Friday, 29 October 2010

Created Out of Nothing - God and Creation

Dr. Stephen Hawking's new book, “The Grand Design,” makes the bold claim that the universe “created itself from nothing” based on physical laws such as gravity, making God unnecessary for a self-created and self-unfolding model of the universe.

Br Guy Consolmagno, SJ
Brother Guy Consolmagno, SJ, an astronomer at the Vatican Observatory, who has visited the Diocese in the past, says rather that the preconditions for the universe's unfolding and operations were not a form of “nothing,” as Hawking considers them to be. Rather they are the conditions created by God for the ordering of the world. In opposition to Hawking he believes God is the reason why space and time and the laws of nature can be present for the forces to operate that  Hawking talks about.

Hawking's dismissal of God, Br. Consolmagno says, is based not only on his incorrect designation of physical laws as “nothing,” but also on a failure to grasp the notion of God's transcendence. As such, he concluded, Hawking was really dismissing a kind of “god” in which Christians do not believe. In fact for Br. Consolmagno God is the reason why existence itself exists.

Fr Andrew Pinsent
Other philosophers and theologians who challenge Hawking are the American Jesuit, Robert J Spitzer SJ in his book 'New Proofs for the Existence of God' (available from the Dabcec Bookshop) and our own diocesan priest Fr Andrew Pinsent who is an assistant Priest in St Joseph's, Epsom and Research Director of the Ian Ramsey Centre for Science and Religion at Oxford. Fr Andrew has recently written an article for The Universe newspaper as part of its new apologetics section on reasons for belief in God's existence. He is also closely involved in the new Maryvale Institute MA in Apologetics which is to launch in January 2011. Concluding his article on proofs for the exisitence of God he says "at this particular time in history, God seems to have made it rather difficult to believe in His non-existence."

Some of this article is drawn from a Catholic News Agency article on Hawking's book.

Thursday, 28 October 2010

Hand in Hand at St Peter’s Church, Newdigate

Members of Hand in Hand

Hand in Hand, having celebrated Mass with Bishop Kieran at the Annual Fiesta at St Joseph’s, Cranleigh earlier in the year, were invited by RevAndrew Coe to participate in the Family Holy Anglican Communion Service at St Peter’s Church, Newdigate on Sunday, 19th September.

It was a beautiful service in a wonderful old church, which was originally built in the 11th century, with a bell tower added in the 13th century. The service started with a peel of bells and continued in a very reverend and inclusive manner. Before the confession, the Hand in Hand group took the lead in ‘God gave us hands, Hands to create, Hands to love….’. Then after the Creed they prayed using a dance movement to ‘Lay Your Hands Gently Upon Us’. Our final contribution, just before the blessing, was signing (not singing!) ‘The Peace of God I Leave You’, a beautiful hymn written by Bernadette Farrell.

The congregation was very welcoming and appreciative, and thanked us warmly for taking part in their service. After a welcome mug of tea in the church, we were then invited across the road to a sumptuous shared meal in the garden of a converted barn. A good time was had by all.

Hand in Hand is a group, some of whom have learning difficulties, which aims to discover Christ’s presence in and among us, and then bring this to others in a prayerful way, using all types of drama and movement. If anybody is interested in joining Hand in Hand, Contact Denise Adamson 01444 243361 or Email

Wednesday, 27 October 2010

News from Shoreham and Steyning

Adur Valley Youth Group on Isle of Wight
Recently nineteen young people from the parish of Our Lady Queen of Peace, Adur Valley, which covers the areas of Shoreham and Steyning, visited the Abbey of St Cecilia’s on the Isle of Wight for the day. 

They were given a presentation on the foundation of the order and life at the Abbey and then were able to question the sisters on their life and why they joined the Order of St. Benedict.  Fr. Anthony Glaysher from Ryde kindly said Mass and they were then treated to refreshments – they also found some time to enjoy the good weather on the beach!  They were joined by  Sisters from the Convent of the Blessed Sacrament in the parish and Confirmation Catechists. 

From left to right: Fr Dominic and Fr Sean
As well Fr Sean Finnegan has now begun a year’s sabbatical in order to complete his book on the history of Wonersh. Fr Dominic O’Hara has been appointed as Parish Administrator for the year.  We wish them both well in their new settings.

Monday, 25 October 2010

An Invitation to a Saintly Celebration of Hallowen

An initiative  called Night of Light has been launched to challenge how Hallowen is celebrated. It is the inspiration of Damian Stayne, the founder of the Catholic community, Cor et Lumen Christi. He explained: "The Night of Light is an international initiative to reclaim Halloween as a joyful Christian celebration. In many countries around the world children's celebrations are being organised, as are prayer gatherings, with people putting a light in their window to visibly witness to neighbours and friends."

He added: "The evening of 31 October is called Halloween ('All Hallows Eve') and is the vigil (beginning) of the Feast of All Saints - the feast in which Catholics celebrate the glory of God in His saints, the victory of light over darkness in the lives of God's holy ones in heaven. Jesus is the 'Light of the World'. The saints lived by that light, and became a beacon in their own generation. Everyone is called by Jesus to live out this vocation - to be the 'Light of the world' for others today."

Bishop Kieran Conry

Bishop Kieran Conry from this Diocese, Chair of the Department for Evangelisation and Catechesis, said: "Halloween is now the biggest commercial festival after Christmas and Easter, and it is time we reminded Christians of what it really is. The celebration of feast days is an important part of our Catholic culture. On the evening of 31 October why not do something to make your faith respectfully seen and heard? Light a candle or display publicly another kind of light, for example, perhaps alongside an image of Christ. This could be a powerful way in which we can show people that we have hope in someone other than ourselves. The light will provoke questions and is a way that people can be signposted to goodness. I encourage everyone to participate."

Damian Stayne suggests key elements of the Night of Light could include: a vigil Mass for the Feast of All Saints; all-night Adoration; parties and treats for children dressing up as saints; placing a light in your window (safely) as a sign to passers-by that yours is a Christian household and Christ is your light. Some may like to wear a white item of clothing as a symbol of their allegiance to Christ, Our Light.

Although the Night of Light has run previously, this year in partnership with the Home Mission Desk of the Catholic Bishops' Conference of England and Wales it is being offered as a way of following up the Visit of the Holy Father to the UK.

Archbishop Vincent Nichols recently wrote in his Pastoral Letter to his diocese: "Making faith visible is so much a part of the invitation the Holy Father has extended to us all.' Participating in the Night of Light is offered as one way of responding to that invitation.

Additional ideas and resources to celebrate the night can be found on:

Friday, 22 October 2010

More Parish Memories of the Papal Visit

Paul Rietchel from St Joseph's parish, Dorking reports on the Beatification Mass at Cofton Park, Birmingham:
Pope listens to Archbishop Longley following
beatification of Cardinal Newman
This memorable day started by leaving home at 12.30am and arriving back at 6.30pm. The coach for our group from Dorking along with Redhill parishioners left from St Bede’s, Redhill, where Fr Charles Howell, one of the priests of the parish, gave us a blessing for our pilgrimage to Birmingham. It was the Beatification Mass for Cardinal John Henry Newman, a parish priest and theologian who lived there in the 19th century. Our route took us down the M40 where at 3am we stopped at the Oxford Services along with many other coaches also going to Birmingham.

We arrived in the dark at the red coach park at Cofton Park which used to be the Longbridge car factory. Everyone had to arrive by coach so there were two coach parks for the 1,200 or so coaches taking about 55,000 pilgrims. One of the many costs was miles of temporary fencing for safety in the coach parks! We had a relatively short walk to the disabled wheelchair gate as one of our group was in a wheelchair so we found ourselves in the Park, only 100 yards from the Sanctuary, just in front of the BBC’s commentary box at about 6am. With music and large TV screen we had breakfast and just waited until 8.10 when the BBC Radio 4 Sunday Worship commenced, live from Cofton Park.

The Pope, having taken off by helicopter from Wimbledon Park, arrived in Birmingham and came amongst the pilgrims in his Popemobile before Mass and fortunately we were close to his route.

Cofton Park was transformed into an open air church and during the three hours that followed there were a few lovely periods of complete silence.The Mass started at 10.15, by which time the drizzle, which had been falling all night, had just stopped and the sun broke through as the Pope announced with prayers that Cardinal Newman is now Blessed. Fr Dominic our parish priest from Dorking was one of 1,000 priests concelebrating with the Pope with parts of the Mass in Latin. Some of the hymns were those written by Cardinal Newman including those whilst an Anglican. The concluding hymn ‘For All the Saints’ was very rousing and uplifting and a grand finale to the public part of the Pope’s visit.

By this time it was 1 o’clock and people got out their picnics before returning to their coaches. No one was rushing to get away. We started to move at about 1.45, the Park was still full and the coach left at about 2.45. The whole day was very moving and certainly not tiring. It was all very relaxed and a wonderful day to be remembered. I was left with the thought that the Mass celebrated by the Pope in an unbroken succession from Christ and St Peter is exactly the same Mass as celebrated daily in our parishes and around the world.

In the words of David Cameron. the Prime Minister, at Birmingham Airport in saying goodbye; he paid tribute to the Pope for challenging Britain to ‘sit up and think and that can only be a good thing’. The Country must not ignore its Christian roots.

Thursday, 21 October 2010

Diamond Jubilee of Religious Sister in Redhill

Left to right: Fr Kevin Dring, Dom Stephen Ortiger, Deacon Tim Murrill,
Fr Seamus Hester, Fr Lauence Quinn-Morris, Fr Charles Howell;
Front Centre: Sr Helen

Sr. Helen Mizzi recently celebrated her diamond jubilee as a Sister of St. Dorothy. A large congregation filled St Joseph's Church, Redhill to honour her and the faithful service she, together with the other members of her Community, have given to the parish.

The Mass was celebrated by Dom Stephen Ortiger OSB, Episcopal Vicar for Religious in Arundel & Brighton Diocese. Sr Helen was joined by many relatives from her native Malta who had flown in especially for the occasion, a huge surprise as it was all arranged in secret. Also present from Malta was Sr. Doreen, the regional Superior of the Sisters of St. Dorothy.

Fr Stephen, in his homily, said Sr Helen has touched the lives of many in the community. It was particularly appropriate that the Mass should be for the Guardian Angels as Sr Helen, over the years, has been a guardian angel to many in need. 

As well as gifts and flowers she was thrilled to be presented with a Papal Blessing.

For a full report see a future edition of A&B News

Wednesday, 20 October 2010

More Memories of the Papal Visit

Deacon Gerard Hatton in Procession with
the Blessed Sacrament at Hyde Park
Picture credit: Catholic Communications Network

Peter Clapham from the parish of Christ the Prince of Peace in Weybridge reports:

"Some 60 parishioners from Christ the Prince of Peace, Weybridge, were delighted to attend the Holy Father’s Vigil service in Hyde Park. For those who followed the event at home, watching television, there was a special surprise. As the Holy Father turned to receive the monstrance during benediction, who should appear on our screens but our own deacon Gerard Hatton who, with great reverence and dignity, passed the Blessed Sacrament to His Holiness. What a wonderful privilege for our new deacon, and what a thrill for us parishioners to share his pride in such a holy act."

Monday, 18 October 2010

Bishop Kieran Celebrates Role of Servers

Servers from parishes all over the diocese joined Bishop Kieran at Arundel Cathedral last Saturday to celebrate the annual Guild of St Stephen Mass. The servers from St John the Evangelist Parish in Horsham this year provided the team to serve the Mass. Bishop Kieran in his homily reminded all servers present that they played an important role at each Mass they take part in, not just in the assistance they give to Bishops, Priest and Deacons but because they are a symbol of the wider call of service that all Christians are called to.

After the homily the Bishop enrolled a dozen young boys and girls as members of the Guild. They were warmly welcomed by their fellow servers and members of the congregation.

Horsham Parish Servers Team with Bishop Kieran and Fr Terry Martin

At the end of Mass the servers together with parents, friends and family, at the invitation of the Diocesan Director of the Guild, Fr Dominic O'Hara, gathered in St Mary's Hall for refreshments. They are all looking forward to returning in a year's time on Saturday 8th October at 2pm for this joyful celebration with Bishop Kieran.

Friday, 15 October 2010

New Deacons Ordained for Arundel & Brighton

Deacon Kevin, Bishop Kieran and Deacon Alex following
the Diaconate Ordination of Kevin
Recently Bishop Kieran has ordained Alex Hill and Kevin O'Donnell as Deacons prior to their ordination as Priests in the New Year. They will be joined by Deacon Gerard Hatton, who assisted the Pope during Benediction in Hyde Park, and who will also be ordained a Priest in February next Year.

This is great news for Arundel & Brighton as there will now be 3 men ordained Priest to serve in the Diocese. Gerard Hatton will bring his youth and enthusiasm for the Catholic Faith to the Diocese. Alex and Kevin, former Anglican clergy will bring with them the experience of their Anglican ministry with a firm commitment to their Priestly ministry in the Catholic Church. Alex and Kevin also bring with them the blessings of wives and family.

Deacon Alex continues to serve in West Byfleet, Deacon Kevin in Dorking and Deacon Gerard in Weybridge until their Priestly ordinations next year when they will move to new pastoral duties elsewhere in the Diocese.

We pray for all those preparing for the priesthood in Wonersh, near Guildford and the English College in Rome and for all those men now considering their vocations to the priesthood.

Thursday, 7 October 2010

The Blog is Down with a Severe Dose of Man Flu

Because of lingering Man Flu and other commitments normal service will probably not resume till Thursday 14th October.

If you want to understand and sympathise then visit the above website

Friday, 1 October 2010

One Parish's Papal Visit Story

Below is a brief report from St Joseph's parish Epsom about the Papal Visit and its profound effect on those involved:
St Joseph's Parish gathered at Railway Station on the Way to Hyde Park
"A parish group of all sorts, families, grannies, babies and others set off on Saturday 18th September to Hyde Park for the Pope’s Vigil.  As well, another group set off in the early hours of Sunday for Birmingham to Cardinal Newman’s Beatification.  At both these events people from all nations were there and the build up to the arrival of the Pope was extraordinary. 

In Hyde Park we enjoyed choirs singing and stories on wide screens whilst we waited.  In Birmingham it was cold, but in both groups we felt both humble and proud to be a Catholic.  In Hyde Park and in Birmingham His Holiness received rapturous applause on arrival.  You could have heard a pin drop in Hyde Park amongst the thousands during Benediction. 

Many of us both in Birmingham and Hyde Park were moved to tears, a true reminder of the profoundness of our Faith. 

For this and other reports on the visit see future editions of A&B News