Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Bound for the USA

This morning I attended an interview at the US Embassy in London to complete the process of applying for a R1 (religious worker's) visa. After the initial checking of papers and taking of fingerprints, a consular official confirmed in a 30 second interview that my visa had been approved. So I hope to be departing in the first few days of July to work pastorally in a diocese with which I have some familiarity (it's COLD in the winter!) I intend to keep my blog going with, hopefully, good news from the Church in the US.

I have spent 9+ years here in South Ashford. While it has had its challenges, I have grown to love the people greatly. I have been thinking for a while about whether or not the time is right for a change, and everything fell into place over the last year to indicate that this opportunity for a sabbatical year was right.

I am leaving my parish with mixed emotions but have placed this venture in God's hands. I have no plans to study in this sabbatical year although I shall take whatever opportunities arise to attend formative and informative courses/conferences etc, but mainly I shall be working pastorally as an assistant priest (parochial vicar). I am looking forward to working with another priest without bearing all the responsibility of a parish priest myself.

The sabbatical was agreed under our previous Archbishop Kevin McDonald. I am grateful to him for the permission he granted and to his successor Archbishop Peter Smith for the presumed continuance of that permission.

I am obviously grateful to the Bishop who is receiving me into his diocese and pray that I shall be of some service to him (or, at the very least, not be a cause of embarrassment!)

Please pray for my parish at this important time of change.

Sunday, June 13, 2010

Fifty Years of Faithful Priestly Service

On the concluding day of the Year for Priests, the Solemnity of the Sacred Heart, Father Kevin St Aubyn celebrated his Golden Jubilee of ordination. He remarked that in God's Providence his 25th, 40th and 50th anniversaries have all been on the feast of the Sacred Heart.

Father St Aubyn was a curate at my home parish of St Anselm's Tooting Bec. I remember him very well, when I was an impressionable young server, as a priest who was full of zeal and laughter. In the days when one priest would preach at all Masses, I remember him pacing up and down the sacristy rehearsing his homily while I was waiting in the wings as a boat bearer in preparation for the Gospel.

He was also Scout Leader and took us on camps with the parish Scout Troop. I remember him celebrating Mass - worthily and with dignity - in the huge camp tent.

He also has another claim to fame: he baptised my brother Stephen who is now parish priest at Good Shepherd Church, New Addington. Stephen was ordained some five years before me.

Father St Aubyn has been parish priest of Our Lady Immaculate at Whitstable for 31 years - and shows no sign of tiring!

During the celebration afterwards he was presented with a papal blessing:

and a Knights of St Columba stole.

I wish him every blessing and thank the Lord for Father Kevin's part in my vocation story.

UPDATE: had to laugh when I saw a LinkWithin link to my post on Raquel Welch and the pill. Father St Aubyn is a staunch defender of Humanae Vitae!

Farewells and thanks

As parishioners and some others know I will be on the move soon, if everything goes according to plan.

Our Divine Mercy group have already held a thank you and farewell lunch. Today many of those who attend the Sunday Masses in the usus antiquior joined together for a lunch kindly hosted by a certain member of our congregation where they graciously expressed their gratitude and presented me with a copy of a most wonderful book: The Catholic Priest, Image of Christ.

Here's a brief promotional video about the book:

It is published in English by Gracewing with the support of The Institute of Christ the Sovereign Priest at whose website you will find much more information.

I will be telling many groups how much I have learned from them. These good people patiently revealed to me the beauty of the more ancient form of the Liturgy. The 'Tridentine Mass' has been celebrated in the parish for a number of years, initially by visiting priests arranged by one of the above people, until I began to celebrate it myself a couple of years ago. They have been nothing but kind and generous and patient. I will be eternally grateful to them and they shall always be remembered in my prayers.

Thursday, June 10, 2010

Forty Hours commenced today at Our Lady of the Taper shrine today.

As mentioned before, the statue of Our Lady of the Taper will travel to London for the Papal Visit. Pictured above is the shrine Rector Father Jason Jones at the commencement of the Forty Hours.

Monday, June 7, 2010

Archbishop Patrick Kelly speaking at University of Kent in Canterury

I have just received news of this lecture taking place ... TOMORROW! I will try to attend in spite of the short notice. Please do so if you can.

Tuesday 8 June 6pm Lecture Theatre Woolf College UKC
(Woolf College is situated Giles Lane on left hand side opposite Gulbenkian Theatre)
Bishop Patrick Kelly: ‘Chalcedon:a Charter for Christian engagement with politics’
Host: Dr Stefan Rossbach
The Centre for the Study of Politics and Spirituality (CSPS) is pleased to announce the establishment of the Canterbury Lectures on Politics and Spirituality. The lecture series will provide political and religious leaders with an opportunity to reflect on the complex relationship between politics and spirituality.

No tickets are required. Apparently, 5.45pm is a good time to arrive (car park situated next to Woolf College), lecture at 6pm with Q&As at the end.

Sunday, June 6, 2010

Are you a dynamic Catholic?

A site worth checking.

Corpus Christi Blessed Sacrament Procession

We had our annual Blessed Sacrament Procession today, led by the children who made their First Communion last Sunday. Being half term week, a number were away on holiday, so numbers were a bit down. The weather forecast was for storms but we were preserved from even a drop of rain. (Photos by Maureen.)

Saturday, June 5, 2010

Bishop murdered in Turkey

News from euronews:

A Catholic bishop who was a leading figure in Christian communities in the Middle East was stabbed to death at his home in southern Turkey on Thursday, and police arrested his driver in connection with the attack.

The motive for the killing of Luigi Padovese, apostolic vicar for Anatolia, in the town of Iskenderun was not known. Previous attacks on Christians have raised concerns about the safety of religious minorities in Muslim Turkey.

Hatay Provincial Governor Mehmet Celalettin Lekesiz told the state-run news agency Anatolian there was no immediate evidence of a political motive and the bishop’s driver had been arrested.

Pope Benedict's telegram:
VATICAN CITY, 5 JUN 2010 (VIS) - The Holy Father, through Cardinal Secretary of State Tarcisio Bertone S.D.B., has sent the following English-language telegram of condolence to Archbishop Antonio Lucibello, apostolic nuncio to Turkey, for the death of Bishop Luigi Padovese O.F.M. Cap., apostolic vicar of Anatolia and president of the Turkish Episcopal Conference. Bishop Padovese was murdered in the Turkish city of Iskanderun on Thursday.

"Deeply saddened by the murder of Bishop Luigi Padovese, apostolic vicar of Anatolia, the Holy Father asks you kindly to convey his heartfelt condolences and the assurance of his closeness in prayer to the bishops, priests, religious and lay faithful of the Church in Turkey. He joins all of you in commending the noble soul of this beloved pastor to the infinite mercy of God our Father and in giving thanks for the selfless witness to the Gospel and resolute commitment to dialogue and reconciliation which characterized his priestly life and episcopal ministry. United with all who mourn Bishop Padovese in the hope which draws its certainty from the resurrection, His Holiness cordially imparts his apostolic blessing as a pledge of consolation and strength in our Lord Jesus Christ".
May we be ever mindful of priests and bishops who are heroic pastors in taking risks in accepting appointments in difficult circumstances. Requiescat in pace.

Poland Pilgrimage - the Dom Duszpasterski Hotel

Our group were accomodated at the excellent value Pastoral Lodge at Łagiewniki just outside the centre of Krakow. I would certainly recommend it. All rooms (shared or single) are en suite. A substantial breakfast is provided, and lunch and dinner may be booked, or guests may simply use the cafeteria.

Beata will organise an excellent programme. She booked Masses for us in the chapel of St Faustina beneath the basilica, the chapel of St John in the Wieliczka Salt Mine, the Basilica at Wodowice and the Convent Chapel where the relics of St Faustina are preserved. She also organised all our transport to our various destinations and tour guides. Nothing was too much for her. Staying at the Dom Duszpasterski was infinitely better than staying in a hotel. We were able to visit many places while maintaining the pilgrimage atmosphere, with easy access to exposition of the Blessed Sacrament 24/7, prayers/devotions in the convent chapel, etc. Some of our pilgrims even got up early to join the sisters at their Mass at 6.30am to savour the beautiful singing of the sisters.

Here's our group having dinner in the hotel.


Poland Pilgrimage Day 2 - Czesthowa

On Tuesday 1st we visited Czestochowa. The journey was awful - road works just outside Krakow. Took us one hour to get of the city, and two hours for the rest of the journey. But we made it in good time for Mass. We were booked to join a larger American group led by a priest Missionary of Our Lady of La Salette. The group was from Louisiana and so, naturally, they prayed for the resolution of the oil disaster in the Gulf of Mexico. They also had with them a young priest ordained for just two years and his parents.

When we arrived, the image of Our Lady was still covered. The daily unveiling took place at 1.30pm, just before the Mass. Our pilgrims said they found the unveiling, with the trumpet fanfare, an incredibly moving experience, as the face of Our Lady and the Child were gradually revealed. Our Lady's face has a rather haunting appearance.

Here's a photo of the covered image before Mass.

I'm afraid that, since I was concelebrating at the Mass, I have no photos of the uncovering, but hope you will be satisfied with this pic I took when I was there in February this year.

In the following picture you can see the sash that Pope John Paul II was wearing when he was shot on 13th May 1981:

Father Simon, one of the Pauline priests, gave us a brief guided tour. He is a charming man, named after the apostle Simon.

In the cloister of the monastery there are altars set up for Mass. They are in the open although sheltered from rain by the cloister, and people tend to just walk past. Nonetheless, it was edifying to see priests saying their Masses.

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

Concerned about the Papal Visit to the UK

Father Ray Blake has spoken out openly about concerns which I too have had. For a papal visit which is due to commence in just over 3 months time, there is surpringly little information being given and nothing being done to prepare our Catholic faithful to give His Holiness an enthusiastic welcome to the UK. In fact, the plan seems to be to limit numbers as far as possible.

I too held the Pentecost Sunday collection but with very mixed feelings. Given that, probably, none of my parishioners will get the opportunity to see the Holy Father, I held it as a sign of solidarity with the Pope, and encouraged the people to be generous as an expression of their feelings of affective communion with him.

Last week I, along with other parish priests, received a letter from our Diocesan Youth Service informing us that it has been decided that one - yes, just one - young person from every parish in the country is invited to attend a special youth event with Pope Benedict. Parish priests are to submit the name of this lucky young person. Just one? Why are we not encouraging bus loads of faithful - young and old - to attend these events?

It would be impossible for me, I think, to select one young parishioner for this event. It would be far too daunting. But I'm pretty sure I could get a group of youngsters - all my servers, for instance, and those who have recently been confirmed - to go together.

Since the centrepiece of the Pope's visit will be the beatification of John Henry Newman, we should be producing easy-to-digest pamphlets/booklets about Newman's thought and spirituality, his conversion to the Church of Rome, etc. This is a real opportunity being missed. Is the Hierarchy embarassed by this visit?

I will be away in the US on sabbatical when His Holiness visits. I feel a bit guilty about not being in Britain to
  1. support the Holy Father and
  2. lead my parishioners in attending the various events.
They also have said they are sorry I won't be with them to lead them at this important time. But I am beginning to feel that I would be ashamed of the poor show that will be offered to our beloved and saintly Holy Father.

Now I see that Damian Thompson has blogged about chaos behind the scenes as Church's costs 'double to £14 million' and about the hijacking of the visit for promoting the Blairite agenda of inter-faith dialogue, blah blah blah. I'm sure there are many who would rejoice at this visit being a failure. I hope the faithful will turn up to events, with our without tickets, and show their support and love for the Successor of Peter and Vicar of Christ. They did it for St Therese!


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