Mount Calvary and the Ordinariate: Frequently Asked Questions

Our frequently asked questions are categorized into the following categories. You may select a category below to jump to that section.


General Questions

What is the Ordinariate? Is it Catholic?

The Personal Ordinariate of the Chair of St. Peter is a new national structure, similar to a diocese, that was created canonically by the Holy See in 2012 for former Anglican communities and clergy seeking to become Catholic. These communities retain many aspects of their Anglican heritage, liturgy and traditions, but they are fully Catholic, subscribing to all the doctrines of the Catholic Church, and obedient to the See of Rome in the office of the Pope.

What is the mission of the Ordinariate and its parishes like Mount Calvary?

The Ordinariate exists for the same reason as the rest of the Catholic Church - for the salvation of souls. But while this mission requires a unity of belief, it does not require a unity of custom. As Archbishop Gerhard Mueller, Prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, recently noted in speaking of the Ordinariates, 'our unity with one another as members of the one Body does not destroy our distinctiveness.' Thus the Personal Ordinariate of the Chair of St. Peter has as its mission the salvation of souls through the rich liturgical, devotional and aesthetic traditions of the Anglican patrimony, much of which predates the Reformation. By maintaining unity with the Church of Rome, it provides a bridge for those Anglicans seeking the same unity, while also making a broader witness to the hope of Christ for the unity of His Church: 'That they may all be one.' (John 17:21) In this respect, the Ordinariate has as its goal also to evangelize all others who may be fallen away from the faith, or open to encountering Christ for the first time.

The Anglican Communion believes that it is already Catholic. Aren't the Ordinariates a rejection of that claim?

In the sense that Anglicans are not in communion with the Catholic Church, possessing the fullness of her truth, apostolic succession and sacraments, it is a rejection of such claims. It may also be observed, as Fr. Aidan Nichols, O.P. noted, that Anglo-Catholics may be described as "beyond doubt as to doctrine, worship and devotion though not ecclesial communion, a displaced portion of the Catholic Christendom." Entry into full communion with the Catholic Church through the Ordinariates, then, can be said to be a completion and fulfillment of that identity, five centuries after the tragic break that led to the English Reformation.

Who runs the Ordinariate?

Members of the Personal Ordinariate of the Chair of St. Peter are united with the entire Catholic Church under the leadership of Pope Francis. As of Feb. 2, 2016, the Ordinariate is particularly led by Bishop Steven J. Lopes. Like other bishops in the United States and Canada, Bishop Lopes serves under the direct authority of the Holy Father to build up the Catholic Church through mutual mission and ministry. Bishop Lopes is a full member of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops and the Canadian Conference of Catholic Bishops.

What is the Ordinariate's relationship with local dioceses like the Archdiocese of Baltimore?

The Ordinariate and its parishes are required by Church law to "maintain close ties of communion with bishops" of the local diocese, in order to coordinate its pastoral activity with that of the diocese. Ordinariate priests are likewise required to "cultivate bonds of unity" with the priests of the diocese where they exercise their ministry, working to promote common pastoral and charitable initiatives and activities. All of the Ordinariate communities located in the Archdiocese of Baltimore strive to work in harmony with the Archdiocese and its priests.

Is it true that Ordinariate priests are married? I thought the Catholic Church didn't allow that.

It is true that most priests ordained in the Ordinariate are married. So far, these invariably have been men who previously ministered as ordained clergymen within Anglican churches, where the discipline long has been to permit the ordination of married men. Being part of the Latin Rite Church, the Ordinariate is still bound to observe the ancient Latin Rite discipline of a celibate clergy, but it is permitted to ordain married men as priests on a case by case basis, with the permission of the Holy See, which has been generous in accepting the applications of such men as priests.

Why did Pope Benedict XVI create the Ordinariates?

Pope Benedict XVI stated, when he published the apostolic constitution Anglicanorum coetibus in 2009, that as 'the successor of Peter, mandated by the Lord Jesus to guarantee the unity of the episcopate and to preside over and safeguard the universal communion of all the Churches, [he] could not fail to make available the means necessary to bring this holy desire to realization'. This was in response to groups of Anglicans, some within the formal Anglican Communion and some outside of it, 'repeatedly and insistently' petitioning 'to be received into full Catholic communion individually as well as corporately'. In short, Pope Benedict created the Ordinariates to provide a formal structure to meet the desire of these groups of Anglican clergy and laity to be received into the Catholic Church.

How big is the Ordinariate? Where does it exist?

In Catholic canon law, a personal ordinariate is a special kind of diocese confined to specific national territory - much like a military ordinariate that serves members of a national armed forces. As of 2013, there are now three personal ordinariates:

As of January 2018, the Personal Ordinariate of the Chair of St. Peter is composed of 43 parishes and communities and a similar number of priests, with more in the process of admission and ordination, serving thousands of laity across the U.S. and Canada. A more up to date directory of Ordinariate communities can be found on the website of the Personal Ordinariate of the Chair of St. Peter.

Is the Ordinariate a separate rite within the Catholic Church, like the Ukrainians or the Maronites?

No, but it has some similarities. For one, the distinctive liturgy used by the Ordinariate, is regulated by Divine Worship: The Missal, which serves as a separate liturgical use, or variant, within the Roman Rite, rather than an entirely separate liturgical rite. For another, the Ordinariate maintains its own leadership structure and priestly formation, but its priests are still considered priests of the Roman Rite, able to celebrate Mass according to the Roman Rite as well. Likewise, the Ordinariate has the benefit of some unique provisions, such as a permission to request dispensing candidates for the priesthood from the discipline of celibacy, but it does not have its own code of canon law like the Eastern Rites do.

Are there religious orders in the Ordinariate?

Not at present, but such orders are permitted. Under the provisions of Anglicanorum coetibus, the Ordinariate is composed of lay faithful, clerics, and members of Institutes of Consecrated Life and Societies of Apostolic Life. In England, women religious from two Anglican religious orders joined the ordinariate there, and have been reconstituted as Catholic religious orders. In North America, the one Anglican religious order to convert to the Catholic Church, the Society of All Saints Sisters of the Poor, is actually located here in Baltimore, with a convent in Catonsville that exists as a diocesan priory of the Archdiocese of Baltimore. The All Saints Sisters actually were received into the Church before the erection of the Ordinariate and are not presently part of it, but have a history of a long and close relationship with Mount Calvary for nearly a century.

Membership Questions

Can I join Mount Calvary as a parishioner? If so, how?

Membership at Mount Calvary Catholic Church is independent of membership in the Ordinariate. About half of those currently worshipping with us are not of Anglican background. At the parish level there is no practical distinction between Catholics who are members of the Ordinariate and those who are not. All may serve at the altar, lead ministries and serve on the Parish Council. All Roman Catholics are welcome to be a part of Mount Calvary and to help fulfill our mission of enriching the broader Church. If you have not done so already, please speak with Fr. Scharbach for more information about joining our community.

Must I be a current or former Anglican in order to join the Ordinariate?

Not necessarily. While the Ordinariate exists as a particular bridge for Anglicans seeking to come into communion with the Catholic Church, it exists also as a vehicle for the New Evangelization, bringing souls to Christ through full communion with his Church. Non-Catholics and the unchurched are especially welcomed to consider joining the Ordinariate at Mount Calvary or any of the other area Ordinariate communities.

Are regular Catholics allowed to attend Mass at Mount Calvary?

Absolutely! All Catholics are welcome to attend Mass at Mount Calvary, regardless of whether it is celebrated according to the Divine Worship missal used by the Ordinariate and Mount Calvary, or a regular Roman Rite Mass.

Are members of Mount Calvary still Anglican?

Members of either Mount Calvary or the Personal Ordinariate of the Chair of St. Peter are Catholics of the Latin Rite, within the full communion of the Catholic Church, and by civil law they are known as 'Roman Catholics.' While their heritage and customs indicate that they are from the Anglican Tradition, members of the Ordinariate are not Anglicans.

Does joining Mount Calvary automatically make me a member of the Ordinariate?

No. Officially joining Mount Calvary does not automatically qualify you as a member of the Ordinariate. Nor is joining the Ordinariate necessary unless you wish to have certain sacraments (such as marriage or confirmation) celebrated at Mount Calvary.

About the Sacraments

If the Ordinariate is Catholic, why is the Mass at Mount Calvary so different from anything I usually see in regular Catholic parishes?

The Mass at Mount Calvary is celebrated according to Divine Worship: The Missal, which is actually a use, or variant, of the Roman Rite that you are likely accustomed to if you are a Catholic. It retains the same three-year lectionary, the same basic structure, much of the same liturgical calendar, and of course makes Christ present in his Eucharistic species of body, blood, soul and divinity like any Catholic Mass. Where it differs chiefly is in its elevated, hieratic English, its traditional rubrics and music (which are quite similar to the older, Extraordinary Form of the Roman Rite), and its penitential prayers, which more vividly evoke our humility and unworthiness before Christ our Lord. In short, while its language and rubrics are different, the substance is the same.

Does a Mass at Mount Calvary fulfill my Sunday Mass obligation as a Catholic?

Yes. Whether the Mass is celebrated according to Divine Worship: The Missal or the Roman Rite, attendance at any Ordinariate Mass fulfills your obligation (Canons 1247, 1248) to attend Mass on Sundays and holy days of obligation.

May any Catholic receive Communion at Mount Calvary?

Yes. The only requirements are those that apply with any Catholic Mass: 1) being in the state of grace (per Canons 916, 988), and 2) having fasted for one hour (for the sick 15 minutes if possible, no fast if fasting is not possible) (Canon 919).

Can I have my confession heard by a priest at Mount Calvary even if I am not a parishioner or a member of the Ordinariate?

Yes. Any Catholic may have his or her confession heard at Mount Calvary, just as he or she would at any other Catholic church, and all visiting Catholics are encouraged to do so. Confessions are heard at Mount Calvary a half hour before Mass, and on Tuesdays and Thursdays from 3:00-5:00 pm. You can also make an appointment with the pastor.

Are there resources for my children during the Mass at Mount Calvary?

Mount Calvary has a collection of children's books and toys available in the undercroft, accessible by the stairwells on the right and front sides of the building. Please talk with a parishioner if you need assistance.

I noticed that you have a communion rail. If I want to receive Communion, am I required to kneel at it?

Communicants at Divine Worship Masses receive Holy Communion kneeling at the altar unless prevented by health.

Why do you receive Communion on the tongue at Mount Calvary? Can I receive Communion in the hand?

We encourage communicants to consider the example of Masses celebrated by Pope Benedict XVI and Pope Francis, where the faithful receive the Host directly on the tongue. Reception on the tongue is an ancient and honored practice in both the Divine Worship and the Roman Rite. As with the Roman Rite, communicants have the right to receive the Host either on the tongue or in the hand.

Why do you receive Communion under both kinds at Mount Calvary? If I approach to receive Communion, am I required to receive both kinds?

Reception of Communion under both kinds is a longstanding tradition in Divine Worship liturgies, and the Ordinariate preserves that tradition. While you are encouraged to receive Communion in both the Host and the Precious Blood, the Host is sufficient, as Christ is equally present in both Eucharistic species.

Can an Ordinariate priest celebrate Mass at other Catholic parishes?

Yes. Priests of the Ordinariate are priests of the Roman Rite, and have the right to celebrate Mass, according to either the Divine Worship or the Roman Rite, in other Catholic parishes or chapels with the permission of the pastor, just like any Catholic priest. Ordinariate priests in the Archdiocese of Baltimore frequently do so, in fact.

I love the beauty of the church and the liturgy at Mount Calvary. What is necessary to have my wedding held here?

Mount Calvary is available for Catholic weddings of parishioners and non-parishioners, under the usual canonical conditions. If you are interested in having your wedding hosted at Mount Calvary, please contact the pastor, Fr. Scharbach, during regular officer hours or after Mass.

Is the choir available to sing at private engagements or weddings?

Mount Calvary's choir is available for weddings and other events as its scheduling permits. Choir members receive honoraria for singing outside regular liturgies. Please contact the office for arrangements in engaging the choir for your event.

About Mount Calvary

What was Mount Calvary before it joined the Catholic Church?

Mount Calvary was founded as a parish in the Episcopal Church at its present location and building in 1842, and quickly became known for its Anglo-Catholic traditions, derived from the Tractarian principles of the Oxford Movement. For more information on Mount Calvary's long and rich history, see our pamphlet on our history, or the history page on our website.

Is there any opportunity to talk to the pastor or parishioners at Mount Calvary?

Mount Calvary hosts a light brunch in the undercroft after both the 10:00am Sunday Mass, and visitors are encouraged to introduce themselves to the clergy and people of the parish at that time.

Is it true that Mount Calvary was the first community to join the Ordinariate in North America?

Mount Calvary became the first Anglican congregation in North America to vote to enter the Catholic Church when its vestry voted overwhelmingly on October 24, 2010, to seek admission into the Catholic Church as what was then referred to as an "Anglican Use" parish. Because of delays in negotiations over the settlement of the parish's property, Mount Calvary was admitted into the Ordinariate on January 22, 2012, several weeks after St. Peter the Rock in Fort Worth, Texas, and St. Luke's in Bladensburg, Maryland became the first parishes to formally be accepted into the Catholic Church in advance of the formal erection of the Personal Ordinariate of the Chair of St. Peter on January 1, 2012.

Why are there cushions instead of kneelers in the pews?

The cushions are actually called hassocks. Hassocks have long been used at Mount Calvary instead of pew kneelers. Hassocks, from the Old English hassuc, are an old Anglican tradition. Visitors are encouraged to use them during appropriate parts of Mass or for private devotions.

What is the small chapel at the entrance of the church used for?

The chapel at the entrance of the church, off to the left of the narthex, is the All Souls Chapel. It was created as the result of a special bequest of a longtime parishioner, Emily Stone-Alcock. Emily and her family are buried under the chapel, and Masses are said regularly for the repose of their souls. The chapel is still used regularly for weekday Masses.

Why do you have seven lamps in the sanctuary, and why is the center one white?

The number seven is one with rich numerological significance for the Catholic faith. The seven lamps represent the seven gifts of the Holy Spirit. The center lamp is the sanctuary (or altar) lamp, demarcated by a white, rather than a red, glass receptacle, in accordance with ancient liturgical tradition. The Church prescribes that at least one lamp should continually burn before the tabernacle, not only as an ornament of the altar, but for the purpose of worship.

There is a reliquary at the small altar on the right-side wall—which saint is venerated?

The relic is that of St. Edward the Confessor, the penultimate Anglo-Saxon King of England (1042-1066), and last king of the House of Wessex. His feast day is October 13, an optional memorial in the Ordinariate liturgical calendar. The relic has been in the honored possession of Mount Calvary for many years, and veneration is encouraged.

Is it true that Robert E. Lee and his family were once parishioners at Mount Calvary?

Yes, it is. As a U.S. Army officer before the Civil War, Robert E. Lee was stationed in Baltimore overseeing engineering work on Fort Carroll in Baltimore harbor. From 1848 until 1852, Lee and his family were very active parishioners at Mount Calvary Church. The house they lived in (long since demolished) was a short distance from Mount Calvary, roughly at the corner of the church parking lot at the intersection of Martin Luther King, Jr. Blvd and W. Madison St. A brass plaque in the narthex of the Church commemorates their membership here.

What is Mount Calvary's relationship with the Joseph Richey House next door? What about Dr. Bob's Place?

Mount Calvary has a long history of service to the poor of Baltimore. Together with the All Saints Sisters of the Poor, Mount Calvary in 1987 founded the Joseph Richey House, a hospice which serves dying people regardless of income. Located in buildings adjacent to Mount Calvary, the Richey House continues its ministry and has recently opened a children's wing. Known as Dr. Bob's Place, the children's hospice opened in June 2011. The Joseph Richey House and Dr. Bob's Place are ecumenical ministries, and Mount Calvary continues to have a supportive relationship with them, and they both remain in our daily Mass intentions and prayers.

This Week's Calendar

  • Sunday - May 26
    Trinity Sunday
    8:45 am - Legion of Mary
    9:00 am - Morning Prayer
    9:30 am - Confession
    10:00 am - Sung Mass
    11:30 am - Brunch
  • Monday - May 27
    Weekday Feria
    St Augustine of Canterbury, Bishop
    Memorial Day
    No public Mass
  • Tuesday - May 28
    Weekday Feria
    8:00 am - Morning Prayer
    8:30 am - Spoken Mass
  • Wednesday - May 29
    Weekday Feria
    St Paul VI, Pope
    12:10 pm - Spoken Mass
  • Thursday - May 30
    Weekday Feria
    8:00 am - Morning Prayer
    8:30 am - Spoken Mass
  • Friday - May 31
    Visitation of the Blessed Virgin Mary
    No Public Mass
  • Saturday - June 1
    Saint Justin, Martyr
    No Public Mass
  • Sunday - June 2
    Corpus Christi
    8:45 am - Legion of Mary
    9:00 am - Morning Prayer
    9:30 am - Confession
    10:00 am - Sung Mass
    11:30 am - Procession, Benediction, Parish Picnic

Location & Contact

Mount Calvary Catholic Church
816 N. Eutaw Street
Baltimore, MD 21201-4624

Phone: (410) 728-6140

Contact Us

About Mount Calvary

Mount Calvary is a Roman Catholic parish of the Personal Ordinariate of the Chair of St. Peter. The fruit of Pope Benedict XVI's apostolic constitution Anglicanorum coetibus, the Ordinariate is a nation-wide diocese for Catholics from an Anglican/Episcopalian background who seek to preserve their Anglican heritage...

Learn more

Contact Us

Mount Calvary Church
816 N. Eutaw Street
Baltimore, MD 21201-4624

Phone: (410) 728-6140

Contact us via our web form