Wednesday, 19 January 2011

Saturday's ordinariate ordinations - the press perspective

Unless you've been hiding under a rock recently, you will be aware that last Saturday Church history was made as we saw the Personal Ordinariate of Our Lady of Walsingham set up and Fr Keith Newton named as the first Ordinary for England and Wales.

I was lucky enough to be helping out with press at the Ordination Mass at Westminster Cathedral thanks to my internship with Archbishop's House. My day began like a normal work day, with an early start, though the roads and streets are definitely a lot quieter on a Saturday! I helped sort out the press packs, making sure there were press releases and an order of service in each press pack before the media turned up (a lot later than we had to!).

I had never been to an ordination before so that was an experience in itself, its hard to convey how many momentous things occurred in such a short space of time; that the ordinariate was set up, that we have a named Ordinary now, that the three former Anglican Bishops were ordained opening the way for many more to come across is all important and slightly overwhelming in its magnitude.

Positive press

Some press got this, some press didn't - there were plenty of press to herd around that turned up to cover the Mass, probably unsuspecting that two and a half hours later they'd still be standing in the cold Cathedral! It was great to see the amount of coverage and interest there was, and to be a part of that.

Over the past week, I think it has become clearer to me that there is a need to help the press understand occasions such as this one, so the right information can be shared with the public. In helping the press cover the ordinations on Saturday the press office did a great job at aiding this. It is enlightening and equally revealing to hear some of the questions journalists and press ask, and helped me see what is hard to understand about the Ordinariate, and the process they're going through. it was even more interesting to see the newspapers the following day and the range of articles resulting from the ordinations - including some very strange takes on the proceedings it must be said! I'd recommend the press releases that were put out, especially the informative Q&A, to anyone who was still unclear as to what "all this Ordinariate business" was about. They've all been uploaded to the Diocese of Westminster website - as well as the CBCEW's website.

I was left extremely tired after the busy day we had, but I found it fascinating. Now, following on from my involvement with the Papal Visit and the 'Ordinariate experience', I would say it's safe to say that this is a very exciting time for the Catholic Church. I can only imagine what's to come next!

Jo-Anne Rowney
Archbishop's House Public Affairs Intern
A photo gallery of the ordinations
Audio of Archbishop Vincent's Homily

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