Tuesday, July 31, 2007
Things have to get worse before they can get better so tomorrow I am going away and will only have intermittent access to the internet. We leave tomorrow morning at 5.00am to catch a Ryan Air flight to Valladolid where I'm taking a group of six young men all of whom have some sense of a vocation. The idea is to relax at the wonderful English College villa and get out a bit to visit places like Valladolid, Burgos and Avila. A friend of mine has promised us a visit to his 'Bodega' which should be fun.
We will be there until 10th August after which I will stay on in Spain to visit friends. I'm then going to do a short in-service style course for priests before getting back to the parish in time for our Novena Mass in honour of Blessed Theresa of Calcutta. Please keep our trip in your prayers.
Tuesday, July 24, 2007
Friday, July 20, 2007
Saturday, July 07, 2007
Don't forget that we have Fr Benedict Groeschel visiting on Monday. You are all welcome. The evening will begin with Exposition of the Blessed Sacrament and Vespers at 7.00pm. Fr Benedict will then give his talk which will be on "The New Psychology of Virtue". After his meditation there will be Benediction and then refreshments.
I hope many of you will be able to make it.
Friday, July 06, 2007
The Sisters of the Gospel of Life in Glasgow launched their Blog today, the Feast of St Maria Goretti (Friday 6 July). They are an excellent and dynamic young order of female religious, engaged in pro-life work.
You can visit the Blog by clicking here.
Thursday, July 05, 2007
Tuesday, July 03, 2007
It's important in these circumstances not to cause further distress by getting upset or worked up. I sought to re-assure everyone and made a mental note to call the police and also to commission a new Crucifix. I also decided to lock the inner doors of the Church - they have leaded glass so people coming into the porch can still see the Tabernacle although they can't get into the main body of the Church. We do this whenever there's an incident of this nature because if the thief comes back and fins the Church locked each time he usually gets deterred.
On Saturday, however, something unusual happened. A young man started met one of our parishioners outside the school and said he new of someone who had stolen an Cross from a Church and wanted to sell it. She put him in contact with Fr Marcus who spoke to him in the porch and then she found me to let me know what was happening. I grabbed my camera and went to the porch. The young man repeated his story: he didn't steal the Cross but he knew who did. He wasn't a 'grass' but could arrange for us to buy it back. So I took his picture - and he left not best pleased.
I then telephoned the police. The response of the woman who took the call? Was it, "Well, done. You've done our work for us?" Was it heck! "Sir, did you get his permission before taking the photograph?"
So he's nicked my Crucifix but I've obviously breached his human rights! "A fair cop, guv. Come and take me away". Anyone fancy visiting me in Jug?
Yesterday afternoon I saw him again on the street (he lives nearby). "When are you going to give me back my Crucifix?" "I can't mate I can only buy it back for you".
It's a shame I'm not in one of my former parishes. There I wouldn't need to rely on the police... the Altar Boys would have sorted things out for me!
Wednesday, June 27, 2007
Sunday, June 24, 2007
Saturday, June 23, 2007
Our host for the day was Fr Tim Finigan who is parish priest in Blackfen. Fr Tim is also a part time lecturer in theology at the diocesan seminary so it was good for him to meet the youngsters. He gave an excellent talk on the building blocks of Christian life and provided a very welcome lunch.
Bishop Pat Lynch was our host bishop. Bishop Lynch preached a very warm and encouraging sermon on devotion to Our Lady. He spoke of his experience working with people from Ecuador who, unable to go to their earthly mothers in times of hardship, had a great and manifest devotion to the Mother of God. In the course of the day he took questions on all sorts of subjects from liturgy to moral theology, so much so that we spared him the 'bishop on the hotseat' slot - since he had effectively been on the hotseat all day!
The photo shows a picture of the group with Bishop Pat on the left and Fr Tim on the right. I'm very grateful to Bishop Pat and Fr Tim for their support and also to all the priests who advertised the event or mentioned it to their youngsters. Our numbers may have been down but it was nonetheless a very fruitful day.
Tuesday, June 19, 2007
Monday, June 18, 2007
Saturday, June 16, 2007
Today we had the first of two First Holy Communion Masses in the parish. The next one will take place tomorrow at 11.30am To commemorate today's Mass the children at our parish school have taken to decorating plates which are then glazed and fired and can be kept as a commemoration of the day.
A sobering thought, nevertheless facebook must be judged on its own merits. A thing that lets you check the pulse without touching the body is great thing.
Thursday, June 14, 2007
Wednesday, June 13, 2007
So this week, to the horror of some and the delight of others I joined facebook. It is amazing how quickly you become hooked. It's not so much about hearing that this person's going to a party or that one's discovered a pimple on her left nostril - it's just about being aware of what's going on. Of course there's part of me that sees it as the increasing atomisation of human relationships: in the past to keep in touch we met up and chatted; then we started telephoning each other. After that we texted. Finally we emailed. Now we've removed the need for interpersonal communication at all. As one friend put it Facebook is reality - everything else is just a dream. So like Neo in the Matrix I've joined the 'real' world.
I hope it helps me meet more people thinking of priesthood. I'll get a reputation as a cyber-chaplain :o( In the meantime can feel myself getting sucked into the vortex - I need to go to check my inbox for new 'friends'...
Tuesday, June 12, 2007
Saturday, June 09, 2007
Every day the parish priest faces pastoral problems that many of us encounter only occasionally. Every priest has to ask himself how he can best serve the people of his parish. What do they need? How can we provide it? Fr Alexander identified three needs for his transitory and broken flock. The parish needs prayer - so he has established perpetual Adoration. It needs a life-giving view of human sexuality - so he established a centre for Natural Family Planning and organises talks on the Theology of the Body. Finally, it needs to be evangelised and so he started the St Patrick Evangelisation School - SPES - to bring hope to the heart of Soho.
Spirit in the City is part of the annual programme of reaching out to the people who pass through that area each day. It's organised by the local Catholic Churches and organises events in Church and also on the streets. This evening we arrived in time for the Holy Hour led by the Franciscans of the Renewal. After the Holy Hour there was a concert of Gospel Music in the Square. During this young Catholics went round the crowd getting to know the people there, handing out leaflets to those who wanted to know more and inviting them to come back to the Church afterwards for another time of prayer. It was very effective. There were of course a few representatives of the culture of death who complained bitterly that their patch was being invaded, but apart from that everyone enjoyed the music and seemed genuinely grateful that it had been laid on.
Friday, June 08, 2007
Tuesday, June 05, 2007
Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone sent a telegram of condolence in Benedict XVI's name, remembering the priest and three deacons murdered Sunday in Iraq.
The priest was killed in front of the Church of the Holy Spirit after saying Sunday Mass. According to Reuters, police said that gunmen stopped the priest's car, dragged him and the deacons out and shot them. Iraqi sources said militants related to al-Qaida are responsible for the increasing persecution of Christians in Mosul.
The papal telegram was sent to Chaldean Archbishop Paulos Faraj Rahho of Mosul.
The telegram said: "The Holy Father was deeply saddened to learn of the senseless killing of Father Ragheed Aziz Ganni and subdeacons Basman Yousef Daoud, Ghasan Bidawid and Wadid Hanna, and he asks you kindly to convey to their families his heartfelt condolences."
It continued: "He willingly joins the Christian community in Mosul in commending their souls to the infinite mercy of God, our loving Father, and in giving thanks for their selfless witness to the Gospel.
"At the same time he prays that their costly sacrifice will inspire in the hearts of all men and women of good will a renewed resolve to reject the ways of hatred and violence, to conquer evil with good and to cooperate in hastening the dawn of reconciliation, justice and peace in Iraq."
The telegram concluded: "To the families and to all who mourn their dead in faith and in the hope which draws its certainty from the resurrection, His Holiness cordially imparts his apostolic blessing as a pledge of consolation and strength in the Lord."
Monday, June 04, 2007
Today we welcomed Bishop Paul Hendricks to the parish for our annual Confirmation ceremony.Our Confirmation programme begins in September and consists of weekly sessions during term time. We have lots of guest speakers as well as a systematic catechesis looked after by our youth minister and team of catechists. There mis also a time of prayer each week as well as opportunities for the young people to get back into the habit of regular confession if they've fallen out of it. There are also great excursions and days out.
It is always worth putting a lot of effort into the Confirmation programme. This is a transition period in the lives of our youngsters and it is important that they get to realise not just that it's good to ask questions about their faith but also that it matters where they go for the answers. By building up a rapport with the priests and catechists - and with the grace of the Holy Spirit - we hope that they will be empowered to resist empty promises of our secular society.
Saturday, June 02, 2007
Participate in days of prayer and Holy Hours for Vocations.
As a family pray for vocations.
Pray the Rosary and/or recite the Vocation prayer daily for the intention of Vocations.
Education and Discernment
Invite clergy and religious to visit your home and talk about Vocations.
Include specific catechesis on Vocation Awareness and Discernment during your catechetical instruction.
Promoting Vocations Be actively involved in your Parish Vocation Committee.
Directly ask/invite individuals to consider priesthood and consecrated life.
Support those in formation by letters of encouragement.
For more information contact Anne Marie.
Thursday, May 31, 2007
Wednesday, May 30, 2007
It's worth taking a look at their website.
The Europe for Christ team is looking for an intern to work in their Vienna Office. It may be of interest to readers of this Blog, so I post the details below:
'Europe for Christ!', based in Vienna (http://www.blogger.com/www.europe4christ.net), is looking for interns to support its European-wide outreach.
The intern should be between 21 and 30, actively Christian, linguistically skilled English OR German is a must; Polish, Spanish, or Croatian a plus), and IT knowledgeable. The intern will receive housing and a small stipend and work on the promotion and further development of the initiative 'Europe for Christ!'. There are openings for the months of June and July 07 and from September 07 onwards.
If interested, please contact Ms. Monika Haas at firstname.lastname@example.org
For a Europe built upon Christian values,
the 'Europe for Christ!' Team
Tuesday, May 29, 2007
Tuesday, May 22, 2007
It was great for me to visit the school and meet the staff. I was impressed by the calm and orderly atmosphere, the courtesy of the boys and most especially by the fact that a large space had been made available for a Chapel at the heart of one of the new buildings.
Monday, May 21, 2007
In Latin America the majority of the population is made up of young people. In this regard, we must remind them that their vocation is to be Christ’s friends, his disciples. Young people are not afraid of sacrifice, but of a meaningless life. They are sensitive to Christ’s call inviting them to follow him. They can respond to that call as priests, as consecrated men and women, or as fathers and mothers of families, totally dedicated to serving their brothers and sisters with all their time and capacity for dedication: with their whole lives. Young people must treat life as a continual discovery, never allowing themselves to be ensnared by current fashions or mentalities, but proceeding with a profound curiosity over the meaning of life and the mystery of God, the Creator and Father, and his Son, our Redeemer, within the human family. They must also commit themselves to a constant renewal of the world in the light of the Gospel. More still, they must oppose the facile illusions of instant happiness and the deceptive paradise offered by drugs, pleasure, and alcohol, and they must oppose every form of violence.
The first promoters of discipleship and mission are those who have been called "to be with Jesus and to be sent out to preach" (cf. Mark 3:14), that is, the priests. They must receive preferential attention and paternal care from their bishops, because they are the primary instigators of authentic renewal of Christian life among the People of God. I should like to offer them a word of paternal affection, hoping that "the Lord will be their portion and cup" (cf. Psalm 16:5). If the priest has God as the foundation and centre of his life, he will experience the joy and the fruitfulness of his vocation. The priest must be above all a "man of God" (1 Timothy 6:11) who knows God directly, who has a profound personal friendship with Jesus, who shares with others the same sentiments that Christ has (cf. Philippians 2:5). Only in this way will the priest be capable of leading men to God, incarnate in Jesus Christ, and of being the representative of his love. In order to accomplish his lofty task, the
priest must have a solid spiritual formation, and the whole of his life must be imbued with faith, hope and charity. Like Jesus, he must be one who seeks, through prayer, the face and the will of God, and he must be attentive to his cultural and intellectual preparation.
Dear priests of this Continent, and those of you who have come here to work as missionaries, the Pope accompanies you in your pastoral work and wants you to be full of joy and hope; above all he prays for you.
Sunday, May 20, 2007
Thursday, May 17, 2007
See you at the Seekers' Meeting.
Monday, May 14, 2007
In our parish we are blessed with very many births each year - as anyone who has attended the 10am Mass on Sunday morning will have experienced for themselves! Sometimes, sadly, the great joy of parents expecting a new addition to their family can be turned to distress and heartache when they hear that there is a possibility their baby may be unwell. Often great pressure is put upon them to terminate the pregnancy at an early stage even though, as many of our brave parents have discovered the prognosis itself lacks accuracy. We have many healthy children in the parish whose parents were recommended a termination because their child was diagnosed as having Downs Syndrome or some other disorder.
Not every diagnosis however is so shaky and sometimes the child is indeed unwell. The pressure put on parents to end the life of that child can be unbearable. One mother in our parish was accused of being `cruel´ because she refused to agree to an abortion. It is not unusual for parents to be told that the baby will live for such a short time that 'it´s not worth' continuing the pregnancy. I'm grateful to Fr Tim Finigan for drawing my attention to this short video:
Tuesday, May 08, 2007
Wednesday, May 02, 2007
I was very pleased to hear on Monday the Mgr Peter Elliott, as he now is, has been appointed by Pope Benedict XVI to be one of two new auxiliary bishops in Melbourne. In an email today he tells me that he is to be Titular Bishop of Manaccenser (successor to the recently deceased Bishop James O'Brien of Westminster). Bishop O'Brien was a much loved bishop who served the people of Westminster for many years. Bishop elect Elliott is a great anglophile. I'm sure it is fitting that they should be linked in this way. I'm also sure that the bishop elect would be grateful for any prayers you can spare for him.
Tuesday, May 01, 2007
Monday, April 30, 2007
Sometimes we forget to pray. Sometimes we just find it hard to come up with the right words. Sometimes we're just too pre-occupied with other things. Here's a link to a website of the US Conference of Bishops that simply lists lots of prayers for vocations. Why not download some of them? You can pick afavourite and use it each day.
If you are a parent you can scroll down to the end or simply click here for a prayer just for you.
Saturday, April 28, 2007
1. How do I know if God is calling me to be a priest?
2. What can I do to become clearer about my vocation?
3. Vocation: Different calls in the New Testament.
4. Things to read about priesthood and vocation.
Wednesday, April 25, 2007
Tuesday, April 24, 2007
When is the cut off date for entry this this year to the seminary courses starting in September? My understanding is that there is an assessment weekend in London in April/May.I thought it might be useful to explain the procedure for applying to the seminary.
For the applicants the weekend begins with lunch on Friday. The best part of Friday afternoon and Saturday morning are taken up with interviews and other activities. Each candidate is interviewed by a priest who will ask him about his prayer life and his sense of vocation. The interviewer will also try to ascertain the extent to which the candidate has an understanding of the faith. A second interview tries to build up a picture of who the candidate is: his interests and hobbies, his family life and background as well as his general human maturity and understanding of celibacy. A third interview looks at the candidate's educational background. Here the question is one of his capacity to study. As well as these three key interviews they also meet with a psychiatrist who seeks to determine whether there are any relevant questions of mental health that the panel should be aware of. If so he is, of course, in a position to give an objective professional opinion. The Southwark candidates also have their medical during the weekend.
After everyone has been interviewed the panels meet to discuss their impressions before reporting back to a plenary session on Sunday morning. They then make recommendations which are forwarded to each candidate's bishop. It is of course the bishop who ultimately makes the decision whether or not to accept a candidate as a seminarian for his diocese.
I must say I found the weekend very helpful. I was glad I attended and now appreciate very much more the work of the panel members. When I got back there was a comment on another post about the timetable for admission. I'll do a separate pot in response to that.
Sunday, April 22, 2007
On Monday I received an email from Stephen Langridge who had 'googled' his name and found various posts referring to me. Since we live practically round the corner from each other we arranged to meet for lunch on Friday. When your surname is relatively uncommon it is a bit odd to open the door to someone who introduces himself as you! It was, however, a very pleasant encounter and we found that, apart from the name, Stephen and I had a number of things in common. There is only about a year's difference between us. We are both fathers - although not in the same sense! We both have a working knowledge of German, Italian and Spanish. However, in one important respect we are very different: Stephen Langridge is a well known director of opera whereas, as any parishioner would testify, I'd be distinguished rather for my musical inability.
So this post is not about vocations at all. It is for Stephen Langridge - the consolation of a alert referring to this blog where there is finally a post about him!
Tuesday, April 17, 2007
Sunday, April 15, 2007
Thursday, April 12, 2007
Monday, April 09, 2007
Public expenditure, leisure time, crime, gender inequality, income inequality, depression — none of these is correlated with measures of happiness over time. If we believe that the data over time on recorded happiness have any real meaning, they suggest one thing very strongly: attempts to improve the human lot by social and economic policy are a monumental exercise in futility.
But that's not all. It goes on to identify two factors that positively affect people's overall happiness. What are they? The first is marriage. Married people are on the whole happier than those alone or in 'relationships'. The second is religion. People who have faith are happier than those who are not:
Marriage makes people far less likely to suffer psychological illness, and more likely to live much longer and be both healthier and happier.
The benefits are confined to those who are married rather than cohabiting. And these benefits are large. In terms of health, for example, the longevity effect of marriage may even offset the consequences of smoking. Religious faith also has a distinct positive effect on happiness.
The author of the article draws some pretty obvious conclusions but ones we rarely hear these days:
In so far as policy conclusions can be drawn at this stage of happiness research, they seem to imply increased support for marriage, reductions in incentives to single parents and the promotion of faith schools. It’s hardly the mix that is usually heard from the liberal advocates of wellbeing policies.
Saturday, April 07, 2007
Friday, April 06, 2007
Thursday, April 05, 2007
Wednesday, April 04, 2007
Tuesday, April 03, 2007
During the month of April, Benedict XVI will pray that every Christian may answer the call to sanctity. The Holy Father will ask that every Christian may answer enthusiastically and faithfully the universal call to sanctity, allowing himself to be enlightened and guided by the Holy Spirit. The Apostleship of Prayer announced the intentions chosen by the Pope. The Pontiff also prays for an apostolic intention each month. For April, his intention is: "That the number of priestly and religious vocations may grow in North America and the countries of the Pacific Ocean, in order to give an adequate answer to the pastoral and missionary needs of those populations."
Monday, April 02, 2007
The purpose of the Selection Conference is to try to discern whether a candidate has sufficient awareness of the priesthood to begin training. At the same time, it's not a test - no one expects of someone going into seminary the insights gained through years of formation! But the Conference can make an assessment of where the candidate is starting, his openness to formation and his capacity to study. It is on this basis that the Conference can make its recommendations to the Archbishop.
I've not been on a Selection Conference panel but I think we can make a fair guess at the sort of questions our candidates can expect. I would expect, for example, that a candidate be asked about his prayer and sacramental life. Does he have a Spiritual Director? What understanding does he have of the Church? Why does he want to be a priest? What does he understand a priest to do? I imagine there will also be questions about his emotional maturity, his understanding of celibacy and his interests and hobbies.
Please keep all our applicants and those from other dioceses in your prayers.
Saturday, March 31, 2007
Thursday, March 29, 2007
Wednesday, March 28, 2007
To book a place please contact us at Southwark Vocations. There is no charge for the retreat.