Monday, 22 December 2008

And so this is Christmas (almost)

We are quickly approaching Christmas and this office will be closed from tomorrow morning until 9th January. I hope everyone gets the opportunity of a break over Christmas. In Medieval England the holiday extended from Christmas Day to Plough Monday which this year would be 12th January. It was an opportunity for hard working people to have a prolonged break and celebration during the hardest part of the year. Perhaps we have something to learn from our medieval ancestors for as we know only to well some shops will be open again on Boxing Day and the consumer whirr will begin once more.

It appears in this office that we are almost replicating the medieval tradition above but in fact 6th-8th January is the annual meeting of the Schools and Pastoral Teams of the Southern Province i.e. Plymouth, Portsmouth, Clifton, Southwark and of course Arundel & Brighton which is being hosted in Eastbourne and which I will be attending. We will amongst other things be reflecting on hope as outlined in the Pope's last encyclical Spe Salvi (Saved in Hope). A copy of the encyclical is available from the Diocesan Bookshop via email on It will be good to begin the year reflecting on hope and how we might be messengers of God's hope in the work that we do in the Southern Province.
Wishing you all a happy and holy Christmas and blessed New Year:
Mark Woods - A&B Diocese Communications Officer

'My soul proclaims the greatness of the Lord and my spirit exults in God my saviour' (Lk 1:46)

Friday, 19 December 2008

Looking to the Future

The latest Diosecan Directory has just been printed. The Directory contains information not only about parishes and clergy in the diocese but also about schools and all the diocesan offices. It is available now at the price £3.80 plus post and packing from the Diocesan Bookshop and can be ordered by emailing

A Directory, however, cannot give a full picture of the diocese as it is mainly contains facts and figures but the Bishop in his introduction gives a glimpse of the wider picture. He speaks of the positive signs for the future in the diocese with the beginnings of the Diocesan Pastoral Council, the completion of a brand new Church in Woking and the young people who went to World Youth Day and Lourdes with him. He says of the new Church "it is a clear statement about our optimimsm for the future" and of the young people "a further cause for optimism."

Like Bishop Kieran in this season of hope and expectancy "I pray tht 2009 will bring you many blessings and enrich you with hope."

It is you, O Lord, who are my hope (Psalm 70)

Wednesday, 17 December 2008

The Lourdes Jubilee Closes

The Jubilee Year celebrating 150 years of the appearance of the apparitions to St Bernadette in Lourdes in the south of France has just come to an end on the Feast of the Immaculate Conception on 8th December. This is of course the most appropriate of feasts as part of the declaration of 'The Lady' to Bernadette was that she was 'The Immaculate Conception'.
Thousands of pilgrimages made their way to Lourdes in this Jubilee Year and it was for many a time of great blessing. One of the pilgrims was Pope Benedict who spent several days there in September. Bishop Kieran from this diocese also led a pilgrimage of over 1,000 people for a week of prayer, celebration and healing. The pilgrimage happens every year but for this Jubilee Year the numbers participating were greater than ever, and more people than ever were able to share in the joy of Lourdes on the diocesan pilgrimage.
Bishop Kieran will again be leading another pilgrimage from the diocese from 23rd - 31st July 2009 and application forms will be available for all those interested in going from January 2009 from the Lourdes Pilgrimage Office, School Lane, Storrington RH20 4LL - Though it will not be the Jubilee Year nevertheless the miracle of Lourdes will still be available for all who share in this pilgrimage.

Tuesday, 9 December 2008

A Time of Hope

Advent is of course a time of hope and expectation. In a world filled with darkness and evil, whether we look at Zimbabwe or the Congo or survey the financial crisis all around us then hope seems illogical. Yet it is at the heart of the Christian message. We are all called to be a people of hope, to hope even there seems no hope.

For instance people are often dismayed by the collapse in the number of those entering religious life in this country. Yet it is not a hopeless situation. This summer, for example I was in France and visited the Abbaye de Maumont which is a community of some 55 Nuns following the ancient Benedictine rule. They seemed to be of all ages from their mid-twenties to their nineties. Some communities clearly are still showing signs of vitality and life. In our own diocese we had a recent visit from the Community of St John to lead a parish mission and retreat in Rottingdean near Brighton. This is a growing community with over 500 brothers and 450 sisters across the globe and a couple of the brothers originally come from this diocese . Last summer also saw the simple profession of Sr Joanna Harrison (pictured above right) from Brighton in our diocese as a Cistercian Nun at Holy Cross Abbey in Whitland, Wales. There are many examples of new and ancient religious orders that are flourishing in this day because their charism responds to the needs of our time even as other orders diminish. These religious offer a life of hope in our hopeless world.

'Those who hope in the Lord renew their strength, they put on wings like eagles'. (Is 40:31)

Monday, 8 December 2008

Stella Maris - Star of the Sea

Well it has been over a week since the last blog entry and the excuse this time is not internet failure or conferences but illness. Deadly 'man flu' laid me low for the whole week and am now only just recovered.

There is a lot that has happened over the last week and many news stories to reflect on both inside and outside the diocese but one group of people came to mind especially as we approach the festive season. Many of the gifts and gadgets we will buy or buy for others and some of the food we eat over the few days will have travelled thousand of miles by ship to reach our shores. The people who bring all these goods, seamen from every part of the world often live a lonely and difficult life, far from home for many months. Some must also put up with poor pay and conditions. This is a good time of year to remember their efforts, and to help and support them through the Apostleship of the Sea, the Catholic Church's organisation and charity in England, Wales and Scotland which works all year round for seamen. It not only provides support for seamen through chaplainces in many of the ports but also acts as a voice for them by lobbying government and shipping businesses on their behalf. Please support them with your prayers and generosity.
The icon above is that of Mary, Stella Maris, patroness of the worldwide Apostleship of the Sea organisation.

Immaculate Mary - Pray for us
Our Lady, Star of the Sea - Pray for Us

Monday, 1 December 2008

St Lawrence Martyr and Deacon

This Sunday Pope Benedict was in the Basilica of St Lawrence (San Lorenzo fuori le mure) in Rome in order to celebrate 1,750 anniversary of the martyrdom of St Lawrence the Deacon (see icon right). The Pope speaking of St Lawrence remembered "his solicitude for the poor, his generous service to the Church of Rome in the field of charity work, and his faithfulness to the Pope to the point of following him in the supreme trial of martyrdom ". He remains an example and inspiration for the renewed diaconate in this age.
Last week was the annual meeting of Directors of Deacon Formation and Deacon delelgates in Leeds which reflects and considers the role of deacons in this modern age. Attending the conference was illumating as we heard about the forthcoming Directory on Diaconate Formation subject to recognito (approval) from Rome and the development of the diaconate in Ireland. The first 24 Irish students are this year beginning their training and preparation. There was a tremendously fruitful discussion on this and other issues and we all came away encouraged.
In this diocese there are some 32 active deacons with another 6 in training and vocations continue to grow to this aspect of ordained ministry. If you want to find out more about the diaconate then they are included on the Diocesan Vocations website.
Please pray for your deacons and those in training, and that more men, married and single will put themselves forward for this ancient ministry being rediscovered anew.

Jesus said "And I tell you that many will come from east and west to take their places with Abraham and Isaac and Jacob at the feast in the kingdom of heaven." (Mt 8:11)

Thursday, 27 November 2008

Back On-Line

Well we came back on line at the Dabcec Offices fully on Monday of this week but there was no time to up date the blog until today as I was away for 2 days at a Conference and did not have access to the web. We are now so reliant on this new technology for modern day communications that when we lose internet connection or don't have access to the technology then we feel at a loss. It was interesting today to hold discussions in the office with a social networking communications academic who is helping us think about social communications in the Diocese. We have to make best use of all these communication tools as the Pope will remind us in his next World Communications Day message in 2009.
Ultimately the truth is, of course, that useful as all this new technology is, nevertheless as we approach Advent we are reminded of something greater, the ongoing communication of God in history and most especially in the incarnation of Jesus Christ, the Word made flesh. It is a communication that reaches across time and space and calls us to something deeper than merely a 'facebook' relationship with God and each other. It is a relationship where to paraphase the motto of Servant of God, John Henry Newman (see picture below), heart must speak to heart. Our communications whether new or old must echo this and try to offer something deeper rather than something superficial. The statement on next year's World Communications Day reminds that we must develop this in the 'new environment and new culture' of the modern media.

Jesus said; "Stay awake and ready, because you do not know the hour when the Son of Man is coming." (Mt 24:42-44)

Thursday, 20 November 2008

Busy Line or rather No Line!

A slight disaster has struck the Diocesan Education Centre, where the Communications Office is based, when we lost our internet connection last Friday afternoon. It has meant no emails and no access to the Diocesan website and this blog since last Friday. It appears we will be without internet until at least next Wednesday 26 November so there will be only a few enteries on the blog over the next few days through access elsewhere.

It also means that although emails can now be accessed remotely we may have lost some emails and so if you think you sent one and have not received a reply then it is probably best to ring at least for the next week. The telephone number for the centre is 01293 515666 and then follow the instructions to reach the person you need. The Communications Office can be contacted directly on 01293 651170.

Please be patient and bear with us. Technology is wonderful but then again ...

'The Lion of the tribe of Judah, the Root of David, has triumphed, and he will open the scroll'
(Rev 5:5)

Tuesday, 11 November 2008

You are a Priest Forever

This will be the only entry this week on the blog as I will be joining four friends on Wednesday who are all celebrating 20 years of priesthood. A fifth is unable to attend as he has just become an American citizen and he not yet got the official permission to travel. In an age when impermance and perserverance seems the norm it is encouraging that these five have each served the Lord in twenty years of priesthood. They are certainly an inspiration to me in my marriage and diaconate.

Then as now the Lord continues to call people to realize their vocations to the priesthood, religous life, diaconate and other forms of life. Individuals just need to hear and listen to the call and we as a Church need to promote vocations to all including the priesthood. It is good news that the Bishops' Conference has raised additional funds of £8 million of which some will be supporting the ongoing and expanding work of the National Office for Vocations.

In our own diocese we recently held a Discovering Priesthood Day jointly with Southwark Archdiocese when a number of young men from both dioceses meet to get an idea about life in seminary but more importantly about priestly life. In the picture our Vocations Director Fr Paul Turner is shown next to those who joined them for the day. For more information about the day then visit the Southwark Vocations Blog and our own Arundel & Brighton Vocations Website.

This is not to forget other vocations including married life, religious life and the diaconate and so on which also feature on the National Vocations website. Some such as married life has also received funding from the Bishops' Conference.

'God’s grace has been revealed, and it has made salvation possible for the whole human race and taught us that what we have to do is to give up everything that does not lead to God, and all our worldly ambitions'
(Titus 2)

Friday, 7 November 2008

It's Time to Congo!

Yesterday's blog was about the necessity of doing Justice and Peace as a basis element of our Catholic faith and there is a real need for us to do that through charitable giving to the crisis in the Congo. CAFOD has launched a £1 million pound appeal to support emergency relief in the eastern Congo.
They are asking parishes to hold an emergency appeal if possible. Next weekend and the weekend after there are designated collections but not this weekend. They are also asking individuals to give generously in a mass mail out.
CAFOD is probably one of the best placed organisations to help in this area of the Congo through Caritas Internationalis, the international federation of Catholic agencies and also through exisitng partners such as Caritas Goma, the local diocesan aid agency. Please give generously!

'My brothers and dear friends, do not give way but remain faithful in the Lord' (Philippians 4:1)

Thursday, 6 November 2008

Doing Justice and Peace

Earlier enteries in the blog refer to the Bishops' Synod on the 'Word of God' which has just come to a close in Rome. We await a post-Synodial Apostolic Exhortation - a personal written summary and reflection drawn up by Pope Benedict from all the inputs and recommendations from the Bishops. At the same time we are also awaiting an Encyclical, a papal letter from Pope Benedict on social justice. Undoubtedly both documents will be well worth reading when they emerge either on the Vatican website or in hard copy from the Catholic Truth Society.

An earlier Synod on 'Justice in the World' reminded Catholics that "action on behalf of justice and participation in the transformation of the world fully appear to us as a constitutive dimension of the preaching of the Gospel, or, in other words, of the Church's mission for the redemption of the human race and its liberation from every oppressive situation." (n.6)

Such bold statements do, of course, require that individuals and local Church communities actually make this a reality. There are some who stand out and in English Martyrs, Goring next week they will be celebrating the funeral of Doris Hayes who during her life was a great supporter of justice and peace through her work with many organisations including CAFOD and Action by Christians Against Torture (ACAT) - this latter organisation is a good alternative for those of us unhappy with Amnesty International's current stance on abortion.
Doris continued to write letters on behalf of ACAT well into old age until failing sight eventually prevented her. Please pray that she may rest in peace and that we might like her make action for justice a fundamental part of our Christian life.
'I believe nothing can happen that will outweigh the supreme advantage of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord.' (Philippians 3:8)

Tuesday, 4 November 2008

He's a Spaceman and He's in Surrey

This coming Saturday, 8th November, the parish of Christ the Prince of Peace, Weybridge, Surrey welcomes Br. Guy Consolmagno, SJ an astronomer who works for the Vatican Observatory . He will be making a series of presentations to parishioners and others on ‘Finding God in Space’ starting at 11.15am in the parish hall. Anyone is welcome to attend.

It is obviously exciting for the parish to have Guy come and speak to them as Guy, who is a member of the Jesuit order, is amongst other things the curator of the Vatican meteorite collection in Castel Gandolfo near Rome, Italy. His work focuses on the links between asteroids and meteorites, and the origins and evolution of small bodies in the solar system. He believes in the need for science and religion to work alongside one another rather than as competing ideologies.

Castel Gandolfo has been the Headquarters of the Vatican Observatory since 1930s but it was preceded by several earlier Observatories in Rome, the first being in 16th Century. It is one of the oldest continuous astronomical institutes in the world. Since 1981 a sister Observatory has operated in Tucson, Arizona, USA because of the brightening skies over Castel Gandolfo.

Guy is the author of several popular astronomy books including 'Intelligent Life in the Universe? Catholic belief and the search for extraterrestrial intelligent life'. (Catholic Truth Society) as well as the BBC radio series ‘A Brief History of the End of Everything’.

There was also a celebration of another Jesuit recently in Hastings who also saw the links between the cosmos and faith. This was Fr Pierre Teilhard de Chardin SJ who spent some of his Jesuit training in Hastings, in exile from the French anti-clerical government of the time. A blue plaque (see left) was recently dedicated to him there by the local council and the Teilhard de Chardin Society. His most famous books printed posthumously are perhaps 'The Phenomenon of Man' and 'The Divine Milieu'. His work was and is controversial and some of his theories were condemned by the then Holy Office in 1962. This is still the official Church view, though he was warmly appreciated on the hundredth anniversary of his birth in 1981 in the Vatican Newspaper, Osservatore Romano by Cardinal Casoroli. Indeed some theologians such as Henri de Lubac SJ have written works in support of him. He certainly provokes debate. A very interesting article on him and his theology can, of course, be found on Wikipedia

Praise God in his holy place,
praise him in his might heavens.
Praise him for his powerful deeds,
praise his surpassing greatness.
(Psalm 150)

Friday, 31 October 2008

The Word of God Alive and Active

This Sunday brings us to the Feast of All Saints. A day when we give thanks for the lives of those who now share their lives in praise of God in Heaven. They are a reminder that we must direct our lives to growing in holiness and fidelity to the Lord.

The recent Synod of Bishops in Rome which came to an end last weekend is linked to this desire for holiness. It was focused on the Word of God and reminded us that as Catholic Christian we are feed both at the Table of the Word and the Table of the Lord i.e. Scripture and Eucharist united in the person of Jesus Christ.

Whilst there was perhaps nothing startling in the final 55 propositions from the Synod, except perhaps the suggestion that women as well as men might be instituted as Lectors (n.17), nevertheless there was an important recommitment to bring the Word of God more clearly into the lives of Catholics. This is to be achieved by, amongst other things, better preaching from clergy, lectio divina (prayerful reading of the Bible) and using modern means of communication to promote study and prayer on the Scriptures.

The 55 propositions are available to read in Italian.

The Diocese for its part is offering Advent reflections based around the Sunday Scriptures as well as planing a Lenten resource focused on the Year of St Paul. As well Liturgy Adviser, Barbara Hopper is always happy to help train readers both in understanding the role of Scriptures in the Mass and also offering them practical advice and skills on proclaiming God's Word at Mass. As well the Diocesan Bookshop contains a whole wide selection of books and resource on the Scriptures.

Pope Benedict XVI in his homily at the closing Mass of the Synod said
"Let us pray that from this renewed listening to the Word of God, guided by the action of the Holy Spirit, an authentic renewal of the universal Church may spring forth, as well as of every Christian community."

Tuesday, 28 October 2008

Catholics in Space, Know Popery and Singing Catholics!

As well as all the many events that the Diocesan Teams offer to the people of the Diocese many individual parishes offer interesting and different events and activities. On the diocesan front this weekend the Justice & Peace Commission have a day on the environment and the Marriage and Family Life team on home as a holy place.
In the parishes meanwhile there are three very interesting events coming up in parishes across the Diocese in the next few weeks. On 6th November, the evening after Bonfire Night, St Pancras, Lewes, East Sussex has its second aptly named 'Know Popery Lecture' on the life of Bishop Challoner (portrait above) who was born in Lewes.
Then on 8th November Christ the King parish in Weybridge, Surrey has the world renowned Vatican Cosmologist, Br Guy Consolmagno SJ speaking on 'Finding God in Space'. And then towards the end of November on 22nd there is a liturgical and musical day called 'Catholics Can Sing' at St Mary Magdalen's in Brighton. All in all a wonderful selection of days on a variety of subjects for individuals in the diocese to engage in. All details can be found via the links and on the diocesan website

Rejoice in the Lord always!

Monday, 27 October 2008

New Church for Woking

Last Wednesday saw the dedication of a brand new church in the Diocese in Woking, Surrey. The decision to build a new church for Woking began under Bishop Cormac and came to fruition 14 years later under Bishop Kieran, overseen throughout the process by a very patient parish priest, Fr Frank Harrington.
On what one parishioner called 'once in a lifetime' occasion the new church was dedicated and consecrated by Bishop Kieran in the presence of the now Cardinal Cormac together with a packed congregation and over 40 clergy, priests and deacons from the diocese and beyond. The people of Woking not only have a new church, which according to one parishioner I spoke to, has already become a popular place for people to come in a pray but also a wonderful set of offices and meeting rooms that allow the parish to reach out beyond the church building to the community around. This was reflected in the presence of not only the Mayor and Mayoress of Woking but also clergy from other christian communities and a local muslim Imam.

St Dunstan Pray for us

Thursday, 23 October 2008

Visiting Others

The last two days have involved visits to others to understand better the communication needs of the diocese. The first on Wednesday was to St Cuthman's Retreat Centre in Coolham near Horsham. It really is a beautiful place that is at the heart of the pastoral work of the diocese, not only to our own clergy and people but to the wider world as well. Set in stunning countryside it offers a place of quiet, prayer and rest to all who come either for a day in one of the Hermit Huts or for a couple of days in the House in pleasant comfortable rooms. Denise Mitchell, the relatively new Director of St Cuthman's is working hard to build on good beginnings over the last 7 years to continue developing and expanding the work the House does to offer a place of stillness in a hurrying world. Do have a look at their website The picture above says it all!

Today the second visit was to the Anglican Diocese of Chichester and their Communications Team, David and Lisa. We had much in common in the two jobs and obtained a couple of good ideas from them. We hope as well there are a couple of ways in which we can work and cooperate together to bring the Gospel to others. There will be more on this in future as it develops. You might like to visit their newly launched website

Jesus said: I came to set fire to the world and how I wish it were blazing now! (Luke 12:49)

Monday, 20 October 2008

Acting on the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Bill

There will be the third reading in Parliament of the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Bill this Wednesday 22nd October. It is an important Bill not only becomes of serious ethical concerns regarding the creation of human/animal hybrids but also because the Bill is being used through various amendments to the Bill as means of expanding and liberalising access to abortion. It is vital that as many people as possible contact their MP before Wednesday and express in their own words in a positive and non-emotive way why the amendments, if allowed by the Speaker of the House, should not be passed.

More information on this including a podcast from Archbishop Peter Smith (pictured above) and how to contact your MP are available on the Bishops' Conference website and the campaigning site

'We are God's work of art, created in Christ Jesus to live the good life as from the beginning he had meant us to live.' (Ephesians 1:10)

Friday, 17 October 2008

The Diocese Celebrates St Philip Howard

This Sunday 29th Sunday in Ordinary Time is replaced as we celebrate the Feast of St Philip Howard as a Solemnity in the Diocese. St Philip was of course the Earl of Arundel whose descendants still reside in Arundel Castle, Arundel in West Sussex and whose descendant, Duke Henry was to pay for the building of the Catholic parish church of St Philip Neri. On the founding of the Diocese of Arundel & Brighton in 1965 this parish church became the Cathedral which was dedicated to Our Lady Assumed into Heaven and St Philip Howard. The relics and tomb of the saint are now in the Cathedral and the statue of him and his faithful dog stand over his tomb.
For those who wish to join in the celebrations of this saint there will be festal Mass at 3pm in Arundel Cathedral presided over by Bishop Kieran Conry. We remember that he gave up power, privilege and position in becoming a Catholic and was willing to face death rather than deny his faith. A brand new documentary on his life is available as a DVD from a local production company, Mary's Dowry Productions based in Worthing.

Our minds turn as well this Sunday to the many Christians around the world who do not enjoy a secure life as we do but nevertheless live their faith joyfully in adversity just as St Philip did. This Sunday is World Mission Sunday the theme for which is ‘Help others to see Jesus’. In England and Wales, the collection on World Mission Sunday helps to support 194,855 schools, 5,246 hospitals, 17,530 dispensaries, 577 leprosy centres and 80,560 social and pastoral projects. We would ask you to be generous to our fellow Christians around the world.
For more information click here

Jesus said: "You will be hated by all men on account of my name; but the man who stands firm to the end will be saved" (Matthew 10:22)

Thursday, 16 October 2008

New Bishop for Menevia

Apologies for no entry this week on the blog until today but time and tide did not allow.
We would like, however, in this short entry to offer congratulations to Bishop Tom Burns on his appointment to the Diocese of Menevia in Wales from the Bishopric of the Forces.
More information including an interview with him and biography can be found on the Catholic Communications Network Website.

'From Paul, appointed by God to be an apostle of Christ Jesus, to the saints who are faithful to Christ Jesus: Grace and peace to you from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ' (Eph 1:1)

Friday, 10 October 2008

May the Choirs of Angels Come to Greet You

Today's work has been touched by real sadness with the funerals of two children Ellie and Isobelle in Eastleigh. These were two young children who were killed by their father who then went on to kill himself. It had become a big media story and both national and local media were very interested in it. In such circumstances fellow Diocesan Communications Officers are generally happy to support each other and as Arundel & Brighton's Communication officer I was there supporting the work of the Portsmouth Officer liaising with the media and police. The aim is to ensure that the media get a story but not at the expense of the grieving families and invasion of their privacy. Cooperating positively with them enabled this to happen.

The lesson for people in parishes to take is that if this sort of thing happens in your parish then contact the Communications Office in your diocese and they can help you handle such difficult situations in a positive way.

Finally can I ask you all to pray for these two little children that with the angels they may speed to paradise and be enfolded in the mercy of God for all eternity, and that the mother, Kerrie and all their family be comforted in this time of anguish.

I have come that you may have life and life to the full (John 10:10)

Tuesday, 7 October 2008

Recognition on a Wet Tuesday

Following on from the recognitio (formal approval) given by the Vatican to the United States Bishops, the Bishops of England & Wales have received official approval for the newly translated Order of Mass for the Roman Missal. Importantly the Vatican has said that the new Order of Mass is not for immediate use so as to give time for training and catechesis as well as giving composers time to look at new musical settings for the new texts. This is something that the diocese and particular the Liturgy Adviser and Commission will be working on over the coming years, so watch this space.
For more information and a press release from ICEL go to the recent newsletter on the Liturgy Office website of the Bishops' Conference.

On a more local note Bishop Kieran will be joining the young people of the diocese of the annual Youth Gather event which this year is to be held at Woldingham School, Woldingham in Surrey. Ray Mooney, the diocesan Youth Adviser is hoping that today's rain will have disappeared and as last year it will be a bright and beautifal day. Following Mass the Bishop will lead them off on a sponsored walk over several miles. This year they are raising money for a project to support abandoned children from slums in Kerala in India, CAFOD, and a project by one of our secondary schools (St John the Baptist in Woking) to build a school in Africa. We wish them well and it is not of course too late for youth groups and schools to come along. Just let Ray Mooney know you are coming.

The Lord answered: ‘Martha, Martha,’ he said ‘you worry and fret about so many things, and yet few are needed, indeed only one. It is Mary who has chosen the better part; it is not to be taken from her.’ (Luke 10:42)

Friday, 3 October 2008

Oh the Word of My Lord

With the start of the Bishops' Synod on the Word of God this coming weekend and the current focus on St Paul and his epistles this year, it puts to bed once and for all any suggestions that Catholics do not take Scripture seriously. In a similar vein this diocese has once again put together a series of reflections for Advent, this year focussing on Paul's letters and the Gospel for each Sunday of Advent. They offer people the opportunity either in a group or as an individual to reflect on and deepen their knowledge of the Scriptures that we hear Sunday by Sunday. Importantly these reflections are available to all within and without the diocese as a free download or for a mere £1.50 from the Diocesan Bookshop at DABCEC in Crawley. The icon shown on the cover of the booklet is that of Our Lady Seat of Wisdon (Sedes Sapientiae) a gift from Pope John Paul II to University students across the world.

Meditation and reflection on the Word of God should lead us to deeper contemplation of the mystery of God's salvific will for the world, and to action in spreading God's message by word and deed. The tools to assist in this are available either from the diocese in its Pastoral Team or nationally from any number of sources. So recently on Home Mission Sunday, the Bishops' agency for evangelisation provided a free DVD to all parishes on evangelisation. Today as well, for example, we hold the CAFOD Harvest Fast Day which is one way in which we can support the work of the Church across the world with those who are poor. This office also received information today from the organisation called Action by Christians against Torture, an ecumencial body which runs an annual Christmas Card Campaign for those who have been wrongly imprisoned for their beliefs. There are many other ways in which we can respond to God's Word our lives, we just have to listen.

Finally in the context of reflecting on the Word of God it is worth mentioning that this Sunday is Rosary Sunday. In the Rosary we now begin a month of devotion to Mary, the Mother of God who listened to God's Word and did his will. Just as the Scriptures, the prayer of the Rosary always points us to the Word made flesh, Jesus Christ. A useful guide to praying the Rosary is provided by New Advent.

Jesus said: "Anyone who listens to you listens to me." (Luke 10:16)

Tuesday, 30 September 2008

And on to Rome

The last entry spoke of seminarians and you may have noticed that this year the diocese has no students in Rome. Of the last two students in Rome, Andy Moss has gone off to Canada for his Canon Law studies and Fr Aaron Spinelli is now an assistant priest in Guildford. Fortunately the Venerable English College in Rome still has an A&B presence in the shape of Fr Tony Milner who is the Theology Tutor and in a round about way Mgr Bryan Chestle who, though now a member of the Papal Household, was a priest of the diocese. The college is now on retreat at the beautiful Villa Palazzola which is open the rest of the year to those looking for peace and tranquility outside of Rome. The Villa is on the edge of Lake Albano opposite Castel Gandolfo where the Pope Benedict spends much of the summer months. He has just left to return to the Vatican and in his final address on Saturday before saying goodbye to the staff on Monday he dealt with the issue of tourism and the environment. He said humanity "has the duty to protect the treasure of Creation, and to be determined in opposing the indiscriminate use of the earth's goods." Care for creation does seem to be one of the key themes of this Pope's pontificate.

Another key theme of his pontificate appears to be the role of Scripture and the Fathers of the Church. This comes together today on the feast of St Jerome, Doctor and Father of the Church, most well known for his translation of the Bible into Latin, known as the Vulgate. The revised version of the Vulgate (available from the Diocesan Bookshop) is still the standard Latin text of the Church. He is also back in Rome for the start of the next Synod of Bishops from 5-26 October on 'The Word of God in the Life and Mission of the Church' which was his choice of subject and reflects his concern for the proper place of Scripture in the life of the Church.

'Ignorance of Scriptures is ignorance of Christ' (St Jerome)

Monday, 29 September 2008

And back to Arundel

Friday evening and the newly ordained Fr Bruno Clifton OP offered a Mass of Thanksgiving at Arundel Cathedral for his family and the parishioners of the Cathedral Parish in which he grew up. Fr Bruno who is a member of the Dominican Order was ordained as a priest the weekend before in Edinburgh. Next to him on the sanctuary was his father, David Clifton (both pictured right) who is a deacon of Arundel & Brighton Diocese based at the Cathedral. Fr Bruno in his homily reflected on how the words and actions of St Maximilian Klobe inspired him in his last few weeks before ordination. The saint on being asked by his guards at Auschwitz concentration camp as to why he had offered himself in place of the young family man said "I am a Catholic priest and I give my life to save others." We see in St Maximilian that loving to the end is the consequence of living our life in Christ. Fr Bruno wished to live his priesthood in the friendship of Christ so that he too would be prepared to say with St Maximilian: "I am a Catholic priest and I give my life to save others."

After the celebration of Mass in the Cathedral Fr Bruno moved to the baronial hall of Arundel Castle for a reception with friends, family, parishioners and local clergy. It was an opportunity for him to meet and chat with so many well wishers (picture left shows Fr Bruno chatting to Deacon Seamus Mahon). He then returned the next day to Edinburgh to continue his work at the University Catholic Chaplaincy. We wish him well in his priestly ministry in the years ahead.

Earlier in the week Bishop Kieran and Vocations Director, Paul Turner met with the seminarians of the diocese to support and encourage them in their vocations as they start a new academic year. Four new students begin their studies at St John's Seminary, Wonersh. They are John Watts, Peter Andrews, Alex Hill and Kevin O'Donnell. They join the 5 other men training for Arundel & Brighton at St John's. Another seminarian Andrew Moss (pictured right) is now beginning his studies for Canon Law in Ontario. We wish them all well and pray that men will continue to offer themselves for the priesthood in this diocese.
'For the least among you all, that is the one who is great' (Luke 9:48)

Thursday, 25 September 2008

Hello and Goodbye

The other day we said hello to a new member of the Diocesan Pastoral Team, Sue O'Brien (pictured on left) who is the new Social Action Adviser. The focus of her work she told me is "to work with the parishes and other communities of the diocese to foster, encourage, and support their social action in the light of the Church's social teaching." We are very pleased to have her with us at DABCEC and are certain she will be a tremendous asset to the diocese. People are welcome to contact her either by email or by telephone on 01293 651154

At the same time we said goodbye to Kevin Burr, who was Justice & Peace Adviser in the diocese for some 18 years. He now retires after real dedicated service to the Church in Arundel & Brighton. There is much to thank him for whether around his work for ayslum seekers - Gatwick Detainees Welfard Group, or racial justice - the charter, or fairtrade - diocesan certification, or environmental issues - working ecumenically on this issue, or international debt - working closely with CAFOD and Jubilee Debt and so on - the list is long. Social justice so strongly supported by both John Paul II and Benedict XVI as a fundamental part of the Christian mission found a ready agent in Kevin. To continue this work and the mission of the Church in this area a new adviser is now being sought by the diocese.

Picture shows Kevin with his wife Jan

Monday, 22 September 2008


This weekend deacons and wives (pictured on right) were on retreat in the sunshine of Aylesford Friary, a place of pilgrimage for many around the country and the diocese. Carmelite Friars are responsible for this pilgrimage and retreat centre. Aylesford originally a medieval Priory known as 'The Friars' was closed down during the reign of Henry VIII along with all other religious houses and monasteries in England and Wales. In 1949 'The Friars' was put up for sale by its then private owner, so the Carmelites were able to buy back their motherhouse. Fr Malachy Lynch, the first Prior, began the task of restoring the buildings and within a short time The Friars has become a flourishing pilgrimage centre. The shrine contains the relics of the 13th Century Carmelite saint, Simon Stock. In the presence of Cardinal Heenan, Archbishop Cyril Cowderoy rededicated the Shrine in 1965 and it now serves as a centre of prayer for all Christians in Kent and beyond, and a place of peace for those who search for meaning in their lives.Their current and recently appointed Prior, Fr Brendan Grady O.Carm led an excellent retreat for the deacons and wives.

There then followed a couple of Carmelite coincidences, firstly this office received in the post a copy of a new book on that most famous of Carmelite saints, St Therese of Lisieux. A quick look in the DABCEC Bookshop revealed at least a dozen books on her including her classic spiritual autobiography, Story of a Soul. Next notification was received from the Bishops' Conference of England and Wales that on the invitation of Cardinal Cormac Murphy-O'Connor the relics of St Therese of Lisieux will be visiting various places in England and Wales in 2009, including Aylesford. A full list of the places being visited and other information can be seen on a special website set up for the occasion This includes a good explanation of the value and importance of relics.

"I ask Jesus to draw me into the flames of His love, to unite me so closely to Him that He live and act in me." (St Therese of Lisieux)

Thursday, 18 September 2008

Super Saturday!

This coming Saturday sees lots of events across the diocese and elsewhere. First and foremost it is the second meeting of the Diocesan Pastoral Council which with the Council of Priests and other forums is the way the diocese, in the words of the Bishop, seeks to set 'a framework to use for our preaching of the gospel to meet the particular needs of our time and society'. Please pray for the success of this meeting.

Other events taking place are the Music Day 'Making Ritual Music Real' with Paul Inwood led by the diocesan Liturgy office at St Paul's School, Burgess Hill, the CAFOD Supporters Day at St Wilfrid's, Crawley and the Mass for Healthcare Workers with Bishop Kieran at Arundel Cathedral. Finally, some of the deacons of the diocese and their wives will be on retreat this weekend at Aylesford Priory in Kent (see picture). Please pray for the success of all these activities.
I am sure there are many other events taking place around the diocese this Saturday which I do not know about. Do let me know about any future events and I will do my best to mention them in the blog. This can include events beyond the diocese which might be of interest to others.

Tuesday, 16 September 2008

New starts

Today in the Diocesan Bookshop in Crawley I was able to help a new student for the diaconate choose some books he would find useful for his studies in the coming months. September it would appear is the time for new starts and initiatives. The schools and colleges are back, new programmes are launched and there is hopefully a new enthusiasm after the summer break to take on new tasks and ventures.
This coming Sunday is Home Mission Sunday and as part of a new start, CASE the Bishops' agency for evangelisation has sent a DVD to each parish and encouraged them to set up new evangelisation teams in each parish - if we don't proclaim the Gospel then no one will hear it!
The website has lots of useful information and downloads to help with this including parish inserts and leaflets. And the good thing is that even if parish does not get around to it this weekend it can be taken up at a later date.

Our Saviour Christ Jesus abolished death, and he has proclaimed life through the Good News
(cf. 2 Tim 1:10)

Monday, 15 September 2008

Lourdes Jubilee

This weekend saw the Pope in Lourdes to celebrate 150 year jubilee of the appearance of Our Lady to Bernadette Soubirous. Why not read more about it via ICN or Zenit. Among the thousands present there was Cardinal Cormac Murphy-O'Connor, former Bishop of this diocese. On the Friday evening before he left on the Saturday he joined with a large group of people, mainly from Arundel and Brighton Diocese for the launch of Catherine Simon's book, Where Echoes Meet at St Paul's Bookshop in Westminster. The message from the Cardinal and Catherine (pictured left) was that Loudes is above all a place of God's forgiveness and healing for all, not just the sick and disabled. Catherine has also taken this message to radio having spoken on both BBC Southern Counties and Premier Radio.
It just shows what a role young people can take in proclaiming their faith. As Catherine knows it is not always easy to share your faith with your peers and it means bravely taking those first few steps.
To that end CASE, the Bishops' agency for evangelisation have set up a new website for young children to help them grow in their faith, called Yfaith. Do encourage young people you know to take a look at it.

Our Lady of Sorrows, pray for us.

Friday, 12 September 2008

One single Body

This Sunday we celebrate the Feast of the Exaltation of the Holy Cross, an ancient feast which dates from the 4th Century in Jerusalem. There is a useful explanation of the history of the feast on a Melkite Catholic website, I found. The Cross is at the very heart of our faith and at the heart of each Mass we celebrate and therfore such an important feast.
The picture on the right is a beautiful mosaic from 12th Century in the Basilica of St Clement's in Rome. The Cross is depicted as the 'tree of life' drawing in all of humanity and creation through Christ's act of redemptive love. This Sunday is also Racial Justice Sunday when we pray for racial justice in our country. This so clearly links to our feast day because as St Paul reminds us in his letter to the Galations that is through the Cross we are united into one single Body and therefore all called to be part of God's kingdom (Gal 2:11-22). So let us pray this weekend for justice and reconciliation between all peoples and races. The diocese for its part is committed to try and make a reality the Charter for Racial Justice sponsored by the Catholic Association for Racial Justice.
A cross that many parishes, both clergy and people have to face at this moment in time is the joining together of parishes with all the upheavel and uncertainty that this brings. But there will always be signs of new life from such 'coming togethers'. The parishes of Holy Family, Lancing and St Charles Borromeo, Worthing have recently joined to form the new parish of East Worthing. To celebrate this they are holding a flower festival to raise money for Worthing Churches Homeless Projects.
Flower Festival Harvest Unite is to be held on Saturday 13th and Sunday 14th September from 10am to 5pm At St Charles Church, Chesswood Rd, Worthing. There will be a programme of music throughout the weekend and light refreshments served in the Parish Centre. We wish them well.

God’s justice that was made known through the Law and the Prophets has now been revealed outside the Law, since it is the same justice of God that comes through faith to everyone who believes. Rom 3:21-22

Thursday, 11 September 2008

And so to Arundel

Tuesday evening I was at a meeting of Worthing and Cathedral deanery deacons among whom was Deacon David Clifton from Arundel Cathedral parish. He was telling us about his son Br.Bruno O.P. (pictured right) who is to be ordained to the priesthood on 20th September in Edinburgh for the Dominican Order . Fr Bruno will then be briefly visitng Arundel to celebrate a Mass of Thanksgiving at the Cathedral on Friday 26th September. He then returns to Edinburgh to continue his work in the chaplaincy. We wish him well for his future ministry - Ad Multos Annos!

This is the second ordination to the priesthood this summer of a son of this diocese following the ordination of Aaron Spinelli in Eastbourne on 30th August. The Vocations Director, Fr Paul Turner was telling me today that we have 4 students beginning their training for the priesthood at St John's Seminary, Wonersh. We also have 4 men beginning their training for the diaconate as well so we are doubly blessed this year.

Carrying on the Arundel theme I happened yesterday to meet the Dean of Arundel Cathedral, Canon Tim Madeley in the Christian Education Centre Bookshop in Crawley. We were discussing a query I had had from an Orthodox priest about the whereabouts of the relics of St Edmund, King and Martyr. It turns out they are neither in Bury St Edmunds or Arundel Cathedral but, though originally destined for Westminster Cathedral, are actually in the Norfolk family vault in Arundel Castle. The most important relics in Arundel Cathedral are, of course, those of St Philip Howard, Duke of Norfolk who was martyred during the reign of Elizabeth I, and who is one of the patron saints of the diocese. His feast day is celebrated on 19th October.

This brings me neatly back to the Tuesday deacons' meeting as among our company was Gary Bevans, who will hopefully be ordained deacon next year. Gary's daughters run a film company which has just produced a new video on the life of St Philip Howard (see left). I have not seen the video yet but I am sure it will be good. They have also produced a further video on the work of their father, Gary on his reproduction of the Sistine Chapel ceiling in his parish church, English Martyrs in Goring. They have a website from which you sample the videos and also buy them -

Jesus said to his disciples: 'I say this to you who are listening: Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, bless those who curse you, pray for those who treat you badly.' Lk 6:27

Monday, 8 September 2008

A sunnier Monday

Today is at least a bit pleasanter weather-wise than the last few days and I even awoke to sunshine. It is also the feast of the Birthday of the Blessed Virgin Mary so I do feel it is appropriate to mention again the new book on Lourdes from Catherine Simon (pictured left), Where Echoes Meet.
For those who were awake early on Sunday morning and tuned to BBC Southern Counties they will have heard the excellent interview of Catherine about her book. If you did not get the chance on Sunday to hear it and would like to listen to the interview then go to the her website and listen there at . Catherine reflected on how human suffering is part of fallen human existence and how we all have need for God's healing.
Catherine is now looking forward to the official book launch on Friday at St Paul's in Westminster with Cardinal Cormac.

On a similar note we had a speaker from Aid to the Church in Need speak at all Masses this weekend reminding us how much of the Church suffers in many parts of the world such as Iraq and China. The situation in the State of Orissa in India is particularly bad at the moment. There is a useful article in The Times on the murders and attacks taking place on Christians there.

On a more positive note I am informed by John Roberts, the diocesan adviser for Mission and Unity that there are a series of talks and discussion on Inter-faith matters in Brighton with some interesting speakers. The series on Sunday afternoons from 5 October is called 'United in Faith?'. For information visit the diocesan website

Please pray for our suffering brothers and sisters in India and elsewhere, and for just solutions based on love and reconciliation.

Prayer in honour of the Birthday of the Blessed Virgin Mary
Hail, Holy Queen, Mother of Mercy,
our life, our sweetness and our hope.
To thee do we cry poor banished children of Eve.
To thee do we send up our sighs, mourning and weeping in this valley of tears.
Turn then, most gracious Advocate, thine Eyes of Mercy toward us,
and after this our exile show us the blessed fruit of thy womb, Jesus.
O clement, O loving, O sweet Virgin Mary.