Saturday, October 27, 2012

University Chaplaincies Day

I had the privilege of spending the day with the CathSoc from Canterbury where Fr Peter Geldard is doing great work as the Catholic Chaplain. We were picked up by coach from outside St John Stone House, the chaplaincy building, and taken to Aylesford where we were able to join chaplaincy groups from all over the south of England and from as far away as Cambridge and Manchester. 
The day began by praying the Rosary as we walked along the Joyful Mysteries of the Rosary Way behind the main shrine. I was leading the Mysteries and found it a bit hard combining Rosary, booklet and microphone in my good hand - but fortunately one of the students came to my rescue! I was very impressed to see that almost all the students had a Rosary.
We then gathered in the Relic Chapel where Fr Brendan welcomed us before one of the Chaplains gave us a reflection on the Year of Faith. This was followed by discussion groups up until lunch time. I took the opportunity to catch up with Sam Burke who recently joined the Dominicans - he is second from the left in the photograph above - you can easily make out the elegant Dominican habit.
In the afternoon Archbishop Peter Smith was the main celebrant at Mass which was had been carefully prepared. The music included a sung Kyrie, using the traditional Greek, with most other parts in sung in English. The Archbishop preached an encouraging sermon to the young people present and, at the end, I was asked to say a few words about vocation.
I was very pleased to meet familiar and new chaplains. One of the themes of our Vocations Centre is "Discipleship Discerns Vocation". It is important for us to foster good relations with our university chaplains: we are not in competition with each other. Without good chaplaincies our work is harder and Christian discipleship would be impoverished. 

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