by ROWENA OREJANA
ORKNEY, Scotland — The Congregation of the Sons of the Most Holy Redeemer called Christchurch Bishop Barry Jones their “quiet shepherd and instrument of grace” as its Rector Major, Fr Michael Mary, FSSR, gave credit to the bishop for the role he played in their
The Christchurch bishop formally welcomed the religious society known as the Congregation of the Sons of the Most Holy Redeemer, or Transalpine Redemptorists, and has given them an apostolate, which is the chaplaincy to the Extraordinary Form of the Roman Rite — despite the rocky start to their relationship.
“The priests and brothers of the congregation give an excellent witness of religious life
lived with joy and generosity. They are present at diocesan occasions and events and their
presence and witness is made clear by the religious habit which they wear,” said Bishop
Fr Michael Mary said Bishop Jones’s “role in the foundation of our religious order has
been far greater than might be thought”.
He explained their community is both active and contemplative. “We need the monastic life, but we equally need the apostolic life. It was crucial to the founding of the order that
both aspects could be harmoniously integrated.
That harmonious establishment came about only with the canonical welcome of Bishop Barry:
such that the foundation of our religious congregation in its essential structure owes its vocational charism as much to the diocese of Christchurch as it does to the diocese of Aberdeen,” he said.
Bishop Jones said the religious society came to Christchurch “in irregular and divisive
circumstances” in 2007, without canonical invitation and not being in communion with the Holy See at that time.
Since then, through the work of the Holy Spirit, the group has been reconciled with
Rome and been given canonical recognition by the Bishop of Aberdeen, where they are based, he added.
“They have been most willing to take responsibility for organising the annual May procession
and consecration of the city and diocese to Our Lady. This procession and consecration
began not long after the terrible second major earthquake and has been very well attended each year. The Sons have a sound appreciation of the place and importance of devotional practices, which have become less frequent in recent years,” he said.
Fr Michael Mary said Bishop Jones had always been welcoming. “Bishop Barry’s canonical
welcome of the Sons of the Most Holy Redeemer really goes back to 2007 when, as
intruders as we were then in his diocese, he kindly agreed to meet us and then and thereafter encouraged us to be reconciled with the Holy See and the Church. He was a quiet shepherd and
instrument of grace for us,” he said.
The traditionalist group was reconciled in June 2008, and while it was a joyous day for them, Fr Michael Mary said they knew the road ahead would be difficult.
“The quiet shepherd’s one-liner emails from time to time were a great support, he kept an
eye on us and that is something each and every one of us recognised.
We would most certainly have quickly left the diocese if Bishop Barry told us he did not
want us. But that never happened,” Fr Michael Mary said.
The religious society began in 1988 as an umbrella community of the Society of St Pius
X, a society that is still in the process of reconciliation with Vatican.