Tuesday, 31 January 2012

Celebrating Our Lady in Song

L-R: Karen, Harriet, Julian, Anita, Fr. Charles with Fr. Andrew at the piano
Photo Janet Franklin

Ann Lardeur from the parish of The Nativity of the Lord reports:
The Fabulous Five of last summer morphed into The Superb Six for another magnificent concert in Holy Family Church, Reigate, on 8th December, the Feast of the Immaculate Conception. Julian Stocker, Lay Vicar at Westminster Abbey and his wife Karen, Anita Pinnock, Frs Charles Howell and Andrew Moss were joined by Merstham’s own soprano, Harriet Hunter. Harriet is newly married to Martin Rawles, organist at Litchfield Cathedral, but she will always be Merstham’s own special voice.

In honour of the Feast “Ave Maria” featured twice, Schubert and Bach/Gounod compositions. Advent was celebrated by Fr. Charles singing the recitative “For behold darkness shall cover the earth” followed by the aria “The people that walked in darkness” from Handel’s Messiah. Harriet and Julian sang “The Prayer” made famous by Celine Dion and Andrea Bocelli; Fr Andrew and Julian became Crosby & Bowie for “Little Drummer Boy”. Harriet also sang a delightful French carol, “Quelle est cette odeur agreable”.

Anita’s unique contribution was jazz reworkings of the carols “O Come all ye faithful” and “Once in Royal David’s City”. We were moved by John Rutter’s “Shepherds left their flocks a-straying” performed by Harriet, Anita, Julian and Frs Charles and Andrew. The unsung, but not unapplauded, heroine of the evening was Karen Stocker accompanist for most of the numbers. The finale was the riotous “Hail Holy Queen” from Sister Act.

A group of young people, led by Debs Puttick, spoke of their experience at World Youth Day. The donations are going towards financing youth projects and pilgrimages. For the same cause £355 was raised at an Evening of Christmas Cheer.

Monday, 30 January 2012

The Human Cost of the Church's Mission Across the World

Fides News Agency reports on the pastoral workers, Bishops, Priests, Men and Women Religious and Lay Cathoic killed in 2011:
Vatican City (Agenzia Fides) - Once again this year, Fides publishes an annual document of all the pastoral workers who lost their lives in a violent manner over the course of the last 12 months. According to information in our possession, during 2011, 26 pastoral care workers were killed: one more than the previous year: 18 priests, 4 religious sisters, 4 lay people.

For the third consecutive year, the place most affected, with an extremely elevated number of pastoral workers killed is AMERICA, bathed with the blood of 13 priests and 2 lay persons. Following is AFRICA, where 6 pastoral workers were killed: 2 priests, 3 religious sisters,1 lay person. ASIA, where 2 priests, 1 religious sister, 1 lay person were killed. The least affected was EUROPE, where one priest was killed.

Links:
Fides Special feature-full document
http://www.fides.org/eng/documents/missionaries_killed_2011.doc

Saturday, 28 January 2012

50th Anniversary of CAFOD

Congratulations to CAFOD (Catholic Agency for Overseas Development) who celebrate 50 years of existence this year. There will be a Mass of Thanksgiving at Westminister Cathedral on Saturday 28 January with Archbishop Vincent Nichols, Bishop John Arnold who will preach and our own Bishop Kieran Conry from Arundel & Brighton.

Martin Brown, the CAFOD A&B Diocesan manager reports on the plans for the celebrations in this diocese as follows:
"2012 marks the 50th anniversary of the establishment of CAFOD by the Bishops of England and Wales. This year will therefore be a special year of thanks to all CAFOD’s committed supporters; to the Conference of Bishops for its ongoing support, CAFOD’s partners overseas, and all those who enable our vital work to happen.

We are holding a series of events to commemorate the anniversary including a Will-writing workshop on the 11th of March in Little Common. Perhaps you would like to host an event in your Parish or school?

We also have a wonderful opportunity with the UK Aid Match initiative, whereby the UK government will match pound for pound all donations towards CAFOD’s Lenten appeal, including Fast Day. UK Aid Match allows the UK public to have a say in how some of the government’s existing international aid budget is spent. All donations made as a result of Lent fundraising activities that happen from mid-February 2012 to mid-May 2012 will qualify.

We want to thank all our supporters and volunteers for your generosity across the years. You have made a huge difference to millions of people."

For more information please contact CAFOD A&B on 01483 898866 or arundelandbrighton@cafod.org.uk or visit http://www.cafod.org.uk/

Friday, 27 January 2012

650th Anniversary of the English & Welsh Hospice in Rome

Frontispiece of John Clerk’s account book for the Hospice, 1538.
The Hospice’s patrons, the Holy Trinity, SS Thomas and Edmund,
are shown with the landscape of Lazio in the background
The Venerabile English College in Rome reports on their forthcoming anniversary:
Over the weekend of 27th-29th January the Venerable English College (VEC) celebrates a very significant milestone in the history of English and Welsh Catholicism. Friday 27th January 2012 marks the 650th anniversary of the Foundation Deed which established an English & Welsh Hospice on the site occupied by the VEC. 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, even though the Hospice tradition continued there; and so it has remained up to the present time.

Some 250 people are expected to Mass and lunch on Sunday 29th January. Archbishop Nichols of Westminster will be principal celebrant. Presiding in choir will be his predecessor, the Archbishop Emeritus of Westminster, Cardinal Murphy-O’Connor, along with Cardinals Levada and Tauran. Some nine bishops are expected to concelebrate – coming from England and Wales and also the Vatican. The English and Welsh bishops include the Archbishop of Cardiff and the Bishops of Lancaster, Leeds, Middlesbrough and Plymouth; from the Vatican are coming the Secretary of the Congregation for Divine Worship, Archbishop Augustine Di Noia; the President of the Pontifical Academy of Social Sciences, Archbishop Marcelo Sanchez Sarondo; and the Apostolic Nuncio to Guatemala, Archbishop Paul Gallagher.

Cardinal Murphy-O’Connor was Rector of the VEC from 1971-77 and will be joined by the 5 priests to have succeeded him in that position: Monsignori George Hay, Jack Kennedy, Adrian Toffolo, Patrick Kilgarriff and the current Rector Nicholas Hudson. Present also will be the Rectors of all the other seminaries training priests for England and Wales: Monsignori Roderick Strange of the Beda College, Rome; Mark Crisp of Oscott; Jeremy Garratt of Wonersh; Mark O’Toole of Allen Hall; and Fr John Pardo of Valladolid. A large group of alumni, known affectionately always as the Old Romans, are expected to attend, along with a similarly large number of the College’s support association, The Friends of the Venerabile. The VEC had a particularly large intake of seminarians last autumn, taking the number of students to 45. Of these, some 7 are priests, the remaining 38 seminarians – all from English dioceses save 4 Scandinavians.

For more than 2 centuries, this site on the via di Monserrato, fast by the Palazzo Farnese in heart of medieval Rome, was a Hospice for English and Welsh Pilgrims. But the English presence in Rome predates this by some 5 centuries. Ine (sic), King of the Saxons, built the Schola Saxonum alongside the Vatican Hill in the 8th century. When Pope Innocent III in 1201 converted this into the hospital which it remains today, English priests established themselves half a mile away at the church of San Pantaleo at the entrance to todays’s Piazza Navona. 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 on 27th January 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. St Bridget, living a few meters away, overlooking the Piazza Farnese, had already established a Swedish Hospice – as had the Germans in the via dell’Anima, across the Corso Vittorio Emmanuele.

The English Hospice attracted large numbers of pilgrims, including, in its early years, the mystic Margery Kempe, the 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 VEC achieved fame fast for, in the first century of its existence (between 1581 and 1678), 44 of its recent alumni were martyred: of these some 10 have been recognised as Saints and the majority as Blessed. In the 4 centuries that it has been a seminary, the VEC 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. The Villa Palazzola overlooking Lake Albano, purchased by Rector Hinsley in 1920 and now a retreat-house belonging to the VEC, has enabled the seminary to continue the 650-year-long tradition of accommodating countless groups from England and Wales come as pilgrims to visit the sacred sites of Rome.

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, depicting the Most Holy Trinity and St Thomas, to sing a song of praise, the Te Deum Laudemus. At the end of Mass on 27th January 2012, Cardinal Murphy-O’Connor will intone the great prayer of praise once more on that same site – in thanksgiving for all the graces received these last 650 years in this place which will surely be “forever England”.

Thursday, 26 January 2012

A&B Deacon Supporting Seafarers in Need


Deacon Roger with
Stranded Sailors
 Deacon Roger Stone from Arundel & Brighton Diocese who is chaplain for the Apostleship of the Sea has been supporting the crew of an imprisoned ship in Portland Harbour in Dorset and has recently appeared on local news to explain their plight.

To see the news item go to http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-england-dorset-16711904

The Apostleship of the Sea explains:
'The plight continues of the crew of the cargo ship, the Westwind II which has been arrested in Portland harbour for the last three months. On the 17th October the ship ran aground on the north east breakwater of Portland harbour with 11 crew onboard. Portland Harbour despatched tugs to bring the vessel to the port where she was detained by the Maritime Coastguard Agency (MCA) for a significant number of deficiencies, the ship was later arrested by the Admiralty Marshal. Over the last three months local volunteers of the Apostleship of the Sea have visited the ship many times.' Read more...

If you would like to support the work of the Apostleship of the Sea then you don't have to wait for Sea Sunday later this year, but visit their website and donate, or get involved in their ministry to seafarers

Wednesday, 25 January 2012

Friday Night Live at Farnham Parish

Nora Tarrant from St Joan of Arc Parish in Farnham reports:
A hundred people attended the recent event to raise funds, not all from St Joan of Arc, so it was a good mixing of communities. There was time to socialise and have a drink from the licensed bar, before a very tasty two-course meal was served.

The Farnham “Arc Band” in full flow
Photo Nora Tarrant
After everyone had eaten, The Arc Band (made up of St. Joan parishioners) performed two sets, mostly of up-tempo numbers, some of their own composition. They rounded off the evening with their version of the crowd pleasing "Hey Jude" which saw everyone up dancing and joining in with the chorus. A parishioner kindly donated lights for the band creating a very professional backdrop

Most of the helpers were teenagers and they gave their time for free. Approximately £1400 was raised, divided between the parish and the charity, Arcaid.

Tuesday, 24 January 2012

MBE for St Leornards-on-Sea Parishioner

Photo courtesy Hastings Observer
Doug Robertson from St Thomas of Canterbury parish in St Leonard's writes about one of their parishioners, John Fieldus:

After a serious spinal injury some 30 years ago, and left disabled, John dedicated himself as a fund raiser for the Spinal Injury Association, becoming the National Director of Fundraising for the Association. In his time millions of pouds were raised. He was recognised in the Queen's Birthday Honours' list and awarded the MBE on 15th November 2011 at Buckingham Palace, surrounded by family and friends. All at St Thomas of Canterbury parish, St Leonard's, are very proud of his wonderful achievements and his well deserved award.

The Hastings Observer gives a fuller report saying:
"John Fieldus, 69, broke his neck after diving off a breakwater while out for an evening swim with his children at his then-home in Lancing in July 1982. He was left paralysed from the waist down and spent seven months in hospital in Worthing where he was supported by the Spinal Injuries Association (SIA). When he came out, and was unable to resume his former job as a wine merchant, he decided to use his professional skills for the good of the SIA.

Since then he has helped the organisation raise millions of pounds, including leading the campaign to raise £2 million for the SIA’s state-of-the-art headquarters in Milton Keynes which were completed just three years after the appeal was launched. A series of high-profile dinners have also been huge money-spinners and he spent four years with the Racing Welfare Charity between 1997 and 2001.

Mr Fieldus will retire this summer and was bowled over to receive his honour in the Queen’s Birthday Honours List.

“It only seems like yesterday when I dived off that breakwater but my goodness, gracious me what an adventure it has been,” he said “These accidents happen in a moment but the effects last a lifetime and it is not just you – the ripple effects for your family are enormous. “It was hard on my wife Pamela – you really learn what ‘in sickness and in health’ means – and my four children who were all under 14 suddenly saw their active dad in a wheelchair. “But the whole ethos of the SIA is that life needn’t stop because you’re paralysed.”

Mr Fieldus and his wife moved to East Ascent, St Leonards, in 2004, because their youngest son Dominic works as an osteopath in 1066 Country. And he has nothing but praise for the Conquest Hospital, which has helped him through various illnesses and a hip replacement as well as supporting his wife.

“The Conquest is an exceptional hospital,” said Mr Fieldus. “The McCartney Ward in particular is one of the real unsung heroes, the care is excellent and the staff are wonderful in quite difficult circumstances. “I would like to start a new project to raise some money for the Conquest because we are very fortunate in this town and people don’t appreciate the NHS until they need it.”

Mr Fieldus admitted he was ‘very proud’ to have been awarded the honour.

He added: “You never know what is round the corner, but I would not have achieved anything – in my rehabilitation or my fundraising – without the support of my wife, my sister Susie who has helped me out a great deal because of my dyslexia, my children and so many generous people.”

Paul Smith, executive director of the SIA, said he was ‘thrilled’ with the news. He said: “John has worked in one of the most demanding professions there is – he has not only been an outstanding, selfless fundraiser, he has been a shining example of how to live life to the full with a major disability.”

Monday, 23 January 2012

Rural Catholics Conference 13-15 February

The Bishops’ Conference of England and Wales has a small team concerned with rural issues. It represents Catholics on various national and international bodies, offers training opportunities, and has an official rural contact in most dioceses.

Most Catholic churches and their congregations are in towns, but parish boundaries often include large rural areas. The commuters, retirees and the diminishing number of farmers living there are easy to overlook. High petrol prices, shop closures, and reduced bus services, for example, encourage isolation. The suicide rate among farmers is high.

Each year a national conference is held for rural Catholics. These rose from the ashes of Foot and Mouth Disease, when the countryside was shut down and pastoral care made difficult.

The 2011 conference, in Maidstone, looked at some of the issues in Kent, and heard about Catholic lay teams being equipped for rural ministry in the Diocese of Poitiers. The 8th National Conference will be held at Garstang, near Preston, Lancashire from 13-15 February, 2012. It includes a visit to a thousand-cow dairy herd, and talks on Markets and the moral economy and Field sports and the rural economy. A Catholic from the Diocese of Oslo will be speaking of Oslo’s plans to reach an increasing number of Catholics, often migrants, in its rural areas.

It is not too late to book.

The 2013 conference will take place at Malton, Yorkshire, details from Fr Tim Bywater 01653 692128.

For details visit http://www.catholicandrural.org.uk/ or contact Fr Harry Doyle 01772 782244 or Fr Robert Miller 01747 870228.

Thursday, 19 January 2012

Pope Speaks on Week of Prayer for Christian Unity


See CTBI for Christian Unity:
Photo: © Shutterstock.com/
The Vatican Information Service reports: "The Week of Prayer for Christian Unity, which begins today, was the theme of Benedict XVI's general audience celebrated this morning in the Paul VI Hall. The Holy Father explained how this initiative has been held annually for more than a century and brings together Christians from Churches and ecclesial communities, who "invoke that extraordinary gift for which the Lord Jesus prayed during the Last Supper: ... 'That they may all be one'".

The Week of Prayer - established in 1908 by Paul Wattson, founder of an Anglican religious community who later entered the Catholic Church - "is one of the most effective annual expressions ... of the impetus which Vatican Council II gave to the search for full union among all Christ's disciples", said the Pope. "This spiritual event, which unites Christians from all traditions, increases our awareness of the fact that the unity we strive for cannot result merely from our own efforts; rather, it is a gift we receive and must constantly invoke from on high".

The texts for this year's Week of Prayer have been prepared by a group of representatives from the Catholic Church, and from the Polish Ecumenical Council which proposed the theme of "We will all be changed by the victory of our Lord Jesus Christ". The history of Poland - marked by defeats and victories, by the struggle to end oppression and achieve freedom - led the ecumenical group to reflect more deeply upon what it means to "win" and to "lose".

In this context the Pope pointed out that, "in contrast to 'victory' understood in triumphal terms, Christ shows us a very different way. His victory does not involve power and might. ... Christ speaks of victory through love, mutual assistance and boosting the self-esteem of those who are 'last', forgotten, excluded. For all Christians, the best expression of such humble service is Jesus Christ Himself, His total gift of self, the victory of His love over death. ... We can share in this 'victory' only if we allow ourselves to be transformed by God".

Likewise, "the unity for which we pray requires inner conversion, both shared and individual. But this must not be limited to cordiality and cooperation; we must reinforce our faith in God; ... we must enter into the new life in Christ, Who is our true and definitive victory; we must open to one another, accepting all the elements of unity which God has conserved for us; ... we must feel the pressing need to bear witness, before the men and women of our time, to the living God Who made Himself known in Christ".

Ecumenism, as defined by Vatican Council II and Blessed John Paul II, is "the responsibility of the entire Church and of all the baptised, who must augment the partial communion that already exists among Christians until achieving full communion in truth and charity. Praying for unity ... must then be an integral part of the prayer life of all Christians, in all times and places, especially when people from different traditions come together to work for victory in Christ over sin, evil, injustice and the violation of human dignity".

Benedict XVI also pointed out that "lack of unity among Christians hinders the effective announcement of the Gospel and endangers our credibility", but noted that, "as far as the fundamental truths of the faith are concerned, there is far more that unites us than divides us. ... This is a great challenge for the new evangelisation, which will be more fruitful if all Christians together announce the truth of the Gospel and Jesus Christ, and give a joint response to the spiritual thirst of our times".

In conclusion, the Pope exhorted the faithful to unite more intensely in prayer during the course of the coming Week, "to increase shared witness, solidarity and collaboration among Christians, in expectation of that glorious day when together we will all be able to celebrate the Sacraments and profess the faith transmitted by the Apostles".

Tuesday, 17 January 2012

Pope Benedict and UK - the Place of Adoration

Pope Benedict in his address to the Curia this Christmas reflected on Young People and World Youth Day in particular. He also refers directly in the third paragraph to his visit to UK and  encounter at Hyde Park

He says: "A further remedy against faith fatigue was the wonderful experience of World Youth Day in Madrid. This was new evangelization put into practice. Again and again at World Youth Days, a new, more youthful form of Christianity can be seen, something I would describe under five headings.

1. Firstly, there is a new experience of catholicity, of the Church’s universality. This is what struck the young people and all the participants quite directly: we come from every continent, but although we have never met one another, we know one another. We speak different languages, we have different ways of life and different cultural backgrounds, yet we are immediately united as one great family. Outward separation and difference is relativized. We are all moved by the one Lord Jesus Christ, in whom true humanity and at the same time the face of God himself is revealed to us. We pray in the same way. The same inner encounter with Jesus Christ has stamped us deep within with the same structure of intellect, will and heart. And finally, our common liturgy speaks to our hearts and unites us in a vast family. In this setting, to say that all humanity are brothers and sisters is not merely an idea: it becomes a real shared experience, generating joy. And so we have also understood quite concretely: despite all trials and times of darkness, it is a wonderful thing to belong to the worldwide Church, to the Catholic Church, that the Lord has given to us.

2. From this derives a new way of living our humanity, our Christianity. For me, one of the most important experiences of those days was the meeting with the World Youth Day volunteers: about 20,000 young people, all of whom devoted weeks or months of their lives to working on the technical, organizational and material preparations for World Youth Day, and thus made it possible for the whole event to run smoothly. Those who give their time always give a part of their lives. At the end of the day, these young people were visibly and tangibly filled with a great sense of happiness: the time that they gave up had meaning; in giving of their time and labour, they had found time, they had found life. And here something fundamental became clear to me: these young people had given a part of their lives in faith, not because it was asked of them, not in order to attain Heaven, nor in order to escape the danger of Hell. They did not do it in order to find fulfilment. They were not looking round for themselves. There came into my mind the image of Lot’s wife, who by looking round was turned into a pillar of salt. How often the life of Christians is determined by the fact that first and foremost they look out for themselves, they do good, so to speak, for themselves. And how great is the temptation of all people to be concerned primarily for themselves; to look round for themselves and in the process to become inwardly empty, to become "pillars of salt". But here it was not a matter of seeking fulfilment or wanting to live one’s life for oneself. These young people did good, even at a cost, even if it demanded sacrifice, simply because it is a wonderful thing to do good, to be there for others. All it needs is the courage to make the leap. Prior to all of this is the encounter with Jesus Christ, inflaming us with love for God and for others, and freeing us from seeking our own ego. In the words of a prayer attributed to Saint Francis Xavier: I do good, not that I may come to Heaven thereby and not because otherwise you could cast me into Hell. I do it because of you, my King and my Lord. I came across this same attitude in Africa too, for example among the Sisters of Mother Teresa, who devote themselves to abandoned, sick, poor and suffering children, without asking anything for themselves, thus becoming inwardly rich and free. This is the genuinely Christian attitude. Equally unforgettable for me was the encounter with handicapped young people in the Saint Joseph Centre in Madrid, where I encountered the same readiness to put oneself at the disposal of others – a readiness to give oneself that is ultimately derived from encounter with Christ, who gave himself for us.

3. A third element, that has an increasingly natural and central place in World Youth Days and in the spirituality that arises from them, is adoration. I still look back to that unforgettable moment during my visit to the United Kingdom, when tens of thousands of predominantly young people in Hyde Park responded in eloquent silence to the Lord’s sacramental presence, in adoration. The same thing happened again on a smaller scale in Zagreb and then again in Madrid, after the thunderstorm which almost ruined the whole night vigil through the failure of the microphones. God is indeed ever-present. But again, the physical presence of the risen Christ is something different, something new. The risen Lord enters into our midst. And then we can do no other than say, with Saint Thomas: my Lord and my God! Adoration is primarily an act of faith – the act of faith as such. God is not just some possible or impossible hypothesis concerning the origin of all things. He is present. And if he is present, then I bow down before him. Then my intellect and will and heart open up towards him and from him. In the risen Christ, the incarnate God is present, who suffered for us because he loves us. We enter this certainty of God’s tangible love for us with love in our own hearts. This is adoration, and this then determines my life. Only thus can I celebrate the Eucharist correctly and receive the body of the Lord rightly.

4. A further important element of the World Youth Days is the sacrament of Confession, which is increasingly coming to be seen as an integral part of the experience. Here we recognize that we need forgiveness over and over again, and that forgiveness brings responsibility. Openness to love is present in man, implanted in him by the Creator, together with the capacity to respond to God in faith. But also present, in consequence of man’s sinful history (Church teaching speaks of original sin) is the tendency that is opposed to love – the tendency towards selfishness, towards becoming closed in on oneself, in fact towards evil. Again and again my soul is tarnished by this downward gravitational pull that is present within me. Therefore we need the humility that constantly asks God for forgiveness, that seeks purification and awakens in us the counterforce, the positive force of the Creator, to draw us upwards.

5. Finally, I would like to speak of one last feature, not to be overlooked, of the spirituality of World Youth Days, namely joy. Where does it come from? How is it to be explained? Certainly, there are many factors at work here. But in my view, the crucial one is this certainty, based on faith: I am wanted; I have a task in history; I am accepted, I am loved. Josef Pieper, in his book on love, has shown that man can only accept himself if he is accepted by another. He needs the others presence, saying to him, with more than words: it is good that you exist. Only from the You can the I come into itself. Only if it is accepted, can it accept itself. Those who are unloved cannot even love themselves. This sense of being accepted comes in the first instance from other human beings. But all human acceptance is fragile. Ultimately we need a sense of being accepted unconditionally. Only if God accepts me, and I become convinced of this, do I know definitively: it is good that I exist. It is good to be a human being. If ever man’s sense of being accepted and loved by God is lost, then there is no longer any answer to the question whether to be a human being is good at all. Doubt concerning human existence becomes more and more insurmountable. Where doubt over God becomes prevalent, then doubt over humanity follows inevitably. We see today how widely this doubt is spreading. We see it in the joylessness, in the inner sadness, that can be read on so many human faces today. Only faith gives me the conviction: it is good that I exist. It is good to be a human being, even in hard times. Faith makes one happy from deep within. That is one of the wonderful experiences of World Youth Days."

Some useful food for thought. For the full speech go to http://www.zenit.org/article-34042?l=english

Monday, 16 January 2012

Weybridge Ecumenical Youth Concert for Christians in the Holy Land

Weybridge Youth Concert
Peter Clapham reports from Christ the Prince of Peace, Weybridge:
Like most parishes, we have a wonderful range of social and spiritual activities to keep us all busy. Amongst these are our youth club, our participation in Churches Together in Weybridge and our overseas charity, Friends of the Holy Land.

What a treat it was to incorporate all three of them in one evening when our own parish youth, supported by those from the Wey Christian Fellowship, held a Christmas concert in aid of our overseas charity. The range of talent was quite extraordinary – singing, dancing, readings, music – all on a Christmas theme and all thoroughly enjoyable. This very happy evening raised £700 for Friends of the Holy Land, perhaps helping those few isolated Christians in Bethlehem to celebrate our Saviour’s birth. As was said in the vote of thanks, the future of Christianity in Weybridge seems assured with our lovely young people.

Saturday, 14 January 2012

Advent Youth Stay Awake – St Leonards – on - Sea


Youthful Reflections
Emma Moon reports from St Thomas of Canterbury & English Martyrs, St Leonards-on-Sea: On the eve of the fourth Sunday of Advent, 14 young people gathered together to spend a night, both reflecting on the true meaning of Christmas and preparing for the Celebration.

We began by watching a short video clip titled “the social network Christmas” which was very current and focused. Time was spent together in friendship; decorating candle holders, making stain glass windows and origami stars, watching a movie and sharing a midnight feast.

In the early hours of the morning, Christingles were assembled for a service in the church, the candlelight was a powerful contrast to the darkness, and time was spent afterwards at several prayer stations.

We thought about the words spoken by Mary in her prayer of the Magnificat, the faith and trust that she had in God. We thought about what each of us had been called to do during our lives, and how we had responded. We looked at bible texts and prophecies on the birth of Jesus and interpreted them artistically, and as many of us were wrapped up to keep warm, we thought about how it must have been for the Holy Family, staying in a stable.

We celebrated Mass at dawn with Fr Ian and then gave into the temptation of bacon rolls before heading homewards.

During the following afternoon, some of us returned to the church to help the Children’s Liturgy group with their own Christingle service, starting with a procession into the church. We listened to readings, and thought about the empty crib that would soon be filled, we sang together and prayed our intercessions.

Friday, 13 January 2012

Peter Hutley - A Man for All Seasons

Peter Hutley - A Man for All Seasons
The creator of the Wintershall plays, Peter Hutley MBE KSG, is in conversation with A&B News’ special correspondent, Peter Burholt, about his life, his passions and evangelisation

Part 1 – From the beginning to a religious realisation
On a bright Saturday morning Wintershall is a sight to behold. The house, part of which dates back to 1227, sits in 1,000 acres of rolling Surrey hills which spill out from its windows. Peter Hutley’s reputation went before him, but who is the real man behind some of the most provocative plays ever performed in this country?

Q: Let’s start at the beginning. Your father was a market gardener, so what was your upbringing?
A: Yes, that is quite true – he and his father before him. I was born in 1926 and I remember we were very poor. My first memories were of Essex and then East London. Without any qualifications I left school at the age of 15 and became a messenger boy for estate agents, Hamptons – now the renowned international property consultancy, Knight Frank.
I had tried to get into the Royal Air Force, but they found out I was under-aged! Much has happened to me, but what took place next was one of my greatest opportunities which would shape my life.

You have to remember that the last war was still on and many men from this country had either died in battle or were still on active service. The task for the War Damage Commission – headed by Lord Beaverbrook – was to quickly put factories back into operation. People were waiting to go to work, so this was a most urgent war time activity. I became involved in this reconstruction work, which gave me the unique chance to test my skills in organising a work force and to learn about how to re-assemble bricks, mortar and plant. And to think, I was only 16½ years old! It was a truly fabulous time for me.

Q: What happened next to the very young Peter Hutley?
A: At the age of 18 I joined the Army, where the superiors found that I had a mechanical aptitude. In typical Army style, I was able to demonstrate this by assembling a bicycle pump in 15 seconds!

I was commissioned and sent to recently independent Burma to carry out, once again, post-war reconstruction work. After 4 years in the Army I left with the rank of captain – not bad, I thought, for a boy who left school at 15 without qualifications.

A wry smile came across his face as he remembered his achievement all those years ago.
Without realising it, the next move was another significant step in my life. I returned to my previous employers but soon left to start my own business, having studied at night over a number of years to be a surveyor. In the mid-1960s I went to Australia at the instigation of a great friend. It was here I came across the concept of property bonds - this is when a number of people can invest in a joint fund to get a better return on their money. It is a bit like a financial cooperative.

Q: So why was this so significant?
A: When I returned to the UK I found no one had followed this idea, so I went to the appropriate Ministry to get permission to start this concept. They declined my request, advising me to go across the corridor to the department which looked after insurance.

They were more receptive, but it took an Act of Parliament to allow this concept to start. It was a very successful time for me, which then allowed me to go into banking. I remember I had to have an office within walking distance of the Bank of England as their liveried staff, so well known within the Square Mile, carried messages by hand in those days. It took me back to my first job.

Q: Do you ever re-visit Australia?
A: With 109 flights under my belt, I think I have flown to Australia more than most pilots! I now have extensive property interests in that country, including shopping centres, offices and a cattle property.

You asked me if I had a Christian attitude to business in, what is always perceived to be, the cut-throat occupation of property development. Throughout my life I have always worked on the basis that I treat others in a way in which I would like to be treated. Sometimes this is difficult to follow, but this is what I have done.

Q: So, at this stage in your life, had you made your “pile”?
 For a man with considerable wealth, Peter played down the fact that he was once worth more than £50m.A: Yes, I had made my modest nest egg that supports the great cost of keeping things going. But I felt there were other things for me to do and I have always been used to a range of hard work activities.

Q: When did religion become an important focus in your life?
A: Well, that is an interesting question. Let me take you back to when I was a boy. We eventually moved to Bramley, where my father was a prominent Baptist.

However, the first real test of my religion came when I joined the Army. On entry the sergeant barked at me “Hutley, what is your religion!” I had to think quickly “Baptist, sir!” Back came the retort “Hutley, I only have 3 boxes on my form – Church of England, Roman Catholic or non-believer. I’ll put you down as Church of England” So, from this point, I was an Anglican.
Some years later I came to the conclusion that the Anglican Church was illegal. Jesus laid His hands on Peter to be the head of the Church. The First Act of Supremacy was passed by Parliament under Henry VIII in 1534, which I felt was an event I could not support.

Part 2 to follow – conversion to Catholicism, Medjugorje, the Wintershall Plays and even greater ideas on how to evangelise…. all at the age of 85 years.

Thursday, 12 January 2012

Stations of the Resurrection

Station of the Resurrection - Jesus at the Lakeside of Tiberias
A campaign to encourage churches and religious communities throughout Arundel and Brighton to celebrate the Stations of the Resurrection this Easter Season has been launched by parishioners at St Thomas More, Seaford, East Sussex.

One of the parishioners, Zan Stevenson, a professional artist who has exhibited widely in England, has painted the fourteen Stations, which have already been installed at St Thomas More’s.

Now she is being joined by Mary Purchase and Christopher McOustra in a bid to persuade other parishes in the Diocese to follow their example.

Says Zan Stevenson, “The Resurrection is such a wonderful, joyous reality. It seems a pity we do not give it far more attention than we do.”

Already Zan’s Stations of the Resurrection have been displayed at Arundel Cathedral. They have also been welcomed in churches, cathedrals and religious houses in this country, in France and overseas. Now she and her fellow parishioners want to bring them to the attention of more churches and parishes in Arundel and Brighton.

Zan is offering the full set of fourteen Stations for just £115. She is even offering a 33-per-cent discount on all orders received before Ash Wednesday, February 22 2012.

Proceeds from the sale of The Stations of the Resurrection will be shared between the artist and St Thomas More.

The Stations can be seen at http://www.zanstevenson.co.uk/

For photos, please click on following: http://www.skbp.co.uk/PressRelease/PressRelease_November2011.html

Tuesday, 10 January 2012

Fr Peter Rogers RIP

Fr Peter Rogers 1924-2011 - May he rest in peace
Fr Robert Hamilton CJ preached at Fr Peter's Funeral and has offered his homily for our reflection:
"Bishop Kieran, brother priests and deacons, dear friends of Peter.
Here we are in the Cathedral where Peter served as Assistant priest for 10 years to carry our final act of love for him We want  to thank God for Peter's life and especially to comfort his family and all those who loved him dearly.

Peter was very much a family man and we want to console and comfort Ann his niece and all his family who are here to mourn him.

It is important to remember that Peter was already 37 years old before he went to the Beda in Rome to train for the priesthood by which time his views on life, his way of living were already formed and entrenched in him.

Peter was educated by the De la Salle Brothers in Beulah Hill. He always retained a strong affection for the brothers and was later to spend 4 happy years as their chaplain in their retirement community in Liss. While at Liss Peter underwent serious heart surgery and he was always grateful for the great care the Brothers took of him after his operation.

After leaving school Peter worked for the Ministry of Aircraft Production and retained a lifelong interest in the aircraft of the 1940's and 50's. After a spell at night school in order to pass exams in Latin. Peter studied at Southampton university and later trained as a school teacher. Peter enjoyed teaching and often talked with great affection about his first teaching post at St Aloysius Highgate where he taught English. After ordination in 1965 Peter returned to reaching and taught in the Diocesan boys' school, St Peter's in Guildford.

What attracted Peter to teaching was the order and discipline of the school time table. He especially enjoyed teaching English grammar. After leaving teaching, he sometimes found life as a Priest in a parish somewhat disorganized and this irked him at times. In very many ways, as many of you will know, Peter retained something of the schoolmaster in him to the end of his life.

In 1961, in his late 30’s Peter went to the Beda in Rome to train for the priesthood. He was there at the time of the Second Vatican Council. The 3 years he spent in Rome were a very happy time for him and he enjoyed all the gossip surrounding the Council. He was always a great supporter of the renewal set in place by the Vatican Council.

After leaving teaching at St Peter's in 1971 Peter spent most of the next 40 years working in various parishes in the diocese. He was a very conscientious Priest and sometimes drove himself too hard. The characteristic I remember most about him was the esteem he held for the women in the parishes he served in. He was always ready to empower them and get them involved the parish ministry. He valued their opinions and their advice and looked to them for feed back on parish affairs.

While here in Arundel he developed a very special affection for the Poor Clares in Cross Bush and for the Franciscan Sisters in Littlehampton. I know he would want me to thank them for the love, support and care they gave him. A special word of thanks must also go to Msgr Michael Jackson who was a great source of support, encouragement and advice for Peter in the last years of his ministry at St Joseph's in Littlehampton. It was Michael who administered the last rites Peter.

However the story of Peter’s life only takes on its true significance and importance in the context of God's plan of salvation as it is revealed to us in Sacred Scripture. In the 1st reading we heard from St Paul's letter to the Ephesians the Apostle teaches us that before the world began God chose us, chose us in Christ, to be holy and spotless and to live through love in his presence. Peter, like all of us was chosen by God from all eternity, chosen to be an instrument of Christ's love, mercy and healing in our world. Like all of us his life was an important part of God's plan of salvation for all those he met and all those he loved.

Let me say at once that Peter had his faults and failings. He could be irritable and grumpy at times, especially if you rang him up on the telephone at the wrong hour. Peter would ask for forgiveness from anyone he might have hurt or offended during his life on earth. In spite of his faults and failings those who knew Peter well could not fail to experience the loving kindness of our God through their friendship with him.

In the Gospel reading on the Beatitudes we are presented with a profile of the holiness we are called to live. Peter did his best to live Beatitudes. If you read them carefully you will find something of Peter in them for he did his best to console, heal, forgive, support others with the same consolation, the same healing and the same forgiveness that he himself received from God.

Peter was ready for death. He had spoken about it recently and like the well organized man that he was he had already made a few preparations for it. God's plan of salvation for Peter has now been completed It is our firm conviction that Peter lives holy and spotless in eternal bliss with God and with his family who have gone before him.

It is with these thoughts that we comfort one another for as St Paul reminds us that we are not to mourn as the pagans do who have no hope.  It is with these thoughts that we comfort one another."

Monday, 9 January 2012

Congratulations to Charles 'Snowie' Snowdon on his Diocesan Medal

Snowie being presented with his diocesan medal by Bishop Kieran
At the end of the annual Advent Mass of Celebration for Arundel & Brighton Diocesan Staff and Volunteers one long-time volunteer, Charles Snowdon was surprised at the end of Mass when Bishop Kieran presented him with the diocesan medal of St Philip Howard.

Charles or as he is affectionately known 'Snowie', had worked in industry for many years, but on retirement was able to indulge his two passions for motorbikes and photography as he would zoom around the Diocese of Arundel & Brighton to all sorts of events and occasions taking photographs for the diocesan paper A&B News. He also helped in the preparation of the paper each month with other volunteers. After long and dedicated service he decided to retire from these volunteer roles.

The Bishop agreed that after such long and committed service some sort of recognition was deserved and so he agreed to honour him with the diocesan medal of St Philip Howard. Those gathered at the annual Advent Mass in Crawley were of one mind with the Bishop and gave Snowie a heartfelt round of applause.

Many congratulations to Snowie and may his second retirement be as long and happy as his first one!

Friday, 6 January 2012

The Word of the Lord - Deepening our Understanding of Scripture


The Catholic Bible School based in Nutbourne in Arundel & Brighton Diocese informs us that:
In the first half of 2012 the Bishops' Conference will be releasing a new Parish Based programme to explore the recent document Verbum Domini. This emanates from the Department for Evangelisation which is of course headed by Bishop Kieran.

Fr Adrian Graffy who is heading up the team developing this material will be speaking at the Catholic Bible School on Saturday 14 January [10.00am -3.30pm] on “The Word of God – exploring Verbum Domini”. The day is free but donations will be taken up.

This day would be ideal for catechists, prayer/small group leaders, those responsible for adult formation or anyone interested in Scripture or the teaching of the Church, and provide valuable insights to help in the running of the programme in parishes. Phone 01243 371766 or email livingword@catholic-bible-school.org to book a place.

Wednesday, 4 January 2012

Farnham Catholic Charity Reaches Special Needs Children in Vietnam

Maura Rawlinson (right) being presented with a checque from Arcaid by Mary Nolan of St. Joan’s Parish.
Tony Tunstall from St Joan of Arc's parish, Farnham reports:
Arcaid is a small charity, based at St. Joan of Arc Church, which funds specific projects for the relief of poverty overseas, in places where it has reliable contacts. At its recent AGM, Maura Rawlinson, a former Farnham resident and teacher, spoke of her experiences as a special needs teacher in Vietnam with the VSO, where she worked at the Huong La home for disabled children and adults in Bac Ninh, Hanoi. During the presentation Maura told of how disabled children in Vietnam are often hidden away by their families for superstitious reasons and how many of these children never receive an education.

The Huong La home is run by a small number of nuns, some of whom work in the fields to grow produce which they sell to support the home. The nuns are very caring and look after the children with love — some have been abandoned by their parents or are so disabled that the parents cannot look after them. The presentation, which was accompanied by beautiful slides, gave those present a small insight into the day to day difficulties at the home, and the selfless work done by the nuns and volunteers for both children and adults with a wide range of needs.

Maura explained the problem the home has in maintaining a clean water supply throughout the year and how Arcaid has supported a project to provide large tanks to help improve the long-term water supply. This clean water supply will improve the quality of life for all the vulnerable children and adults at the home. At the end of her talk Maura was presented with a cheque from Arcaid to further support the home at Huong La.

Although Arcaid is made up of volunteers it can respond very rapidly to urgent needs. To find out more about how you can support projects like this one, please contact us through www.stjoanofarcfarnham.co.uk/arcaid

Sunday, 1 January 2012

... And a Happy New Year

CAFOD A&B organiser, Martin Brown writes:
"As we look back on this year we’ll hopefully see many blessings and we’ll also be aware of many hardships. We have seen disasters such as the on-going drought in East Africa, but also extra-ordinary generosity shown in response to it. Though many have suffered, countless others have had their suffering alleviated. And in our own lives too, I’m sure we can see highs and lows. I myself got married this year - a great blessing indeed.

We often make resolutions for the new-year, promises that will improve our lives and those of others. Why not make volunteering for CAFOD your resolution? Share your blessings by helping others in their hardship. We will support and train you where ever this is needed. We need people to work in schools raising awareness of poverty and our work to alleviate it. We need people to help out in our local Churches, or contact their MPs on issues of importance. We need people to pray for our work. For a full list of ways you can help out see our website www.cafod.org.uk/arundelandbrighton or contact our office on 01483 898 866 or arundelandbrighton@cafod.org.uk and let’s try and make this a happy new year for all."

The blog returns for the New Year later this week