Former Anglican ordained to serve new Catholics

Vancouver Archbishop Michael Miller ordains Michael Shier a Catholic priest, March 15.


Vancouver Archbishop Michael Miller ordains Michael Shier a Catholic priest, March 15.

March 31, 2014

The fruits of Pope Benedict's efforts to welcome Anglicans to the Catholic faith were manifest at Vancouver's Holy Rosary Cathedral as Deacon Michael Shier was ordained a priest for the Ordinariate of the Chair of St. Peter.

"It's amazing that the ordinariate has actually happened," Father Shier said after his ordination March 15.

Shier, a pastor for the Anglican Catholic Church of Canada, and 11 members of his former parish converted to Catholicism in June 2012.

"It started when Anglicanorum Coetibus was given by Pope Benedict," explained Barbara Shier, his wife.

The apostolic constitution, written in 2009, describes the possibility of creating ordinariates, which function like dioceses, for Anglicans to enter the Catholic Church while keeping some liturgical and spiritual traditions.

"He invited us to make the transition and to bring the best of Anglicanism with us," Shier explained. "We sent our prayer books and missals to Rome and received back a liturgy that surpasses all our hopes and dreams."

The Ordinariate of the Chair of St. Peter, created in January 2012, spans all of North America. Its ordinary, or head, is Msgr. Jeffrey Steenson, who arrived from Texas and concelebrated along with about 20 other priests of the ordinariate or of the Vancouver Archdiocese.

"It is our brothers and sisters in the whole Catholic Church who have strengthened us and given us a joy in our lives. We are so pleased and so happy to be with you in full communion," he said.

Archbishop Michael Miller celebrated the ordination Mass. "(The priesthood) is both a gift and a mystery," he said in his homily.

"It's a gift to the Church and to the people of God, and it's a mystery because it makes forever the one ordained an instrument of Christ."

Shier knew he wanted to care for souls when he was 14 years old. In 1967 he became an Anglican minister.

"I've been looking through my books recently, and I think I've always read Catholic theology," he revealed. "All the best modern Catholic books tended to be Roman Catholic books."


Shier was ordained a deacon in February after 18 months of appropriate preparation. "Because I'd had seminary training many years before, it was quite brief."

Father Bruce McAllister, archdiocesan chancellor, prepared the congregation of converts to join the Catholic Church through a series of retreats while Steenson trained their pastor.

Shier "is a very scholarly person," said McAllister, also a former Anglican.

"He is a man of deep prayer. You'll often see him at prayer in church prior to the liturgy. I know that he prays for many people, including those who are his former parishioners who have not come into full communion" with the Catholic Church.

McAllister guessed 20 to 25 priests in Canada are former Anglican clergymen, including those incardinated in the ordinariate and those incardinated in dioceses.

There are two other ordinariates for former Anglicans in the world: Our Lady of Walsingham for England and Wales, and Southern Cross for Australia. Ordinariates are divided into deaneries; Shier is part of the Canadian deanery of St. John the Baptist, which was established in December 2012.


After his ordination, Shier said he felt "soberly intoxicated."

"It's amazing that Pope Benedict suggested (the ordinariate) in the first place. And it's even more amazing that it's working out," he explained.

"(The ordination) was lovely; it was moving," Barbara remarked.

She plans to be as involved in the Church as she was when the pair were Anglican. "I'll sing in the choir, do the flowers, do the food, whatever is needed."