Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Bishop Peter Elliott

On Thursday I drove to Heathrow to pick up Bishop Peter Elliott who is spending a few days in London before going on to Rome for a meeting of the directors of the John Paul II Institutes for the Family. Bishop Peter is representing the institute in his home diocese of Melbourne.
It has been a busy time for him since arriving. On Sunday he celebrated our sung Mass and baptised two babies. He then joined us for a meal which was attended by a number of young parishioners and some of our seminarians.

Pique Nique Time

The Holy Ghost Parish is blessed with many families from all over the world. In recent years we've had the joy of welcoming a good number of young French families to the parish. It's particularly convenient for them because there's a reasonably local annexe of a French school in the area. Many of the children, however, attend either our own parish school or Oliver House a local independent Catholic school.
On Saturday, for the first time, we invited the French families to join us for a picnic in the presbytery garden. It was great for me: I got the newsletter done in the morning and was ready in time to welcome everyone who came with lots of wonderful French food. I was also able to pop over to the parish school for the summer fayre.

Saturday, June 20, 2009

Indulgences attached to the Year for Priests

Yesterday I marked the start of the Year for Priests by preaching at a special Mass followed by a penitential visit to the dentist. In the afternoon I had a meeting with one of the chief organisers of adult catechesis in the parish when we discussed inter alia how we might help parents understand the Mass better. A Seekers Meeting followed an interview with one of our seminarians. I then drove into central London to be with my year group who had come together to celebrate twenty years of priesthood and to mark the beginning of this great Year.
I find some people are unaware of the indulgences attached to the Year for Priests. So here's a copy of the Decree:


Special Indulgence for the Year for Priests

As has been announced, the Holy Father Benedict XVI has decided to establish a special Year for Priests on the occasion of the 150th anniversary of the death of St John Mary Vianney, the holy Curé d'Ars, a shining model of a Pastor totally dedicated to the service of the people of God.

During the Year for Priests which will begin on 19 June 2009 and will end on 19 June 2010, the gift of special Indulgences is granted as described in the Decree of the Apostolic Penitentiary, published on 12 May.

Shortly the day will come on which will be commemorated the 150th anniversary of the pious departure to Heaven of St John Mary Vianney, the Curé d'Ars. This Saint was a wonderful model here on earth of a true Pastor at the service of Christ's flock. Since his example is used to encourage the faithful, and especially priests, to imitate his virtues, the Supreme Pontiff Benedict XVI has established that for this occasion a special Year for Priests will be celebrated, from 19 June 2009 to 19 June 2010, in which all priests may be increasingly strengthened in fidelity to Christ with devout meditation, spiritual exercises and other appropriate actions.

This holy period will begin with the Solemnity of the Sacred Heart of Jesus, a day of priestly sanctification on which the Supreme Pontiff will celebrate Vespers in the presence of the holy relics of St John Mary Vianney, brought to Rome by the Bishop of Belley-Ars, France. The Most Holy Father will likewise preside at the conclusion of the Year for Priests in St Peter's Square, in the presence of priests from across the world who will renew their fidelity to Christ and the bond of brotherhood.

May priests commit themselves, with prayer and good works, to obtaining from Christ the Eternal High Priest, the grace to shine with Faith, Hope, Charity and the other virtues, and show by their way of life, but also with their external conduct, that they are dedicated without reserve to the spiritual good of the people something that the Church has always had at heart.

The gift of Sacred Indulgences which the Apostolic Penitentiary, with this Decree issued in conformity with the wishes of the August Pontiff, graciously grants during the Year for Priests will be of great help in achieving the desired purpose in the best possible way.

A. Truly repentant priests who, on any day, devoutly recite at least morning Lauds or Vespers before the Blessed Sacrament, exposed for public adoration or replaced in the tabernacle, and who, after the example of St John Mary Vianney, offer themselves with a ready and generous heart for the celebration of the sacraments, especially Confession, are mercifully granted in God the Plenary Indulgence which they may also apply to their deceased brethren in suffrage, if, in conformity with the current norms, they receive sacramental confession and the Eucharistic banquet and pray for the Supreme Pontiff's intentions.

Furthermore the Partial Indulgence is granted to priests who may apply it to their deceased confreres every time that they devoutly recite the prayers duly approved to lead a holy life and to carry out in a holy manner the offices entrusted to them.

B. The Plenary Indulgence is granted to all the faithful who are truly repentant who, in church or in chapel, devoutly attend the divine Sacrifice of Mass and offer prayers to Jesus Christ the Eternal High Priest, for the priests of the Church, and any other good work which they have done on that day, so that he may sanctify them and form them in accordance with His Heart, as long as they have made expiation for their sins through sacramental confession and prayed in accordance with the Supreme Pontiff's intentions: on the days in which the Year for Priests begins and ends, on the day of the 150th anniversary of the pious passing of St John Mary Vianney, on the first Thursday of the month or on any other day established by the local Ordinaries for the benefit of the faithful.

It will be most appropriate, in cathedral and parish churches, for the same priests who are in charge of pastoral care to publicly direct these exercises of devotion, to celebrate Holy Mass and to hear the confession of the faithful.

The Plenary Indulgence will likewise be granted to the elderly, the sick and all those who for any legitimate reason are confined to their homes who, with a mind detached from any sin and with the intention of fulfilling as soon as possible the three usual conditions, at home or wherever their impediment detains them, provided that on the above-mentioned days they recite prayers for the sanctification of priests and confidently offer the illnesses and hardships of their lives to God through Mary Queen of Apostles.

Lastly, the Partial Indulgence is granted to all the faithful every time they devoutly recite five Our Fathers, Hail Marys and Glorias, or another expressly approved prayer, in honour of the Sacred Heart of Jesus, to obtain that priests be preserved in purity and holiness of life.

This Decree is valid for the entire duration of the Year for Priests. Anything to the contrary notwithstanding.

Given in Rome, at the Offices of the Apostolic Penitentiary on 25 April, the Feast of St Mark the Evangelist, in the year of the Incarnation of our Lord 2009.

Cardinal James Francis Stafford
Major Penitentiary

Monday, June 15, 2009

Priesthood: A Life Open to Christ

On the subject of new publications, I should mention this new book by St Pauls. I've been invited to a book launch on Friday 19th June in the Throne Room of Archbishop's House, Westminster. Archbishop Vincent Nichols will be hosting the event but unfortunately I won't be able to get there. It is preceded by a special Mass in Westminster Cathedral at 5.30pm to celebrate the start of the Year of the Priesthood.
The book, compiled by Canon Daniel Cronin, contains 78 articles on the priesthood written by bishops and priests from around the world. It might make a nice present for your parish priest to mark the Year of the Priesthood that begins this week. You can order a copy online from St Pauls.

Discovering Your Vocation

I have been remiss in not posting about a new CTS booklet from Fr Stephen Wang. Many readers of this blog will know Fr Stephen from the constant encouragement and sensible advice they have received from him personally. Others may know him through Youth 2000 events or have read some of his other titles for young Catholics in the CTS series.
Some time ago I was sent a copy of talks Fr Stephen had given to young men discerning their vocation. He very graciously let me reproduce them and make them available to men in our diocese. I'm really pleased to see that these have now been expanded with lots of very practical advice for men and women trying to discern God's will for their lives.
You can order a copy by visiting the website of the Catholic Truth Society.

For those of you interested in a somewhat more formidable work by Fr Stephen Wang, his doctoral thesis has recently been published. Here's a link to the Amazon page.

Sunday, June 14, 2009

Corpus Christi Procession

Today we had the third (and last) of this year's First Communion Masses. Thanks be to God, over seventy children have now received Jesus for the first time in Holy Communion. It has been a lot of work and I am very grateful to the teachers and catechists who have dedicated so much time over the past year to preparing our First Communion candidates. During term time they have had lessons every week since September. Without our catechists and teachers it would not have been possible for them to be so well prepared.
When I first came to the parish I found the First Communion Mass (in those days we only had one) stressful. Well, to be honest, it was chaos. I remember one chap with earphones listening to the football, people wandering round, everyone talking and a great scrum at the moment of Communion. I couldn't believe it. Since then, of course, we have taken great care to ensure that everything goes smoothly and that the most important things are emphasised. No one walks around in the Church and we don't permit photos or videos except by a professional photographer. Everyone now comments on how prayerful and reverent the Mass is. I'm pleased about this because the significance of reciving Holy Communion for the first time is no longer obscured by the somewhat faddish excitement of a celebration.
Next week our children are invited to participate in the deanery Corpus Christi Procession that will take place at St Anselm's in Tooting. The parish is celebrating its centenary this year and it is nice to be able to have the Procession there - even though it will be a bit short because the roads are very busy round there. In his pastoral letter for the Feast of Corpus Christi the Archbishop spoke warmly of Corpus Christi Processions and I am glad that in our deanery they have been revived.
You've seen this before, but here once again is 'God in the Streets of New York'...

Saturday, June 13, 2009

Quo Vadis Trip to Rome

On 24th June a group of us will be travelling out to Rome for our first pilgrimage to the Eternal City. We're planning to visit all the important sites and to celebrate Holy Mass in the catacombs and, if possible in St Peter's as well. We will be there on for the closing of the Year of St Paul and for the Mass at which Archbishop Vincent Nichols will receive from the Holy Father his Pallium as the new Archbishop of Westminster.
Please pray for the success of our pilgrimage. We are all looking forward to it.

A Taste of Things to Come...

Are you coming to Catholic Underground UK on 4th July? As the last post mentions we have the Friars of the Renewal coming from New York. Since then I've heard that the Friars are great jazz musicians - not being a fan of Rap that's a relief to me!
Here's a Youtube video the Friars have produced. An example of news becoming vocations promotion...

Tuesday, June 09, 2009

Catholic Underground UK

At the beginning of July I'll be in Rome for a meeting of European Vocations Personnel. The meeting ends on Monday 6th July but I'll be flying back early to be in the parish for the next Catholic Underground session on Saturday 4th July.  It's going to be a great evening because our guest performers will be the original Catholic Underground houseband who are coming all the way from New York. The photo gives you some idea of what to expect! 
Catholic Underground starts with a Holy Hour at 7.15pm in the Church. The Blessed Sacrament is exposed and we sing vespers which is followed by a time of prayer lead by the music ministry. During Adoration priests are available to hear confessions.
After Benediction we go to the school hall for the second part of the evening: a time to chill out with refreshments and live musical entertainment. That's when the Friars will be performing. The evening ends with Compline at about 10.30pm - to give us time to clear things away before it gets too late!
Do join us for the evening. It's not often we have such a distinguished group!

Wednesday, June 03, 2009

Mervile Day 3

Fr Peter Geldard, a bike & a plane...

Yesterday I had a upset stomach and took to my bed with strong medicine after the evening Mass. I wasn't feeling great today but not bad enough to justify staying in bed. I got up at 6.30am and made my way somewhat bleary-eyed to the chapel. The temptation to duck out of the morning's activities was strong but somehow I found myself in the room with everyone else for the presentation by Fr Paddy Sweeney from Dublin. I was glad to be there because he treated us to a very amusing exposition of what he described as 'grit in the shoe': those little things that can irritate or upset us as priests that, if ignored, can develop into serious problems. For the most part they were trivial things, delivered with great humour, but we could all see how they could build up in someone's imagination and had the potential to become real issues.

Aerial View of the Pastoral Centre

Perked up by the morning I then had to decide what to do for the free afternoon. I wasn't particularly keen to visit the local Church and monasteries, so I accepted an invitation from Fr Geldard to go for a flight in his plane.
This involved riding collapsible bikes (punctures repaired) to the airfield when the plane had been parked (free of charge). The fact the the local 'yoof' laughed at us as we cycled past on the odd-looking cycles was made acceptable by the knowledge that in a few minutes, as they continued scratching their noses, we would be taking off in a plane.

St Omer

Having made all the necessary checks and received clearance for take-off, we were soon looking down on the diocesan pastoral centre - our home for the week - and heading westwards towards St Omer where we landed to look at the RAF memorial. 
We then flew back to Merville and made our way to the pastoral centre with a good hour and a half to spare before the coaches arrived to take us to a hotel for a very pleasant evening meal.

RAF Memorial

Tuesday, June 02, 2009


I've mentioned before the blog by Glen Butterworth SJ. Glen has posted an article some of the readers of this blog might find interesting. Take a look here...


About sixty priests from all over the diocese have come together to spend a week with the Archbishop here in Merville. Most of us travelled by Eurostar from St Pancras and a few drove, catching the ferry to Calais. The prize for the most original means of transport, however, goes to Fr Peter Geldard who borrowed a friend's plane and flew here. Merville airfield is about five kilometres from where we are staying and the plan was to cycle the last bit of the trip. Unfortunately he got a puncture and ended up having to walk - on a beautiful sunny day I should add.
By last night we were all gathered and dully welcomed by the Ongoing Formation Team of the diocese who sought to anticipate all our various needs. The Archbishop gave us an introduction to the week before supper and in the evening we had a period of Adoration together followed by Compline and Benediction. 
Today has been a day of recollection with three talks given by Fr Timothy Radcliffe OP who drew on his experience, particularly as a former Master General of the Dominicans, to speak to us about our work 'between a rock and a hard place' as secular priests and the qualities of good leadership. In the photograph we see Fr Richard Whinder and Fr Marcus Holden shortly after their arrival at the former seminary.

Vocations Day with the Franciscan Missionaries of Mary

On Saturday I drove over to Putney to spend some time with the Franciscan Missionaries of Mary who were hosting a vocations day for women. It gave me a chance to visit the fine parish church which I hadn't seen before. I was also able to drop in briefly on Canon Richard Quinlan who spent some years as assistant priest in my present parish (under my predecessor). Canon Quinlan very kindly lent me a set of vestments so that I could celebrate Mass for the group in the Convent chapel.
Five girls joined us for the day which began with a reflection on the scriptural theme "I am the potter, you are the clay". After Mass we had a light lunch together after which I had to leave while the participants had a chance to chat with the sisters individually before a period of Adoration in the afternoon.