Tuesday, 22 December 2009

Pope appoints New Bishop for Shrewsbury Diocese

Mgr Mark Davies appointed to Shrewsbury
The Diocese of Shrewsbury is delighted to announce the appointment by the Holy Father, Pope Benedict XVI, of Monsignor Mark Davies, Vicar General of the Diocese of Salford, as the new Co-Adjutor Bishop of Shrewsbury. As Co-Adjutor, he will have right of succession to Bishop Brian Noble, Bishop of Shrewsbury upon his retirement at a future date. In the meantime the new Bishop will assist Bishop Noble within the Diocese.

The new Bishop on learning of his appointment expressed his delight at moving south of the river into the Diocese of Shrewsbury, which extends through Cheshire, Shropshire, the Wirral, and parts of Greater Manchester, Tameside and Trafford. “I have spent some 26 years as a priest in Salford, and am looking forward greatly to joining Bishop Brian within the Diocese of Shrewsbury. I look forward to getting to know the clergy, religious and people of the Diocese, and am most grateful to the Holy Father for his confidence in appointing me to this service. I thank Bishop Brian for his warm and kind welcome and I ask for your prayers at this time.” said Monsignor Davies.

Bishop Brian added his own words of welcome: “I’m delighted to welcome Mgr Davies to our Diocese. As a Salford priest and close neighbour, he doesn’t come as a stranger, and will, I’m sure, find a warm welcome in all our parishes, schools and religious communities. I very much look forward to having him as a colleague. As he prepares for his new ministry, do remember him in your prayers.”

In addition to his duties and experience within the Church in Salford, the new bishop said that he enjoyed walking, together with reading and supporting his local football team. Given his new assignment, he wondered “about the wisdom of disclosing detail on that one!”

The new bishop will be ordained by Bishop Brian Noble on Monday 22nd February 2010, the feast of the Chair of St Peter at St Anthony’s Church, Wythenshawe, Manchester.

Monday, 21 December 2009

Mass of Thanksgiving for Diocesan Staff and Volunteers

Bishop Kieran Gives Thanks
Those diocesan staff and volunteers who made it through snow and ice to attend the Mass today (Monday) with the Bishop were generously thanked by him for their hard work throughout the year on behalf of the diocese. Over 50 people joined together at the Christian Education Centre in Crawley in a final Advent celebration before the diocesan offices close for the Christmas holidays on Wednesday 23rd.
Staff and volunteers came from the Bishop's House, Hove, St Cuthman's Retreat Centre, the Bishop's office, Pease Pottage as well as the Christian Education Centre and Bookshop in Crawley.
It was good to be joined by Deacon Andy Moss (on the Bishop's left in the picture) who is to be ordained to the priesthood 12.15pm on 2nd January at The Friary Church in Crawley to which anybody is most welcome to attend. 
Bishop Kieran has not only been thanking diocesan staff and volunteers recently but also local charities and parishes. So he had on the Friday in the worst of the snow spent time with Brighton Voices in Exile who work with refugees and ayslum seekers. To read about his visit click on Fr Ray Blake's parish blog.
I am sure all of the readers of this blog join me in wishing Bishop Kieran and a joyful and holy Christmas.
A Child is born to us; He is Christ the Lord!

Thursday, 17 December 2009

Live Nativity at Wintershall in Surrey

Wintershall Nativity Begins Today
This wonderful production takes place both inside and around the Holly Barn Theatre at Wintershall, in Surrey, complete with shepherds and sheep, oxen, donkeys and the three wise men on horseback.

The true story of the birth of our Lord Jesus brings to life the real meaning of Christmas, helping all of us escape the turmoil of its present day commercialism and missing spirituality.

Come warmly dressed with boots or appropriate footwear. The ‘inn’ opens for tea, coffee and mince pies etc one hour before each 90-minute performance.

The performance starts on Thursday 17 December and ends on Monday 21 December. The performances start at 4.45pm and 7.30pm each day.

Individuals and small parties up to 20 people can book tickets online. Coaches and minibuses should contact the box office on 01483 892167 Monday to Friday between 9am and 5pm for reservations. Also please call to organise disabled access since this is only available by prior arrangement.

For more information and bookings see: http://www.wintershall-estate.com/

Wednesday, 16 December 2009

Who can attend Faith Schools and the Supreme Court

CESEW Response to the Supreme Court Ruling in Relation to Admission to a Jewish School
"I am very disappointed at today’s ruling in which a secular body, i.e. the Supreme Court, is deciding on the matter of membership of a faith group for the purposes of schools’ admissions. What constitutes membership of a faith group or a religious denomination should be a matter for that faith or denomination to determine. That any other authority should deem to do this in place of the faith group, or for a body outside the faith group to claim that its decision as to what constitutes membership has priority, is a sad and undermining state of affairs.

It is important whilst noting our sympathy for our Jewish brothers and sisters, to remind that the judgment should not impact on Catholic schools. This is because the definition of being Catholic is clearly based on baptism and not on any ethnic or other factors.

We will continue to keep this situation under close review."

Oona Stannard, Chief Executive and Director, Catholic Education Service for England and Wales

Cardinal says Goodbye to Terry Wogan

Cormac's Radio 2 Pause for Thought

"It is rather strange – and somewhat sad – to be sitting opposite Terry Wogan for the last time, on this programme anyway, and I’ll come back to that in a moment. But we are now on a journey to Christmas Day. I want to say a word about the gifts that Jesus Christ brought into the world two thousand years ago. The first gift that he gives to us is the knowledge of who we are and our worth as individuals. It’s nice at Christmas to receive cards from people who perhaps we have not seen for maybe a year, but they remember us. We are individuals to them and they to us. Like a child who comes up to you and says, ‘I’m Peter’, or ‘I’m Sarah’, as if to say, ‘Look at me. I’m different. There is no one like me’. Like Christ, who in the darkness of the first Christmas night, came to us with a name, ‘Emmanuel’, which means ‘God-with-us’. And he came in a particular place - Bethlehem. I think all of us, each one of us, each one of you, want to be special and to be acknowledged as special and to know who you are. You want to be of value in your own eyes and in the eyes of others. But at the same time, you are not alone, you are part of a family, part of a community, and you can’t live without being supported and sustained by the communities which form part of your life. Christ, after all, came not only for each one of us individually, but also to help us transform humanity into a community where we would be free to be human and to be at home. I sincerely hope that all of you listening this morning will have a Christmas which will help you to understand how much we need each other, how important family is and appreciate even more, in spite of difficulties and challenges, the gifts which we receive from God.

This is an opportunity for me to thank you, Terry, for everything you have done for this programme over so many years. Everyone will miss you, Terry, but I found since I retired seven months ago that I seem to be busier than ever, so I am quite sure we have not seen the end of you. I’m flying this afternoon to Rome to attend a meeting and if I happen to see Pope Benedict I will tell him that his mornings are to be different because there will be no Terry Wogan to listen to. But I’ll also tell him, if I see him, that he will be popping up elsewhere even if it is not the European Song Contest! (I have this little gift for you, Terry, since I know you play golf). On behalf of all of us, Terry, thank you very much. God bless you and a happy Christmas to you, Terry, and to all your listeners."

Press Release and Photo credit: http://www.catholicchurch.org.uk/

Thursday, 10 December 2009

Joyful Priests - Letter of Melkite Patriarch

Excerpt from Christmas Letter of His Beatitude Patriarch Gregorios III for Year for Priests
"Joyful priests: they are happy, grounded, convinced, spiritual, believing, trusting, attached to their priestly vocation with love and enthusiasm, completely consecrated to Christ. They are priests in aeternum, without looking back, change of heart, or hesitation. They are courageous, adventurous, and ready to give, generous, devoted, committed, open, and fearless, without spiritual, social or family complications. As Saint Paul says, he is ready for his blood to be shed as an offering on God’s altar and in the service of his parish. (cf. 2 Timothy 4: 6)

They are happy and joyful inside. That is evident to their parishes and to everybody, to all citizens and to everyone who comes to them. They show their joy especially in prayer, preaching, celebration of the Divine Liturgy and other holy sacraments or mysteries, through their way of doing their pastoral work in various social contexts in their parishes, in visits to family homes, in sharing the joys and sad times of their parishioners and in all the different circumstances that they go through.

Priestly joy is a very important thing, as is enthusiasm for bringing the message of the Holy Gospel. It is also important in ongoing relations with society and its citizens of different persuasions, denominations and faiths. This joy is also important to support young people, especially, who are the Church’s future and who are the object of a very special care in priests’ ministry and pastoral work. Besides, the priests’ joy in their vocation and ministry is a great asset, which could attract new priestly vocations among young people.

They used to say about Saint Anthony of the desert in Egypt, that visitors and other monks saw in Anthony’s joyful face, the face of God. The Russian saint, Seraphim of Sarov, received the visitors to his monastic cell, with this expression, “O my joy, Christ is risen!” We have also shown the meaning of this Christian spiritual joy in our Paschal Letter (2007), entitled, “O my joy, Christ is risen!”, in which we have largely shown the meanings and causes of that Christian joy, based on the joy of the resurrection."

To read the whole letter go to http://www.melkite.org/Patriarch/PA25.htm
I am grateful to Deacon Richard Downer, a Greek Catholic Deacon living in this diocese for bringing this letter to my attention.

Wednesday, 9 December 2009

A&B Priest and Manchester Lad Makes Good

Installation of New Archbishop of Birmingham, Bernard Longley

Archbishop Bernard Longley was Installed as the Ninth Archbishop of Birmingham, in the Metropolitan Cathedral and Basilica of St Chad, Birmingham, during a special Mass on Tuesday 8th December, the Feast of the Immaculate Conception of the Blessed Virgin Mary, one of the two Patronal Feasts of the Archdiocese of Birmingham.
The climax of the two and a quarter hour ceremony was the moment when Archbishop Vincent Nichols, now Archbishop of Westminster and President of the Bishops’ Conference of England and Wales, presented his successor with the crozier of Bishop William Bernard Ullathorne, OSB, first Bishop of Birmingham, 1850-1888. As he handed him the crozier, Archbishop Vincent Nichols said: "Archbishop Bernard, at the wish of the Holy Father, Pope Benedict XVI, you have assumed the pastoral charge of the Church of Birmingham. I hand on to you this Crozier, the sign of the shepherd’s office and ministry. May the Lord sustain you in your care for the people of the Archdiocese."

Everyone in the packed St Chad's Cathedral of more than 600 people stood and applauded the newly enthroned Archbishop Bernard Longley, aged 54, who looked resplendent in the vestments of his predecessor, Archbishop Edward IIsley, the second Bishop and the first Archbishop of Birmingham, 1888-1921.

More than 325 priests from the Archdiocese of Birmingham, Westminster, Southwark, and the Diocese of Arundel and Brightonincluding our own Bishop Kieran, concelebrated the Mass, together with most of the hierarchy of England and Wales, Bishop Kieran was originally a priest of Birmingham Archdiocese as well as Bishop of the Diocese to which Archbishop Bernard was ordained as a priest.

Among Archbishop Bernard Longley's personal guests were his father, Fred Longley, aged 81, and his sister Kathleen Lloyd. Before he came into the Cathedral, the Archbishop-Elect, accompanied by his Secretary and Master of Ceremonies, Fr Martin Pratt, visited the nearby Grimshaw Room and spoke to more than 100 people who watched the ceremony via close-circuit television.

The Metropolitan Chapter in their red robes received the Archbishop-Elect at the West Door of the Cathedral. Then a crescendo of sound filled this great Pugin architectural jewel, situated near Birmingham city centre, as everyone joined in singing Cardinal Newman’s great hymn 'Praise to the Holiest in the height', from his poem 'The Dream of Gerontius', set to music by Elgar.

Archbishop Bernard Longley began his first ever homily in St Chad's Cathedral: "In preparing for this day I have been very conscious that I am entering into the life of a Christian family that has a long and rich history as well as its distinctive vocation to make Jesus Christ present, known and loved in this, the heart of England."

Archbishop Bernard Longley concluded: "I also recall the early experience of Bishop William Ullathorne. As a teenager he experienced something that changed the whole course of his life when far from home in the Baltic port of Memel, modern-day Klaipeda. Through the faith and devotion of the local people at Mass he felt God’s power claiming his own life. As I visit the parishes and school of our Archdiocese in the years ahead I pray that I too may continue to be moved by the faith and witness of our priests and people and always open, after the example of our Lady, to the claim of God upon my life. Please continue to pray for me."

Before the Final Blessing the Apostolic Nuncio, Archbishop Vincent Nichols, and Cardinal Cormac-Murphy-O'Connor, addressed the congregation. The Cardinal, who ordained Archbishop Bernard Longley to the Priesthood for the Diocese of Arundel and Brighton on 12 December 1981 at St John's Seminary, Wonersh, and as an Auxiliary Bishop of Westminster on 24 January 2003, said: "Every work that he (Archbishop Bernard) has done in the service of the Church he has done with wisdom and with zeal, and always with kindness." Cardinal Cormac added: "I think you are very fortunate as an Archdiocese to have this good man as your new Archbishop."

Archbishop Bernard Longley was accompanied by Bishop David McGough, Bishop William Kenney, CP, his two Auxiliary Bishops, Bishop Philip Pargeter, retired Auxiliary Bishop, and Archbishop Vincent Nichols, Archbishop of Birmingham from 2000 until 2009. They paused briefly by the main door for pictures, before Archbishop Bernard Longley was greeted by the deacons, priests, and his brother bishops, who had formed four lines along the forecourt.

The new Archbishop of Birmingham then made his way past the Diocesan Curial Offices to the nearby Salvation Army Citadel, where he was warmly welcomed by Major Samuel Edgar, Divisional Commander of the Salvation Army, West Midlands Division. Inside, Archbishop Longley greeted an overflow congregation of more than 200 representatives of parishes throughout the Archdiocese of Birmingham who had watched the ceremony via close-circuit television. He thanked Major Edgar and the Salvation Army and invited Major Maurice Hunt, Commander of the Citadel to say a prayer for him. Major Hunt put his arm on the new Archbishop's shoulder and prayed for God to bless him at the start of his ministry in the Midlands

The visit to the Salvation Army Citadel was a poignant ecumenical moment that enhanced a moving and inspirational occasion in the life of the Archdiocese of Birmingham, now home to Archbishop Bernard Longley, the music loving lad from Manchester!

Edited press release provided by Peter Jennings

Monday, 7 December 2009

Calling for Action on Climate Change

Rally for Climate Justice
More than 20 senior church leaders gathered for a church service on Saturday 5th December, with 3,200 Christians from their congregations, to support the London Wave, urging an ambitious, fair and effective deal at the Copenhagen Summit on climate change. Many others were unable to get in as Westminster Central Hall was full to capacity.

“This weekend’s events should send a clear message of urgency and hope to the Copenhagen Summit,” said Dr Rowan Williams, Archbishop of Canterbury at the service on Saturday morning at Westminster Central Hall. He said: “We are to be bearers of good news for the world that God has made. Not for any one little bit of it, not any one community at the expense of others, not even for humanity at the expense of everything else in the universe. Good news for all of creation. The health of the world around us and our own long-term health are not two things but one. Let us not lose sight of that.”

Archbishop Vincent Nichols, in some closing remarks reflected that, “this morning is a marvellous expression of solidarity and compassion and they are robust Christian virtues”. He added that “today we are concerned for all those whose lives are directly affected by climate change, the world's poorest and the most disadvantaged”. He felt that Christians are called upon the live more simply, and felt that “unless it is clear that we are prepared to change, political leaders will not be able to reach the agreements which are now needed”.

A number of other Catholic Bishops including our own Bishop Kieran and other Church leaders, together were thousands of others from churches around the country including Arundel & Brighton Diocese, were in London on Saturday to give voice to their concern for action on Climate Change. After the Ecumenical Service there was a rally of thousands of people that wound down from Grosvenor Square to the Houses of Parliament. Indeed the numbers were so large that the end of the rally had reached Parliament when the head of the march was coming back over Westminster bridge.

The pictures show firstly, Sue and Jane, parishioners from Worthing with CAFOD A&B Diocesan Manager, Martin Brown, and then a small part of the crowd as it leaves Grosvenor Square. Photo credit: Mark Woods

Friday, 4 December 2009

Archbishop Kevin McDonald resigns

Pope Accepts Archbishop's resignation due to ill health
Pope Benedict XVI has today accepted the resignation of Archbishop Kevin McDonald of Southwark in accordance with Canon 401 §2. The Archbishop submitted his resignation to the Holy Father having taken account of medical advice. The Archbishop has had a triple heart bypass and also suffers from severe osteo arthritis. This has already necessitated surgery and the Archbishop envisages further surgery in 2010.

Archbishop Kevin is the Metropolitan of the Province which includes the Diocese of Arundel & Brighton.

Archbishop McDonald said:
“I feel great sadness at having to relinquish my post as Archbishop of Southwark. Although I have had to contend with illness over the last three years, this appointment has been a great grace. It has been a privilege to lead this great Diocese and I have received a wonderful response to everything I have tried to do. I have also been very appreciative of the prayers of so many people while I have been ill. The Diocese will continue to be very much in my thoughts and prayers in the time ahead.”

A Diocesan Administrator will be appointed soon and he will be in charge of the Diocese, until a new Archbishop takes possession of the Diocese.

Death of Fr Stanley Burt

Clergy Death Announcement
The Reverend Stanley Burt, Priest of the Diocese of Arundel and Brighton, who died in retirement on 28 November, aged 84 years.

Funeral Arrangements:
Wednesday, 9th December 5.00 p.m. Simple reception of the body, Our Lady of Sorrows, Clarence Road, PO21 1JX.
Thursday, 10th December 12.00 noon Requiem Mass, Our Lady of Sorrows, Clarence Road, PO21 1JX.

It would be a great help and much appreciated if clergy could let Fr. Tony Churchill know if they are coming to the Requiem Mass Tel: 01243 823619 Fax: 01243 842718. Email: info@bognorcatholicparish.co.uk

May he rest in peace

Thursday, 3 December 2009

The Advent Wreath

A Brief History
The Advent wreath is part of our long-standing Catholic tradition. However, the actual origins are uncertain. There is evidence of pre-Christian Germanic peoples using wreathes with lit candles during the cold and dark December days as a sign of hope in the future warm and extended-sunlight days of Spring. In Scandinavia during Winter, lighted candles were placed around a wheel, and prayers were offered to the god of light to turn “the wheel of the earth” back toward the sun to lengthen the days and restore warmth.

By the Middle Ages, the Christians adapted this tradition and used Advent wreathes as part of their spiritual preparation for Christmas. After all, Christ is “the Light that came into the world” to dispel the darkness of sin and to radiate the truth and love of God (cf. John 3:19-21). By 1600, both Catholics and Lutherans had more formal practices surrounding the Advent wreath.

The symbolism of the Advent wreath is beautiful. The wreath is made of various evergreens, signifying continuous life. Even these evergreens have a traditional meaning which can be adapted to our faith: The laurel signifies victory over persecution and suffering; pine, holly, and yew, immortality; and cedar, strength and healing. Holly also has a special Christian symbolism: The prickly leaves remind us of the crown of thorns, and one English legend tells of how the cross was made of holly. The circle of the wreath, which has no beginning or end, symbolizes the eternity of God, the immortality of the soul, and the everlasting life found in Christ. Any pine cones, nuts, or seedpods used to decorate the wreath also symbolize life and resurrection. All together, the wreath of evergreens depicts the immortality of our soul and the new, everlasting life promised to us through Christ, the eternal Word of the Father, who entered our world becoming true man and who was victorious over sin and death through His own passion, death, and resurrection.

The four candles represent the four weeks of Advent. A tradition is that each week represents one thousand years, to sum to the 4,000 years from Adam and Eve until the Birth of the Savior. Three candles are purple and one is rose. The purple candles in particular symbolize the prayer, penance, and preparatory sacrifices and goods works undertaken at this time. The rose candle is lit on the third Sunday, Gaudete Sunday, when the priest also wears rose vestments at Mass; Gaudete Sunday is the Sunday of rejoicing, because the faithful have arrived at the midpoint of Advent, when their preparation is now half over and they are close to Christmas. The progressive lighting of the candles symbolizes the expectation and hope surrounding our Lord’s first coming into the world and the anticipation of His second coming to judge the living and the dead.

The light again signifies Christ, the Light of the world. Some modern day adaptions include a white candle placed in the middle of the wreath, which represents Christ and is lit on Christmas Eve. Another tradition is to replace the three purple and one rose candles with four white candles, which will be lit throughout Christmas season.
(Information provided by Fr William Saunders)

Tuesday, 1 December 2009

Christmas Nativity in Crawley

The Parish of Crawley once again has erected a Crib in Queens Square - at the heart of the Town Centre and passers by were soon admiring it and speaking about the Nativity Scene: a tremendous reminder of the meaning of Christmas in the middle of Sussex's busiest shopping town.

The Parish is very grateful to The Knights of St. Columba for making it happen and to the Weald Choir who sang carols in the Band Stand as the KSC were constructing it.

Friday, 27 November 2009

A Cardinal, an Archbishop and a Deacon

Deacon Roy Waters from this Diocese writes: "Following the Holy See’s acceptance of Deacon Jack Sullivan’s cure as a miracle, and so aiding Cardinal Newman’s progress on the road to eventual canonisation, Deacon Jack was invited by Archbishop Vincent Nicholls to London. After a press conference, widely covered in the national press, he was invited to preach at the Sung Mass in Westminster Cathedral on Monday 9th November. During several conversations with Jack he impressed me as a very humble and warm hearted person."

Deacon Roy also ministered on the sanctuary alongside two Westminister Deacons.

Deacon Jack is second from the left and Deacon Roy is on the far right.

For the full story read the January edition of the A&B News

New Cathedral Provost at Arundel

Congratulations to the appointment of Canon Tony Whale as new Provost of the Cathedral Chapter of Canons following the death of Provost Bernard Thom. He acts as head of the Cathedral Chapter who advise the Bishop and support the life of the Cathedral.

The full story can be read in the January edition of A&B News

Thursday, 26 November 2009

New Icon of Christ the Prince of Peace

The church of Christ the Prince of Peace in Weybridge is about to celebrate the twentieth anniversary of its consecration. To mark this special occasion an imposing icon has been specially commissioned and now hangs in the Church.

The icon is in the Coptic style of sacred art and depicts Christ as Pantokrator (The Almighty). Our Lord is seated on a throne with His right hand raised in blessing and a book in His left hand bears the text "Peace I give you". The icon was created by Dr Stephane Rene, a leading exponent of the Neo-Coptic school of iconography.

For the full story see January's edition of the A&B News

Thursday, 19 November 2009

Roma, Roma, Roma!

Last week with other Communications Officers from England and Wales I was in Rome and on the Wednesday morning at the Papal Audience. The image you see on the left is provided by Vatican Radio who is responsible for sound and visual recording of audiences and other Vatican events.

Pope Benedict spoke last Wednesday about the medieval  Monastism of Cluny in France which spread throughout Europe, and of the fruits it bore in the spread of human values especially through its commitment not only to work of the liturgy but also the work of peace.

As we listened the audience was broadcast around the world by radio, television and internet. Why not have a listen yourself via the internet to Vatican Radio and the daily English Language programmes which it produces. The Pope's audience also appear on YouTube and there is also a Papal Facebook site which can be reached by the Pope2You site. So although the press in the form of L'Osservatore Romano is still part of the Vatican media output there is also a move to greater use of new media as tools of evangelisation and information. There is still much to be done in ensuring it all works together but at least a start has been made. We were also impressed by the Pontifical Council for Social Communications which under Archbishop Celli is  making real strides to lead and coorodinate on the new media. It is no easy task but we all wished them well.

Jesus said "If you in your turn had only understood on this day the message of peace." (Lk 19:41)

Friday, 6 November 2009

Farewell Good and Faithful Servant

Yesterday was the funeral of Canon Bernard Thom at Arundel Cathedral (see right - funeral procession exiting Cathedral). Fr Colin, his friend and former curate spoke warmly of Canon Bernard but did not avoid the difficult areas of his life. It was he said "a story of dark and light, of death and resurrection." Earlier in his life and priesthood Canon Bernard had become addicted to alcohol. Thanks to the help and support of his family, friends, the Church and above all the Good Lord through the agency of Alcoholics Anonymous, he had recovered and become in his words 'a non-practising alcoholic'.

Out of the pain and suffering of this period there emerged a man who was full of compassion, and who continued to support and help many people through Alcoholics Anonymous and otherwise to bear the burdens of addiction and find their path in life. In this Year of the Priest he is an example of priesthood who lived his diocesan priesthood daily in placing the needs and concerns of others before his own and understood that love bears all. he is

I am certain he will be welcomed at the gates of heaven as that 'good and faithful servant'.

Below Bishop Kieran blesses his coffin with Holy Water as the clergy of the diocese gathered around to sing the Salve Regina (Hail Holy Queen) as a final farewell.

Friday, 30 October 2009

Cardinal Cormac Lecture and Appointments in Rome

After the excitement of Cardinal Cormac's Lecture at Worth Abbey yesterday on Ecumenism it is interesting to note that as the recent press release from the Catholic Media Office states "In a mark of extraordinary esteem, Pope Benedict XVI has appointed Cardinal Cormac Murphy O’Connor to two important Vatican congregations including that which selects bishops for most dioceses of the Latin-rite Catholic Church worldwide. The German pontiff has named him to both the Congregation for Bishops and of the Congregation for the Evangelisation of Peoples." It is certainly going to be a busy retirement for the Cardinal as there are regular meetings in Rome of these two Congregations each month. Many congratulations on these appointments from all in A&B.

You may be interested either to hear or read what the Cardinal said in his Lecture and these can be found on the Diocesan Website by following this link. It was a wonderful evening with a packed Abbey Church with people coming from all parts of the diocese and many other churches and ecclesial communities.

Thursday, 29 October 2009

Rev Provost Bernard Thom RIP

We were sad to hear recently of the death of Reverend Provost Bernard Thom who was a priest of the diocese and died in retirement on Saturday 24th October aged 80 years. Ordained in 1954 he served the Diocese of Arundel & Brighton from its inception in 1965 in many different parishes. He was a great lover of art and his final achievement before illness overtook him was to organise an exhibition of art by clergy and religious of the diocese at St John's Seminary in Wonersh to raise money for CAFOD.

As a Provost and Canon of the Cathedral his body will be received there on Wednesday 4th November at 5pm including Solemn Vespers. His Requiem Mass will be at the Cathedral the next day, Thursday 5th November at 12 noon.

All are welcome to attend but any clergy attending are asked to let the Cathedral Administrator know on aruncath1@aol.com by 2nd November.

Please pray for the repose of his soul - May he rest in peace

Friday, 2 October 2009

On Retreat - Taking Time Out

This week together with the Bishop many of the priests and deacons are on retreat in Northern France at the Maison Diocesaine D'Accueil, Merville, France (pitured right). This is a former seminary and now retreat centre between Dunkirk and Lille. Being just across the channel it makes sure those who attend are not tempted to pop back to the parish. I am sure this uninterrupted time away has been a fruitful time of renewal for those who went.

This Diocese has its own retreat centre at St Cuthman's, Coolham near Horsham. This is a beautiful old house overlooking a lake (pictured left) with a beautiful, simple chapel. Previously an Anglican retreat centre it was taken on by the diocese in recent years and has been upgraded and adapted for modern retreat needs. After recent repairs to the roof it is now fully open again for indivdual and group retreats. In addition it has a meeting room for up to 22 people away from the retreat house in the grounds for day groups and meetings.

Blessed with a beautiful setting, and excellent accommodation and food it is an wonderful place for a few days or more rest, relaxation and retreat. It forms part of the pastoral care of the diocese both to Catholics, ordained and lay, and many others where they can come away on retreat. My own parish priest regularly stays there in order to refresh himself spiritually for life in the parish and I was myself recently there for a couple of days to work on my Masters.

Retreats are a wonderful opportunity to refocus our lives on God. You can find out more about retreats in other places through the Retreat Association. As Advent approaches it might be a good time to think about a retreat for a day, a few days or a week as we approach the great mystery of the incarnation, the Word made flesh. And why not give St Cuthman's a try!

'Harden not your hearts today, but listen to the voice of the Lord' (ps 94:8)

Friday, 25 September 2009

Sharing the Faith - The Role of the Catechist

No parish would manage to organise its First Communion, Confirmation, RCIA, Marriage and Baptism classes and so on without the help of a whole of army of Catechists. They play a vital role in this country in sharing the Catholic faith with young children, teenagers and adults. In many other countries especially in Latin America and Africa with large parishes and small numbers of clergy they play a vital role in animating and promoting the Christian life in their local area.

Catechists, therefore, whether in this country and elsewhere working with their Bishops, Priests and Deacons play a vital role in passing on the faith of the Church.

The Catechism of the Catholic Church, the cover of which can be seen above, says in its Prologue that "Catechesis is an education in the faith of children, young people and adults which includes especially the teaching of Christian doctrine impaed, generally speaking, in an organic and systematic way, with a view to inititating the hearers into the fullness of Christian life."

Given such a demanding purpose of catechesis it is important, therefore, that any Catechists are properly trained. In this diocese the Adult Formation Adviser, David Wills (pictured below) is working hard to support new locally based training for Catechists. Redhill Deanery has recently finished a programme of training for Catechists and Cathedral Deanery is soon to launch a series of sessions lead by clergy and lay people for Catechesists, new and old from 5th October. The first term will focus on the content of faith in areas such as the person of Jesus to the Church. The second term will focus more on the methods needed to hand on this content. Anybody interested in finding out any more about this course and running one in their parish or deanery should contact David Wills on david.wills@dabnet.org.

I, however, leave the last word to the Catechsim that states that the ultimate purpose of catechesis is to help people "believe that Jesus is the Son of God so that believing they might have life in his name..."

'But you,' Jesus said 'who do you say I am?' It was Peter who spoke up. 'The Christ of God.' he said. (Lk 9:20)

Thursday, 17 September 2009

To Praise, To Bless, To Preach

At the weekend I was in a very sunny Dublin for the final profession of a Dominican sister and friend of mine, Sr. Susie O'Rawe. It was a wonderfully occasion as Susie after many years searching and discernment knew she had finally found the vocation to which God was calling her. She now starts her ministry in earnest as a School Chaplain living with a community of 5 other Dominican sisters in Dublin.
(Picture shows Sr. Susie centre with my wife and me)

We are all called to respond to God's plan for us whatever that might be. This diocese through the Vocations Team organising a day called 'God's Plan 4 U'. It is a day to reflect on what your vocation might be and how you can be part of the Church's mission to the world. To find out more and to print out a poster for it click here.

In the Year for Priests there is a real focus on priestly vocation on the Diocesan Vocations Website but this is not to forget the other vocations to religious, diaconate, married life and lay ministry. To help young people in this search there are also two vocations group that meet monthly in the diocese in Crawley and Woking under the aptly named title of the 'Samuel Groups'. Again information can be found on the Vocations Website.

The Dominicans sisters have the motto 'To Praise, To Bless, To Preach'. This is probably a motto all Christians could adopt whatever their vocation.

There was a very interesting discussion on this morning BBC Radio 4 on 'In Our Time' with Melvyn Bragg, on one of the most famous Dominican son, St Thomas Aquinas which is well worth listening to on BBC iPlayer. To find out more about the Dominicans in the UK why not visit their new website http://english.op.org

Thursday, 10 September 2009

Sent out to the World - Missio Re-Launch

Yesterday evening in Westminster Cathedral representatives of the hundreds of thousands of people who have given so generously to the Pontifical Mission Societies (PMS) over the course of several lifetimes travelled to Westminster Cathedral from across England and Wales. They joined by Archbishop Vincent Nichols who celebrated Mass to mark the launch of the new name of Missio for PMS in England and Wales.

They were also there many from A&B including Canon Brendan McCarthy who was until recently the Director of PMS in the diocese. Canon McCarthy at the end of Mass read a congratulatory message from Cardinal Dias the Prefect of the Congregation for the Evangelisation of Peoples. He reminded us of the words of Cardinal Vaughan who said that as the Church in England and Wales we must reach out "to the people most abandonded and poorest in the means of grace."

Fr Richard Biggerstaff, parish priest of Lewes (pictured below) has this year taken over this role from Canon McCarthy and is hoping for the continued support of the people of the diocese for the work of Missio and in particular the APF Red Boxes. The new name Missio expresses a renewed commitment to overseas mission. For over 70 years ‘To be a Christian is to be a missionary’ has been a familiar theme to people in England and Wales as they supported the missions through Association for the Propagation of the Faith (APF) and its Red Boxes, currently present in over 200,000 homes across the two countries. Countless people have helped innumerable individuals and communities in young and developing Churches through this very simple means of fundraising. This was shown during August when Mgr John Dale, the National Director of Missio in England and Wales disbursed almost £3 million from the parishes and from individual generosity, through the Papal Nuncios in the world’s mission areas, to the poorest, youngest and most needy Churches in our universal family.

Missio is a name already used by PMS across much of Europe, recognising and symbolising in the Church's unity as it shares faith, and builds lives and communities in each of the world’s 1,069 mission dioceses, where, in the rapidly-expanding Church in Africa and Asia, young churches often face extreme difficulties.

Missio consists of 4 organisations grouped together: The Association for the Propagation of the Faith (APF) which assists each and every one of the Catholic Church's 1,062 mission dioceses and territories to provide pastoral care and preach the Gospel effectively.
The Society of Peter Apostle which is the Church’s official fundraising body for the training of clergy and religious in mission countries.
Mission Together which under its original name of Holy Childhood, Mission Together has been active in Catholic schools for over a hundred and sixty years.
And finally The Pontifical Missionary Union (PMU) which aims to promote an awareness of mission and a spirit of unity, prayer and generous sacrifice among priests, religious and laity.

Many of those who attended were from other agencies of the Church who support poor communities overseas from CAFOD, Mill Hill and elsewhere.
For more photos of the event including a picture of Canon McCarthy read the Prefect's letter go to http://www.flickr.com/photos/catholicism

Left: Mgr John Dale, Director of Missio England and Wales chatting with CAFOD Director, Chris Bain.

Jesus said 'All authorty in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Go, therefore, make disciples of all the nations'. (Mt 28:19)

Thursday, 6 August 2009

We're All Going on a Summer Holiday!

So sang Cliff Richard and the Shadows in 1960's in the film of the same name. Over 40 years later they are just about to release a new single called Singing the Blues from his new album Reunited. The song was played for the first time on Radio 2 this morning by 'Veteran' Broadcaster, Terry Wogan.

You can tell it is holiday time and that news enters the silly season. The Pope, Vatican, Bishops, World Leaders and MPs are on holiday so there is nothing too serious to write about. Indeed the Christian Education Centre where the office is based is quiet as many people who work here are on holiday.

Silliness aside I was interested to read the other day that The Pope is going to 'cut' an album. News reports sate that "The voice of Pope Benedict XVI is to feature on an album of religious chants, prayers and classical music to be released later this year in time for Christmas, a British-based record company said Friday.

The German-born Pope, 82, will be heard speaking and singing in Latin, Italian, Portuguese, French and German, according to record label Geffen UK/Universal. The album, to be released with the Pope's blessing on November 30, will feature a blend of Lauretan Litanies and Marian popular chants with eight original pieces of modern classical music. It will feature Pope Benedict reciting and singing passages and prayers, accompanied by the Choir of the Philharmonic Academy of Rome, and recorded in St Peter's Basilica in Rome.
Britain's Royal Philharmonic Orchestra is recording the contemporary classical compositions at London's Abbey Road studios, of Beatles' fame. The Pope will not be travelling to Britain for the recording. "

The question everybody is asking who will be the no. 1 single/album at Christmas - Cliff or Benedict!
'Come to me, all you who labour and are overburdened, and I will give you rest.' (Mt 11:29)

Monday, 20 July 2009

Catholics and Healthcare

Anybody living in this country benefits from universal healthcare in the UK which is a wonderful blessing whatever its faults and fallings. In many Third World Countries they do not have the benefits of such universal healthcare. In many parts of the world the Church is in fact the main provider of healthcare to already poor and marginalised communities.

During a recent address to the a special conference on healthcare, Archbishop Silvano M. Tomasi C.S., Holy See permanent observer to the United Nations and Specialised Institutions in Geneva, reflecting on global healthcare needs said: "The Catholic Church sponsors 5,378 hospitals, 18,088 health clinics, 15,448 homes for the elderly and disabled, and other health care programmes throughout the world, but especially in the most isolated and marginalized areas". Yet "faith-based organisations do not receive an equitable share of the resources designated to support global, national and local health initiatives", he said.

"We must be guided by the best healthcare tradition that respects and promotes the right to life from conception until natural death for all regardless of race, disability, nationality, religion, sex and socio-economic status".

As members of the Diocese set off to Lourdes for the annual Diocesan Pilgrimage we are reminded of the important ministry to the sick that the Church supports in Arundel & Brighton. It is not just through this annual pilgrimage but also through the work of chaplains and volunteers in hospitals, hospices, nursing homes and private homes.

The Diocese is also grateful for the work of relgious orders who run homes and facilities for care of the sick in the Diocese. Bishop Kieran recently blessed a new Physiotherapy unit at Holy Cross Hospital which is run and owned by the Daughters of the Cross. Many other religious orders run nursing homes and carry out wonderful work with the sick. Even with universal healthcare in this country provided by the State their is still a real role for the Church in ministry to the sick and in particular supporting a more holistic, spirit-filled approach to care of those who are sick.

Jesus said: 'Imagine a sower going out to sow... some fell on rich soil and produced their crop, some a hundredfold, some sixty, some thirty. Listen, anyone who has ears!' (Mt 13:2 & 19)

Monday, 13 July 2009

Volunteers Please Take a Step Forward

Today our offices were visited by Barbara Wallace who used to work for the diocese but is now living in Kent but is using the fruits of her work in the diocese and elsewhere to promote a structured and spiritual basis for the work of parish volunteers. Above all we should anchor the role of volunteers in the Church as a response to their Christian baptism and confirmation, a work of the Spirit. Equally their should be a clear description of what is expected of the volunteers and an agreed period for the volunteering rather than the usual open-ended and unstructured arrangements that exist in most parishes. Volunteers are the lifeblood of parishes and church organisations but we have a responsibility to treat them properly.

To help with this work Barbara has prepared a very useful work book 'To Love and Serve the Lord' and a more recent work book 'Ministry Descriptions'. These are both available from the Diocesan Bookshop at the Christian Education Centre in Crawley via email bookshop@dabnet.org. Barbara, who also runs seminars and workshops on volunteering in parishes can be contacted via her website http://www.volunteeringinparishes.org.uk/. She also produces a free quarterly newsletter which you can sign up for.

Talking of volunteers and volunteering the Communications Office is looking for a volunteer who can help with Web and IT work. If you are interested or know someone who is interested and want more information and a role description then contact me by email: mark.woods@dabnet.org.
'Open our hearts O, Lord to accept the words of your Son.' (Acts 16:14)

Thursday, 2 July 2009

New Beginnings with Water, Oil and Fire!

On Saturday 13th June the church of St Anthony and St Francis in Crawley had it's new altar consecrated by Bishop Kieran. The church has recently been refurbished and renewed creating a new and beautiful liturgical space. If you are passing by the Friary Church do pop in, as I did recently, to have a look.

During the Mass the Bishop used the symbols of water, oil and fire (see pictures). These are powerful symbols that helps us enter more deeply into the mystery we celebrate. They point us to another reality, the presence and grace of God.
At the Second Vatican Council, that great meeting of all the world's Bishops in the 1960s the first document produced was on the Liturgy, The Constitution on the Sacred Liturgy (Sacrosanctum Concilium). Liturgy is an important part of the life of all parishes of the diocese. The Bishop works to support the liturgy through his Pastoral Team and in particular the Diocesan Liturgy Office including Barbara Hopper, the Liturgy Adviser, Fr Martin Jakubas, the Priest Adviser and the Liturgy Commission. There is also lots of good up-to-date news and information on the National Liturgy Office website including very sensible and measured advice on 'Swine Flu'.

"For it is the liturgy through which, especially in the divine sacrifice of the Eucharist, 'the work of our redemption is accomplished' and through the liturgy, especially, that the faithful are enabled to express in their lives and manifest to others the mystery of Christ and the real nature of the true Church." (SC 2).

Monday, 22 June 2009

A Bit of an Absence

This blog has been off the air for a few weeks due to a combination of holiday, conference and then the enevitable catching up. Among the many emails waiting for me was one from Richard Downer, the Melkite Greek Catholic Deacon who pointed out a few mistakes I had made in my report on our Eastern Catholic brothers and sisters. I have amended the last blog so it now reads properly. He also importantly pointed out some key issues relating to Western and Eastern Rite Catholics as follows:
' The Syro-Malabar Catholic Church, the Ukrainian Greek Catholic Church, the Melkite Greek Catholic Church and other Eastern Catholic Churches, are Particular Churches sui uris (i.e of it own RIGHT - not Rite). The Syro-Malabar Church uses the East Syrian Rite. You cannot talk of the Syro-Malabar Rite as that is just incorrect. Within the Catholic Church - there are 22 or 23 Particular churches, the largest being the Latin Church - that use RITES (the theological, liturgical and cultural traditions used by these particular churches). So the Latin Catholic Church uses the Latin rite, the Maronite Catholic Church use the West Syrian Rite, the Melkite-Greek Catholic Church uses the Byzantine Rite, and so on. Catholicity is defined by all these churches, including the Latin Church, being in communion with the Pope.'

So thank you Richard for explaining all of that. It is important that we are aware and sensitive to the needs of our Eastern Catholic brothers and sisters as many more come to this country as refugees and immigrants from the Middle East and elsewhere. Below is a YouTube of the Melkite Hymn 'Christ is Risen'.

Thursday, 28 May 2009

East and West

Pope John Paul II always stressed as does our present Pope that the Church breathes with both lungs of East and West. To many of us here in the West that means the Eastern Orthodox and Oriental Churches and we forget the Eastern Catholic Church. I was fortunate to attend a primary school in Manchester which had a number of Ukrainian Catholics as fellow pupils. One of them was in fact a good friend and so even if I did not understand all the differences I was aware of fellow Catholics who were slightly different. Ukrainian Greek Catholics who are in communion with the Bishop of Rome celebrate the Byzantine rite rather than the Latin rite. Among other differences is that they have married priests, at least in the Ukraine. The picture above shows Bishop Hlib Lonchyna celebrating Divine Liturgy at the Ukrainian Catholic Cathedral of the Holy Family in Exile in London.

Currently there are only occasional non-Latin rite liturgies celebrated in the Diocese. We do however have a Melkite-Greek Catholic Deacon, Richard Downer who is resident in the Diocese. He belongs to the Melkite Greek Catholic Church, which like the Ukrainian Greek Catholic Church, is an Eastern Catholic Church that celebrates using the Byzantine Rite. The Melkite Catholic community he serves is based in London. As it consists in the main of people from the Middle East, Arabic and English is used in the Liturgy. Also because they have no resident Melkite Bishop in the UK, the community is deemed to be an Ethnic Chaplaincy by the Diocese of Westminster. For more information on Melkites see an excellent English language Melkite website in the USA. Richard reminded me recently that the Pope visited the Melkite community and other Eastern rite Catholics in Jordan and celebrated Vespers (Evening Prayer) with them. The Melkite Patriarch of Antioch presented Pope Benedict with his Patriarch's staff both as a symbol of their unity but also as a reminder of the need the Western Church has to remember its Eastern brothers and sisters who are part of the same Universal Church. The Pope echoed this in his speech during Vespers which can be seen on the YouTube entry below."

'The next night, the Lord appeared to Paul and said, 'Courage! You have borne witness for me in Jerusalem, now you must do the same in Rome.' (Acts 23:11)

Thursday, 21 May 2009

"Blessed Be the Net?"

I was fortunate to attend the annual Catholic Media Lecture in London given by Fr Lombardi SJ (pictured right) who is Director of the Vatican's press office. He encouraged communicators to meet the challenge of using the internet to engage positively to further the Gospel message of the Church.

He said "One of the biggest challenges facing us at present is that of interactivity, and, I would say, of 'positive interactivity'. How ought we to tackle this challenge at all levels of the Church’s life? For me specifically, the challenge presents itself to the communications efforts of the Holy See, and our experience at Vatican Radio comes to mind. In recent years the internet has been for us an important tool that has made it possible for us to deliver content to countless users of all kinds. Now, however, the reality of the situation that is emerging is one in which the great thing is not simply content distribution, but greater and greater interactivity."

The full text as well as podcasts of Fr Federico Lombardi's address, “Blessed be the Net? A Roman perspective on the problems of new communications”, can be found here.

The Vatican as well as running Vatican YouTube announced this week that it is set to unveil its newest Web page. Called 'Pope2You.net', the site aims to bring the words and messages of Benedict XVI to young people. This includes a Facebook application, iPhone apps and WikiCath. Presenting the Gospel in new and exciting ways for young people.

This diocese is also shortly to relaunch it website for young people called YAAB which among other things will include a Twitter feed. Please watch out for more on all of this.

'Proclaim his help day by day, tell among the nations his glory and his wonders among all the peoples.' Psalm 95

Thursday, 14 May 2009

Hearing the Good News

Catholic Deaf Awareness week happens from 9 – 16 May. Many events will be taking place around the country to highlight not only the inclusion of people who are Deaf, Deafblind and Hard of Hearing but also their skills and energies and what they can bring to Parish and Diocesan life.

In Arundel & Brighton we have a Pastoral Service for Care of the Deaf and Hard of Hearing. They will be celebrating a Signed Mass on Saturday 6th June in Horsham. If you want to find out more about this Mass and the service in general and how to get involved then visit the relevant Diocesan website page.

So how much do you know about the Deaf, Deafblind and Hard of Hearing people in your communities? Many misconceptions abound linked to communicating with people who have some form of hearing loss. 1 in 7 of the UK population experience some form of hearing loss, that is 1 in 7 of the community in your parish church.

Don’t shout; it doesn’t help. Many, although not all, Deaf and Hard of Hearing people lip read. Lip reading requires a great deal of skill. Only 30% of English words can be read accurately on the lips. Shouting at a person distorts the lip patterns and means it is much more difficult to lip read.
There is much more information on supporting the Deaf and Hard of Hearing on the Diocesan Website.

The Sunday after next, 24 May is World Communications Sunday which reminds us that we are to proclaim the Gospel to all whether hearing or deaf. The focus this year is on the new technologies that enable the all sorts of people to 'hear' the Good News in so many different ways especially the young. To download information and ideas for World Communication Sunday have a look at the pages on the Bishops' Conference website.

Part of the Vatican's efforts for World Communications Sunday is the launch of Vatican YouTube so why not visit the site http://www.youtube.com/vatican. Below is a sample from his visit to the Holy Land:

Wednesday, 6 May 2009

Of Religious

A few blogs back I said I would add an entry about the religious life and following the recent Day for Vocations for the priesthood and religious life it seemed apt to do so now.

Recently at Worth Abbey, the Benedictine community there celebrated the final profession of Br Anthony Brockman. He has committed himself to the 3 monastic vows of stability, obedience and converstatio morum (conversion of life), to a life configured to Christ in community. As his Abbot, Christopher Jameison said in his homily at the profession: "The danger in contemporary culture is the belief that developing the sound of my own voice is to be truly spiritual; self-assertion masquerades as holiness. This completely ignores the reality of sin and the need for grace. What the monastic life provides by contrast is the discovery of myself in Christ, the discovery that my true voice is the voice of Christ."

Religious life is a counter-cultural sign that offers a life of community, obedience, stability and chastity. These are all things that the modern world finds strange but yet God continues to call men and women to partake in this life as a sign of his kingdom.

We are blessed in this diocese not only by monastic communities such as Worth Abbey, the Carthusians at Parkminster, the Poor Clares at Arundel but also by apostolic communities such as the Franciscans in Chilworth or Servites in Dorking and Bognor.
For those who might like to explore the religious life further then go to http://www.compass-points.org.uk/compass.html which offers advice, information and an opportunity to experience religious life.

The picture shows Br Anthony on the right next to Abbot Christopher and with his Mum and Dad (a deacon himself). Vocations spring from within the vocations of others.

Tuesday, 28 April 2009

Year of the Priests?

A couple of blog enteries ago I noted that 2009-2010 had been declared the Year of the Priest by Pope Benedict. It might also prove to be the year of 'The Priests', the singing trio of priests from Ireland. Their album has apparently even entered the Guinness World Record for ‘Fastest-selling UK debut for a classical act’. They are keen to promote classical and Christian music in their work. Whilst they still remain busy and active Catholic parish priests, they are also busy promoting their music with concerts and nominations for music awards.

I have to confess I have only caught a snatch of them singing on television so am no expert on their music but if you have listened to it and enjoyed it then why not vote for them in the forthcoming Classical Brit Awards. The voting is open from now until midnight on 1st May 2009. The link to vote for The Priests is: http://www.classicalbrits.co.uk/voting/143

The Priests are also playing their first UK shows soon on the following dates:
Monday 15 June – Glasgow Clyde Auditorium
Wednesday 17 June – London HMV Hammersmith Apollo
Thursday 18 June – Manchester Bridgewater Hall
You can find more information at the official website for The Priests: http://www.thepriests.com/

'You are a priest forever, a priest like Melchisedek of old' (Ps 109)

Tuesday, 21 April 2009

Alleluia He is Risen!

We continue to celebrate Eastertide and give thanks to God for the Resurrection of Jesus. We continue to pray for those new Catholics who were received and baptised at Easter. This year a record number were received into the Church in the Diocese over the easter weekend: There was an increase of over 50% this year and over 50 of them were baptised during the Easter ceremonies.

One of those baptised was 19 year old Callum Day who is training to be a mechanic. He was baptised by full immersion at the Easter Vigil in St Michael's, Worthing in front of friends, family and parishioners. He is shown in the picture just after his baptism holding his baptismal candle. He had not been baptised a young child but he had as a young man felt the call of the Lord to faith. Callum reflecting on his Easter baptism said: “I feel as if I have been reborn and made clean, and that I am able to face the world as a new person loved by Jesus and called to share that love with others.”

For more information about becoming a Catholic contact your local Catholic parish or the Diocese of Arundel & Brighton http://www.dabnet.org/ or see http://www.life4seekers.co.uk/ and http://www.catholicchurch.org.uk/

Wednesday, 8 April 2009

Of Deacons

There are 32 active Latin Rite Deacons in Arundel & Brighton Diocese alongside one Eastern Rite Melkite Deacon. They will hopefully be joined by another two deacons to be ordained this summer. There are also another 4 men in formation and we hope several more to join them in the Autumn. Vocations to the diaconate continue to grow not only in this diocese but across England and Wales and indeed the world. Now over 50% of dioceses in the world have ordained permanent deacons who are either married or celibate. There are some 800 deacons in England and Wales coming from all but one diocese.

Last year, the first two deacons were ordained in India in the Diocese of Bombay. Although that diocese has over 600 priests and no shortage of priestly vocations they also wish to restore the diaconate as a permanent state as encouraged by Vatican II in the document on the Church, Lumen Gentium. The Archbishop of that Diocese, Cardinal Oswald Gracias believes, we were told at a recent International Diaconate Conference, that deacons are not about filling in for priests but are an essential expression of Church's threefold ordained ministry of Bishop, Priest and Deacon. Ireland is also set to start its first deacons in formation this autumn and this story is slowly being replicated around the world.

At that same International Conference of Deacons from Europe East and West, America North and South, and Southern Africa we had the joy to meet Deacon Joseph from Botswana in Southern Africa who had been the only deacon in his diocese for more than 25 years but had last year been joined by 6 more men. He spoke passionately about recognizing the vocation of deacons as deacon qua deacon and not as that of some sort of 'stunted' or 'mini' priest.

The picture above shows Deacon Dr Estaban Rojas, a Columbian working in Germany with Italian immigrant communities and Deacon James Garner a business man from Zimbabwe working in South Africa at the final social evening of the International Conference. Ordinary men doing great things in the Church and beyond.

The next blog entry after Easter will reflect on the vocation of religious men and women in our diocese.

'The Lord has given me a disciple's tongue. So that I may know how to speak to the wearied he provides me with speech.' (Isaiah 50:4)

Friday, 3 April 2009

Of Bishops, Priests and Laity

About the same time as it was officially announced that Archbishop Vincent Nicholls of Birmingham (pictured right) had been appointed as the new Archbishop-Elect of Westminster our own Bishop, Kieran Conry was presiding at the funeral of Fr Cyril Cravos a priest of the diocese of Arundel & Brighton.
Fr Cyril was born and educated in Cardiff before joining the Royal Navy as an electrician. As an older man he applied for the priesthood and was ordained as a priest in January 1975 aged 44.
He served in numerous parishes in the diocese as an assistant and parish priest before moving then to his final parish of Sacred Heart in Newhaven in 1999. He had gone into a nursing home at Littlehampton where he died aged 78 but still as parish priest. He displayed a real commitment to priestly life.
As a Church we always need Bishops but we also always need priests. Fr Paul Turner who works to promote vocations to the Priesthood and Religious life has organised a number of events for men who might want to pursue that vocations which can be found on the diocesan website.
Equally important as part of the whole People of God is the lay people of the Diocese. Arundel Cathedral parish is currently mourning the loss of John Brazier who was for 30 years a server and later on a sacristan at the Cathedral. He will be missed by family and friends but also by all who attended the Cathedral over the years. His funeral is on Monday 6 April.
This particular blog has mentioned most of the People of God but deliberately missed out Deacons who will feature in the next post.

Please pray for the future ministry of Archbishop Vincent and the repose of the souls of Fr Cyril and John Brazier.

'May the souls of the faithful departed through the mercy of God rest in peace'

Tuesday, 24 March 2009

A Year of the Priest - 2009-2010

Pope Benedict has recently announced a 'Year of the Priest' to run from June 2009 to June 2010. The Pope made the announcement during an audience 16 March with members of the Vatican Congregation for Clergy.

In part it is to mark the 150th anniversary of the death of the French parish priest and saint, John Vianney, often known as the Cure D'Ars, who Benedict called "a true example of a pastor at the service of Christ's flock."

Priests must be, says the Pope "present, identifiable and recognisable - for their judgement of faith, personal virtues and attire - in the fields of culture and of charity which have always been at the heart of the Church's mission". He also reminded us that "The centrality of Christ leads to a correct valuation of priestly ministry, without which there would be no Eucharist, no mission, not even the Church."

Just as the on-going current Year of St Paul has enabled many people to think about and reevaluate his contribution to Christian life then maybe this Year of the Priest will enable the Church to reflect more deeply on the role of the priest in the Church and how priesthood functions within the whole community of the People of God.

The Pope will open the special year with a vespers service at the Vatican 19 June - the feast of the Sacred Heart of Jesus and the day for the sanctification of priests. He will close the celebrations during a World Meeting of Priests in St. Peter's Square June 19, 2010.

Please pray for the Priests in Arundel & Brighton Diocese.

'you are a priest forever, according to the order of Melchisedek'