The Reverend Michael Bowie preached at the Keble Mass.

Catholic Anglicans have been urged to remind the Church afresh of the giftedness of Holy Orders in the annual Keble Mass sermon, delivered by the Reverend Michael Bowie. 

Dr Bowie argued that Catholic Anglicans needed a coherent consensus about what exactly was “formed” in the process of priestly formation, to expose and avoid the banality and rootlessness of managerial and strategic leadership into which they were drifting. 

The annual Keble Mass is run by the Australian Church Union in honour of John Keble, one of the leaders of the Oxford Movement.

Union secretary Mary Harris said the event brought together people who were interested in the Anglo-Catholic side of the Church. Mrs Harris said the event was normally held around the anniversary of Keble’s Assize Sermon – as a celebration of the instigation of the Oxford movement. 

Mrs Harris said this movement had been significant to those people in the Diocese of Melbourne that would call themselves Anglo-Catholics.  

Dr Bowie discussed the nature of priesthood and the priestly character in his sermon, calling on priests to be walking sacraments.  

He said the failure to address the question of whether ordination effected a permanent change in the person ordained, and the nature of priesthood, had caused corrosive uncertainty in the church. 

Dr Bowie said splitting the priestly self from the personal self was both theologically and psychologically mistaken. 

“Splitting the priestly self from the personal self is also a psychologically dubious activity, with destructive results,” he said. 

“Clergy need to integrate faith and life even more urgently than other Christians because, whether we like it or not we are received as personifying the faith.”