FREDERICTON, NB, Canada - Richard Harris is ready to work. Since retiring two years ago, he has longed to return to a life of full and active ministry — which he now joyfully does as one of the newest priests for the Ordinariate.
Father Harris was ordained to the Catholic priesthood on Sept. 11 at the Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception in New Brunswick. The Most Rev. Robert Harris, Bishop of Saint John, presided at Harris’ ordination to the transitional diaconate on Aug. 14 and to the priesthood in September. Msgr. Jeffrey Steenson, Ordinary of the Personal Ordinariate of the Chair of St. Peter, was in attendance at Father Harris’ ordination to the priesthood.
Father Harris will minister within the Diocese of Saint John, NB.
After serving as an electronics technician in the U.S. Coast Guard, Father Harris earned a degree from Chico State College in California, then worked as an Episcopal priest in California and Newfoundland.
Raised in the Episcopal Church, Father Harris said he felt drawn to Catholic theology, devotion and worship throughout his faith life. After becoming an Episcopalian priest in 1974, he served as rector at multiple Anglican parishes in Canada – yet felt increasingly felt called to the Catholic Church as the years passed.
“It was with great joy that I and others greeted Pope Benedict XVI’s Apostolic Constitution, Anglicanorum Coetibus, and the way it opened for us to enter into full communion with the See of Peter,” said Father Harris, referring to the 2009 papal document that allowed Anglican groups to enter the Catholic Church.
He was received into the Catholic Church in June 2013 at St. Columba Parish, a Fredericton Junction mission of Sts. John and Paul Parish.
Father Harris will serve the Catholic community of Our Lady of the Sign, an Ordinariate community that currently shares space with Our Lady of Fatima Catholic Church. Though Our Lady of the Sign currently has 13 members, the way is now open for Father Harris to draw more people to the Ordinariate community.
“I want to see Our Lady of the Sign become a very viable and vibrant part of the Catholic community in the Fredericton area,” he said. “I want to work on developing a congregation of former Anglicans who want to be in communion with the Catholic Church.”
After his priestly ordination, Father Harris also plans to assist with teaching theology at a local high school, as well as offering chaplaincy to the sick.
“I pray that, with the continued assistance of the Blessed Virgin Mary and all the Saints and Angels, I may worthily offer my priesthood to God for His glory,” he said. “My thanks go to the Holy Father, Pope Francis, who gave permission for my ordination, and to all who have demonstrated a strong faith in my priestly vocation and have encouraged me to persevere.”
Father Harris and his wife, Margaret, have three children.