A History

A History of the Parish

The Anglican Use of the Roman Catholic Church was established by Pope John Paul II in 1980. This Pastoral Provision allowed Anglicans to enter into the full communion of the Catholic Church, while preserving some of our unique liturgical traditions.

This certainly was a welcome development for Anglo-Catholics. Anglicanism's drift from Christian orthodoxy accelerated substantially throughout the 20th century, and the 1976 General Convention allowing for the ordination of women was the last straw for many Anglo-Catholics. Among those who perceived that Anglicanism was lost at sea were the founders of Our Lady of Walsingham parish. In the end, the 1976 convention and the 1980 Pastoral Provision finally showed many of them that communion with St. Peter was their only safe harbor.

In 1982, two of them in particular, Fr. James Moore and Fr. James Ramsey, began discussions with the Bishop of Galveston-Houston, John Louis Morkovsky, about entering the Church under the Pastoral Provision.  By that time, both of them had resigned their positions in the Episcopal Diocese of Texas.  This was a real act of faith, because the Catholic Church had not yet formally received them, but Fr. Moore, Fr. Ramsey, and the dozen or so other pilgrims met together in Fr. Moore’s home and made that leap of faith during Lent of 1982. 

The small community met weekly, mainly in the each others' homes, waiting patiently for the local ordinary to graft them onto the Church.  At some point during this period, these refugees committed themselves to the loving protection of the Mother of God, under the title of Our Lady of Walsingham. This was a suggestion by Fr. Ramsey, who had rescued a stained glass image of Our Lady of Walsingham from a burnt out church in Malawi years ago while he had been serving as Bishop's Chaplain in the Anglican Diocese of Lake Malawi, and by Wayne Flagg, who has a deep devotion to Our Lady of Walsingham.  Fr. Ramsey has treasured that found image ever since, and as he had rescued her, now the newly-formed community begged her to, in turn, protect them in their most important journey.

Bishop Morkovsky graciously allowed the parish of Our Lady of Walsingham to meet on Saturday afternoons at 6 pm at Christ the Good Shepherd Catholic Church, even though it was not yet part of the Catholic Church. After Mass they would meet without fail in the parish hall of Good Shepherd for a covered dish supper they shared. 

After one year, they began meeting at St. Cecilia Catholic Church on Sunday afternoons at 4 pm, again for about the duration of one year.  On April 7, 1984, Fr. Ramsey and Fr. Moore were ordained as priests in the Roman Catholic Church, with St. Cecilia Catholic Church as the setting. Now, for the first time, the community could offer the Holy Sacrifice in with Christ's holy Church. This was the day that Our Lady of Walsingham Catholic Church was erected as a parish of the Diocese of Galveston-Houston, and Father Moore and Father Ramsey were appointed as co-pastors by Bishop Morkovsky.  On this occasion, the Fathers Moore and Ramsey were presented by their parishioners with the small image of Our Lady of Walsingham which now rests mounted on the front of the pulpit in the new church.

The parish made another move and began meeting in a small chapel of Duchesne Academy, just one mile south of the current church.  In 1985, Fr. Ramsey had been asked by the diocese to become pastor of St. Nicholas Catholic Church in downtown Houston, so Fr. Moore remained as
pastor of the congregation which, by this time, had grown to a couple of dozen families.  In May of 1987, the first Deacon in the Anglican Use and the first Deacon OLW was ordained, Deacon James Barnett.  In the next year, the first priestly vocation, Fr. Wayne Flagg, was also ordained on the Feast of Our Lady of Walsingham, September 24, 1988.  So the parish of OLW has not just been grafted onto the Catholic Church of Galveston-Houston, it has also been very fruitful for the Church. 

The chapel at Duchesne was torn down to widen Chimney Rock Road about four-and-a-half years after Our Lady of Walsingham began meeting there, so the parish moved to a warehouse just west off of Bingle Road down the Katy Freeway for another four-and-a-half years. This was to be home until May 1992, when the Blessed Mother performed a great miracle – the community
was able to step out in faith and purchase land and build a permanent church, which today is St. Jude Hall.  For the next eleven years, the entire parish and all of its activities fit into this little building.

Mass was only once a week, at 10 am on Sundays, the only exceptions being the occasional important feast or holy day.  After a few years, there were two Masses on Sunday, then also a vigil Mass on Saturday, then daily Masses. Parishioners set up programs for home-schoolers, others worked in prison ministry and AIDS ministry, and others looked out for the sick and the needy of the parish.
Visitors were amazed that such a small congregation loved so much, and shared so much, and prayed so much. In 1993, Fr. Moore took a sabbatical, and Fr. Bruce Noble served as priest-in-charge.  Fr. Moore returned as pastor in 1996.  In 1998, Mrs. Kay Laro approached Deacon after Mass and asked, simply, "How much do you owe on this church?" The parish had been paying its debts and bills with donations, penny-pinching, and bingo, but here was someone stepping forward to make a major gift towards paying off the old church.  One year later, in December 1999, this same lady telephoned Father Moore to say that she was giving one million dollars to the parish, which made it possible for serious building plans to begin.  Many more gifts would follow, large and small, by many other generous donors, who made the beautiful new church building possible.

Fr. Moore retired as pastor in November of 2006, at which time Fr. Bruce Noble returned again to shepherd the fold.  When he was needed by the Archdiocese to return to the Catholic Chaplain Corps at the Texas Medical Center, Fr. James Ramsey answered the call and returned as our pastor once again.  These three priests each served at Our Lady of Walsingham Catholic Church on two separate occasions.With our growing needs for space new offices, renovations of St. Jude Hall, a new classroom building and a new outdoor shrine were built and dedicated by Cardinal DiNardo in May of 2011.

In November, 2009, Pope Benedict XVI most generously gave us the Apostolic Constitution, Anglicanorum coetibus, his response to Episcopalians and Anglicans  seeking corporate reunion with the Holy See, while allowing them to bring  with them their Anglican patrimony thus providing a permanent place for our Anglican Use liturgy and traditions.

On January 1, 2012, on the Solemnity Mary Mother of God, the structure defined by Anglicanorum Coetibus became a reality in the United States. The Personal Ordinariate of the Chair of Saint Peter was erected with The Rev. Msgr. Jeffrey Neil Steenson as our ordinary, and our church as the principal church of the ordinariate. The formation program for the first class of seminarians and future priests of the ordinariate began at St. Mary's Seminary in Houston via long distance technology and in July 2012 Fr. Charles Hough IV was ordained as Catholic priest and assigned as rector of Our Lady of Walsingham.

No one ever could have foreseen
, on that April day of 1984, that Our Lady of Walsingham Catholic Church would be such a monument to divine providence, and Our Lady's faithful protection. But the true thanks we give to God is not in bricks or stone. We thank Him first as Catholics always have, ever since that first Mass in the upper room: by the loving and faithful offering of His Son each day upon the altar. And this parish, still small by current standards, has carried forth the grace from that altar in so many ways -- in our love for one another, in good works for the sick, widowed, and orphaned, by burying the dead, feeding the hungry, counseling the afflicted, and every other corporal and spiritual good work.

Let us pray fervently to the Mother of God, Our Lady of Walsingham: may she continue to guard us, her children, teaching us to do every deed that is pleasing to her Son, and bring us together from this earthly liturgy to the heavenly one, forever praising the Trinity, who has saved us.

Early History of the Anglican Use and Background leading up to the Pastoral Provision

Document Establishing the Anglican Use

For an account of the Ancient Story of Walsingham please click on the link below:

Ancient Shrine of Walsingham, England

Anglicanorum coetibus

The Personal Ordinariate of the Chair of St. Peter