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Local man ordained to Anglican ordinariate

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In front of a church filled with family, friends and fellow Catholics, local man Randy Sly was ordained to the priesthood last Saturday by Arlington Bishop Paul S. Loverde at Our Lady of Hope Parish in Potomac Falls.

A former Anglican archbishop, Father Sly, 63, was raised in the Episcopal Church. For more than 30 years, he worked in parish and denominational ministry in the Wesleyan Methodist Church and in an Anglican jurisdiction serving churches in Michigan, Oklahoma, Kansas and Virginia. In 2006, while serving as an archbishop for the Eastern Province of the Charismatic Episcopal Church, he entered into the Catholic Church, along with his wife of 39 years. He is an active member of the St. Gregory the Great Ordinariate Community, a group of Anglicans entering the Catholic Church in Northern Virginia.

As a Catholic priest, Father Sly will serve in the new Personal Ordinariate of the Chair of St. Peter. The ordinariate, similar to a national diocese for Anglican converts, was created earlier this year by Pope Benedict XVI and is run by Msgr. Jeffrey N. Steenson of Houston, a former Episcopal bishop. One of only three ordinariates in the world, it is meant to provide a spiritual home for Anglican groups and clergy seeking to become Catholic while retaining their own liturgical and musical traditions.

Father Sly was one of four men ordained to the ordinariate last Saturday, as three others were ordained by Washington Cardinal Donald Wuerl at the Cathedral of St. Matthew the Apostle in Washington. Nationwide, 30 Anglican priests from across the country will be ordained to the ordinariate this summer. Another 30 men are preparing for ordinations within the next year.

"These ordinations mark a significant moment in the history of Catholic unity," said Msgr. Steenson in a recent statement. "Our expedited formation process, approved by the Holy See, has been a wonderful testimony to the deep respect that the Catholic Church has for the former Anglican ministries of these men."

During his homily, Bishop Loverde called the ordination "a day of overflowing grace and joy and gratitude."

He advised Father Sly always to follow the example of the Good Shepherd.

"The Lord Jesus is at your side and you're about to be His friend in a unique way," he said. "Be rooted in Him."

Father Sly was joined Saturday by his wife, Sandy; his daughters, Dena Rickert and Deborah Wilson; and his son, David.

For David, who entered the Catholic Church in 2007, the day was a chance to see his father finally return to his role in ministry.

"He's clearly been called to the ministry for as long as I can remember, so this is both a kind of coming home and a trailblazing experience," David said. "In a lot of ways, we share him now because he is our father and the father of many."

Sandy also said the day felt like a homecoming and said she is tremendously grateful to the pope for starting the ordinariate and giving her husband an opportunity to serve as a Catholic priest.

"It's so unreal and so real, to have this happen and to just have that role given back to him," she said. "We honestly didn't know how long it would take or if it would happen."

As a Catholic priest, Father Sly said he is most looking forward to celebrating the sacraments, including his first Mass, which took place Sunday at Our Lady of Hope. Mostly, he said he is eager to find out how God will use his gifts for the ordinariate and the Church.

"(I hope) to help guide pilgrims like myself into the fullness of the Catholic faith," he said.

"I feel like this is the culmination of a long journey to the heart of the Church. … I feel very honored and blessed

© Arlington Catholic Herald 2012