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Ordinariate Use Mass offered in former Anglican church in France
Thursday 21st August 2014

The Ordinary Mgr Newton, recently gave permission for the Ordinariate Use Mass to be celebrated by a French Catholic priest in a former Anglican church in Aix-les-Bains in south-eastern France. The Mass was offered by Fr. Jean-Baptiste Thibaut, who also gained approval from his own bishop and the Archbishop of the diocese of Chambéry, where Aix-les-Bains is situated. Normally only Catholic priests of the Ordinariate are permitted to offer Mass according to the Ordinariate Use.

Between 30 and 40 people attended the Mass at St Swithun's church, (on 23 July). The group also heard a talk on the Ordinariates given by David Murphy who runs a website for expatriate Ordinariate members in Europe.

St Swithun's Church was built in 1870 and was visited several times by Queen Victoria, who donated the reredos. which depicts an Agnus Dei bearing the banner of St. George. Since there is no longer regular Anglican worship in Aix, the church is now used as an ecumenical and cultural centre. David Murphy said: "It was a very beautiful day, an uplifting experience for both priest and people and an excellent opportunity to make the Ordinariate known in this very significant area of France".

Aix-les-Bains is the burial place Fr. Fernand Portal, who is considered a pioneer of ecumenical dialogue. Fr Portal campaigned at the end of the 19th century for the recognition of Anglican orders by the Vatican and helped organise the Malines Conversations in the 1920s. The apostolate of the Sisters of Bethlehem who live in the monastery where he is buried is to pray for Church Unity.

Over the weekend of 16 and 17 August, Father Scott Anderson of the Ordinariate celebrated, preached and talked about the Ordinariate at all the Masses in the French town of Grimaud near St Tropez at the invitation of the parish priest there, Canon Peter Watts. In both Aix-les-Bains and Grimaud, collections were taken for the Friends of the Ordinariate, which supports the work of the Personal Ordinariate of Our Lady of Walsingham.

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