Friday, 31 August 2012

Mayoral Reception for Refugees

Ethiopian Refugees and Brighton in Exile at Mayoral Reception
 Brighton Voices in Exile, based at St Mary Magdalen's, Brighton report:
Representatives from a unique refugee community in Brighton & Hove attended a reception at the Mayor’s Parlour on earlier this summer to mark the fact that they can now apply for British citizenship.

In 2006, Brighton & Hove City Council decided to accept 79 people from Ethiopia, including infants and children, as part of a humanitarian effort to provide a safe haven for a group of refugees, most from the Oromo ethnic group, who had been forced to leave Ethiopia for political reasons.

The council was approached by the United Nations as part of a Refugee Resettlement Programme and decided to help the group as a one-off gesture. The families were living in a large refugee camp in Kenya and some were in hiding. Arrangements were made for them to enter the UK before they left Kenya.

Around 20 of the former refugees attended the event, together with some of those that helped them, including a representative from the offices of the UN High Commissioner for Refugees.

Since coming to Brighton & Hove, the refugees have studied English and many have found work in the city. Members of the Oromo group have formed a community association to provide opportunities to socialise with each other and with the host community. By setting up a group like this, the traumatic effects of their past experiences and the isolation of settling in a new country have been lessened for the refugee families. With the help of specialist teaching staff many of the children have done well at school and have progressed on to further study.

Councillor Anne Meadows, mayor of Brighton & Hove and Councillor Bill Randall, leader of the council, welcomed the group.

Councillor Randall said: “The refugees have shared experiences that thankfully most of us will never go through. In fear of their lives because of their ethnicity or their political views, they were forced to flee their homeland. The city is proud to have offered them a safe place to stay, a welcome into our community and the opportunity of a new start.”

Brighton Voices In Exile has played a vital role in supporting the community with their Citizenship applications to the Home Office. In 2011, Brighton Voices In Exile became regulated by the Office Of Immigration Services Commissioner (OISC) to give immigration advice. Our first officially funded legal project was that of supporting the Oromo Community to apply for British Citizenship. Brighton & Hove City Council and the South East Strategic Partnership for Migration funded Brighton Voices In Exile to run the project.

Zilla Bowell, the UK Border Agency’s Director of Asylum, said: “The UK has a proud tradition of offering protection to those who need it. The Gateway Protection Programme demonstrates the Government’s commitment to supporting the United Nations High Commission for Refugees (UNHCR’s) global effort to provide lasting solutions to the plight of refugees and sharing the refugee burden. Nationally, we have committed to resettle a total of 750 refugees in 2012/13.”

Thursday, 30 August 2012

The Father of the Big Bang - Catholics and Science

Fr George Lemaitre
Few theories could claim to have a more fundamental status than Big Bang Theory. This is now humanity's best attempt at explaining how we got here: A Theory of Everything. This much is widely known and Big Bang Theory is now one of the most recognisable scientific brands in the world. What's less well known is that the man who first proposed the theory was not only an accomplished physicist, he was also a Catholic priest.

Father Georges Lemaitre wore his clerical collar while teaching physics, and not at Oxford, Cambridge or MIT but at the Catholic University of Leuven in Belgium. It was this unassuming Catholic priest in an academic backwater who has changed the way we look at the origins of the universe. His story also challenges the assumption that science and religion are always in conflict.

In a fascinating documentary produced by Mark McCleary, broadcast at 9pm yesterday (7 June) on BBC Radio 4, William Crawley introduces us to the 'Father' of the Big Bang.

The programme is available to listen again here:

Wednesday, 29 August 2012

Passing on the Faith - The Grandparents' Role

Catherine Wiley, Founder of the Catholic Grandparents’ Association writes:
"Our children have grown up and left us to continue on their individual life journeys. They are married now and have their own children. The great spin off for us is eight beautiful grandchildren who are a wonderous joy.

As parents we are always thinking of our children, and are somtimes anxious and worried about them. They do not seem to feel the need for Christ or His Church. I pray for them every day and trust that the Good Lord will hear my prayer.

One day as I was wondering what else I could do to leave something of my values and faith to them when the time came for me to leave this world, I thought of our ancestors who were prepared to die for their Faith to preserve it for us. I thought about the thousands of martyrs and saints who gave all for Christ and are now in Heaven. I thought of the privilege it is to be a baptised Catholic. I thought how the Holy Catholic Church is judged today by its sinful members. I believe God will deal with them and us in his way.

I then had an idea of making each of my children a "Faith Box". I bought sturdy boxes and began to gather anything I could find relating to our faith from their childhood. Baptisimal certificates were first into the boxes, with any available photos of church, priest, and those present, and I named their Godparents. Next great event was First Holy Communions, medals prayer books, cards, prayer books, photos and Holy pictures etc were added. Then came Confirmation Certificates, and I found some written promises! It paid to be a hoarder!! I popped in some photos of grandparents, sponsors, medals etc.

In each box I placed Holy water, a font, Blessed salt, Blessed oil, and a good explanation on Sacramentals. Nothing can be taken for granted! Rosary beads and a booklet explaining how to say the rosary. The next items were a Bible, a Catechism of Catholic doctrine. As I was gathering other booklets I came across "Why be a Catholic"? by Dr Mark Dooley, I thought it was a good choice. I put in little letters and cards they had given to me as children. One of them had a print by Holman Hunt of Jesus , "Behold I stand at the door and knock" given to him at his Confirmation. I am sure he will be surprised to see it again!!

These are just a few suggestions, once you begin you will be amazed how the Lord will show you what is appropriate for each one. Lastly I wrote each of them a personal letter. I told them of the situation in the family before they were born, of the day of their birth and the great joy at their arrival. I reminded them of taking them to be baptised into the Body of Christ in the Roman Catholic Church, their first Holy Communion and Confirmation days. The letter concluded with " as you continue on the pilgrimage of life my prayer for you is that you will give some thought to these feeble efforts of mine to pass on the beauty and richness of our Catholic Faith. I asked them to forgive me my failings and shortcomings and for failing them in any way.

Before the boxes were wrapped to be put away until after my death I had them solemly blessed by a priest. A photo of the priest blessing the boxes was included.

Enjoy the project, it is something you can do for you children to be passed to you grandchildren. You will not be dissappointed and you will receive abundant blessings for your best efforts."

For information on activities for Catholic Grandparents in A&B Diocese contact: Katherine Bergin, Marriage & Family Life Adviser. Tel: 01293 651152 or Email:

Monday, 27 August 2012

Another Happy Birthday

Ania Botwin at her 100th Birthday Celebration
St Joan of Arc parish, Farnham reports:
"Ania Botwin, parishioner of St Joan of Arc church in Farnham, celebrated her 100th birthday on 6 August. Mass was offered for Ania’s intentions on Sunday 5th August and the congregation joined her and her family for a celebratory drink and cake afterwards.

Ania was born in southern Poland. She was educated at 2 convent schools, studied piano for 2 years at Krakow Conservatoire and then History and Philosophy at Krakow University. The 2nd World War broke out a year after she married and she had many terrifying experiences as she and her baby son fled German and then Russian aggression. She lived through the brutal Warsaw Uprising in 1944 and finally came to the UK as a refugee in 1947.
She still lives independently, and enjoys the company of her family and her many friends."

Many congratulations!

Saturday, 25 August 2012

Syrian Agony

The great Citadel in Aleppo now badly damaged in the conflict
Fides News Agency reports:
"Over 12 thousand faithful Greek-Catholics are trapped in the village of Rableh, west of Qusayr, in the area of Homs. Food is scarce, the faithful are living on "bread and water", medicine is lacking to treat the sick and wounded. This is the alarm raised by local sources of Fides that invoke respect for humanitarian law, that confirm what the international press is reporting on the situation in Rableh.

For more than ten days the village of Rableh is subject to a strict blockade by armed opposition groups, which surround it on all sides. One of the leaders of a local parish, B.K., who requested anonymity for security reasons, told Fides that a few days ago three young men of the village were killed by snipers: George Azar 20 years old, another 21 years old, Elias Tahch Semaan, 35 years old, married and father of four children.

Some representatives of the popular initiative for reconciliation "Mussalaha" were able to carry a small load of humanitarian aid to the village. A representative of "Mussalaha" assured the faithful by claiming that "everything will be done to allow the delivery of humanitarian aid."

An appeal was launched by His Beatitude Patriarch Gregorios III Laham, visibly moved, to all men of good will so that "Rableh is saved and all other villages affected in Syria, and finally for peace to be reached in our beloved country." Even the Apostolic Nuncio in Syria, His Exc. Mgr. Mario Zenari, called on all parties involved "to the strict observance of the international humanitarian law", pointing out that the resolution of the crisis in Syria depends first of all on its citizens."

Thanks to Greek Melkite Catholic Deacon Richard Downer for drawing my attention to this report

If you would like to donate money to help the Syrian people then you can do so via CAFOD or Aid to the Church in Need. Please also pray for peace.

Friday, 24 August 2012

Happy Birthday Cardinal Cormac!

Cardinal Cormac Murphy O'Connor
© Mazur/
Our former Bishop, Cardinal Cormac Murphy-O'Connor celebrates his 80th birthday on Friday 24 August.

Since leaving Arundel & Brighton Diocese in 2000 for Westminster from which post he retired in 2009, the Cardinal has been kept very busy. His appointment to the Congregation for Bishops and the Congregation for the Evangelisation of Peoples has been an important one - he has been directly involved in the appointment of bishops for England, Wales, Scotland and Ireland, as well as for countries in Africa, Asia, Europe, the Americas and Oceania.

Reaching 80, the Cardinal ceases to be an active member of the Congregation for Bishops and the Congregation for the Evangelisation of Peoples and all the other offices within the Roman Curia. He will no longer vote in any future Papal Conclave. He will remain a Cardinal and will hold the titular church of the Basilica of Santa Maria sopra Minerva until his death.

The Cardinal will be celebrating his birthday with friends and family over the coming weeks. There will be a celebratory Mass of Thanksgiving in Westminster Cathedral on Friday 21 September at 17.30 to which everyone is invited.

All in Arundel & Brighton wish Cardinal Cormac a happy 80th Birthday. Ad Multos Annos!

Thursday, 23 August 2012

Knights Award for Kindness

The Knights of St Columba are active in Hastings and Rother, at recent Speech Days at the end of the Summer Term 2012 Awards were made at the three local Catholic Primary Schools.

The awards were made to Connor Chicken at Sacred Heart School, Hastings, Laura Pasquale at St Mary Star of the Sea , St Leonards and Lillie Mc Sweeney at St Mary Magdalene, Bexhill.

The Photo shows L - R , Ros Gilles, Deputy Headteacher at Sacred Heart Primary School, Hastings, Connor Chicken and his proud mother and Brother Peter Robinson, Past Grand Knight of Hastings and Rother Knights of St Columba

 The Awards are made to "the Pupil who consistently shows help, kindness and support at home or at school

Tuesday, 21 August 2012

Catenian raise £100,000 for A&B Lourdes Pilgrimage Trust

Lourdes helper with a VIP in wheelchair
Some A&B Catenians report: Father Teodora Fontanari was the priest in charge the Church of the Sacred Heart in Sunningdale for 30 years. In 1989 Fr Fontanari (Fonti) and Barry Dunn, a Catenian and parishioner, investigated the possibility of forming a Catenian Circle in Sunningdale. In 1991 the Ascot & Sunningdale Circle was inaugurated. In 1996, Fr Fonti died, In 1997,

The Father Fonti Pilgrimage Trust wasestablished under the stewardship if the Ascot & Sunningdale Catenian Circle. The objective of the trust was to send sick and needy children to Lourdes. By early 2012, the trust had raised over £100,000.

Each year, funds are raised through appeals in local churches and a range of events are held. One event was a charity dinner, with the guest of honour being Ann Widdecome MP, former cabinet member and now author.

Lady Sarah Clutton, The Arundel and Brighton Pilgrimage co-ordinator wrote, “ It is amazing to think how many children have benefited from the Pilgrimage, which is due to your generosity. I am sure I write also on behalf of all the families of the children you have sponsored to say a huge thank you”.

Monday, 20 August 2012

The Franciscan Troubador - New Singing Star

Bro Alessandro
Decca Records/Universal Music have announced the global signing of Franciscan Friar, Alessandro Brustenghi, from the original friary founded by Saint Francis of Assisi: the Porziuncola in Assisi.

Senior Universal Executives from 25 different territories have flown into London today to hear Friar Alessandro’s first performance outside Italy, at the 2012 International Decca Conference in Westminster.

Having taken a personal vow of poverty, Friar Alessandro will not accept any money from sales of the album and his day to day life will not change. Proceeds will go directly to the Order of Friars Minor for its charitable work.

Brother Alessandro has been singing all his life. Although music was always his passion, Alessandro received his “calling” as a teenager, and at the age of 21 he decided to become a friar.

The legendary Mike Hedges (U2, The Cure, Manic Street Preachers) and his manager discovered Alessandro while in Italy, after years of searching for “the next Italian Tenor”. Much like new TV hit ‘The Voice’ it was only when they met Alessandro in person, dressed in his habit, that they realised the singer recommended to them was a friar.

Mike Hedges is making the record at Abbey Road. When Friar Alessandro recently visited the famous studios it was the first time he had ever been on a plane. The album, which is due for release in October, will be a mix of traditional and modern sacred songs, including an original track by Royal Wedding composer Paul Mealor, set to a prayer written by St Francis of Assisi.

During the day, Brother Alessandro works in the Basilica of Santa Maria degli Angeli, welcoming many of the six million visitors to Assisi every year. In his spare time he works as a carpenter, restoring furniture and making wooden lecterns.

Alessandro grew up listening to Michael Jackson and Bach, loves electronic music, and his latest musical interest is Bjork.

See a short film of Brother Alessandro on Youtube:

Saturday, 18 August 2012

Congratulations to Catholic Schools on A Level Results

Happy A Level Students from St Leonards Mayfield School
Many congratulations to all those Catholic Schools in the Diocese where students received their A Level results on Thursday 16 August. We know many schools both in the state and independent sector did extremely well.

We wish the students all the best in their future lives whatever route they now take. We hope they will continue to value and appreciate what they received from their Catholic school education.

Friday, 17 August 2012

Love One Another

Children's Liturgy Group with the love hearts display
Ann Lardeur from St Teresa’s, Merstham part of The Nativity of the Lord parish reports: 
In speaking about love, the theme of both the Gospel and the Second Reading oat Mass Fr Chris Spain emphasised the importance of being felt loved and valued as an individual.  Without this essential foundation it is very hard to love others.  

Love, he said, is like a pebble being tossed into a pool.  It ripples further and further out to others. The children’s liturgy group at St. Theresa’s produced this beautiful display of love hearts in which they had written prayers and made little drawings. The central text is from the gospel “Love one another as I have loved you” (John 15:12)

Thursday, 16 August 2012

Election for Sussex Police Commissioner to Come in November

The opportunity to elect Police Commissioners is to take place in November and in Sussex as well as all the party candidates there are also independent candidates. One of those indepenedents is Ian Chisnall who is currently Churches Together in Sussex Mission & Unity Coordinator.

Ian tells us that "Since 2001 I have been the Coordinator for Churches Together in Sussex. I work at a local level with sixty Churches Together groups and many individual churches. My role is to assist them in their work, sharing good ideas and learning from their experience. I also work with the strategic leaders of the various church networks across Sussex and also nationally."

Find out more about elections for Police Commissioners go here:

Wednesday, 15 August 2012

Crowborough Parish Centenary Celebrations

L-R: Fr Kevin, Anthony Connor, Bishop Richard Moth, Timothy Connor
Mark Wlaker from St Mary's, Crowborough reports:
As part of this year’s Centenary celebrations St.Mary’s Crowborough enjoyed a visit from Bishop Richard Moth, Bishop to the British Armed Forces, for Sunday Mass. At the same Mass we also welcomed Anthony Connor and his brother Timothy, grandsons of Edward Connor, who, with his brother Frank, built St.Mary’s a century ago.

The Mass was a wonderful celebration of past and present, not to mention future, with Bishop Richard challenging the congregation in his sermon to use our talents and resources to plan for the next 100 years of St.Mary’s as a parish! After mass the Parish room was filled to the gunnels with parishioners enjoying the first of what may be many centenary cakes, with parties, a concert, and picnic already planned for further celebrations through the course of our special year.

Tuesday, 14 August 2012

Great Kenyan Food at Sutton Park

Sutton Park parishioners eat Kenyan Meal
Rosemary Keenan from St Edward the Confessor parish, Sutton Park near Guildford reports: Sr Lydia & Sr Monica, Benedictine Sisters of Our Lady of Grace and Compassion,  gave a Kenyan Cookery Class and Meal at St Edward the Confessor parish in Sutton Park. 22 people sat down to enjoy Kuku (a vegetable stew), Matoke (savoury plantains), Sukuma Wiki (a dish based on Kale), Ugali (corn meal), Wali Wa Kunde (black eye beans and rice) and Spicy Nut and N’dizi, (bananas). The parish had adopted the Sisters’ project for the elderly in Mundika, Kenya as their Lenten project. The meal was a final drive to raise funds and generated an additional £400 for their work.

After the cookery class parishioners attended Mass at which the bidding prayers had been contributed by the sisters’ community in Kenya. Photos had also been exchanged between the parish and the Kenyan Community.

Terence Nagle, a parishioner commented, “The cookery class, followed by the Mass and delicious Kenyan meal, was an excellent way to raise awareness of Kenyan culture and the needs of the elderly poor in that country”. Karen Pierre, Rosemary Keenan and Angela Vickerman who helped the sisters all agreed that they had learnt a great deal from the sisters’ culinary skills and were greatly impressed by their ability to talk about Kenyan life and the work of their community through food.

Fr. Brian Taylor at St Edward the Confessor parish said, “The Benedictine Sisters and all those with whom they work, are filled with a happiness that spreads wherever they go. The meal was certainly a happy event."

Sunday, 12 August 2012

“Blessed are the peacemakers” - Plea from Syria

Patriarch Gregorios III reflects on the situation in Syria
+ Gregorios III, Patriarch of Antioch and All the East, of Alexandria and of Jerusalem, the Mekite Greek Catholic Bishop in Damascus reflects on the situation in Syria:
“Blessed are the peacemakers” With these words Our Lord exalts peace-makers, saying that “they shall be called children of God.” (Matthew 5: 9)

Through these same Gospel words, I should like to explain the Church’s attitude to the widespread talk of arming Christians, especially in Damascus:
1. No official has spoken to us about arming Christians.

2. We have never contacted any official and we have never asked for our Christian children to be armed, in Damascus or elsewhere.

3. We have never considered – and never will – arming ourselves.

4. Furthermore, we believe that the attempt to arm Christians, from whatever quarter, involves a danger of sectarian conflict and exposes predominantly Christian districts to attacks of unknown origin.

5. We call upon all our faithful, in all parishes, to refuse offers of arms. We remind them of the teachings of Our Lord, Jesus Christ, “All they that take the sword shall perish with the sword.” (Matthew 26: 52) And also, “Blessed are the meek, for they shall inherit the earth... Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called the children of God." (Matthew 5: 5 and 9)

6. We remind them likewise of Saint Paul’s teaching, "If it be possible, as much as lieth in you, live peaceably with all men." (Romans 12: 18). Our role as Christians is one of mediation and reconciliation: of being bridge-builders between the children of the same homeland. That is the finest mission that we could carry out for our country, Syria, for our brother and sister fellow-citizens of all denominations, regardless of political party, tribe, region or persuasion.

7. We have not stopped calling for this, ever since the outbreak of the crisis in March, 2011. That is the role of the Church and its pastors – Patriarchs, bishops, priests – monks, nuns and lay-persons involved in various sectors of activities and services of the Church. Our churches, schools, institutions and confraternities are all schools of peace, faith, virtue, love and frank, sincere fellow-citizenship and respect for all.

8. I recall a saying of the late Ecumenical Patriarch Athenagoras of Constantinople, "I am no longer afraid, because I have laid my weapons down!"

Our Lord calls us to this in the Holy Gospel, "It is I, be not afraid!" (Matthew 14: 27; Mark 6: 50; John 6: 20) And also, "Be of good cheer! I have overcome the world." (John 16: 33) And John the Evangelist tells us, "This is the victory that overcometh the world, even our faith." (1 John 5: 4) Let us add: faith in our brethren, our homeland and our sincere, humane national values.

We pray God to deign to bring back love to the hearts of all Syrians, so that they will have no need of weapons or fear of massacres, for they will be living together, as children of the same family and the same homeland.

We implore him: God of peace, grant peace to our country."

Please join the Patriarch in this prayer for peace!

Thursday, 9 August 2012

New Team Lead Diocesan Retreat and Meeting Centre

New Directors in front of lake at St Cuthmans
L-R:Anna and Mary-Jane
St. Cuthmans, the beautiful lakeside 24 bed retreat centre and group meeting venue near Billingshurst, has welcomed Anna Hayward and Mary-Jane Burkett as Co-Directors.

Anna has most recently worked at Sacred Heart, Hove and has many years’ experience growing and developing businesses. Mary-Jane brings her skills as founder of the refugee charity Brighton Voices in Exile, a retreat leader and Inter Faith adviser. Together, in this innovative job share, they plan to make St.Cuthmans more accessible as a resource for all within the Diocese, for the loyal guest base and a wide range of groups.

“For many it comes as a surprise to learn that here is this wonderful hidden gem of a setting where you can come for a Quiet Day or stay for a couple of nights or longer.” says Anna. “The overwhelming response from guests, is the sense of peace and renewal they achieve. For some this comes from joining prayer or Mass; others simply enjoy relaxing in the library, walking in the 20 acre grounds and good homecooking”.

“St.Cuthmans is well appreciated by groups for good meeting spaces and a chance to get away from it all,” says Mary-Jane. “In our first month we have welcomed a group of Missionaries from around the world, Bishop Kieran, and several clergy and Parish groups. What they all value is the tranquillity and chance to reflect”.

For more information on Quiet Days, residential stays and group meeting facilities: tel 01403 741220

Wednesday, 8 August 2012

A Transfigured Olympics

Bishop Kieran
Bishop Kieran Conry from our Diocese of Arundel and Brighton, and Chair of the Catholic Bishops’ Department for Evangelization and Catechesis, met Monday on the Feast of the Transfiguration with the hundreds of young people from 21 nations assembled at The Joshua Camp, a mile from the Olympic Park in East London’s Olympic borough of Newham.

Speaking about the Feast of the Lord’s Transfiguration, Bishop Kieran began by saying that “the story tells us what you are celebrating here in the Joshua Camp and what we as a world are celebrating in the Games”. The Apostles were “given a sight of future glory” that became “a very important source of hope”. He stated that “it is easy to think that we live in a time of crisis. I don’t think it is true. I don’t think we are that privileged or special to live in a time of crisis, for the Church has been in crisis since the cock crowed the first time. But our society has lost its way. In the middle of our society there has appeared a big empty space, a vacuum where God used to be.” He went on to challenge the young people present. “Our mission as believers and members of the Church” he said “is to put God back into that space”.

“Society in this country knows it needs to change and that we cannot go on as we are. And our mission is, I believe, to show our society how to live and the values that we claim and hold onto as Christians. Our values and beliefs are what our society needs very much. As well as love, it needs hope and faith.”

Reflecting on how the three disciples present with Jesus wished to make two tents, one for Moses and one for Elijah, Bishop Conry warned the young people of desiring to “want to go back to the past… to a place where everything was safe” and where they are in control of what is happening. “No. We go forward,” he exclaimed, “towards the Cross, towards a place of challenge and death. Go forward and face the challenges, the suffering and face the sacrifice. It will not be easy,” he said, “but in the end we go towards the vision of glory that the Lord gives us.”

Bishop Kieran ended by encouraging the young people: “Do not become discouraged. Do not become afraid. Do not become anxious. The vision that the Lord offers us today of the Transfiguration is real. We now need to find the way there.”

Following the bishop’s words, those attending the camp chose to either engage in sporting fun activity with local people in London’s East End, or went to one of the Catholic Church’s three Olympic hospitality suites at Stratford, Bow and in Central London. While there, they do acts of service and invite people from the streets to enter into the church building to light a candle, to pray and to have a time of quiet reflection.

Many on the camp have never attended or done anything of this nature before. There is a growing excitement in the camp with comments being made about the “amazing ways” in which they are seeing God touching the lives of London residents and visitors.

Tuesday, 7 August 2012

Lourdes Pilgrimage and Blog Holiday Over

The Blog holiday is over and the Arundel & Brighton pilgrims have returned from Lourdes so normal service will now resume.

Below a couple of pics from the redshrits in Lourdes. For more pictures from Lourdes go to and