An acquaintance of mine, priest-to-be Robert Hendrickson (a very good friend of our former seminarian The Rev’d. John Dryman) is involved in the development of an American branch of the UK’s Society of Catholic Priests.
I think this sounds quite good – I’m interested. Below is a general letter that is being distributed to interested people, so I present it for any who might be interested.
THE SOCIETY OF CATHOLIC PRIESTS
In the Episcopal Church and the Anglican Church of Canada
Over several years, the Society of Catholic Priests has come up in conversations and those conversations usually worked their way to “someone should…”. In the last few months, someone has begun conversations with the Society in the UK and plans are underway to establish a group here in the Episcopal Church. At this point, I and Robert Hendrickson, a recent graduate from GTS who is serving as an intern here at Christ Church are beginning the process to convene a branch of the Society.
The last few decades have seen several attempts at similar groups- some with more effect and with a more sustained presence than others. This one seems to me to offer to advantages- first, it is aimed at priests and at supporting the spiritual life and the theological reflection that undergirds our work as priests. Focus and singular mission can be energizing for a group like this. Second, it begins at time when there is a range of communication media and when no one expects an group like this to gather and spend great amounts of money. Journals, impressive conferences, and the like aren’t likely and may not be essential at any rate.
If it is successful, the Society will allow catholic minded priests (and seminarians and deacons) to deepen their spiritual life, reflect more deeply on the faith and on our work, and will create bonds of affection, accountability and respect among us. In September, we hope to offer a regional gathering in New York. In November, we expect to welcome the Rev’d Canon Andrew Nunn, rector general of the SCP in the UK, as we inaugurate the Society in North America at our first annual provincial (national) meeting in New Haven, Connecticut.
If you are interested in being part of this, we want to hear from you- and even better, we would be grateful if you would consider inviting others or serving as a convener for your region or diocese. At this point, and based on the UK model, the Society would aim at quarterly gatherings- with perhaps a paper on some topic of interest or a quiet day reflection- worship and a meal together. A web-based aspect of the Society is being developed to allow for a different sort of conversation and to share resources. The Society’s center will have to be in local groups- and so the beginning and the continuance of this depends on wider interest and shared commitment to this work.
God’s blessings on your ministry and on whatever quiet and rest the summer offers you- and many thanks for considering and responding to this invitation.
(The Revd) David Cobb, rector
Christ Church, New Haven
For more information, these are the Society of Catholic Priests links to the UK and American (still in development) websites:
Contact Robert Hendrickson at email@example.com for more information.