Thursday, 30 September 2010

Comments from Around the Diocese on the Papal Visit

Colette and Sarah - Papal Visits R Us
Sarah Ross, Arundel & Brighton Diocese Papal Visit Coordinator has just passsed on some of the comments she received from pilgrims around the diocese. A big thanks must go to both her and Colette, the Bishop's Secretary who both did so much to help make the visit a success from the diocesan end.
The comments speak for themselves:

“… Hyde Park was absolutely amazing, …The day will stay with me for ever ,the highilght was the adoration. To be that close to the Holy Father was amazing”
Ian, Guildford.

“Sunday was brilliant even with the no sleep and all our group from Thames Ditton really loved the day."
Leonie, Thames Ditton

Christ the Prince of Peace
Weybridge at Hyde Park

“Although we gulped a little at the set off time to Birmingham yesterday, this proved to be a precious part of our families pilgrimage and helped us to offer up our journey and step out in faith – things can be too easy.
The day was seamless and the early start enabled us to get a wonderful position and take some time to prepare and pray. There was an amazing atmosphere among the crowd and a sense of belonging to a strong, alive Church.
As I reflect today, what made the Pope’s visit so special was the feeling of encounter, being led and encouraged to deepen our relationship with God and to recognise that God has a purpose and desire for everyone. The challenge for us now is to continue to seek that encounter.
I’m sure many more graces will come from the Holy Father’s visit.”
Clare, Weybridge

“We were extremely happy to have had the chance to encounter the Holy Father in Hyde Park... the atmosphere was simply fantastic, and the message from our Pope Benoit XVI crystal clear, in particular for our youth. This has been an extraordinary experience that my children -now teenagers- and I will take time to forget (... in fact I hope we never do !).”
Jaime, Europe (not parishioner but wrote for help to get tickets!)

Richard and Diane from St Mary
Magdalen at Hyde Park

…In the end we all made it to Cofton Park - and had an awe inspiring, stimulating and blessed time….Isn’t it wonderful that he is back safe with no major incident and only spirit filled words left for us all to ponder on.
Chrissy, Brighton St Mary Magdalene

“We had a lovely and moving time at Crofton Park.
The up side of the early departure was that we were there first and were right at the front”
Neil, Rottingdean

“What a fantastic day it was yesterday. The rain cleared by the time the Pope arrived, and the sun even appeared. Evidence of divine intervention if ever it was needed.
The whole day went smoothly, although a lot of tired Pilgrims by the end. The day itself was brilliant and from talking to everyone it felt like they had all experienced something both important and personally fulfilling. “
Guy, Camberley

“We just want to say a big thanks to you for allowing us to experience a truly magnificent occasion.
In the end we took 35 people from St Joan’s Farnham to Hyde Park and all we believe, had a most enjoyable and uplifting experience.
Clearly there was a lot to organise for the Pope’s visit but from the feedback from the Media and also from talking to other Pilgrims it has undoubtedly been a great success.”
Mark and Isabel, Farnham

“It was a tremendous event, and despite the crowds we managed to get to the very front! The girls were in tears as the Holy Father passed us and looked right at the girls, it was such a moving experience. The whole event was so prayerful, and the liturgy was really enriching”
Pia, Chaplin, St Leonards-Mayfield School

“a most moving and spiritually uplifting event”
Mark, Crowborough

“It is a great sadness that our Franciscan Friary and Parish will cease to exist from the end of this year but we have a store of happy memories of which our participation in the Holy Father's visit will be one of the unforgettables.”
Brian, Chilworth and Gomshall
Pope Celebrates Mass at Cofton Park
Photo credit: Francis Fernandes

“We had an amazing day at Cofton Park. The atmosphere of joy, love and support for the Pope and the Church was wonderful to experience.”
Mary, Woking

“……We were in Birmingham yesterday and couldn't have had a more wonderful experience. All the detailed planning paid off and everything went smoothly. The Pilgrims were delighted to have been there in person.”
Nicola, Molesey

…”Our folks who attended at either venue are on Cloud 9.5”
Fr Jim McGuire, Cobham

“I and my party have this evening returned from Cofton Park. It was, for all of us, a momentous occasion, and one which was both uplifting and supremely memorable”
Deacon Michael Phillips, Sutton Park

“All our pilgrims were so thankful that they went to the celebrations and found it a truly memorable event which they wouldn't have missed for the world!”
Brenda , Rottingdean Parish Office

“Our trip to Crofton Park was an amazing experience and the memories of the day will be with us for the rest of our lives.”
Olivia, Peacehaven

Wednesday, 29 September 2010

Pope's Meeting with Pushkin the Cat in the Birmingham Oratory

During his visit and subsequent to the Beatification Mass for Cardinal Newman the Holy Father paid a private visit to the Birmingham Oratory which was founded by Cardinal Newman and was his home for many years. He was the first pilgrim to pray at the shrine of Blessed John Henry and went to the Cardinal's room.

Pope Benedict was also delighted to meet Pushkin the cat, to whom he spoke in "cattish German"! Follow the link to see the news report on the Pope's meeting: 

Pope Benedict is well known as a lover of cats . The Catholic Truth Society have produced a lovely little children's book called 'Benedict and Chico'. It is a biography of a Pope with a difference. Benedict’s cat Chico tells the story of the Holy Father and the adventures that led him from a small town in Germany to the city of Rome. With an introduction by Pope Benedict’s personal secretary, Mgr. Georg Gänswein. The book is available from the Arundel & Brighton Diocesan Bookshop

Tuesday, 28 September 2010

Yet Another Young Persons' Reflection on the Papal Visit

Three A&B Young Pilgrims at Hyde Park
Below is a reflection on the Vigil in Hyde Park from 15 year old Joe Simon:

The atmosphere was electrifying, the people were beautiful with the faith they were advertising so proudly to the world and the Pope was serene, inspiring and thought-provoking. The day started off with a group of 35 from the town of Weybridge in Surrey; at first everyone was slightly nervous yet by the end strong friendship bonds had been formed. We could not escape the vivifying happiness of the thousands of people around us as we processed our way up to Hyde Park, ambling slowly along. People from different sides of London were approaching us as if we were long lost friends, all united through the fire that our faith was exuding.
When we finally reached the Park and settled down amid the buzzing 80,000 people, I personally felt such pride that I was part of the Catholic Church and a sense of greater being settled down on me. The fantastic performers and the time we had rekindling old friendships immediately set the pace for the day, leaving us relaxed as well as personally and emotionally ready for the arrival of Pope Benedict XVI. Wherever I walked I managed to spot people I knew from retreats I had been on, and people from the Arundel & Brighton Lourdes community. And as the hours crept by and the excitement grew in the crowds, you could only find yourself shouting out the words of “Shine, Jesus, Shine” at the top of your voices while papal flags were flying high, as if we were supporting at a football match.

There is a picture in my mind of three women from our parish - Linda, Simone and Barbara, my mother, looking so joyful, which for any teenager is their worst nightmare! Then the screaming started and heads turned towards the big screens, trying to catch a glimpse of the icon that we had all been waiting for, and as he appeared with the white, swirling robes it seemed almost unreal that WE were going to see the Pope!

Deacon Gerard Hatton
This was the moment we had all been waiting for. This was it. As he pulled into Hyde Park and the Vigil started, a penetrating silence overcame the crowds as we so desperately wanted to absorb every word he had to say, to such an extent that my mother ended up on my shoulders to get a better view! Familiar faces were also sighted on the big screens, such as our newly ordained deacon, Gerard Hatton receiving the monstrance from the Pope and laying it on the altar. We stood in awe. By the end of the momentous vigil of prayer with its renewal of faith and strength we all cheered for our leader as he retreated back for some well earned rest.

The day left me with many emotions: I no longer felt sceptical towards the Pope because of his views. That evening, I saw a fragility and beauty which touched me deeply. My faith felt renewed, which is hard to find for a 15 year old boy, and it is ironic that in a crowd of 80,000 people I managed to find something that was so little and minute in my life and, lastly, THE CATHOLIC CHURCH IS ALIVE. This is the aspect of the Vigil that struck me the most. Though scarred and challenged, faith is healed up through the common belief that God provides salvation for us all.

For more pictures at Hyde Park go to

Monday, 27 September 2010

Two First Professions for Littlehampton Franciscan Sisters

Two novices of the Franciscan Missionary Sisters of Littlehampton said ‘yes’ to the divine invitation to follow God and live life the Jesus way, the Gospel way, in Sisterhood and community.

Sister Mary Magdalene and Sister Rose of Lima made their first profession stage on 8 September 2010 at St Joseph’s convent Littlehampton. The day was a joyful occasion and both Sisters were joined by family, friends and members of the FMSL community. Br Philippe Yates (Principal of the Franciscan International Study Centre) was the main celebrant at the profession Mass. All three pictured right.

Sister Magdalene will continue her mission by taking a training course in youth leadership and chaplaincy. Sister Rose will continue her mission and studies by working with the poor and homeless.

A full story should appear in a forthcoming issue of the A&B News 
Are you considering a call to consecrated life? Don’t waste time wondering if you have a call. Do something about it. Call or e-mail us to begin a conversation. Please visit our website:
For more about vocations generally in the diocese go to

Friday, 24 September 2010

Another Young Person's Reflection on the Papal Visit

Catherine Anne Crick who is Head Girl at the Towers Convent School in Upper Bedding made a presentation to the school about the Vigil at Hyde Park during assembly this Monday . Below is a small selection of what she said:

"Then the evening Vigil began. After an introduction and welcome from the Archbishop of Southwark, the Most Reverend Peter Smith and The Holy Father we had a reading and gospel. After the homily in which The Holy Father spoke of John Henry Newman, now Blessed John Henry Newman he lit the Paschal Candle and from this candles from the Parish representatives were lit. This part of the vigil was to emphasise the light of Christ being with us and also being with us in body as the Blessed Sacrament procession began.

The next part of the vigil was, for me, one of the most amazing moments of the day and one of the most unforgettable moments of my life. The Holy Father knelt in front of the monstrance and lead adoration. For the first few minutes of adoration you could have heard a pin drop in the crowd of 80,000 people. Then the choir began to sing. I have been in the presence of the Eucharist before and I have to admit I haven’t always felt any benefit from it. I didn’t really use the time I was given well and I would mutter a rushed prayer and daydream for the remaining time but on Saturday I prayed for the whole time. Not for my own needs but for leaders, other religions, the homeless, those who have lost faith, lonely, sick, deceased, all my family and friends and the Towers Community and my Parish community. I also thanked God for the opportunity to be in the presence of the Pope because like I felt at mass and sudden rush of realisation came over me and it sunk in that I was in the same arena of the Pope, breathing the same air, in his presence. I found that quite hard to take in but at the same time I was unbelievably privileged to be part of it.

A litany of the sacred heart then followed and then we had Benediction which was spectacular as I have only had Benediction once and for my second time in which I actually knew what was going on the Pope was leading it. He then thanked everyone for coming and blessed us before leaving Hyde Park. I was slightly saddened by the fact that it was all over but then I told myself ‘It doesn’t have to be. You can tell your friends, family, youth group, church. You will remember this day for the rest of your life, there may never be another time when you will ever be so close to the Pope again.’

As we left Hyde Park to make our way back to the coach one of my leaders was beaming and so we asked why and she simply said: ‘I love Jesus. I just love him. I think he’s lovely and I love him. I love Jesus.’ We all laughed a bit at this but then we realised, well actually so do we... we felt the same and Saturday has made us more aware of our faith, proud to be Catholic and has strengthened our belief in God.

So I leave you with one thought: The Holy Father’s message is: Every single human being of whatever religion is entitled to and worthy of happiness. The greatest tragedy in life is that most people never find their happiness because they are looking for it in the wrong place. You will only have true happiness if you learn to love. When Pope Benedict says ‘Heart speaks unto Heart’ he does not mean just understanding each other, He means for you to love each other."

What a powerful testimony from Catherine!

Thursday, 23 September 2010

Reflections of the Pope, Our Bishop and a Nun on the Papal Visit

At his audience this Wednesday Pope Benedict commented on his visit to the United Kingdom. He began by saying:
"I have just returned from my first Apostolic Journey to the United Kingdom, and I wish to send my affectionate greetings to all those I met and those who contributed to the visit through the media during four days, which have begun a new and important phase in the long-standing relations between the Holy See and Great Britain."

He concluded by reflecting on Sunday's beatification of John Henry Newman saying:
"then, was a moment of deep personal satisfaction, as the Church celebrated the blessedness of a great Englishman, whose life and writings I have admired for many years and who has come to be appreciated by countless people far beyond the shores of his native land. Blessed John Henry Newman’s clear-minded search to know and express the truth in charity, at whatever cost to his own personal comfort, status and even friendships, is a wonderful testimony of a pure desire to know and love God in the communion of the Church. His is surely an example that can inspire us all."

Our own Bishop, Kieran Conry has written to all parishes expressing his delight at the visit of Pope Benedict which he believed was an 'unpreceedented' success. He said reflecting on the future "So what now? I think that we can feel proud to be Catholic, and hold our heads high again. But we must be neither triumphalist or complacent. We still have a task to do, and that is to enter the conversation that the Pope spoke of, to find ways of sharing our faith with people ... As the Pope said before he flew back home, this moment is a challenge but it is an opportunity."

Finally below is a lovely video of Sister Paul Miryam, who belongs to the Order of the Visitation at The Monastery, Waldron, East Sussex who talks about her meeting with the Pope on Friday 17th September at St Mary's University College, Twickenham.

Tuesday, 21 September 2010

A Young Person's Reflection on the Papal Visit

Below is a short piece from Jazzie Van den Berg from Guildford who was at Westminster Cathedral and in Hyde Park on Saturday:

"I was one of the Youth from Arundel and Brighton who was chosen by my church to go to Westminster Cathedral and Hyde Park on Saturday 18th September (See picture left of A&B Youth queuing for Hyde Park).

It was a day I’ll never forget. I left on a coach at 5am with four of my friends from my church, St Josephs in Guildford.

When I reached Westminster Cathedral I was shocked at how many people had come to visit the pope and there were loads of people watching the mass from their office windows. Thousands of teenagers were crammed into the plaza in front of the Cathedral and there were many news reporters and police. Sky news interviewed our group and we were on television very early in the morning.

When the Pope arrived we all cheered and clapped and it was very loud although the Mass was solemn and prayerful. But when he came out and greeted us all everyone became very loud. He blessed us all and it was an emotional moment for everyone.

The day carried on getting more exciting as we walked towards Hyde Park and the crowds cheered us along which made everyone feel very special as we processed along and many people were waving flags from their windows and there were many tourists taking photos. We were so proud to be young Catholics and be part of this special day.

We could hardly believe it when we got to Hyde Park only to find that all the Youth had been given seats right in front of the Alter and we could see the stage perfectly from our seats. There was a sense of joy when Pope Benedict arrived and the whole of Hyde Park was energised and cheering. The crowds calmed down when the vigil started and the Blessed Sacrament was exposed and venerated.

It was an amazing feeling to see so many Catholics from all cultures together praying in silence to God and thousands of people all ages being moved by the Holy Spirit. It definitely has to be the best pilgrimage I have ever been on!

Monday, 20 September 2010

The Pope Joins 85,000 in Hyde Park for Vigil of Prayer

In early evening sunshine the Pope joined 85,000 in Hyde Park to celebrate a vigil of prayer ending with a period of exposition of the Blessed Sacrament and then Benediction. In this he was assisted by Deacon Gerard Hatton from Arundel & Brighton Diocese who is to be ordained a priest next February.

The crowd of people had been there for many hours enjoying singing, dance and drama. They were in joyful mood when the Pope arrived.

The Pope reminded the crowd in his homily that as Newman they were called to follow God "as men and women made in the image and likeness of God" and that "we were created to know the truth, to find in that truth our ultimate freedom and the fulfilment of our deepest human aspirations."

Once again the huge numbers turning not only in the Park which was filled to capacity but also the many thousands lining the route undermined those who felt this visit would be a damp squib. People have begun to understand that he has a message that is worth listening to and that he is a gentle and humble pastor.

Sunday, 19 September 2010

The Pope Meets Victims of Child Abuse

In the afternoon of Saturday as many of us expected he met with 5 victims of child abuse by priests and once more expressed his sorrow and renewed his commitment and that of the Church to doing all it could to deal with this problem. Below is the statement issued from  the Holy See Press Office:

"On Saturday 18 September 2010, in the Apostolic Nunciature in London, the Holy Father met a group of persons who had been sexually abused by members of the clergy.

He was moved by what they had to say and expressed his deep sorrow and shame over what victims and their families had suffered. He prayed with them and assured them that the Catholic Church is continuing to implement effective measures designed to safeguard young people, and that it is doing all in its power to investigate allegations, to collaborate with civil authorities and to bring to justice clergy and religious accused of these egregious crimes.

As he has done on other occasions, he prayed that all the victims of abuse might experience healing and reconciliation, and be able to overcome their past and present distress with serenity and hope for the future.
Following this meeting, the Holy Father will address a group of professionals and volunteers dedicated to the safeguarding of children and young people in church environments. "

It now falls to the Catholic Community in England and Wales to help the Pope keep good these promises. In Arundel & Brighton the Safeguarding Office works hard to this end.

Saturday, 18 September 2010

Papal Mass in Westminster and Meeting with Young People

This morning the Pope joined hundreds of people in a packed Westminster Cathedral for a magnificient Mass with an incredible entrance hymn (introit) from James MacMillan. The Catholic Church certainly does solemn liturgy. His sermon was particularly moving not just because of his powerful words on Child Abuse but because he clearly spoke heart to heart!

At end of Mass (see picture above) he then went out into the piazza and met with the young people of England and Wales were he was enthusiastically welcomed by them. He then blessed a special candle stand for use by young.

It was once again a beautiful sunny day filled with prayer music and joy, and the wise words of the Holy Father.

Friday, 17 September 2010

Pope Meets Anglicans and Politicans

After lunch the Pope headed to Lambeth Palace to meet Archbishop Rowan for an ecumenical exchange in the presence of both Catholic and Anglican Bishops. The Pope expressed his pleasure in being able to repay Archbishop Rowan for his visits to him in Rome. Whilst acknowledging the difficulties facing ecumenism nevertheless he believed that there has still been great profres in dialogue over the last 40 years. He closed his speech by saying to Archbishop Rowan "let us renew our determination to pursue the goal of unity in faith, hope, and love, in accordance with the will our on Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ."

He then went over to Westminster Hall by popemobile to speak to the great and the good. Remembering the spirit of St Thomas More he asked that religion remain "in the public square" and, that faith and reason continue in dialogue. He stressed that religion "is not a problem to solve." It should be a relationship rather of dialogue. He hoped that the good relationship with the United Kingdom on global social issues would continue and deepen especially in relation to "environmental responsibility." He also pleaded that if banks are 'too big to fail' then the need of the poor of the world should also be treated in the same way. He said "Surely the integral human development of the world's peoples is no less important: here is an enterprise, worthy of the world's attention, that is truly 'too big to fail'."

In front of cheering crowds lining the street the Pope entered Westminster Abbey where he again spoke of the need for dialogue not just between Christians but with the whole of modern society. Looking to that great English Saint, the Venerable Bede he asked that his example "inspire the Christians of these lands to rediscover their sahred legacy, to strenghten what they have in common, and to continue their efforts to grow in friendship." He then went in a powerful symbol of this to the tomb of King St Edward the Confessor with Archbishop Williams to kneel in prayers as fellow Christian leaders committed to ongoing ecumenical dialogue and friendship.

What an afternoon! And so to Westminster Cathedral and Hyde Park this Saturday.

Pope Arrives in England to a Warm Sunny Welcome

The Pope today sweep into St Mary's University College in Twickenham for a busy morning meeting Religious, Schools and Inter-Faith assembly. Althought there were a few protestors at the gate the rousing welcome he received from the students and staff of the college at the gate and the school children gathered in front of the chapel far outweighed those protests.

In the chapel he spoke to representatives of Religious and especially addressed those involved in education. In particular he remembered how he was taught as a young boy by 'the English Ladies' who were part of the order who have their foundation in that great English woman, Mary Ward. He also gave thanks for those Religious in schools who "provide a safe environment for children and young people."

After praying with all those gathered he moved off in the Popemobile to take part in the Big Assembly with nearly 4,000 school children and their teachers. What a cheer went up as the Pope entered the sports field! There he not only heard the songs and beautiful voices of Catholic school children but took part in a 2 way conversation via the internet with St John Vianney Catholic School in the Gambia. It was a powerful moment reflecting the global outreach of the Catholic Church but also the commitment of British people to their brothers and sisters in other parts of the world, a sign of true solidarity. In his speech to the children he encouraged them to become saints and follow the path of holiness. Among the schools present where those from Surrey and Sussex including all those named after Cardinal Newman. This great English man is to be beatified by the Pope at Birmingham on Sunday.

Finally he moved to the stunning Waldgrave Room in the College to meet and speak with Inter-Faith leaders including Dr Azzam from the Muslim Community and the Chief Rabbi Lord Sacks. He especially wished the Jewish Community a happy and holy celebration of Yom Kippur. The Pope stressed the common searching for the sacred which bound all faiths together. He emphasised as well the Catholic Church's continuing commitment to inter-faith dialogue since Vatican II. Through cooperation and dialogue fundamentalism and sectarianism can be undermined and be "a convincing witness before the world." 

The Holy Father then headed back to the Papal Nunciature for lunch and a rest before his afternoon schedule begins again in earnst as this blog is published.

Fr Lombardi, the Vatican Press Spokesperson in an impromtu press conference at the end of the morning told the assembled the media that the Pope had found the whole morning a real "feast of joy."

The picture shows your intrepid blogger in front of the popemobile. Sorry only picture been able to get!

Thursday, 16 September 2010

Pope Celebrates Mass in Glasgow

The Pope after his successful welcome by the Queen in Edinburgh was driven to Glasgow to celebrate Mass in Bellahouston Park. Surronded by some 70,000 worshippers he presided at Mass. There were spectacular views of the crowd on the television. It certainly looked impressive to those of us watching it. Despite problems and difficulties the visit is already confounding the critics and nay-sayers.
There was a couple of beautiful moments as he entered the park when a  couple of little babies were lifted up to the popemobile and the Pope stopped it to kiss both babies.

On a beautiful sunny afternoon he then celebrated a beautiful Mass assisted by Bishops, Priests, Deacons and servers, as well as the ten of thousands of Lay People. In his homily he repeated many of the themes of his earlier speech this morning but also especially encouraging young people to live up the challenge of the gospel as the Church of today. He left in evening sunshine to great cheering from the Bellahouston crowd with a huge smile on his face.

Well done Scotland and it is now down to us in England to respond in like manner!

For more on the papal visit and for his homily go to

The Pope Has Arrived!

The Pope has landed in Scotland and has been welcomed by the Queen. The Pope expressed his delight at being in the United Kingdom. In his speech, which can be found on the Papal Visit website he reminded those listening of the Christian heritage of the United Kingdom and the vital part that the Christianity still has to play in the life of the country.  He said that "the exclusion of God, religion and virtue from public life leads ultimately to a truncated vision of man and of society."

On the plane he also addressed the issue of Child Abuse and not only did he onve again express his shock and sadness but he also that the Church had not been vigilant enough or quick enough to deal with the issue. In particular he said that he wanted to offer the victims "material, pyschological and spiritual" help. This is probably the strongest statement he has made about Child Abuse on his many visits abroad.

There will be further updates over the next few days as the visit continues.

Tuesday, 14 September 2010

The Pope is Coming!

Interest and excitement is growing in the Diocese as the Papal Visit approaches. It is good to note that our diocesan quota for pilgrims to Hyde Park, London is full, and the quota for Cofton Park, Birmingham is also nearly full. There may be the odd spare place here and there so if a parish does have spaces then pilgrims still have till Thursday evening to register with their parish.

The Diocesan involvement with the visit begins on Friday morning when 130 school children and teachers attend St Mary's University College for a very special School Assembly with the Pope and some 3,000 other school representatives from around England and Wales.

Saturday morning sees over 100 young people from the Diocese going to Westminster Cathedral to be greeted by Pope Benedict. They will join hundreds of others from the Diocese in Hyde Park for a Vigil of Prayer which the Pope will end with Exposition of the Blessed Sacrament and Benediction assisted by Deacon Gerard Hatton from Weybridge parish.

Other pilgrims from the Diocese will join the Pope on Sunday morning for the Mass of Beatification of the Venerable John Henry Cardinal Newman in Birmingham.

They will be long days for all the pilgrims but they will be part of something they will never forget.

Finally our Bishop, Kieran Conry will join with all the other Bishops of England and Wales in meeting with the Pope at Oscott College in Birmingham.