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)

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