. Almost as soon as I got back in town the diocese held a weekend "Vocations Retreat" at Camp Crucis (near Granbury, Texas), where all the seminarians and aspirants to Holy Orders in our diocese spent three days together and heard presentations on the theology of the ministerial priesthood and the lives and ministries of Anglican priests from men who had been serving as priests for decades. It was amazing! I found myself inspired, even emotionally overcome, by the presentations. I got to spend time with senior priests in Fort Worth, worshipping with them, talking with them over meals, praying with them. I realized on the third day of the retreat that after spending six years in a place where I met not a single priest whom I truly admired, in three days I had met a dozen priests whom I did respect--deeply respect. I cannot tell you how much that meant to me. I literally wept.

This is not to say that all of our priests are perfect. They are men, after all, not angels. They have their quirks like everyone else, and occassionally they come up short. But they are dedicated and sincere servants of God, sound teachers of the Faith and positive moral examples to their flocks. In the last two years I have met a dozen superb role models for aspirants and postulants. I just wanted to say, "Thank you, gentlemen, for your service and your example. Thank you for your fidelity."

The photo above is of the Renewal of Ordination Vows at the Chrism Mass held at St. Vincent's on Tuesday of Holy Week. The priests on the front row are among the most senior in our diocese. But don't be deceived--Fort Worth actually has one of the youngest Anglican presbyteries in the nation.


Blogger Continuing Home said...

Ouch. I went through much the same in my later years in ECUSA (Diocese of El Camino Real) -- not quite half my life when I left.

Since then, I have met some in our province for whom I have the greatest respect, more than I'd had in the liberal ECUSA diocese that were all I'd ever known.

8:04 PM  
Blogger Continuing Home said...

(um... "dioceses." Sorry.)

8:05 PM  
Blogger James the Thickheaded said...

As someone whose Texan roots were detached some 48 years ago, I admire, but struggle to understand the Fr. Worth diocese. Is it anglocatholic or just faithful anglicanism ? I'm always amazed at the number of Anglican Use parishes nearby and simply wonder what's in the water? and how you maintain your character in the midst of the wooliness beyond? Or as Shakespeare's Puck would have it, "Whither wanderest thou Spirit?"

8:43 PM  
Blogger Ma Beck said...

I really enjoyed reading that post.
I am so glad to know that you have some excellent priests down in Ft. Worth.
I was 30+ years old before I moved to my current parish, where I finally met priests to whom I could look for true spiritual guidance and who I admire as true holy men.
You're right - they're only human, but priests have a special responsibility (and indeed, so do Catholics and Anglicans who are laity) to behave a certain way, to emulate Jesus in their daily lives.
And I'm so glad I have priests who take that responsibility seriously.

10:02 PM  
Blogger Timotheos Prologizes said...

As a priest of the diocese, I have had similar feelings and impressions to the oneds that you describe. I think one thing that is so important (and why we are so blessed here) is a strong peer group. When you have to be a loner somewhere, it is easy to grow lax. But when you are surrounded by those you look up to and who challenge you and encourage you, it is easier to remain strong and to strengthen one another.

12:02 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I can't tell you how much the support of our bishop and clergy means to the FW Seminarians here at Nashotah House also. Our diocese is one of only a couple of dioceses that receive regular visits (at least two or three per yer)from our Bishop and senior clergy. It's amazing to see how some other dioceses simply send their aspirants and postulants off to seminary and practically forget about them. I'm so very thankful that this is not the case in Fort Worth.

Chad Nusbaum

7:30 AM  
Anonymous AngCath said...

Just wanted to say that I am encouraged by your comments on the state of affairs in Ft. Worth.

11:48 AM  
Blogger Christopher+ said...


Thanks! I think Fr. Timotheos is correct - iron sharpens iron - together we make it easier for all of us to be faithful.

8:58 AM  

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