Saturday, 29 December 2012

Pastoral Letter for Feast of Holy Family from Bishop Kieran Conry

Photo(c) Mazur/
Bishop Kieran Conry writes on the Feast of the Holy Family about the importance of family to the people of the Diocese of Arundel & Brighton:

Dear people of Arundel & Brighton,
A family in one of our parishes in Surrey had two girls from Africa staying with them recently, and the mother was telling me about some of the questions that arose as they had to begin to get used to another culture. One evening she prepared a meal and sat the two girls down with her own two daughters. After a while they noticed that the two African girls weren’t eating, and asked them why. The girls were very polite and probably shy and didn’t say much, but still didn’t eat. It took a little while to realise that the problem was that they simply didn’t know how to use a knife and fork. We take it for granted that people all over the world use a knife and fork, until we go to a Chinese restaurant, that is.

But it’s a chance to reflect on just how much we learn in the family and in the home, if we are lucky enough to have those two things. Babies are born with a few basic instincts; they can breathe, swallow, suck and grip. Most of the rest of what they need to do has to be taught, and the lessons can be difficult. With the so-called ‘potty-training’ for instance, is this a good or bad place to put things?

The family really is an indispensible part of human growth, and if we do dispense with it, then we pay the costs at some stage. The family can be a single parent, it can be grandparents, it can be foster parents, but a child needs to have the support of someone to be able to grow in what today’s gospel calls “wisdom, in stature and in favour with God and men.” The first reading is from one of the books of the Old Testament we call ‘wisdom literature’ and there are nearly forty chapters of sound, practical teaching, much of it very relevant for today – “Do not beggar yourself by banqueting on credit, when there is nothing in your pocket.”

But going back to today’s gospel, the two parts of ‘growing in favour with God and with men’ are equally important and, we would say, inseparable. The home is the place where we first learn to believe in God. My own family was and is no more devout than any other, but I remember kneeling down together before we went to bed and all praying together. On Sunday there was no question about what the day held; we went to Mass and never questioned it. There was no coercion or pressure, there was no need for it. I know that things have changed now for young people and, therefore, their parents, in terms of other things happening on Sundays, but the principle remains. In the same way that we learn respect for people, for other people’s property, for our own possessions and for ourselves, so the home is the place we should first learn respect for God.

How do we do this? How do we do anything to teach children? We don’t simply tell them to keep their rooms tidy if the rest of the house is a mess. We can’t tell them not to be greedy if we indulge ourselves as adults. As the writer of Ecclesiasticus says, “My son, be gentle in carrying out your business, and you will be better loved than a lavish giver.” Treat a child with gentleness and the child will grow up gentle; if a child grows up in a household of conflict and anger, the child will assume that this is how people normally live. I think that is a lesson that the writer of Ecclesiasticus hadn’t quite grasped: he opens chapter 30 with the words, “A man who love his son will beat him frequently.” He lets himself down a bit there, but different times, different values.

The Feast of the Holy Family today is an opportunity to reflect on how we pass on faith to our children along with all the other things we feel are important for them. It’s a time for us all to think about what explicit lessons we give young people about how faith is lived. If, for instance, Mass is seen to be just one of the many options available on Sunday, then how important will it seem? If adults are unwilling or unable to answer basic questions that children have about God and faith, then why should the children consider the question to have value? How can we talk about faith if we don’t show it, and how can we assume to pass the responsibility on to the school, any more than we would pass on to the school the responsibility to clothe or feed the child?

I know that it is a very difficult time for many parents today. For many the difficulties are financial, and that can create great problems when young people experience inequality and feel the need to conform and be like their peers. For many, there are difficulties created by all the other influences working on their children, particularly through their phones and computers, giving them access to things that are really not proper for young people, or indeed for adults.

The two little girls from Africa probably weren’t familiar with computers either, but I imagine that they knew they were loved within a family, and if we are to talk about ‘privilege’ and ‘affluence’, who is the better off? The family is just such an important school of humanity and faith that we must be quite firm to resist any proposed government legislation that threatens to undermine or compromise it. Where did Jesus learn compassion? When his parents do finally find him in Jerusalem after three days, their words are a gentle reproof, “See how worried your father and I have been, looking for you.”

I wish you happiness and peace in the year that lies ahead. It may not be any easier than the year that is ending, but let us pray for the wisdom to see things for what they are and join with the words of the opening prayer of today’s Mass of the Holy Family of Jesus, Mary and Joseph: “Grant that we imitate them in practising the virtues of family life and in the bonds of charity.”

With my best wishes and prayers.

+ Kieran

Bishop of Arundel & Brighton

Thursday, 27 December 2012

Briton, Archbishop Paul Gallagher, Named Nuncio to Australia

Archbishop Paul Gallagher
Vatican Radio reports and has a conversation with English Archbishop Paul Gallagher, currently the Holy See’s representative to Guatemala who was appointed recently as the new apostolic nuncio to Australia.

The Liverpool-born Gallagher, who was educated by the Jesuits and studied at the Venerable English College here in Rome, went on to become the first English born nuncio to train at the Pontifical Ecclesiastical Academy for Vatican diplomats.

He worked in Tanzania, Uruguay, the Philippines and at the Council of Europe in Strasbourg, before being sent as nuncio to Burundi in 2004 following the assassination of the former papal representative there. Archbishop Gallagher narrowly escaped death himself when the nunciature was badly damaged by rebels aiming shells at the presidential palace.

Since 2009, he has served as nuncio in Guatemala but in January he is expected to take up his new post as the first non-Italian representative of the Holy See in Australia. Archbishop Gallagher spoke to Vatican Radio’s Philippa Hitchen about his reaction to this new appointment….


Monday, 24 December 2012

A Happy and Holy Christmas

Wishing all A&B News Blog readers a Happy and Holy Christmas

Photograph: Handmade Clay Nativity By Valerie Shepherd

Saturday, 22 December 2012

Cardinal Cormac Murphy-O’Connor on Radio 2’s Pause for Thought

Cardinal Cormac preaching to A&B Lourdes Pilgrimage at the Grotto in 2012
The Cardinal was on Radio 2’s Chris Evans breakfast show today. Read and listen to his Christmas Pause below:

Whilst living in Rome, I was marked by a true story of brotherly love. It was the end of the War and most unusual for Italy, heavy snow had fallen. Two boys, aged twelve and six had been abandoned by their parents and the eldest brother , knew of a place where orphan boys could find shelter and help, but that place was fifteen miles away and the snow was very deep. Too little to be able to walk through the snow, the eldest brother put the youngest on his back and piggy-backed him through the snow until at last, exhausted, he reached the shelter. He was welcomed by a priest who said to him, “You came all that way with that burden on your back!” And the boy said, “That’s not a burden – that’s my brother”.

Most people have some kind of burden in their lives. It might be a sickness or some sorrow one finds painful to bear. Christians believe that the feast we celebrate at Christmas helps us remember that God came into our world to bring reconciliation, light and hope. He came to turn blows into kisses and burdens into blessings. There is a very nice custom in Slavonic countries that at the end of Christmas Mass each person kisses their neighbour on both cheeks and says, “Christ is born”, and the reply is, “Truly He is born”. And then around the whole church each one exchanges kisses with everybody else. The coming of Christ brings new hope to our world and to each one of us. He turns burdens into blessings. You know, you can kill people in crowds but you can only kiss them one by one. My wish for you this Christmastide is that you will find the opportunity to reach out to a neighbour or friend who is worried, concerned or in pain, and in doing so find inner peace and reconciliation. May this Christmas be a happy time for you and your burdens be turned to blessings.

Listen: 2hrs 52mins 37secs in

Thursday, 20 December 2012

Eucharistic Adoration - Laity Take a Lead in the Diocese

Diocesan promoters of adoration of the Blessed Sacrament gather for training
The Lay Apostolate of Perpetual Eucharistic Adoration has now come to the Diocese of Arundel & Brighton. The apostolate with the blessing of Pope John Paul II, was established by decree of the Pontifical Council for the Laity on 2nd June 1991.

Membership of the Apostolate requires a parish to offer Exposition of the Blessed Sacrament over an extended period of time so that parishioners can pledge themselves to an hour’s Adoration every week.

After three day’s training supervised by Brendan Cleary and John Howard from the Centre in Dublin, we now have our own Diocesan Eucharistic Adoration Committee. Already, to date, eighteen parishes have requested to join, and it is hoped that two of them will be visited before Christmas.

Canon Tom Treherne, the Spiritual Director of the new committee, writes: ‘Arundel and Brighton joins the Lay Apostolate at a most appropriate time as we start the Year of Faith and our own preparations for the Diocesan Jubilee. We are being reminded that prayer, centred on the Eucharist, lies at the heart of everything we do. We are also reminded of the need to pray constantly for an increase of vocations for the Priesthood, which is always the main intention of the Lay Apostolate of Eucharistic Adoration.’

The Chair of the new committee is Bella Raj. For further details, contact the secretary, Rosemary Westcott on 07905 565395; email:

Wednesday, 19 December 2012

Hundred Years of Faith at St Mary's Preston Park

Recently past and present priests and parishioners of St Mary’s, Preston Park, led by Bishop Kieran Conry, celebrated the centenary of the opening of their church.

It’s well known that the Prince of Wales’ patronage transformed the obscure fishing village of Brighthelmstone into the fashionable Georgian resort of Brighton. During that same period, when the Prince secretly married Maria Fitzherbert, the church of St John the Baptist was built in Kemp Town, thanks to the support of Mrs Fitzherbert. From this church were founded all the Catholic parishes in this part of Sussex, including St Mary’s, Preston Park.

St Mary’s parish had its origins in the Lourdes Convent School in Withdean. The school was opened in 1904 by five Sisters of Charity of Nevers who fled to England from France where religious schools were being closed as a result of a new wave of anti-clericalism. The then Bishop of Southwark allowed the nuns to establish their convent, provided they admitted the public to their chapel. Initially about 20 people attended Mass there.

In 1906, as the school grew and Mass attendances increased, the first resident chaplain was appointed: Fr Frederick Hopper. Soon, overcrowding in the convent chapel led Fr Hopper to look for a site on which to build a church. Land from the Stanford estate was bought and plans were drawn up.

Fr Hopper was a man of vision. He foresaw that, one day, his church would be in the centre of Brighton. Raising the money to build it was a huge problem but, in an answer to prayer, Fr Hopper was promised the funding by Mrs Catherine Broderick. She and her husband were wealthy, but they had known great poverty as children in Ireland. Having no children themselves, they donated much of their money to the Church.

Fr Hopper wanted his church to be a landmark for travellers coming into Brighton by road or rail. That meant building a tower. Mrs Broderick did not agree with him: she thought the church needed a proper sanctuary first, so she refused to continue funding it. Despite the huge financial problems caused by this rift, the church was opened in 1912 with a tower but no permanent altar. However, it wasn’t until 1979 that the building was completed, both inside and out, and a priests’ house built next door.

The generosity of another benefactor, Cyril Cassidy, a greatly loved parishioner who died suddenly in 2004, enabled the current parish priest, Canon Oliver Heaney, to propose the building of a pastoral centre for the use of the parish and the wider community. The Cassidy Centre was opened by Bishop Conry in2007.

From its small beginnings in the convent chapel, St Mary’s now has about 400 parishioners who worship regularly and serve the needs of local and wider community in various ways. The Lourdes Convent closed in 2011, but the nuns’ example of dedicated service lives on in the work of the parish today.

Tuesday, 18 December 2012

Frimley Fillipino Community

Frimley Filipino choir
Jeremy Preece from Our Lady Queen of Heaven, Frimley reports:
"It would be hard to imagine the parish of Our Lady Queen of Heaven, Frimley, without our Filipino community. Yet it was only in 1998 that the first groups of forty stared arriving, to work in Frimley Park Hospital. One of the groups celebrated their tenth year here this October.

Each group were strangers when they first arrived, drawn from different parts of the Philippines. At Frimley they soon formed a tight knit community, which today is estimated as being about a thousand strong. Some have moved on, many have settled married and had children here in our parish, and some have married outside of their community.

Although the community has its own large social groups such as “Singles for Christ” and “Couples for Christ”, it has become a vibrant part of our wider parish life. The Filipino Choir is now an integral part of our parish liturgy. This is a very dedicated group, which enriches our 5:30pm Sunday Mass with their uplifting music on the first weekend of each month."

Monday, 17 December 2012

Weybridge's Shooting Stars

Owen and Mary at Lords
Peter Clapham from Weybridge Parish reports:
"Our very own Pastoral Assistant, Mary Lee, and her son Owen set the fund-raising ball rolling for our new Parish home charity, Shooting Star CHASE children’s hospice with a sponsored cycle ride from Hampton to Lords Cricket ground. Mum couldn’t quite keep up – but did bravely finish – and raised over £700 for the Hospice. Well done, we’re proud of you both."

Sunday, 16 December 2012

Christmas is Coming, the Geese are Getting Fat, Give CAFOD World Gifts – just like that!

It couldn’t be easier to give gifts that last with World Gifts from CAFOD. You can choose and order online via or via freephone or via the printed catalogue available from 0808 140 0014.

World Gifts will delight your friends and family and make a huge difference to people in developing countries. Because they do something no pair of socks can ever do – they help people break free from poverty! This year we have over 30 gifts to choose from and to suit every kind of budget and ideas for every taste and age, from goats to bicycles!

From as little as £4.50 for a set of colouring pencils and £10 for a vegetable garden to Chirpy Chickens at £20 and a brilliant bicycle at £50. Each one comes with a beautifully illustrated card of your chosen gift, together with a presentation gift envelope. Or why not order online and send a personalised e-gift. Or buy a sheet of ‘immunise a child’ stickers at just 50p per sticker.

This Christmas, transform the lives of individuals, families and communities in the developing world with your gift and continue to help CAFOD make a difference.

Saturday, 15 December 2012

Priest's Fond Farewell

Fr Andrew cuts the cake
Photo: John Barrett
Ann Lardeur from The Nativity of the Lord parish reports:
"The lastest step in his life's journey has introduced Fr Andrew to the pros and cons of moving parish for the first time. He came to our parish in December 2011 as his first appointment.

As he explained in his homily, the most important of the cons was saying farewell to the friends he had made during his time in the parish. His new appointment to Chichester included two important pros; regularly passing the Baptist Church, and St. Pancras Anglican Church, both of which he had attended on his journey towards finding Mass and becoming a Catholic for which he gives regular thanks to God.

The specially designed celebration cake, made by a parishioner, had many symbols which illustrated his journey from Nottingham where he grew up (Trees for Sherwood Forest), University of York (a white rose), Iona where he spent a sabbatical year as a musician (map + St. Martin's Cross), Rome (the crest of the English College) and Canada where he studied Canon Law (another map + flag). In the centre spot were the crib figures of Jesus, Mary and Joseph. The sides had footprints, symbolic of both the journey and Fr. Andrew's two fundraising marathons.

The Mass in the Holy Family Church, Reigate, was concelebrated with Fr. Chris Spain, Fr. Charles Howell and Deacon Tim Murrill. Fr. Chris paid tribute to Fr. Andrew's pastoral gifts, particularly at East Surrey Hospital, and his delightful sense of humour. Deacon Tim, and the longest serving member of the clergy made the presentation on behalf of the whole parish."

P.S. Fr Aaron Spinelli from Horsham parish has gone to the Nativity of the Lord parish to replace Fr Andrew

Friday, 14 December 2012

Proclaiming Christ - An Epiphany Retreat

St Cuthman's from across the lake
In the New Year why not start with an inspiring Retreat at St. Cuthman’s led by Sr. Margaret O’Shea from 4 – 6 Jan: 'Who do you say I am? Proclaiming Christ'

How do we become living witnesses to the Gospel in daily life, our call as Christians by the way we live & act?

Popular retreat leader Sr. Margaret O’Shea will help to guide you and be offering individual spiritual direction as part of this Epiphany Retreat in our beautiful historic country house with lakeside setting.

The cost is £185 per person, which includes 2 nights’ accommodation in a comfortable en-suite room and all meals.

To book: 01403 741220 or

Thursday, 13 December 2012

Following Yonder Star at Arundel Cathedral

Arundel Cathedral will be hosting its annual Advent Art Festival from Friday 14th December 2012 and this year the theme will be 'Following Yonder Star'. 

The purpose of the Festival is to celebrate, through art, the groups which contribute to our community and make it the special place it is, whilst at the same time offering the public the opportunity to enjoy a visual feast in the lead up to and during Christmas.

This year's artwork is brought to you by a whole host of different groups including local schools, parish groups, and organisations like the NSPCC and the Enable Me Project to name just a few. Illustrations, paintings, 3D models, textiles and even video installations will adorn the pillars, floor and walls of the Cathedral and promise visitors a unique and heart-warming experience. As part of the festival, free competitions around the artworks will also be run for children to win prizes each Sunday.

Entry to the festival is free, though donations welcome. 

Wednesday, 12 December 2012

Bishops Speak out for Marriage

L-R: Archishop Vincent Nichols and Archbishop Peter Smith
© Mazur/
Statement by Archbishop Vincent Nichols and Archbishop Peter Smith on the government response to the same sex marriage consultation:
"The meaning of marriage matters. It derives that meaning from its function as the foundation of the family. The union of one man and one woman for love and mutual support and open to procreation has over the centuries formed a stable unit we call the family. Marriage is the enduring public recognition of this commitment and has been rightly recognised as unique and worthy of legal protection.

The government has chosen to ignore the views of over 600,000 people who signed a petition calling for the current definition of marriage to stay, and we are told legislation to change the definition of marriage will now come to Parliament.

We strongly oppose such a Bill. Furthermore, the process by which this has happened can only be described as shambolic. There was no electoral mandate in any manifesto; no mention in the Queen’s speech; no serious or thorough consultation through a Green or White paper, and a constant shifting of policy before even the government response to the consultation was published today.

We urge everyone who cares about upholding the meaning of marriage in civil law to make their views known to their MPs clearly, calmly and forcefully, and without impugning the motives of others. We urge all parties to ensure their Members have a free vote. It is not too late to stop this Bill."

For more information go to our Diocesan Website

Tuesday, 11 December 2012

Catholic Sixth Former's Reflection at the Gates of Auschwitz

Alex and Connor back from Auschwitz
Alex Sarama reflects on his  trip to Auschwitz: It was an unseasonally warm morning at Auschwitz-Birkenau, Poland, on the 18th October – weather not fitting for visiting the greatest symbol of prejudice and intolerance the world has ever encountered. I came to Auschwitz through The Holocaust Educational Trust’s ‘Lessons from Auschwitz’ Project.

The Trust plays a central role in combating anti-Semitism, racism and prejudice in our society today, their work ensuring the Holocaust has a permanent place in our nation’s collective memory. Connor Taylor and I - students at St Peter’s Catholic School in Guildford - were part of 200 sixth form students from across the UK that flew out to Kraków airport to witness the site of 1.5 million deaths - a number so large that it is almost incomprehensible. To many this is just a number - viewing family pictures, children’s shoes and day-to-day objects brought home the fact that these were real people with real lives, families and careers. For many, the reason for being sent to Auschwitz was simply the fact they were born. 1 million Jews killed by the Nazis were sent to their deaths for being born into a religion they did not even choose. I was horrified at the sub-human way victims were sorted and ruthlessly taken to the gas chambers as soon as they arrived at the death camp. One of the most poignant moments was seeing thousands of Jewish children's shoes piled up, a reminder of industrial-scale child murder which led me to question how humanity can be so cruel.

I have always been captivated by History and my particular interest in WWII can no doubt be attributed to my Polish heritage. My grandmother was sent to the notorious Ravensbrück Concentration Camp during the war, while my two grandfathers fought for the Polish army at Monte Cassino and the Warsaw Uprising.

I have had the good fortune of hearing their first-hand accounts, yet I realise we cannot rely forever on their stories, as the years pass and we move further away from these significant war years. It is for this reason that every post-16 student taking part in the visit automatically becomes a ‘Holocaust Ambassador,’ taking the stories of Auschwitz and sharing the experience with various communities around the UK. When there comes a time when no eyewitnesses are left, we – and future generations - will ensure that the memories are kept alive.

It is our aim that awareness of the Holocaust will be augmented through the assemblies and presentations we deliver in the wider community. For Connor and I, this will be done through educating and passing on our experience to younger year groups at St Peter’s. I also had the good fortune to meet the Foreign Affairs Editor of the Jewish Media Group and next summer will write a series of short articles for the paper on books of Jewish History, in which I am particularly interested, beginning with a review of Simon Montefiore’s ‘Jerusalem.’ As a Catholic, I really think this shows how different faiths can take solace in Auschwitz, uniting to promote multi-faith cohesion and together working for the same common good – the preservation of the Holocaust in the nation’s hearts and minds.

It is so important young people are continually educated about the Holocaust. Allowing the memories of these dreadful events to fade would gradually permit prejudice and hatred to rise again, as we can see from the horrors still perpetrated today. To quote what Nick Clegg - the Deputy Prime Minister - said when he accompanied on us on the trip, “Remembering what happens when warped ideologies and prejudice go unchecked is not just a history lesson but the greatest antidote today to anti-Semitism and extremism of all kinds.” Indeed some people say that Auschwitz will never happen again but this is impossible to determine – yet there is evidence that we have not learnt from the historical lessons of the past. We still read in the newspapers about stories of racism, while Holocaust denial and anti-Semitic behaviour is still in existence even today. This proves the importance of the work of the Trust and is by all means something we should continue to support.

It is important that we take a break from our busy day-to-day lives and do something to commemorate Auschwitz’s victims. Customary tradition in the West is to offer a one-minute silence for the deceased. Yet if we offered just one minute for every victim of Auschwitz, our lips would remain sealed for 3 years. However, I implore you to do the opposite and not remain silent – keep the memory of Auschwitz alive so that we remain fully cognizant of the horrors of the past, ensuring that they will not be repeated in the future.

Monday, 10 December 2012

Festive Supper in aid of CAFOD

Parishioners at the supper in national costume
Kevin and Linda Dignum report from the Parish of St. Thomas of Canterbury and the English Martyrs in St. Leonards-on- Sea:
"We celebrated CAFOD’s Golden Jubilee at a Festive Harvest Supper.

We were delighted to welcome Martin Brown, the A&B Diocesan CAFOD Manager, to speak at our 11.00am Harvest Festival Mass. Martin thanked the Parish for nearly forty years active support of CAFOD, and led the congregation in a Rite of Recommitment ‘to act justly . . .to love tenderly . . .to walk humbly . . .to care for the earth and transform our world . . . so that all might flourish and live in peace’.

The different choir groups in the Parish combined to lead the congregation in joyful and prayerful music, including a Swahili hymn at the Presentation of Gifts. The Harvest Gifts which were brought to the Mass were sold in the evening at the Harvest Supper.

The Parish Community Development Team did a splendid job in providing a two-course supper with an international flavour, with food from Africa, Pakistan, Brazil, Italy and England.

In both recognition and celebration of the multi-cultural nature of our parish, Parishioners were invited to wear their National Costume to both the Mass and the Supper.

The proceeds from the Supper - an excellent £700.65 - went towards supporting the CAFOD Appeal for the Food Crisis in West Africa.

Photos taken by:- Barbara Okoliko.

Sunday, 9 December 2012

Special Edition NRSV Bible for Year of Faith

As this is Bible Sunday in the Catholic Church here is an article about a new edition of the Bible for Catholics:
"Pope Benedict XVI declared a Year of Faith for all Catholics throughout the world beginning on 11 October and a special edition of the NRSV translation of the Bible has been created Bible Society for use by Catholics during the year.

NRSVThe translation is NRSV, which has received the Imprimatur from the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops and the Canadian Conference of Catholic Bishops. All the books within the Catholic canon are in correct order. The notes at the end of the edition are particular developed with a Catholic audience in mind. They include:
* A transcript of Dei Verbum - the Dogmatic Constitution on Divine Revelation as promulgated at Vatican II - whose 50th Anniversary kicks off the Year of Faith on the 11th October
* A set of Catholic prayers and devotions, including the Stations of the Cross and other devotions
* A complete Weekday and Sunday table of readings to help readers follow the lectionary readings in this edition
* A Catholic concordance, with reference to the deutero-canonical texts and words and concepts that only appear in these books
* All presented with a navy blue hardcover  with a ribbon to easily keep your place.

Copies can be ordered from the Diocesan Bookshop in Crawley

Saturday, 8 December 2012

Feast of the Immaculate Conception of Mary

On 8th december each year the Church celebrates the Feast of the Immaculate Conception of the Blessed Virgin Mary.In the Constitution Ineffabilis Deus of 8 December, 1854, Pius IX pronounced and defined that the Blessed Virgin Mary "in the first instance of her conception, by a singular privilege and grace granted by God, in view of the merits of Jesus Christ, the Saviour of the human race, was preserved exempt from all stain of original sin."

For more see the New Advent website

For a copy of this new CTS booklet contact the Diocesan Bookshop in Crawley on

Friday, 7 December 2012

Seasonal Lunch Raises over £1300 for Mary's Meals

Photo shows: Members of the Seaford Community enjoying their lunch
Pippa Logan reports from St Thomas More parish in Seaford:
"Over £1300 was raised for Marys Meals from the proceeds of a Seasonal Lunch held at St Thomas More's Church Seaford.

Nearly fifty people enjoyed a home cooked 3 course vegetarian meal prepared by members of the parish. Over 75% of the ingredients were sourced from parishioners gardens and allotments thus enabling the costs to be kept To a minimum.

A short video was shown on the work of Mary's Meals and how for just £10.70 a child receives a lunch whilst attending school for a whole year.

As the founder of Marys Meals Magnus Mac Farlane -Barrow quotes ' A simple Solution to World Hunger'

For further information on Mary's Meals why not check out the website.

Thursday, 6 December 2012

Catholic School Supporting Work of a Hospice

Some of Class 5D at the Hospice
St Thomas a Becket Junior school in Eastbourne reports:
"Recently Class 5D at this Catholic Junior School made a tree of "Hope and Courage" which was donated to St. Wilfrid's Hospice in Eastbourne. The tree made of felt birds and prayers was part of a special assembly in which children talked about St. Wilfrid's and the significant role that it has in the community.

A cheque for £375 was also handed over which money raised by staff and children.

In the picture with a member of the hospice staff are some of the children with their class teacher Miss Mary Bracuti whose father was recently cared for by St. Wilfrid's in the latter stages of his illness."

Wednesday, 5 December 2012

Advent Days at St.Cuthman’s Retreat & Meeting Centre

Last few places available!
St Cuthman's Retreat and Meeting Centre offers the opportunity to take time out to share a Day of Prayer & Reflection (10am – 4pm) in a small group during this busy season.

Beautiful country and lakeside setting, Mass in our pretty chapel, plus good food.

Reflection Days:
Sat 8 Dec – ‘Reflections on Our Lady, the journey to Bethlehem’ Fr Charles Jeffries

Weds 12 Dec – ‘Waiting’ Clare Crossman, Spiritual Director

Sat 15 Dec – ‘Who do you say I am?’ Veronica Adnitt, Spiritual Director

Weds 19 Dec – ‘Preparing for the Coming’ Helen Sexton, Spiritual Director

Lunch included and afternoon tea by the log fire and Christmas Tree in the House, just £25 per person for the day. As a special offer, you can stay the night before / on the Advent Day for just £50 per person. This reduced price includes supper and breakfast.

To book: 01403 741220 email:

St. Cuthman’s Retreat & Meeting Centre, Cowfold Road, Coolham, Horsham RH13 8QL

Tuesday, 4 December 2012

Catholics Pray for Peace in the Middle East

Water Seller in the Souk in Damascus before the conflict
Photo ©Mark Woods
Catholics across England and Wales will remember the people of the Middle East in their prayers on 4 December 2012, the Feast of St John Damascene. Conscious of the civil war in Syria and its impact on neighbouring countries, the Bishops of England and Wales at their recent plenary meeting decided on a day of prayer as one sign of solidarity with the people of the region.

As a priest and Doctor of the Church who was born in Damascus (Syria) in 675 and died near Jerusalem about 749, St John Damascene’s feast day was chosen because it links the early Church with the living community of Middle Eastern Christians and their vocation as peace-builders. The bishops pray that the example of St John’s life can inspire Christians, Muslims and Jews to work for reconciliation and justice.

Prayer for Peace:
O God of peace, who are peace itself
and whom a spirit of discord cannot grasp,
nor a violent mind receive,
grant that those who are one in heart
may persevere in what is good
and that those in conflict
may forget evil and so be healed.
Through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son,
who lives and reigns with you in the unity of the Holy Spirit,
one God, for ever and ever.

St John Damascene, pray for us.
Prayer text from Roman Missal © 2010 ICEL

Monday, 3 December 2012

English Seminary in Rome to Meet with Pope

Martyrs' picture from
College Church
CCN reports:
"This year the Venerable English College (the Venerabile) has been celebrating a very significant milestone in the history of English and Welsh Catholicism. For 2012 marked the 650th anniversary of the Foundation of an English & Welsh Hospice on the site occupied by the Venerabile. Its foundation in 1362 makes this the oldest English institution outside of England. From 1362-1579, there was a Hospice here. In 1579, the house became a seminary for training Catholic priests; and so it has remained up to the present time.

Some 120 people are expected to Mass and lunch on Saturday 1st December including Archbishop Nichols of Westminster and the Archbishop Emeritus of Westminster, Cardinal Cormac Murphy-O’Connor, Rector of the Venerabile from 1971-77.

For more than two centuries, this site on the via di Monserrato, fast by the Palazzo Farnese in the heart of medieval Rome, was a Hospice for English and Welsh Pilgrims. So many pilgrims came to Rome for the Holy Year of 1350 that it inspired a group of Englishmen living in Rome to form themselves into the Confraternity of St Thomas of Canterbury, buying the first house in 1362. There was already an English couple living there, John and Alice Shepherd, who sold rosary beads to pilgrims visiting the medieval St Peter’s.

The English Hospice attracted large numbers of pilgrims, including, in its early years, the mystic Margery Kempe, the future priest-hunter Thomas Cromwell, the future martyr St Henry Walpole, and later the poet John Milton. From 1412, the wall out onto the street was emblazoned with the English Royal Coat of Arms – the shield enduring to this day – for this was a house under the patronage of the Crown. The 15th century saw some of the most famous English humanists among the Hospice’s members: Thomas Linacre, William Lily, William Warham, John Giglis, Christopher Bainbridge and John Colet. In Henry VII’s reign, it was known as the “King’s Hospice”; Henry VIII described it as “Our Hospice”.

With the split between Rome and Elizabeth I, it was no longer possible to train priests at home; and so the Hospice’s use was altered to prepare young men for the “Mission to England and Wales”, i.e. to return to their home countries to support the faith of persecuted Catholics. The Venerabile achieved fame quickly for, in the first century of its existence, forty-four of its recent alumni were martyred: of these some 10 have been recognised as Saints and the majority as Blessed. In the four centuries that it has been a seminary, the Venerabile has continued to welcome pilgrims to worship and to visit, offering bed and board to bishops, priest and lay people come to Rome on Church business.

Whenever students in the first century of the seminary’s existence heard that one of their number had been martyred, they would come before the church’s altarpiece, Durante Alberti’s depiction of the Most Holy Trinity with St Thomas, to sing a song of praise, the Te Deum Laudamus. This they will sing before the same picture – but with particular fervour - on Saturday 1st December 2012; for this is Martyrs’ Day, the College Feastday. It was on 1st December 1581 that St Ralph Sherwin mounted the scaffold at Tyburn (yards from London’s Marble Arch) to become the first of the forty-four students to lay down his life for the Catholic Faith. The College will be honoured that day by the presence of Their Royal Highnesses The Duke and Duchess of Gloucester representing Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II at this celebration marking the close of the Anniversary year.

Two days later, on Monday 3rd December, bishops, staff and students of the College have been invited to the Apostolic Palace in the Vatican, where they will be received in Private Audience by His Holiness Pope Benedict XVI. Among them from Arundel & Brighton Diocese will be Fr Tony Milner, Academic Tutor and Tristan Caulfield, a secondy year seminarian. They will bring with them to the Audience a relic of their protomartyr, St Ralph Sherwin, for the Holy Father to venerate. Pope Benedict told Roman students recently, “You live these years of training in a special closeness with the Successor of Peter, which enables you to perceive with particular clarity the size of the Universal Church: here you breathe Catholicism!” As Monsignor Hudson says, “These words of the Holy Father seem to capture the vocation of this house these last 650 years: in its first two centuries, to bring English and Welsh Catholics to be close to Peter; then, when England & Wales rejected the Catholic Faith, to form men who would bear back to their homeland Catholic sacraments and Catholic truth – a vocation which endures to this day. I can think of no more eloquent expression of this than for the College, as a climax to this Anniversary Year, to bring to Peter’s successor the relic of our Protomartyr as a pledge of our filial devotion and esteem.”

Sunday, 2 December 2012

Pope's Book on the Infancy of Jesus Released

The offical date for publication in UK is 4 December and it will be available from the Diocesan Bookshop at the Christian Education in Crawley. To order a copy email

Saturday, 1 December 2012

New Surrey High Sheriff from the Catholic Community

Karin Sehmer, the new High Sheriff in front of Guildford Cathedral
Andy Newbold from Haslemere, Hindhead and Chiddingfold Parish reports:
In a ceremony at Guildford Cathedral, Karin Sehmer, a parishioner from St Teresa’s, Chiddingfold, was installed in March as the new High Sheriff of Surrey.

The appointment of High Sheriff lasts for one year and, since the post has legal connections with the judiciary system, the courts and the prisons, the person chosen often comes from this background.

Formerly a rheumatologist at Guildford’s Royal Surrey County Hospital, Karin spent many years as a forensic medical examiner for the police and has been Deputy Coroner for Surrey since 2000.

Since being appointed, Karin has attended many official events and was honoured by being presented to the Queen at the Derby during the Jubilee. One of her main functions will be supporting the High Sheriff Youth Awards throughout the county and she will also be focusing her efforts on charities dealing the physically disabled and drug abuse.

Karin looks forward to a very busy year and will have the full backing of her husband, Jamie, and their three grown-up sons, as well as fellow parishioners in Chiddingfold and Haslemere.