"Let unity, the greatest good of all goods, be your preoccupation." - St. Ignatius of Antioch (Letter to St. Polycarp)

Sunday, June 7, 2009

Fr. Jeffrey Steel jumps into the Tiber


Fr. Jeffrey Steel, a former Covenant Theological Seminary student, and former PCA pastor for 6.5 years, and more recently an Anglican priest, has decided to become Catholic. There he writes:
I am writing to make the announcement that I am becoming a Roman Catholic along with my wife Rhea and our six children. I realise that this decision is going to make some really happy, some very sad and others possibily angry. But, I have made the decision with the deepest sense of integrity and by conscience. I would like to share a bit of my faith journey though there are many gaps here, it is descriptive of my heart over the past few months. This is not particularly an academic account of what I have done in my studies but rather the spiritual wrestling that went on within me. The announcement was made this morning in all three parishes where I serve and is now a matter of public knowledge. My duties and licence in the parish end on 14 June 2009 (Corpus Christi Sunday) and my reception into Holy Mother Church is forthcoming.

My PhD studies really set me on my Catholic journey in a deep theological way though I did not realise it at the time. I have been looking at Bishop Lancelot Andrewes as a catalyst for ecumenism with the Catholic Church in the area of Eucharistic sacrifice. Andrewes was in regular dialogue with S. Robert Bellarmine SJ and it is in this dialogue and Andrewes’ other writings that I saw how Catholic he was with regards to the Eucharist being the Christian offering which consisted of more than a sacrifice of praise and thanksgiving. It was and is propitiatory as well as other things.

Through my time of study in Catholic sacramental theology and viewing my own priestly ministry within this theological framework the question of communio began to frequently come to mind. I had fully embraced Catholic sacramental theology and believed that I could be a Catholic in the Church of England and planned on retirement from the C of E later in life. With all that is going on around the Anglican Communion presently, and particularly within the C of E and how she makes decisions on matters of doctrine, I began to ask questions about authority. As a theologian praying for reunion with the Holy See the question I was now asking was, ‘on whose terms does this reunion take place?’
Please pray for him and his family as he makes this transition.

6 comments:

qualia said...

Whoa. Did you ever have him for class?

Principium Unitatis said...

We were both students at Covenant Theological Seminary at the same time, in 1995. He went on to Reformed Theological Seminary (RTS), where he graduated in 1998.

In the peace of Christ,

- Bryan

Jeffrey Steel said...

Brian,

Thanks for the plug and we really need the prayers. It is a huge relief to finally be able to come out with this after a couple of months work behind the scenes. We are to be received very soon and we will be moving to London, Westminster Archdiocese. We need jobs, home, etc so please do pray and I hope and trust all your readers will as well. It was strange to sing the solemn Mass today (which is from the Roman Missal here) and take off my chasuble and wonder when or if I will put it on again. I will eventually enter the discernment process for priesthood but after I settle a bit first.

Thank you for your prayers and it is so good to be in touch after so long!! It seems like forever since Covenant days. Sort of like a fog really.

Principium Unitatis said...

Jeffrey,

I am very happy for you, more than I can say. I've been reading your blog for quite a while now, and it was getting to the point where I couldn't see anything of doctrinal substance that prevented your reconciliation with the Holy See. I commend you for the careful way you have studied this question. What happened at Lambeth last year seemed to add some urgency to your investigation. But when you made the trip the Rome recently, I was hoping that this would help you make this decision. (It is not all intellectual, as you know.) You and your family will remain in our prayers. I hope that at some point you collect your thoughts and write out this story. I'd love to read it, and I'm sure it would benefit many others as well, who are groping along the same path.

Welcome home.

Χριστὸς δὲ ὡς υἱὸς ἐπὶ τὸν οἶκον αὐτοῦ: οὗ οἶκός ἐσμεν ἡμεῖς (Heb 3:6)

In the peace of Christ,

- Bryan

Alxsteele said...

Dear Bryan,

I was happy to stumble upon your blog. I like to track, as much as possible, the lives and ministers of Covenant Seminary graduates.

A few people must have hit on this post--through "blog searches", Google alerts, etc--as I've been asked about the opening statement.

I wonder why you didn't post it as, "Reformed Theological Seminary graduate..." instead of "a former CTS student..." I was just curious.

Thanks for the clarification further down that Jeffrey was an RTS graduate.

Blessings to the both of you.

Joel Hathaway

Principium Unitatis said...

Hello Joel,

Thanks for your comment. I said "former Covenant Theological Seminary student" because that was my connection to Jeffrey. I have a deep respect and affection for the CTS community, both my brothers there and the faculty. They were so generous with me, and exceptionally gracious, and infectiously passionate in their love for Christ. I still consider them *my* community, my brothers and mentors. So it gives me a great deal of joy when any of them are received into full communion with the Church, and in that way we are thereby brought into in full communion with each other, able to partake of the "one bread".

When men of the sort that were in my classes at CTS are reconciled to the Church, the results are going to surprise a lot of Catholics, because it is going to revitalize the Church. These men are like the ecclesial version of the Marines. When they're grafted back in, after 500 years of separation, fasten your seatbelt.

In the peace of Christ,

- Bryan