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 susan.obrien@dabnet.org 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 http://www.catholicrelics.co.uk/. 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 - http://www.marysdowryproductions.org/

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 http://www.whereechoesmeet.com/id13.html . 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.

Friday, 5 September 2008

On a wet Friday

On a damp and very rainy Friday I think it is good to have a bit of news from the diocese and beyond that raises the spirits and shows the grace of God at work in our world.

My first bit of news concerns Lourdes which this year celebrates 150 years since the apparitions of Our Lady to Bernadette Soubirous. In A&B we were not only able to celebrate it with a pilgrimage led by Bishop Kieran of over 1,000 people but also with the publication of a moving and beautiful book from 18 year old Catherine Simon, called Where Echoes Meet. If you want to know more about the book then listen to BBC Southern Counties Radio with Catherine on the morning of Sunday 7th September some time just after 7.35am. You can tune in on 104.0–104.8 & 95.0–95.3 FM and on 1161, 1368 & 1485 AM. Or if you want a lie-in (!) you can catch it online for a week on http://www.bbc.co.uk/southerncounties/.

The book will then be officially launched on Friday 12th September at St Paul's bookshop in Westminster in the presence of Cardinal Cormac. Next day the Cardinal sets off to Lourdes to join the Pope there for the anniversary celebrations. You can find more out about the book on Catherine's website http://www.whereechoesmeet.com/

The second bit of news concerns Fairtrade. A&B is a recognized Fairtrade diocese and there are now a couple of ways in which parishes and clergy can directly support this. The first is a Fairtrade Communion Wine produced by Los Robles in Chile who make other Fairtrade wines stocked by leading Supermarkets. I have tried it and I think it is very acceptable as a communion wine. It does of course meet canonical standards. It can be obtained from Whitebridge Wines via their special website http://www.poterionfairtrade.co.uk/.

The second is another new venture offering Fairtrade clerical shirts. The cotton for the shirts, which are currently only available in black (what other colour would you want!) is grown in Africa and the shirts themselves are made in Mauritius. Is the next thing Fairtrade cassocks? Find out how to order by visiting the website http://www.fairtradeclergyshirts.co.uk/

Have a joyful weekend!
'O that today you would listen to his voice, harden not your hearts' (Ps 94)

Wednesday, 3 September 2008

Welcome to A&B Communications Blog

This is a first posting on the new blog for the Roman Catholic Diocese of Arundel & Brighton Communications Office. If this all sounds rather grand then the reality is that the Communications Office consists of one full-time Communications Officer (currently the writer of this, Deacon Mark Woods) and a group of volunteers who prepare and publish the A&B News, the monthly diocesan newspaper. All in all a small but we hope enthusiastic and professional group of people.

The desire is that this blog will be another way of providing news and information from Arundel & Brighton Diocese as well as the Church in England and Wales and beyond primarily for the clergy and people of the diocese. We welcome comments and ideas from readers of the blog - all comments will be moderated. We hope this will prove another way in which we can share the good work taking place in the Church at home and elsewhere, so that the good news of Jesus Christ can continue to be shared with the world.

For more A&B news visit the diocesan website www.dabnet.org