VATICAN CITY – For perhaps the first time ever, Anglican hymns, chants and prayers reverberated off the marble walls of St Peter’s Basilica in Rome as some members of the world’s first ordinariate for former Anglicans celebrated their coming into the Catholic Church.

“Wonderful is not a strong enough word to express how we feel to be here,” where the apostle Peter gave his life “and where his successors guarded the faith for generations,” said Fr Len Black in his homily.

Mass at the basilica and the pilgrimage to Rome generated “a feeling of coming home”, said the Catholic priest who served as an Episcopalian pastor in the Scottish Highlands for 31 years.

The group of about 94 pilgrims, including a dozen priests, was led by Msgr Keith Newton, head of the Personal Ordinariate of Our Lady of Walsingham, which was established in January 2011 for former Anglicans in England and Wales.

After celebrating morning Mass on Feb 24 in a side chapel, the group moved to the centre of the basilica and stood in front of the Confessio, a lower chapel honouring St Peter’s confession of faith that led to his martyrdom, and recited the General Thanksgiving, a traditional Anglican prayer.
“That was very moving, thanking God for all we received this year and for the pilgrimage,” he told Catholic News Service.

The weeklong Lenten pilgrimage highlighted the season’s call to conversion but also was an opportunity to thank Pope Benedict XVI for establishing a structure for welcoming former Anglicans into the Catholic Church.

Msgr Newton also met briefly with the pope at the end of the pope’s general audience on Feb 22

Photo: Msgr Keith Newton led a group of 94 former-Anglicans in a pilgrimage which included St Peter’s Basilica (right).

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