CHARLESTON—The Rev. Patrick Allen, pastor of the Episcopal Church of the Holy Communion, said he has always been homesick for the Catholic Church.
This spring, he hopes to rectify his longing when he is received into full communion through the Personal Ordinariate of the Chair of St. Peter — the Anglican Ordinariate.
Along with his wife Ashley and their two children, the priest is also bringing six families into the fold.
“God willing, I will be ordained into the Catholic priesthood, and our group will form the basis of an Ordinariate community here in Charleston,” he said.
As a young boy, he was raised in the Catholic Church until he was 11, when his parents left. Smiling, he said that they didn’t consult him first.
Eventually he found his way to the Episcopal Church and was ordained in 2000, but even as he was writing his first homily, he knew he would return to Catholicism one day.
“I was working my way back toward a more ecclesiastical experience of the faith,” he said, adding that he felt called to bear witness to Catholicism in the Episcopal Church for a time.
He explained that the Anglican religion has a huge swath of belief ranging from an evangelical, Protestant approach, to a far more traditional Anglo-Catholic style. His church closely follows Catholic teachings, even using its catechism.
Ultimately, Father Allen said, he realized he relied on the Catholic Church as the custodian of the truth. So when the Anglican Ordinariate was established in the U.S. in January 2012, it was a joyous day.
He said the schism within the Episcopal Church naturally played a part in his feelings, but added that the publicized crises over homosexuality and ordination of women are just symptoms of a deeper problem based on authority within the church. Everything is subject to a vote, Father Allen said.
Conversely, he said the Catholic Church has a clear teaching authority that is refreshing and necessary.
“It’s liberating to know where you can go for answers to the essentials of the faith,” he said.
He believes that without the constant need to address internal politics, the focus can switch to issues of charity.
Father Allen stressed that his move is not one of anger or bitterness; it’s simply what’s best for him and his family. He will remain at Church of the Holy Communion through December. In January, he and the other families will become parishioners of St. Mary, under the guidance of Msgr. Steven L. Brovey.
The group will go through the Rite of Christian Initiation for Adults and then be welcomed into the church.
Father Allen said once he’s ordained, the plan is for him to preside at St. Mary over Anglican-use Masses, which are also valid Catholic services and meet the Mass obligation.