Kitchener priest builds bridges between Catholic, Anglican traditions

The following article was printed in the Waterloo Record on January 16, 2015

By Barbara Latkowski

Fr CantaniaKITCHENER — For Rev. Jason Catania, Pope Benedict XVI’s Apostolic Constitution, Anglicanorum Coetibus, is a blessing.

“I still remember the day in the fall of 2009 when it came to be. I couldn’t believe it,” said Catania, an American Ordinariate priest.

This was Pope Benedict’s response to Anglicans requesting to join the Catholic Church — to come into communion with Rome yet retain much of their Anglican patrimony.

The Apostolic Constitution, Anglicanorum Coetibus (“groups” of Anglicans), establishes a new structure within the church. It allows Anglicans who become Catholics to keep their spiritual, liturgical and pastoral traditions.

“This is something that was dear to the (former) pope’s heart. It is a novel opportunity, to allow Anglicans to retain their own identity and still be full members of the Catholic Church,” said Catania.

For Catania, 43, it was an opportunity worth waiting for. “I always saw myself as a Catholic,” he said.

On June 9, 2012, he was ordained a Catholic priest.

Prior to coming to Canada, he lived in Baltimore for eight years and grew up in New Jersey. “In my 20s, I entered graduate school where I studied music. It was then that I received a call into the priesthood. I discerned that call and went to seminary,” Catania said.

Catania was ordained an Episcopal priest in 2000. He, along with his congregation at Mount Calvary Church, an Episcopalian (Anglican) parish in Baltimore, entered the Catholic Church on Jan. 22, 2012.

Now, as an Ordinariate priest, Catania feels he has big opportunity to make a difference.

Ordinariate masses for St. Edmund’s were previously held at St. Patrick’s parish in Cambridge but have since moved to St. Mary Our Lady of the Seven Sorrows Roman Catholic Church in Kitchener. Masses are held at 5 p.m. every Sunday.

“It’s a small group,” says Catania. “But there is so much room to grow. My goal is to build the community. The Anglican tradition is very broad. This is for Anglo-Catholics, converts, lifelong Catholics, and for those who just seek change. For Anglicans who are thinking about it, it’s an avenue for them.”

More recently, groups of Anglicans have requested to be received into the Catholic Church in opposition of certain Episcopal revisions — such as allowing women’s ordination, liturgical changes, and the blessing of same-sex marriage.

Since 2009, three Ordinariate groups have formed worldwide — The Lady of Walsingham in the U.K., Our Lady of the Southern Cross in Australia, and the Ordinariate of the Chair of St. Peter in the United States and Canada.

Now a full-time priest at St. Mary’s, Catania has received a warm welcome from the Diocese of Hamilton and says that he is very grateful to Rev. George Nowak, C.R., the pastor at St. Mary’s, for his support.

“Bishop (Douglas) Crosby has also asked that I assist at regular Catholic masses held on Tuesdays and early masses on Sundays. I am pleased to be of service to the church in general, not just to St. Edmunds,” Catania said.

For Catania, it is all about bringing two faiths together.

“Some might perceive a group like St. Edmunds as a small group, but I see this as a vehicle for the enrichment to the Catholic Church. Anglicans bring and share themselves as well,” he said.

Catania has a clear mission in mind and is very hopeful for the future. “It’s a missionary enterprise, a means of building up the Body of Christ,” Catania said. “I hope I can build this community and be of service to the wider church.”

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