Monday, 31 October 2011

Catholic Granparents to the Fore

L-R: Katherine Bergin, Marie Pinter, Bishop Kieran and Catherine Wiley
Recently a keen group of grandparents arrived to find out more about the national organisations that exist to support them. The first speaker was from the Catholic Grandparents Association; Mrs Catherine Wiley, the founder. She inspired us with her story of the origin of the organisation. She told the story of being at Walsingham on the feast of Our Lady’s birthday and wondering what would be a suitable present for her.

She was struck by the idea that a pilgrimage to honour her Father and Mother – Ss Joachim and Anna would suit and so the idea of a grandparents pilgrimage was born. It was so successful that from it grew the Grandparents association. Until now this has largely been focused in Ireland, although there have been annual pilgrimages to Walsingham, and she explained that today’s venture was the first major development of the association in England.

Her speech was followed by one from the current president of the organisation, Mrs Maire Printer. She detailed its growth and explained how groups of grandparents can be set up to offer each other peer support. She stressed the importance of the role of grandparents both in praying for their grandchildren but also in offering practical support to their children. The benefits were huge for those grandparents who were able to support each other with anxieties and worries.

Mr Peter Harris concluded the morning from the ‘Grandparents Association’ and he clearly explained the avenues of support that were open to grandparents who were suffering through lack of access to their grandchildren.

Bishop Kieran celebrated a wonderful Mass and preached on the importance of family, its structure and the value of each member and then, being blessed with wonderful weather everyone enjoyed a relaxed lunch in the sunshine. Conversation was buzzing with excitement and laughter with many shared family stories..

The afternoon sessions provided a variety of sessions ranging from activities to do with your grandchildren, to unpacking the prayer written for the organisation by Pope Benedict. Many participants particularly enjoyed the session which was designed to experience the benefit of being within a group, laughter and tears were shared by all.  Thus inspired many of the participants went back to their parishes with the hope of establishing a grandparents group within their local area.

Saturday, 29 October 2011

A Strictly St Peter's Girl

Mary Reynolds and Flavia Cacace
Flavia Cacace, the famous 'Strictly Come Dancing' dancer who is a champion tango dancer, recently visited her old school St Peter's in Guildford. She was welcomed by all and is seen in the picture with the Diocesan Director of Education, Mary Reynolds who has no dance ambitions herself but was pleased to welcome an old pupil back to the school and the diocese.

The BBC website tells us that "Flavia was born in Naples in Southern Italy, but moved to Guildford in Surrey with her family when she was four. Her mum Rosaria is a housewife, and her father Roberto is a retired chef. She started dancing at the age of 6 when she attended Saturday classes at a dance studio in Guildford.

Flavia took to dancing extremely quickly, and began to take the junior medals (known as Rosettes). At the age of 12, one of the teachers suggested that Flavia take part in competitions rather than continue with medals. Several years later, Flavia met Vincent (who had come over to England to find a partner), by pure coincidence as they were both having lessons from the same teacher.

Flavia and Vincent have been extremely successful on the competition circuit since starting to dance together thirteen years ago."

This year in 'Strictly Come Dancing' her partner is astrologer Russell Grant who presumably already knows how far they will get!!! Then again maybe not!

Friday, 28 October 2011

Sr Helen and Sr Rita cut the cake
Ann Lardeur from The Nativity of the Lord parish reports:
"Sr. Helen and Sr. Rita recently celebrated their 80th birthdays on 21st August and 13 September respectively. Like our monarch, they also had an official birthday! Appropriately, on the feast of Our Lady of Walsingham, Saturday 24th September, a special concelebrated Mass and presentation took place in St. Joseph's Church, Redhill.

In his homily Fr. Charles Howell said "The Christian life is either a love affair with God or it is nothing at all. The life of the religious is a special witness to this life of love." During the bidding prayers we remembered Sr. Denise Wood who was so tragically killed in a traffic accident near the church last year.

At the end of Mass the Sisters were presented jointly with a bouquet of flowers. Friends and parishioners then adjourned to St. Joseph's chapel for refreshments and birthday cake "Happy Birthday to you was sung, followed by "For they are jolly good fellows". Utterly appropriate since "fellow" is in fact genderless; from Old English, the true meaning is colleague, co-worker, a partner sharing in an enterprise. It certainly describes their contribution to our parish life."

Ad Multos Annos!

Thursday, 27 October 2011

CAFOD Day Celebrations at St Wilfrid's, Hailsham

Fr Roy with Geoff Stone handing over the cheque to CAFOD's Sarah Smith-Pearse
Ann Fielder from St Wilfrid's, Hailsham reports:
"For the last year the children and the community at St Wilfrid`s have been supporting our children`s chosen charity, the village of Puentecitos in El Salvador. The community have been raising funds by filling pint milk bottles with small change. The children have held special events and sales such as cake stalls, and together, we have raised almost £1,000.

After the special CAFOD Mass Sarah Smith-Pearse from CAFOD gave a presentation of the way of life in Puentecitos. Father Rory presented the cheque at the end of the service.

Anita our CAFOD Representative along with her husband Geoff have worked tirelessly to encourage us all during the last year. Our great appreciation goes to them both.

Wednesday, 26 October 2011

Real Easter Egg Profits Handover

Dougie Watt-David Marshall from Meaningful Chocolate Company hands a cheque
for £21,487.20 to Liza Stevens and Paul Chandler of Traidcraft
Over £25,000 has been given to charity from profits made by sales of The Real Easter Egg. The Real Easter Egg is the UK’s first ever Easter egg to mention Jesus and tell the Easter story on the box and was sold for the first time last Easter.

The egg was produced by Manchester based Meaningful Chocolate Company and was supported by church leaders including the Archbishop of York.

Part of the pledge made by The Meaningful Chocolate Company was to make real the Easter themes of hope and new life by donating profits from the egg to charitable causes.

David Marshall, from The Meaningful Chocolate Company, said: “I am thrilled to be able to donate over £21,000 to Traidcraft Exchange and over £4,000 to Baby Lifeline. In addition to this, we paid a fee to The Fairtrade Foundation to support their work, including its education programme. Our farmers received a guaranteed price for their cocoa and sugar as well as a Fairtrade Premium of $60 a tonne to invest in their community’s wellbeing.

“With over 80 million eggs sold in the UK every year, we have a long way to go in our campaign to make The Real Easter Egg the gift of choice by the faith and wider community. Next Easter we hope everyone will look out for The Real Easter Egg. Buying this egg is a way of reclaiming the festival and a way of communicating key aspects of the Christian faith in an attractive yummy gift.”

Last Easter supplies of The Real Easter Eggs ran out a month before Easter. The number of eggs has been dramatically increased for 2012 but churches, schools and Cathedral shops are being asked to make bulk orders by mid February 2012 to avoid disappointment. See

The Real Easter Egg has proven that people are not afraid to by an Easter Egg that carries three crosses on the box and explains the core of the Christian faith. With its element of charitable donation it seems that the Real Easter Egg not only tastes good but does good as well.

Last month The Meaningful Chocolate Company revealed its Meaningful Tree Decorations, an interactive chocolate gift and a new way to tell the Christmas story. See

Monday, 24 October 2011

Celebrating our Altar Servers

St Michael's, Worthing Servers with Bishop Kieran 
They were the main serving group at the Mass
"Without our Altar Servers we Priests would feel very isolated on the sanctuary" said Bishop Kieran as he thanked the more than 150 Altar Servers who had gathered at Arundel Cathedral to give thanks for their ministry of service at the Altar.

Fr Dominic O'Hara, recently installed as Parish Priest of Littlehampton and Rustington, and Director of the Guild of St Stephen for Altar Servers in the Diocese welcomed all the servers and the parishes they represented. He views this annual Mass as an opportunity for Altar Servers in the Diocese to gather together once a year, to be thanked for their work and encourage them for the future.

After Bishop Kieran's homily he inducted 8 Altar Servers, both girls and boys, into the Guild. All 8 declared their willingness to serve with diligence and dignity and then recited together the Guild Promise:

I offer myself to God almighty,
to blessed Mary, our Mother
and to our holy patron, Saint Stephen.
And I promise to do my best
to serve regularly
with reverence and understanding,
for the glory of God,
the service of his Church,
and my own eternal salvation.

Memebers of the Central Council of the Guild where present and they offered all the Servers words of encouragement and an invitation to the Guild Mass at Westminster Cathedral in May 2012.

Whilst it was not possible to have a social get together this year, as the Cathedral Hall is being refurbished, Fr Dominic offered cans of drink and sweets to people as they left. He promised as well they would return in the Autumn next year in 2012 to celebrate again with the Bishop.

Saturday, 22 October 2011

Surrey Churches Preservation Trust Sponsored Ride and Stride

The Surrey Riders
"It’s like riding a bike; you never forget!" said Rosemary Keenan and Peter Ward from St Edward the Confessor, Sutton Park near Guildford.

Taking part in their fourth Surrey Churches Preservation Trust Sponsored Stride and Bike Ride, Rosemary Keenan and Peter Ward raised nearly £600 by visiting 20 churches. Not known for their cycling prowess, Rosemary explained, “Fr Brian Taylor, the priest-in-charge at our parish of St Edward the Confessor in Sutton Park, was keen to replace the Thomson Family who had ‘retired’ after years of doing the famous bike ride. As our parish keeps half of the funds raised from someone taking part we thought ‘Let’s give it a go!’ The fact that we had not cycled for a couple of decades seemed unimportant. It really was a case of ‘It’s like riding a bike: you never forget’.”

Peter and Rosemary claim that their success is down to the preparation for the event. Peter, the route planner, explains that, “It was great fun searching the web to find local churches. I then plotted a route with as many churches as possible to visit in three hours at a leisurely pace, over 15 miles and involving a minimum of hills. This year we met parishioner’s from St Peter’s Hersham who were also doing the sponsored cycle ride with Rev. Martin Fletcher, their vicar.”
The Surrey Churches Preservation Trust makes grants available to churches in need of preservation and fifty percent of funds raised by cyclists and walkers go to the parish from which they come. For details about taking part in the Ride and Stride next year visit or phone Hamish Donaldson 01428 644473. For details of contacts in other counties visit

Thursday, 20 October 2011

Parish Family Fortunes is a Winner for All

Penny Richardson from Our Lady Queen of Peace Parish, Adur Valley reports:

"The social group at Christ the King in Steyning organised a “Family Fortunes” night for the whole parish of Our Lady Queen of Peace, Adur Valley.

It was run along the same lines as the TV programme and “families” were made up of groups of parishioners. The evening was hosted by Andy Hyatt from St Peter’s who made a splendid Vernon Kay stand in ! As much fun was had by the use of the buzzer for the wrong answers as for the right ones. What was particularly great was to see a good crowd and both young and older having a great evening. It was completed by a fish and chip and ice cream supper.

In the same way as the TV programme the winning team was asked to nominate a favourite charity to whom any profits from the evening could be sent and they chose “ We Play Too” a West Sussex charity who provide play equipment for disabled children."

Tuesday, 18 October 2011

Clergy In-Service Echoes Pope Benedict's Announcement of the 'Year of Faith

Some of the Diocesan Clergy at Frensham Ponds
The recent clergy in-service for the Diocese of Arundel & Brighton, 'Faithful to the Council?', focussing on the Second Vatican Council nearly 50 years on with Fr John Farrell O.P., Fr Peter McGrail and Archbishop Kevin MacDonald, happily echoed Pope Benedicts announcement of the 'Year of Faith' in 2012 to mark 50 years since the Council opened.

The in-service also looked at proposals to reflect more deeply on the Council documents and how to live them out over the coming years as the diocese approaches 2015 and its Golden Jubilee of Foundation.

There was an enthusiastic response among the clergy present to the proposals as well as the in-service, and the opportunity it provided for reflection and deeper thinking about the key documents of the Council on liturgy, revelation, the Church and the Church in the world.

Watch out for more on both the diocesan and papal plans to celebrate Vatican II.

Monday, 17 October 2011

Farewell to Fr Richard - From Lewes to Horsham

Bruce Bryne reports from Lewes:
"Following his move from St Pancras, Lewes to St John the Evangelist Parish at Horsham, Father Richard Biggerstaff returned to Lewes to officially bid farewell. He was welcomed by a full capacity church and led the parishoners in the recitation of the Holy Rosary followed by Benediction of the Most Blessed Sacrament. Father Richard thanked the parish for their friendship and devotion during the special time he spent at St Pancras. Everyone then retired to the Wood Room for refreshments and heard tributes paid by Eleanor Austin for Father Richard's vision, dynamics, commitment and memorable journey he has taken the our church over the past six years. Various gifts were presented including a farewell cake baked especially for the occasion by Claire Humphrey."

L-R: Fr Jonathan Martin and Fr Richard Biggerstaff
Fr Jonathan Martin shown in the picture above is now Parish Priest. We wish both well in their new parishes.

Saturday, 15 October 2011

New DVD about Visit of Relics of St Therese of Lisieux to UK

Relics and Roses is a film made during the visit of the relics of St Therese of Lisieux to England last year. It gives an insight into the life of the Catholic community across the country. From the directorial hand of Michael Whyte, the Director of 'No Greater Love' about the life of enclosed Carmelite Nuns in London.

Friday, 14 October 2011

Bishop Ordains Cathusian Monk to the Priesthood

Bishop Kieran annoints Dom Gregory's hands with Chrism

Bishop Kieran recently ordained Dom Gregory a priest at St Hugh’s Charterhouse at Parkminster, Cowfold, Sussex. This was the first priestly ordination at the monastery in 35 years. The ordination took place in the small extern Chapel attached to the Charterhouse so that members of Dom Gregory’s family from Canada could attend alongside the monastic community. Bishop Kieran was joined by Rt Rev Richard Moth, Bishop of the Forces, together with sixteen other priests from the monastery and elsewhere. Dom Gregory will minister as a priest in the monastery.

St Hugh’s Chaterhouse, which was founded in 19th century and has the largest monastic cloister in Europe, is home to a community of Fathers and Brothers who live within the monastic enclosure dedicated to a life of prayer and contemplation. Each of the monastic community has their own small dwelling on two levels where they live, work, eat, sleep and pray. They come together as a community to pray the divine office several times a day in the main Church including once a day at Midnight for two hours to sing the Office of Vigils whilst the world sleeps.

To find out more about St Hugh’s go to

Thursday, 13 October 2011

Fr Albert Van Der Most Retires from Littlehampton

Wenda Moon reports:
There was much sadness in St Catherine's Church, Littlehampton, when the parishioners said farewell to Fr Albert, their parish priest for 23 years.

Fr Albert Van der Most arrived at St Catherine's in September 1988 from Horsham where he had been for only a year. He found the Church and Presbystry in a sorry state. The buildings were so decrepit and the cost of renovations so staggerlingly high, that it was at first thought the beautiful old church might have to be pulled down. However Fr Albert rallied the parishioners and with his vision, determination and boundless enrgy he launched an extraordinary programme of fund raising in which he himself was fully involved. As a result of much hard work and some generous donations the church was restored, renovated and improved, and the Parish Centre was reburbished so that it could be let out for functions, thus generating further income for the parish.

Until recently he tended the lawns and gardens of the church himself, often weeding the flower beds in the early hours of the morning. All this was done in addition to administering a large and busy parish along ministering to St Catherines's Primary School and Ford Open Prison.

Fr Albert's love of sport, particularly football was well known. Being a Dutchman his great love was for his national team and whenever they were playing England he would emerge after Mass with a orange Holland shirt on, a gift from the local school children.

He has also been a 'star' of television. In recent years he appeared briefly in the acclaimed series 'The Convent' filmed at the nearby Poor Clares Convent at Crossbush where he regularly said Mas for the Community.

He also has a great love of the poor and disadvantaged, and he was well known for his many acts of kindness and generosity, espeically for poor communities overseas. He recently received a letter from CAFOD, the Catholic Overseas Aid Charity congratulating him and St Catherine's parish for their generosity and continued support for them.

Fr Albert's ebullient and extrovert personality made him a well known figure in Littlehampton and begyond, but he will also be remembered for his deep faith and spirituality.

Wenda concludes "Fr Albert, we all wish you a long and happy retirement with many blessings."

Fr Dominic O'Hara is now the new parish priest of Littlehampton and Rustington. We wish him well in this new post. He is definitely not a Holland supporter!

Wednesday, 12 October 2011

Vincentian – a Lifestyle for Today

Young British Vincentians in Madrid, Spain
Ammada Stafford reports:
"Seven students from Leeds University St Vincent de Paul Society, including Amanda from the Merrow parish of A&B, went to Madrid before the start of World Youth Day to represent England and Wales at the International Youth Vincentian meeting. The meeting was attended by over 1,500 young Vincentians from all over the world, including the Philippines, Brazil and Australia.

The theme of the weekend was “to be rather than appear to be” in living as a Vincentian, and to not live hiding behind a mask. Over the weekend we learnt about and renewed our Vincentian values to see Christ in those we meet and serve the poor and most vulnerable in a teaching session led by international president Michael Thio.

We also got a chance to visit projects run by the SVP in Madrid, as well as sharing with other young members the charity work we do in our own countries for SVP. Celebrating Mass with so many Vincentians from all over the world was an amazing way to grow in our faith, and the perfect warm up for World Youth Day! The weekend ended with a Spanish fiesta, with music, dancing and celebrations with our new international friends, before going on to meet up with our group for the remaining week for WYD. We have all now returned home, renewed in our faith as Vincentians, with ‘a lifestyle for today’."

Tuesday, 11 October 2011

Lourdes Spritual Director Steps Down

Father Ian Byrnes talks to A&B News’ Special Correspondent, Peter Burholt, on stepping down as the Lourdes Pilgrimage Trust’s Spiritual Director. Bustling in, this man from Dublin settled down to talk in his presbytery in St Leonards-on-Sea about his time with the Pilgrimage.

Q 1. This has to be the first question, were you pushed or did you decide to leave on your own accord? Slightly taken aback Fr Ian gave his reply.
Well now, what a question to start with! I had always thought this position had its own life and, after 9 years, it is now time to do other things. Perhaps it is a bit like getting out while the going is good!

Q 2. How did you become Spiritual Director? Did you apply to an advert in the A&B News? I originally came in as Director of the Pilgrimage, having been first approached by Lady Sarah Clutton. No, I did not have to apply - the offer came to me and Bishop Kieran had to give his approval.
However, after a few years it became apparent that the role of Director should be split – one role being responsible for spiritual direction and the other being more on the organisation of the Pilgrimage. Originally, I was chairing groups of 15 people and right from the start I wanted this to be reduced. Then the role of Spiritual Director was created and, looking back, this was a good move.

Q 3. When you took on this position, did you relinquish all your other Diocesan responsibilities? At the time I was Dean of Guildford, which I did have to relinquish. I carried on with my role as parish priest in Guildford and, for the first 5 years, I continued to be the pastoral co-ordinator for the deaf and hard of hearing group.

Q 4. What qualities do you think the Pilgrimage organisors saw in you? I’m not sure, but perhaps they thought I was a good personality! I must admit that I was quite naive at the time and I learnt a lot “on the job”.

Q 5. What does a spiritual director do? Is there training or does it come under the title “vocation”?
Fr Ian reflected over his mug of tea before answering this question.
No, there is definitely no training as such. I do regard this as a vocation in which I have been led by the Lord, another step in my journey through life.
I attend a range of meetings during the year including annual trustees’ meeting, before and after evaluation sessions, and bi-monthly core meetings. I need to explain the basic set-up of the organisation – it has 3 key elements, the Trust itself, the core groups looking after everything from transport to medical care, and then there is the evaluation process.
The programme of events is organised by the liturgy team. My role is the 3 “P’s” – creating the peace, the pastoral care and professionalism to enable the profession of our Faith. I believe this is the principal way of articulating our Faith, which is then animated by others on our pilgrimage journey. I encourage other members of the team to exercise their Christianity.

Q 6. Do you get paid?
Absolutely not!

Q7. How do you get to Lourdes? Is it first class travel or even a private jet?An Irish chuckle came out of this genial man as his thoughts ran wild for a few seconds.
Let’s get real, I go by Wells Fargo – the train!
Q 8. You appeared in Lourdes this year on the big occasions. Is this what happens – you are brought out to do the large event services and then they leave you alone for the rest of the pilgrimage?
Although I do get some private time, I concentrate on daily meetings with the local authorities, meetings with the leadership, going to events such as the children’s party and generally mixing with the pilgrims. Yes, then there are the grand occasions.

Q 9. The pilgrims at the Grotto Mass had an air of expectancy about them - something one would not understand as a newcomer, until your bag of tricks appeared during your homily, which was greeted with loud applause. What was that all about?
I believe that words are not enough when giving a homily to 1,000 people in the open air and it needs something visual to get the message over. The Word of God is expressed in 5 ways – spiritual, emotional, intellectual, physical and social.
I must admit that, when I produce the hammer, the French MC nearly had a heart attack. I’m not sure I can translate what he said after Mass, or should I in the A & B News!

Q 10. You have a problem with deafness and dyslexia. Does this bring an added dimension to your own Lourdes pilgrimage?
Quite simply, home is not where you live but where you are understood. Lourdes makes me feel at home with my disabilities.

Q 11. How special was this year’s pilgrimage?Yes, it was a one-off – especially as it was my last as Spiritual Director. One very special occasion this year was when the Director of the Grotto presented me with a chip of the rock from the Shrine. It was a private moment to treasure forever.
Having Cardinal Cormac there for the duration was indeed a privilege and I must admit that I was stunned by Bishop Kieran’s words of thanks at the final Mass. He really took me by surprise ……. and then there was the shepherd’s crook.

For those at this Mass, Bishop Kieran brought onto the sanctuary a large and what appeared to be a heavy bag – upstaging Fr Ian’s bag of tricks at the Grotto. Inside was an engraved crook. On receiving this gift, Fr Ian was heard to say “Bishop, next time I see you with my crook and you with your crosier, I hope you will not feel threatened!”

Q 12. Was this a one-man-band experience over the past 9 years?
I could not have undertaken my mission without the help of the leadership and their confidence in me. I want to thank them for all their support.

Q 13. Do you have any words of wisdom for your successor, Fr David Parmiter?Quite simply, look for the eternal signs of love in the human form. The gift of our incarnation is so prevalent in Lourdes.

Q 14. Will you go to Lourdes next year?
My non-attendance at next year’s pilgrimage has nothing to do with the Olympics! I think Fr David needs a bit of space for his first year.

Q 15. Is it now retirement for Fr Ian, sitting in your deckchair each day on St Leonards’ sea front?That Irish twinkle and raised eyebrow returned.
What a prospect – the deckchair and the seagulls will have to wait a while longer. I am still priest to 2 parishes here in St Leonards and I will return as director and chaplain to the deaf and hard of hearing group.

Evening Mass was calling and the end of this chapter was about to close. For those of us who have experienced this man’s love and pastoral care in Lourdes, we would all hope that we could mirror his ways in our daily lives. We wish him spiritual fortune and lasting health.

Sunday, 9 October 2011

International Eucharistic Congress in Dublin 2012

Weybridge Corpus Christi procession
(photo: Peter Clapham)
Peter Clapham of Weybridge parish reports:
"The Holy Eucharist has figured large in our parish this Summer. Our Parish Priest, Canon Tom Treherne, has been invited by Bishop Kieran to represent the diocese at the International Eucharistic Congress meeting in Dublin next June.

We are very pleased for Canon Tom since he has done so much to promote the importance of the precious gift of the Eucharist in our parish. We have just celebrated our 8th anniversary of joining the Lay Apostolate of Eucharistic Adoration, and to mark the occasion Brendan Cleary visited us from Dublin to thank our hundred or so committed adorers and to encourage more volunteers. As a result a further fifty parishioners came forward allowing us to extend Adoration to 3 days a week.

Some 65 of our young parishioners have celebrated their first Holy Communion this year. They processed with the Holy Eucharistic in our traditional Corpus Christi procession and thereafter, for the first time, went on to enjoy the fun at the Picnic in the Park – a regular family day organised by Churches Together in Weybridge. What a perfect way to bear witness to this wonderful Sacrament – and to the devotion of our catechists and parents."

For more on the International Eucharistic Congress in Dublin go here

Saturday, 8 October 2011

Bees is for Benedict

The Vatican News Services reports:
"As part of its initiatives to mark the Day for the Protection of Creation, the Italian agricultural organisation "Coldiretti" has given Benedict XVI eight beehives containing more than 500,000 bees. The beehives will be kept at the pontifical farm of Castelgandolfo where they will be used in pollination and the production of honey (some 280 kilos a year).

Coldiretti explained that bees play a vital role in the planet's ecosystem and their disappearance would have disastrous consequences for health and the environment: a third of human food production depends on crops pollinated by insects, eighty percent of which are bees.

The "Campagna Amica" Association will provide technical assistance to the pontifical farms to oversee the protection of the bees and the production of honey. Castelgandolfo is considered to be a model farm because it unites traditional production methods with modern technology. It has 25 dairy cows, 300 hens and 60 cockerels as well as an ancient olive grove producing three thousand litres of oil a year, an orchard of apricot and peach trees and a greenhouse of ornamental flowers."

Friday, 7 October 2011

CAFOD Harvest Fast Day Can Help The World's Most Vulnerable Children

Fear, Hunger, Survival – the stuff of childhood dreams?

Pan from Cambodia was 11 years old when he tested positive for HIV. Then his parents died within weeks of each other because of AIDS. Alone, ill and frightened, Pan was forced to leave school and sell rice on the streets to earn money. He didn’t know how to get life-saving medication and grew weaker. Maryknoll, a Catholic organisation funded by CAFOD, which offers medical care, nutritious food, school support and loving homes to children affected by HIV, stepped in to help.

Pan spent three weeks in hospital with daily visits from Maryknoll staff who then arranged for him to live with caring people in a safe, happy home. Pan started medication and was soon strong enough to return to school. Four years on, Pan’s life is transformed, “When I started lessons I was so happy! I felt like a normal boy, doing normal things. Every day I feel lucky.”

By giving a gift to CAFOD this Harvest Day - either by donating what you can afford in the envelope or by signing up to give a regular gift by direct debit - you can help the world’s poorest children get the care and support they desperately need. Help give them back the childhoods they deserve: free of pain, hunger and worry.

Thursday, 6 October 2011

October - A Month Dedicated to Mary: Praying the Rosary

Emmanuel Chimezie from St John's, Horsham makes a plea for us to recite the rosary. He says:
The history of the Rosary dates back many centuries before the early monastic orders in the Catholic tradition used it in the form of knotted beads as an aid to track their prayers. Ever since then, the Rosary has undergone dramatic metamorphosis.

In the year 1214, Our Blessed Lady appeared to St Dominic while he was busy combating the Albigensian heresy in the South of France and handed him a Rosary requesting him to spread the devotion by saying it and meditating on the life of Christ each and everyday. In return, Our Lady promised St Dominic success in combating the Albigensians and that his Religious Order would flourish. In filial obedience, Dominic spent the rest of his life carrying out this instruction. In order to facilitate his task, he went the extra mile to found a Confraternity.

The story of the historical development and propagation of the Rosary Devotion can hardly be complete without the mention of Blessed Alan de la Roche. He took over and continued from where Dominic stopped with incredible zeal. In the 15th Century, the Mysteries of the Rosary were assigned to each of the decades providing a wonderful opportunity for contemplation on Scripture while at the same time reciting this meditative prayer.

The Old Penny Catechism taught us that “God created us know, love and serve Him in this life, and to be happy with Him for all eternity in Heaven.” Even though man appears to have lost focus now fervently pursuing the twin prizes of “money and pleasure”, Mary still holds out her hand to rescue her children. She is always praying for us and constantly pointing to the grace that the Rosary brings to mankind. Oh how Mary earnestly desires us to achieve this ultimate prize-being happy with God in Heaven for ever.

Daily recitation of the Rosary is highly recommended. The Rosary, literarily speaking, softens the ground, tills the soil, and waters it in preparation for a bountiful harvest. If only we knew the tremendous torment Satan suffers as we recite the Rosary. A school of thought holds, and rightly too, that with each bead of the Rosary recited with the devotion it deserves, a powerful “bomb” detonates in hell unleashing untold panic and terror in the satanic world. Satan becomes utterly confused.

The Rosary is a direct gift to us from the Queen of Heaven. The power of the Rosary was amply demonstrated during St Dominic’s time and continues to be felt to this day. The Rosary works incredible wonders in our life-leading the way for our personal sanctification. Those who faithfully recite the Rosary daily with all the devotion and humility, can testify to this claim. No one can outdo Our Lady in liberality and she will stop at nothing to lead us to her Son, Jesus. On May 13, 1917, Our Lady appeared to the three Shepherd children-Lucia, Francisco and Jacinta- at Fatima. She declared herself “Lady of the Rosary” ostensibly to underscore the relevance and potency of the Rosary. She repeatedly urged the children to recite the Rosary daily.

Pope John Paul II added a new dimension on October 16, 2002 with a set of five mysteries beautifully referred to as “The Mysteries of the Light” which beams piercing searchlight on the public ministry of Jesus from His Baptism in the Jordan to the institution of the Eucharist at the Last Supper. Writing in his apostolic letter “The Rosary of the Virgin Mary”, the Holy Father said inter alia-“The Rosary, though clearly Marian in character, is at heart a Christ-centred prayer. It has all the depth of the gospel message in its entirety. It is the echo of the prayer of Mary, her perennial Magnificat for the work of the redemptive incarnation which began in her virginal womb”. The holy Father was always in the habit of praying the Rosary. He once said, “The best prayer I like is the Rosary”.

Finally, in this age of our world beset with fragile peace and broken promises; a world ravaged by wars, famine and disease, let us turn to Mary armed with our Rosary. She will certainly guide us through all these perils and difficulties and deliver us safely to Jesus. Let us then consecrate and surrender unreservedly to Mary faithfully repeating daily-“We are all yours, Our Queen, Our Mother, and all we have is yours”

If you are not sure how to pray the Rosary go here:

Wednesday, 5 October 2011

Real Easter Egg company reveals Christmas tree campaign

A campaign to make the UK’s 20 million Christmas trees a bit more meaningful this December has been launched. The campaign is in response to news that 46% of people say Jesus is irrelevant to their celebration of Christmas. To help parents, grandparents and godparents communicate the Christmas story to the next generation, The Meaningful Chocolate Company has produced the UK’s first ever interactive set of chocolate Fairtrade tree decorations, based on the characters of the Nativity story.

Each box of Meaningful Chocolate Tree Decorations contains a limited edition Christmas card, a sticker set and six hand wrapped, high quality, Fairtrade chocolate decorations. The Christmas story, which can be found on the card, enables adults or children to read the story while placing character stickers on the decorations. Once completed, the decorations can be hung on the tree as a reminder of the real meaning of Christmas.

David Marshall, from The Meaningful Chocolate Company, said “We estimate that most of the UK’s 20 million Christmas trees don’t have anything religious hung on them. The Meaningful Chocolate Tree Decorations are an opportunity to buy an interactive gift that allows the telling of the Christmas story at home. The card also includes and invitation for people to go to church to hear the Christmas story there. So, not only is it educational, it’s also a piece of evangelism.”

The Meaningful Christmas Tree Decorations cost £3.95. Church orders can be made through or exclusively from Traidcraft. Orders should be made by 14th November 2011 as supplies are limited.

Tuesday, 4 October 2011

10 Years as a Still Point in a Turning World - St Cuthman's Diocesan Retreat Centre

St Cuthman's Retreat Centre
 St Cuthman’s Retreat Centre – the first 10 years
In October 2001, St Cuthman’s was officially opened by Bishop Kieran Conry. Bishop Kieran’s predecessor, Bishop Cormac Murphy O’Connor, had secured the house and grounds for the Diocese, before his appointment as Archbishop of Westminster. With the refurbishment completed the first guests were welcomed on 15th October, and 10 years later over 22,500 people have used the facilities at the Centre.
The early years were taken up with building on what had been inherited from the St Julian’s community, the previous owners of the house, and spreading the message about this new Diocesan facility. A decade later, St Cuthman’s has established its own identity and history and has a clear sense of its mission. As well as providing space for individuals and couples, the Centre welcomes full-house and small groups for residential retreats, provides day conference facilities in the Garden Rooms, and welcomes day visitors for Quiet Days.

“A still point in a turning world”
From the outset St Cuthman’s was open to people of all denominations and faiths and those of none, and this has remained a defining feature of the Centre. This has enabled the Diocese to fulfil its ecumenical outreach in Sussex and beyond. The morning and evening prayer services in the simple chapel, led by the staff and volunteers, underpin the daily routine and are greatly enriched by the diversity of those who join in.

Both the original refurbishment and the ongoing maintenance of such an old building have put heavy demands on the finances of the Diocese, particularly in the first few years, but the investment has paid off, leaving the Diocese with a substantial asset and valuable resource.

The priests and people of the Diocese of Arundel & Brighton can feel proud of their Diocesan Retreat Centre. On a daily basis, in their name, many people are benefitting from this important resource. Tired and stressed clergy, of all denominations, get the chance to re-charge their batteries and return to their ministries refreshed. Carers get a chance to catch up on sleep and have some precious time to themselves. People of faith come closer to God. Those who have strayed from their faith are touched by the Holy Spirit and feel the pull to return. Those who are bereaved, or struggling to come to terms with illness, loss or other major trauma can find the space and courage to start afresh.

It is a truly blessed place and if you have not yet had a chance to spend any time here, why not come along for a Quiet Day.

We are grateful to all those who have helped establish St Cuthman’s - the staff, past and present; the small team of faithful volunteers who give their time and labours so generously; the Friends of St Cuthman’s whose financial support has made a significant contribution to enhancing the Centre’s facilities; the group of Spiritual Directors who come in to support the guests; the Diocesan Pastoral Team and the priests and people of the Diocese. With this continued support we hope that St Cuthman’s can serve the needs of the Diocese for many decades to come.

To celebrate the 10th Anniversary, we are offering parishioners from the A&B Diocese the opportunity to come and spend a Quiet Day here, between October and the end of December 2011, at the reduced price of £20 (normally £25). Just give us a call or go to our website for more details. St Cuthman’s is yours – why not come and use it!

Article by Denise Mitchell, Director

Monday, 3 October 2011

Crawley Catenians Go to Jail for Lunch

Laurie Harding writes:
"Sixteen Catenians from Crawley Circle recently invited themselves to lunch at the Clink Restaurant at the High Down Prison, Banstead. The establishment operates as a genuine restaurant with the object of training inmates for a job when they are released. We weren’t quite sure what to expect but everyone who attended was unanimous in their praise for the excellent service and wonderful food that we were served.

There were a number of security checks before getting into the restaurant, which is situated within the prison itself. Photo ID was required and items including mobile phones, cameras, sharp objects and chewing gum were not allowed to be taken in. We were escorted from security as a group to the restaurant where we were locked in. The interior is furnished as one would expect for a good class restaurant with the exception of the cutlery which is plastic and no alcohol is allowed. The waiters were dressed in smart waistcoats and trousers and their attention to customers would put many restaurants to shame.

The lunch itself was three course with two or three selections for each and everyone said how delicious the food was. Everything is prepared in house including the bread and ice cream.

At the end of lunch we had to be escorted back to security as a group and as the restaurant barred door was locked we realised that we had one person missing who turned out to be Bro. Gerry Lydon who had gone to the loo. There followed a small debate as to whether we should leave him there but on consulting his wife Betty we decided to tell security we were missing someone - principally because he was our provincial councillor.

Everyone agreed that it was a great experience and also what a brilliant idea it was to prepare the inmates for an occupation on their release."