Tuesday, July 31, 2007

Bloggap Coming Up

Thin sowing means thin reaping and I'm not surprised to see that our average number of visitors has decreased rapidly in recent weeks. The truth is that it has been quite a busy time in the parish and I've not had much chance to sit before the computer and think of something to write.
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

Woldingham Week

Time has been flying by recently and I realise that, apart from the video, I've not posted anything about our recent Vocations Week at Woldingham. Well, what do I say? It was a fantastic week. We were very fortunate to be joined both by the Archbishop and also by Bishop Paul Hendricks. By the end of the week three of the participants decided that they would indeed like to apply for the Archdiocese. Others, as is to be expected, came to the realisation that their call lies elsewhere. Courtesy of photobucket, here's a few pictures.

Friday, July 20, 2007

Fr Benedict's Visit

Blogging has been a bit slow recently what with the week away at Woldingham and this being the last week of term. Mass attendance has dropped by about a hundred and fifty over the last couple of weeks and last Sunday we were under a thousand. This weekend, with all the schools closed, I expect we will be less than nine hundred!

I wanted to post an article on Fr Benedict's visit. I've been given access to some great photos but I've not had much time to download them so you'll have to make do with this one. It was taken during Fr Benedict's talk. The Church was packed and, as you can see, once again the congregation was comprised mainly of young people. Fr Benedict spoke on how the concept of 'virtue' is making a come-back in psychology. This is really important: virtues are strengths of character that enable us to do what we know to be right. God's grace perfects this human strengths - it doesn't supplant them. So, to live a good life, it is necessary to acquire the human virtues. The implications are very important particularly for our approach to moral education in schools. It was an excellent talk and, judging by the emails I've received, many people found it very helpful.

Saturday, July 07, 2007

Fr Benedict Groeschel

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

Sisters of the Gospel of Life

I'm grateful to Amanda Brennan from St Andrew's University for drawing my attention to a new Blog illustrating the work of some religious sisters in Scotland. I often get asked about religious life here in Britain and I notice that there is a discussion of female religious orders in the Vocations Group on Facebook so I'm pleased to be able to advertise this site.
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.

Next week Woldingham

On Tuesday I drove over to Woldingham to meet the new administrator who will be looking after us on our Vocations Get-Together next week. The Sacred Heart School is set in a lovely valley in the middle of seven hundred acres of countryside. It is an ideal venue for our annual meeting.

The purpose of the week is to bring together our seminarians with the bishops and those thinking about applying for the diocese. It's not a retreat, rather a time of 're-creation' - of prayer, friendship and relaxation. Previous years' experiences have been very good and have shown its value particularly for those who may be considering a vocation. Sometimes they - or we! - have realised that diocesan priesthood is not for them and equally often the week has provided that final confirmation of the need to respond to the call.

Please keep us in your prayers next week.

Thursday, July 05, 2007

It's official...

Last night I spoke to a local councillor about the theft of the Crucifix from the Church and the frustration of the police response, or rather lack of it. She gave me the email address of the local sergeant and so this morning I sent him a message to say that I was intending to publish the photograph of the thief in the parish newsletter where it would be seen by various judges, magistrates, politicians as well as the head of the Civil Service - who sits beside the PM each day.
Hey presto! Within an hour two 'community support' officers were sniffing round the Church. They are not police, of course, I think I'm right in saying that they can't even arrest anyone, but at least they were able to look at the photograph and confirm that the villain is wanted for questioning.
But... they couldn't take the photograph it couldn't be proved that I had his permission to snap it. Fortunately they didn't spot that we don't have a no-smoking sign outside the Church - otherwise they might have summoned half a dozen squad cars to take me in!

Tuesday, July 03, 2007

The Short Arm of the Law

On Saturday morning we made a disagreeable discovery in the Church: a thief had visited and made off with the gold Crucifix which stands on the altar of the Lady Chapel. It's about two foot high and was commissioned specifically for this Church. Understandably the Sacristan was very upset and disturbed. As news went out other people began to express their distress as well: including the ladies who had cleaned the Church the night before and worried (without reason) that they might have been to blame for not locking up afterwards.
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!