Sunday, 25 December 2011

Saturday, 24 December 2011

Friends of the Holy Land Provide Hope for over 500 around Bethlehem at Christmas

Palestinian Christian children light candles
The Friends of the Holy Land are supporting 450 children under 12 from 150 families and 90 elderly people in Bethlehem and the surrounding area at Christmas.

The children are either orphans living with relations, those abandoned by their families, those in real poverty or those physically or mentally sick. They and their families will be individually assessed to receive coupons for staple food items or for clothing, a subsidy towards the family’s utility bills or small gift items. Many will qualify to receive all four levels of support.

The elderly include those who are abandoned by their families or have no family at all. They will also receive blankets, heaters and warm clothes to face the harsh winter weather. Many have lost their jobs, their income and some their homes.

For the first time the FHL are extending their support beyond Bethlehem, Beit Jala and Beit Sahour to Jifna and Zababdeh.

Peter Rand, National Vice-Chairman of the FHL confirmed that “support is only provided to those whom we know by name, along with their financial circumstances.

Lists of names are obtained through the Ministry of the Interior in Palestine and the Parish Priests of St. Catherine’s in Bethlehem, Beit Jala and Beit Sahour. Our work is coordinated by the Sons of the Earth Association (SEA) based in Beit Jala. The FHL are delighted to be able to reach the grass roots of local Christians, and at the same time providing business through the coupon scheme to 20 Christian run businesses in the Bethlehem District.

Ramzi Hodali, President & Founder of SEA said “We use our expertise to bring the progressive community together, to harden our original roots in the Holy Land so the living stones will always prosper.

Our objectives are derived from our daily life, a life of the minority, the life of the oppressed and a life of giving and forgiveness.”

Friday, 23 December 2011

Slaves to Branding - Justice and Peace Conference

Are you a slave to branding?
The Diocese of Arundel and Brighton will host its annual Justice and Peace Assembly on 21st January 2012 at the Christian Education Centre, Crawley. The title of the Assembly will be "Slaves to Branding" and will focus attention on the exploitation of overseas workers in the clothing industry.
Our keynote speaker will be John Hilary, Executive Director of War on Want. He has worked in the field of global justice for the past 20 years, and is the author of numerous publications on globalisation, trade and development issues.
Also speaking at the Assembly will be Anna McMullen, Campaigns Co-ordinator, Labour Behind the Label, an organisation supporting garment workers worldwide. John and Anna will highlight the current campaigns of “Love Fashion, Hate Sweatshops” and will also focus on the exploitation of workers stitching sportswear for companies associated with the 2012 London Olympics. Factories supplying the sportswear industry are some of the worst offenders. Hence in 2012, it is particularly relevant to raise awareness of organisations, both local and international that are dealing with the problems of this injustice and the associated problems such as inequality, human trafficking, poverty, violence against employees, the living wage etc.
The aim of the Assembly is to ensure attendees become more familiar with how individual voices calling for justice in the workplace can combine to make a huge impact and to consider practical ways for these voices calling for an end to sweatshop labour to be heard. We also need to understand how we can help, support and protect the innocent victims of such injustice.
Diocesan Justice and Peace Adviser, David Thomson said “I am really looking forward to hearing John and Anna speak. I know they will enthuse those attending and enliven our day. Indeed the whole day will be one that the Catholic parishioners and others can come along to and learn from.”
Also involved in the day will be the Bishop of Arundel & Brighton, Kieran Conry.To book your place at the assembly please contact Ruth Gerun or telephone (01293) 651164

Thursday, 22 December 2011

Podcast – Christmas in the Middle East

Dr Harry Hagopian
 Catholic Communications Network reports:
"Saying it has been an eventful twelve months in the Middle East North Africa region is an understatement of monumental proportions. In a seasonal Middle East Analysis, Dr Harry Hagopian focuses on five myths that have sprung from the region over the last year.

· There has been one uniform uprising by the Arab masses across the whole region in order to rid themselves of oppression and totalitarian regimes to introduce dignity and citizenship rights

· The uprisings have been 'owned' by the younger "facebook" generation

· The popular uprisings dispel the suggestion that Palestine is the hub of the Middle East

· The West can shape the destiny of the Arab world - the MENA region

· Radical Islam will rule across the region

We conclude by offering a prayer for the Christian communities of the Middle East as we turn our eyes to Bethlehem and the birth of Christ:

"It is not our place to tell others how to live their lives. It's our place to stand in solidarity with the Christians of the MENA region, be prayerful with them, speak out alongside them whenever they're concerned, share their joys and celebrations. What better way to share their joy and celebration than now that we're coming to the Christmas season - the Feast of the Nativity.

"In a sense the whole biblical narrative unfolded in countries like Syria, Jordan, Egypt, Iraq, Israel and Palestine. Our thoughts should be with them, our prayers should be with them, we should be watchful as to what happens in the future in a region that is fragile and uncertain."

Dr Hagopian is an international lawyer and consultant to the Catholic Bishops' Conference of England and Wales on the Middle East. He's also a former Assistant General Secretary of the Middle East Council of Churches.

Listen to the Podcast:

Dr Harry Hagopian's website:

The new home for Middle East Analysis is:

Wednesday, 21 December 2011

Notre Dame School Opens Brand New Theatre

David Plummer, Bishop Kieran, Bridget Williams and Archbishop Longley
Notre Dame School reports:
"December saw a dream become a reality for Notre Dame School in Cobham, Surrey, when Mayor and Mayoress Sheldon joined Sisters, governors, staff and invited guests to the Opening Gala Event of the Montaigne Theatre with the inaugural performance of “Breath on the Embers”. The magnificent theatre, studio and rehearsal rooms were opened and blessed during a ceremony by Archbishop Bernard Longley and Bishop Kieran Conry.

A long time in the planning and construction, the Montaigne Theatre brings to Notre Dame a facility worthy of the West End. The completed building is testament to the vision of this vibrant community, where all from Sisters, pupils and parents to teachers, governors, local neighbours and skilled professionals have had a chance to contribute to the planning and realisation of our performing arts facilities

Thanks to the Elmbridge Council planning committee and in particular the efforts and support of Mayor and Mayoress John and Mary Sheldon and Cllr John O’Reilly.

The opening play “Breath on the Embers”, commissioned to reflect the founding of this community is very much in the spirit of the school itself. It shows the connection between the human and spiritual side of the school’s tradition. It reflects the legacy of our Foundress, St Jeanne de Lestonnac, and her influential uncle, Michel de Montaigne, for worldwide education. Our proud 400 year tradition is the basis for the best education of the whole person we can offer; the new facilities underline our commitment to the well rounded development of the young people in our care.

The performance was live-streamed across the world with sister schools tuning in from as far as Barcelona, Rome, Bordeaux and California.

The Gala event and the building of the Montaigne Theatre has been achieved through the collective efforts and input from many:

“It was very pleasing to work with a client who had the forethought to engage a theatre consultant, and who embraced our innovative concepts and followed them through. The result is this delightful, intimate, world-class theatre combining an open stage and proscenium with the versatility to adapt to a variety of configurations.” Peter Ruthven Hall Partner, Theatreplan

“For me this has been the most complex and unique project that I’ve ever managed; every day was thought-provoking, not just for me, but for all those involved on site and I’m extremely proud of the whole site team for its efforts and enthusiasm in producing something so very special!” Chris Gamble Senior Site Manager, E R Armfield Ltd

Chairman of Governors Mr Glen Travers said “…blending a 400 year history with the latest 21st Century building, lighting and video internet technology is a fitting and stunning tribute to the capabilities of the staff... a true Notre Dame School, Cobham celebration.”

“First Class venue, First Class hosts, First Class performance…” Robert Garofalo, Director of Voice in a Million

“What a wonderful evening! The performance was amazing and it certainly did justice to your marvellous new theatre. Congratulations to everyone involved and to a magnificent staff and cast. I know that this will be the first of many memorable events which you will hold in the Montaigne Theatre - here's to an exciting future and well done to all for having the vision to go with this amazing project” Wanda Nash, Governor

The Montaigne Theatre has been expertly designed for flexibility and adaptability, so that over the years to come innovative ways of working and new skills, alongside state of the art equipment, can be used to showcase the natural talent of our girls and also be of use and benefit to the wider community.

A Theatre for the Community
If you are interested in hiring their fantastic nonagonal Montaigne Theatre, please contact our Theatre Manager Sue Gilhespie on 01932 869990 or email

Tuesday, 20 December 2011

Habemus Papam: 'We Have a Pope' - a New Film

Michel Piccoli as the New Pope
Fr Stepehen Wang reviews a new film by Nanni Moretti about the election of a new Pope:
"The Pope is dead. The Conclave is assembled in the Sistine Chapel. Three heavyweight cardinals, the bookies’ favourites, surge ahead in the first few ballots of the ensuing election – only to fall into a deadlock. When a compromise candidate (played by Michel Piccoli) is eventually chosen from the backbenches he steps forward with a humble heart and a nervous smile. But his courage fails him, and just as he is invited onto the balcony to greet the waiting world, he runs back to his room in terror, and eventually escapes into the city to contemplate the strange turn of events that has brought him to this point.

It’s an unusual theme for Italian director Nanni Moretti, a self-professed atheist. Many viewers might have expected him to put together a hard-hitting expose of ecclesiastical corruption, or at least to take a few easy swipes at the Catholic Church. Instead, we get a light-comedy that treats its ecclesiastical protagonists with amused curiosity and uncritical affection.

It’s an entertaining two hours, but it never really opens up the central question of how a man gets chosen for this high office, or why this particular man finds it impossible to bear. Veteran actor Michel Piccoli brings out the dignity and vulnerability of the avuncular Pontiff; but we don’t get any sense of what this inner struggle means to him.

There are some great scenes. Moretti himself plays a secular psychoanalyst brought into the Vatican to help the Pope overcome his paralysis. Their first session takes place before the assembled cardinals, and the visiting therapist is told he is free to explore any areas of the Pope’s life, apart from… his relationships, his childhood, his mother, etc. Moretti, dumbfounded, ploughs on. The clash of cultures, of mentalities – religious and secular, classical and post-Freudian – is illustrated with such gentleness and humour.

We see a particularly corpulent Swiss guard being led into the papal apartments, and realise he is the Pope’s stand-in, charged with opening the curtains in the morning and switching off the lights at night. On the second day he discovers a penchant for method acting and feels obliged to polish off the lavish Pontifical breakfast; and by the third day he can’t resist the flourish of a papal blessing, raising his hand in benediction from behind the net curtains.

And when the Vatican spokesperson is asked why the new Pope has not appeared and what this unprecedented event means for the wider Church, he responds “It’s perfectly normal for a Holy Father to seek some space for prayer and reflection as he prepares for his new responsibilities” – the kind of pious flannel that so easily becomes a substitute for an uncomfortable truth.

The ending, which I won’t give away, is unsatisfactory. It doesn’t make dramatic sense of what’s come before, and it highlights the fact that the film is a collection of amusing vignettes rather than a coherent whole. We Have a Pope provokes a few reflections about vocation, the yawning gap between office and person, and the relationship between priesthood and acting, but it fails to make any deep impressions. It’s not tough enough or funny enough to avoid falling into whimsy. Directors like Woody Allen and Roberto Benigni (Life is Beautiful) are somehow able to mix light comedy and even slapstick with themes of profound seriousness; I wish Moretti had managed to do the same."

Monday, 19 December 2011

New Facilities for Bosham Church

L-R: Fr Kieron, Fr Paul, Tony Hancock and Marion Coombes-Shrubb
Brian Howe of Our Lady of the Assumption, Bosham reports:
The turf cutting ceremony for the the extension to provide facilities for the disabled and able bodied alike, together with a kitchenette and bar, commenced at 2.30pm on Monday 21 November.

The contract period is limited to 16 weeks and they look forward to seeing a completed extension in the New Year. The picture shows priests of Chichester with Bosham and Wittering parish Fr Kieron O’Brien and Fr Paul Turner together with Marion Coombes-Shrubb fund raiser and Principal Contractor, Tony Hancock of K.T.Construction (Elmer) Ltd.

Photos by the Architect –Kieth McNally of HOmE PLAN-IT  

Saturday, 17 December 2011

Head Teacher with OBE Receives Papal Award

Bishop Kieran hands Certificate to Mrs Angela O'Connor
Deborah Madden-Towsey reports that:
"Here in Hastings we had the tremendous honour of receiving Bishop Kieran to celebrate a special Mass at St Mary Star of the Sea on Sunday 27 November. The Mass, which inaugurated the first Sunday of Advent, was concelebrated with Bishop Kieran by our parish priests, Fr. John O’Brien and Fr. Joseph Soosai Marian. It was a beautiful and uplifting occasion where Bishop Kieran reminded us about the spirit of Advent and the importance of making time for prayerful reflection in the run-up to Christmas.

The Bishop was also invited to present the recently-awarded Papal Honour of the Bene Merenti Medal to Mrs Angela O’Connor OBE. The Bishop’s presentation was a wonderful opportunity for the school and parish to thank Angela for her outstanding contribution as a teacher and Head Teacher at Sacred Heart School for over thirty years. All at the parish congratulate Angela on this achievement and wish her the very best for a well deserved retirement."

Well done Angela!

Friday, 16 December 2011

Carol Concert to be Broadcast on Radio

Premier Radio are to broadcast a traditional carol concert from St Joseph's, Guildford on Christmas Day at 11pm. St Peter's Catholic School, Merrow, Guildford is to provide the choir and lead the singing. Bishop Kieran of Arundel and Brighton Diocese attended the Concert which was recorded last night (15 December) for the planned broadcst over Christmas.

This is the first time that Premier Radio have broadcast a carol concert from a Catholic Church in this Diocese. It should be a lovely way to end your Christmas Day.

There are several ways to listen:
DAB Digital Radio • Freeview 725 • Sky digital 0123 • •London 1305 1332 1413 MW

Wednesday, 14 December 2011

Pope's Three Wishes for Christmas

Christmas tree in St Peter's
The Vatican reportst that: Late Wednesday afternoon, 7 December, thanks to a "tablet" connected to the power grid, Benedict XVI lit the largest Christmas tree in the world from the papal apartments. This electronic "tree" is located in the Italian town of Gubbio. Before flipping the switch he addressed a few words - by television - to those attending the ceremony.
"Before lighting the tree", he said, "I would like to express three wishes. This Christmas tree is formed on the slopes of Mt. Ingino at whose summit is found the basilica of Gubbio's patron saint, St. Ubaldo. When we look at it our eyes are lifted up, raised toward the sky, toward the world of God".

"My first wish, therefore, is that our gaze, that of our minds and our hearts, not rest only on the horizon of this world, on its material things, but that it in some way, like this tree that tends upward, be directed toward God. God never forgets us but He also asks that we don't forget Him".

"The Gospel recounts that, on the holy night of Christ's birth, a light enveloped the shepherds, announcing a great joy to them: the birth of Jesus, the one who brings us light, or better, the One who is the true light that illuminates all. The great tree that I will light up shortly overlooks the city of Gubbio and will illuminate the darkness of the night with its light".

"My second wish is that we recall that we also need a light to illumine the path of our lives and to give us hope, especially in this time in which we feel so greatly the weight of difficulties, of problems, of suffering, and it seems that we are enshrouded in a veil of darkness. But what light can truly illuminate our hearts and give us a firm and sure hope? It is the Child whom we contemplate on Christmas, in a poor and humble manger, because He is the Lord who draws near to each of us and asks that we reeceive Him anew in our lives, asks us to want Him, to trust in Him, to feel His presence, that He is accompanying us, sustaining us, and helping us".

"But this great tree is formed of many lights. My final wish is that each of us contribute something of that light to the spheres in which we live: our families, our jobs, our neighbourhoods, towns, and cities. That each of us be a light for those who are at our sides; that we leave aside the selfishness that, so often, closes our hearts and leads us to think only of ourselves; that we may pay greater attention to others, that we may love them more. Any small gesture of goodness is like one of the lights of this great tree: together with other lights it illuminates the darkness of the night, even of the darkest night".

Thursday, 8 December 2011

Successful Nativity Exhibition

Example of one of the Beautiful Cribs
The Secular Franciscans of Littlehampton and Worthing are delighted to announce their Nativity Exhibition raised £282.54 for the charity HOMElink. Two of our first visitors were Arun District Council Chairman, Councillor Dennis Wilde accompanied by Arun’s strategic Director, Jaqui Ball. Over 70 exhibits were on display including an excellent creation from the pupils of St Catherine’s Catholic primary school, Littlehampton.

Many different countries were represented and various materials and representations were used. These included a diorama using old fashioned clothes pegs, scraps of materials and pipe cleaners. The opening of the exhibition was purposely planned to coincide with Littlehampton’s late night Christmas shopping and the switching on of the Christmas lights. This move proved very positive and encouraged numerous visitors to attend. Some Friday visitors returned again on Saturday for a second viewing.

The ‘bush telegraph’ was in operation and visitors were arriving saying they had been told by friends not to miss this event. We received many favourable comments including this one "Thank you again for such a beautiful and thought-provoking exhibition, and for making me feel so welcome." If we have helped in some small way to put ’Christ’ back into Christmas, then the event has been priceless.

Wednesday, 7 December 2011

Good News for Fairtrade Progress in the Diocese

Congratulations to St Gabriel’s church, Billingshurst and The Holy Spirit church, Fetcham which have just been awarded Fairtrade status. The Diocese of Arundel & Brighton now has the required 50% of churches with certified Fairtrade status and maintains the title of being a Fairtrade Diocese.

Also, congratulations to Redhill Deanery which is about to become the first deanery with all its churches certified Fairtrade; a truly magnificent achievement.

Advance Warning - Fairtrade Fortnight 2012 dates announced:
Fairtrade Fortnight 2012 will take place from 27th February - 11th March. In 2012 we'll be asking everyone to 'Take a step' for Fairtrade - starting with Fairtrade Fortnight. Keep an eye out for more details over the coming months.

It can be a simple step, like swapping your tea to Fairtrade, or a bigger step like asking everyone in your office to do it too. You’ll be joining thousands of others all over the UK when you take a step for Fairtrade.

Tuesday, 6 December 2011

Thinking of Scotland

As the Feast of St Andrew, patron of Scotland has just past we might like to think about more things Scottish and Burns Night:

Monday, 5 December 2011

Mass for deceased Knights of St Columba

Bishop Kieran with Bro Geoff Breeze after Mass
Charles Yarham from the Knights of St Columba reports:
On the afternoon of Sunday 13 November Bishop Kieran celebrated Mass at Arundel Cathedral for deceased members of the Knights of St Columba in the Sussex Province.

This was attended by knights from as far as Hastings across to Chichester and up to Crawley. It was fitting that this year the Mass coincided with Remembrance Sunday.

At the end of Mass a presentation was made to Brother Geoffrey Breeze for services to the Order. He was presented with a meritorious service medal for all his hard work over the years. He became a knight in 1989 and apart from his initial training year he has never been out of office. During his membership he filled most officer posts and these included two three year terms as Grand Knight and also two three year terms as Provincial Grand Knight where he was responsible for overseeing the assistance given by the knights to help the Bishop at Confirmation services at the Cathedral and Corpus Christi and also at Worth Abbey.

Sunday, 4 December 2011

The Difference a Day Can Make ….

St Cuthman's from the other side of the lake
 At the beginning of the year St Cuthman's, the Diocesan Retreat Centre set themselves a goal of doubling the number of ‘Quiet Day’ guests and as they approach Christmas their target has been exceed. They are pleased that a significant number have come from this Diocese of Arundel & Brighton.

It has taken some time to get the word out that we can welcome non-residential day guests, coming individually or as a small group of up to eight people, across the year. Feedback has been very positive with each guest having the freedom to use their time as they wish, but supported by a peaceful atmosphere and the option to join us for Morning Prayer, and/or Mass. During the summer most day visitors spend a lot of time sitting or walking in the grounds and in the winter spend time in the Library, or just sitting by the log fires. Having a home cooked two course lunch, using some of their own produce, is a highlight for many.

Below are a few examples of the comments they have received:
“This was such a treat – a breathing space in a busy life, a step aside to help put things into perspective, and a spiritual rest for a flagging spirit. I came prepared to pray for everyone and everything, and realised that I just needed and could be still, and think about my own self and what I needed to stay close to God.” (Aug 11)

“Having recently been bereaved, and needing a place of peace and spirituality to help me acknowledge my loss, I found that here at St Cuthman’s and look forward to visiting again.” (March 11)

“Coming for just a day is a real blessing for those of us with limited time and budget. It is a good way that new converts to ‘silence and solitude’ may gently ‘dip their toe in the water’. (June 11)

These ‘Quiet Days’ are now firmly established as part of what they offer at St Cuthman’s and their hope is that the numbers will continue to increase in the coming year. For just £25, including refreshments, a two course lunch and afternoon tea, and access to our house, chapel and grounds, this is value for money and a small price to pay for the opportunity to spend some quality time with God.

St Cuthman's currently has two speciallly arranged 'Quiet Days' arranged for Advent on 14 and 15 December. For more information click here

Saturday, 3 December 2011

Obituary: Bishop John Jukes OFM Conv

Bishop John Jukes OFM
Photo ©Catholic Church England and Wales
 The Right Reverend John Jukes OFM Conv, titular bishop of Strathearn and emeritus auxiliary bishop in Southwark, died peacefully at his home in Huntly, Scotland on the morning of Monday 21st November 2011 aged 88 years.

His body will be brought to St. George’s Cathedral, Southwark, Lambeth Road, SE1 7HY on Sunday 4th December 2011 at 5.45pm with Mass at 6.00pm, and his funeral will take place at the Cathedral on Tuesday 6th December 2011 at 12noon.
Auxiliary Bishop Emeritus John Jukes of Southwark will be particularly remembered as someone who sought to bring the insights of Catholic social teaching to business and industry. He was also a devoted pastor, moving to Scotland after his retirement to become a parish priest once again.

The eldest of three children, he was born in Eltham, south-east London, on August 7th, 1923, and was educated at St Joseph's Academy, Blackheath. His father worked for a paint company owned by his family. His mother was a convert from the Church of England.

In 1940 he joined the civil service, during which time he was a representative to the Inland Revenue Staff Federation National Conference. He left the civil service, intending to study agriculture at university.

But while working as a student on Romney Marsh for a year, he decided to become a Franciscan. It was the preaching and hospitality of the friars he met in Rye, East Sussex, that seems to have inspired him. He entered the Order of Friars Minor Conventual in 1946. After completing postulancy and novitiate in Liverpool, he was sent to Rome. He studied philosophy at the Gregorian University and obtained his licentiate in theology at the Pontifical Faculty of St Bonaventure.

Following ordination in 1952, at St. Anthony of Padua, Mossley Hill, Liverpool, he was appointed rector of St Bonaventure's seminary and novitiate in Beaumaris, Anglesey. In 1959 he was made parish priest of St Clare's, Manchester, and the following year became secretary and vice-provincial of the province. He was sent to London in 1964 to take charge of St Patrick's, Waterloo.

He moved to Canterbury in 1969, initially staying with the ordinands at St Augustine's Anglican College. He was one of the founders of the Franciscan International Study Centre, which opened in the city in 1973, and was appointed its vice-principal. He also taught Canon Law, using his parish experiences to bring life to what can be a dry subject, and fundamental theology.

Along with other Franciscans, university staff and local Catholics he was involved in a forum for Catholic thought. He also helped lead parish missions in Kent. He once quipped that the first task was to convert the parish priest. An important part of these missions involved visiting Catholics at home. When Bishop John knocked on the door of one house, the woman immediately led him down to the cellar - she thought he was calling to read the electricity meter.

In the 1970s, at St John's Seminary, Wonersh, he ran courses for priests and laity in evidence taking at matrimonial tribunals. To speed up matrimonial cases, he went to Rome to negotiate the setting up of an appeal court for the province. In 1973 he was made vicar episcopal for religious in Southwark diocese. Six years later he was elected minister provincial of the English province of the Friars Minor. But within months Pope John Paul II appointed him Auxiliary Bishop of Southwark and Titular Bishop of Strathearn. He was ordained in St George's Cathedral, Southwark by Archbishop Michael Bowen on 30th January 1980, and given pastoral responsibility for Kent.

His specific responsibilities included chairing the Kent Southwark Diocese Schools Commission and co-ordinating the work of the vicars for religious. He was also appointed episcopal chairman of the Southwark Metropolitan Appeals Tribunal. He served for 20 years as chairman of the bishops' committee for the world of work. He was passionate in his belief that Catholic social teaching had a valuable contribution to make to the understanding of work in society. This was the idea behind the booklet A Spirituality of Work, which the committee published in 2001 and he wrote the foreword to.

He was one of the main organisers of a conference, held in Liverpool in 1991, to mark the centenary of Rerum Novarum, Pope Leo XIII’s encyclical on the Industrial Revolution and the dignity of work. Each year at the TUC Congress, Bishop John celebrated Mass for delegates. In his sermon at St Mary Magdalene's Priory, Brighton, in 1999 he urged Catholics to put gospel values into practice by becoming active members of trade unions. And he urged the TUC to promote ethical values to counter some of the negative effects of globalisation.

Such efforts, he said, will result in setting up barriers to the many ills which are already to be seen as flowing from globalisation; unfair competition; loss of job security; degradation of human individuals or groups forced to work in inhuman conditions. At a TUC rally in Hyde Park, he once shared a platform with National Union of Mineworkers' president Arthur Scargill. He also attended the clergy section of the Amicus annual conference. At a local level, he represented Southwark diocese on the South London Industrial Mission.

He represented the Bishops’ Conference on the Council on Christian Approaches to Defence and Disarmament and was also a member of the joint bio-ethics committee which served the Bishops' Conferences of England and Wales, Scotland and Ireland. From 1993 to 1999 he served as the chairman of governors of St Mary's College, Strawberry Hill, and he later received an honorary doctorate from the University of Surrey.

When his mother became ill, she went to live with him at his house - The Hermitage, in West Malling, Kent. The house was piled high with books. Bishop John wore his trademark woolly hat both indoors and outdoors. Although a follower of St Francis, he had little time for the rabbits that invaded his garden.

When Bishop John retired in 1998, he had no intention of returning to parish life. He wrote in Briefing, ‘My original idea on retirement was to settle into a nice little house in the country. From there I planned a peaceful life with time for prayer, ready to help out with Sunday Mass if anyone was stuck.’ However, in 2002, when Bishop Mario Conti of Aberdeen asked him to become parish priest of Huntley, Banff and Portsoy, he accepted. He took on responsibility for around 300 Catholics, scattered across 200 square miles, who had been without a resident priest for six years.

That same year, fellow bishops and over 70 priests joined him at Aylesford Priory in Kent to celebrate his golden jubilee of the priesthood. Three years later, to celebrate his 25 years as a bishop, he went to Rome, with Bishop Howard Tripp, with who had been ordained Bishop. They were present at Pope John Paul II's last audience. Bishop John was one of the contributors to the 1993 book ‘God and the Market Place: Essays on the Morality of Wealth Creation’. He also wrote a number of articles for the Canon Law Society of Great Britain and Ireland.

Long distance walking and mountain climbing were two of his passions. He was particularly fond of Skye, where he would camp out in the church's sacristy and cook lobster. In 2005 he made the headlines in Scotland when he ordained to the diaconate a former priest of the Scottish Episcopal Church, who went on to become the country's first married Catholic priest.

In recent years, as his physical health declined, he retired again, this time from parish ministry; although he kept very much up-to-date with the life of Catholic Church in Great Britain, particularly continuing to have a keen interest in the Church's role in promoting social justice. In August 2010 he wrote an article looking back gratefully on 87 years of celibacy, which was published online by a national newspaper.

He died on the morning 21st November 2011, aged 88 years, in the 65th year of religious life,
the 59th year of his priesthood, having been a Bishop for 31 years.

May he rest in peace.

Friday, 2 December 2011

Notre Dame Sixth Form team give a ‘helping hand’

Cheque presentation
Notre Dame Senior School presented a cheque for £5,000 to charity YoungMinds on Tuesday, 15th November. YoungMinds is the UK’s leading charity committed to improving the emotional well-being and mental health of children and young people and empowering their parents and carers.

Headlines today often undervalue and undermine what our young people bring to our society and our world. However the girls of Notre Dame, Cobham, accept the challenge from St. Jeanne de Lestonnac to “give a helping hand” no matter how small, to go out of themselves and think of others.

Every year the Notre Dame Sixth Form students choose a charity and come up with various ideas for raising money for their chosen cause. Over the years the school has had a three-branched output for the funds raised. They are the International Charity of the Sisters of the Company of Mary Our Lady, the chosen charity and emergency fund.

For the school year 2010 – 2011, the girls chose YoungMinds and on Tuesday 15th November 2011 Mr Daryl Nicolas came to accept the cheque for £5,000. Over the year the girls also gave money to the Sisters working with the earthquake victims in Japan and the children in Africa. Money also went to the New Zealand earthquake victims and to the Arundel & Brighton Lourdes Pilgrimage Trust.

A sponsored swim, cake sales, mufti days and car washes are only some of the activities the girls organised throughout the year to raise the money. The girls grew in their awareness of the plight of others who are suffering and through their efforts have tried to give a “helping hand” to our world of today.

Daryl Nicholas of Young Minds, gratefully accepted the cheque from the Sixth Form team, Christopher Walker, Director of Fundraising at YoungMinds said “Five Thousand Pounds is outstanding. We are, quite frankly, rather bowled over. All of the money Noter Dame School raised will have a very real and immediate impact.”