Saturday, November 10, 2012

Va. Beach combined parish worries about future

From Virginia-

When parishioners of Church of the Holy Apostles gathered last week to celebrate 35 years as the nation's first and only combined Episcopal and Roman Catholic parish, it was a joyful occasion, honoring what its founders and others hailed as a bold experiment in ecumenism.

"There's a wonderful spirit of sharing in this place," retired Roman Catholic Bishop Walter Sullivan, who helped launch the parish in 1977, said during an anniversary service Nov. 1. He commended the parishioners for their "vision of solidarity."

The next day, parishioners heard from the current bishop, the Rev. Francis X. DiLorenzo of the Roman Catholic Diocese of Richmond, and the news wasn't good.

DiLorenzo said in a letter that the Rev. James E. Parke, a Roman Catholic priest who shared pastoral duties with the Rev. Michael B. Ferguson, an Episcopalian, was being relieved of his duties.

The bishop gave no reason for Parke's removal. Parke was not reassigned.

The diocese was sending a team to determine whether the way the parish worships is consistent with Catholic doctrine.

"It is our mutual hope that, after this study period, Holy Apostles will continue its ecumenical and ministerial outreach in Virginia Beach, DiLorenzo wrote.

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