Pope establishes new U.S. personal ordinariate

Published January 4, 2012

Pope Benedict XVI has established the Personal Ordinariate of the Chair of Saint Peter to serve former Anglican groups and clergy in the United States who wish to become Catholic. He also named the 59-year-old Father Jeffrey N. Steenson of Houston, Texas to lead the new structure as its ordinary.

The creation of the ordinariate and the appointment of Father Steenson were publicized in Washington, January 2, by Archbishop Carlo Maria Vigano, apostolic nuncio to the United States.

Similar to a diocese though national in scope, the ordinariate will be based in Houston, Texas, and will include parishes and communities across the United States that will be fully Catholic, while retaining elements of their Anglican heritage and traditions. To date, more than 100 clergy have applied to be ordained Catholic for the ordinariate and 1,400 individuals from 22 communities have asked to join the ordinariate.

Jeffrey Steenson was born April 1, 1952 in Camp Rucker, Alabama and was raised on a family farm in Hillsboro, North Dakota. A former Episcopal bishop, he received his theological training at Trinity Evangelical Divinity School in Illinois and Harvard Divinity School, and a doctor of philosophy degree from Oxford University.

He was ordained an Episcopal priest in 1980 and served as an assistant at a parish in Highfield, Oxford, then as rector of three parishes in the United States. He was an officer for the Episcopal Synod of America, and Canon to the Ordinary for the Episcopal Diocese of the Rio Grande, in Albuquerque, New Mexico. In 2004, Father Steenson was elected bishop of the Diocese of Rio Grande.

He resigned in 2007 and was received into the Catholic Church. Father Steenson was ordained a priest of the Archdiocese of Santa Fe in 2009 under the pastoral provision for married former Anglican clergy. Since that time, he has been the Carl and Lois Davis Professor in Patristic Studies at the University of St. Thomas Center for Faith and Culture in Houston.

Father Steenson is married. He and his wife, Debra, have three adult children and one grandchild.

The website for the new ordinariate is www.usordinariate.org


  • Diana Swift

    Diana Swift is an award-winning writer and editor with 30 years’ experience in newspaper and magazine editing and production. In January 2011, she joined the Anglican Journal as a contributing editor.

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