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.