News Archive for 2009 - February

Record number of catechumens and candidates

Archbishop Kevin welcomed 309 candidates and 238 catechumens at the Rite of Election and Call to Continuing Conversion at St George's Cathedral on Saturday, 28th February 2009.

They came from 89 parishes throughout the diocese where they will be baptised or received into full communion with the Church and receive the sacrament of Confirmation and their First Communion at the Easter Vigil.

This is a record number of candidates and a record number of catechumens from a record number of parishes.

We keep them all in our prayers.

The Cathedral from behind the Archbishop's cathedra

During his homily, Archbishop Kevin said: 'Election means God's election of you, and he calls you with the gifts and talents which are yours and which you bring into the full communion of the Church. In that communion each of you has a unique role and a special vocation. During the weeks of Lent, seek to discern and identify that vocation and to celebrate it at the Easter Vigil.'

A page of photos of the occasion
with a personal report from a Southwark first year seminarian
and recollections from two of the Candidaties

More about RCIA and the Rite of Election and Call to Continuing Conversion


Canonisation of Blessed Jeanne Jugan
Foundress of the Little Sisters of the Poor ...

The Holy Father has announced that the canonisation of Blessed Jeanne Jugan will take place on 11th October 2009.

Archbishop Kevin said that he was delighted to receive the news that Blessed Jeanne Jugan, the Foundress of the Little Sisters of the Poor, will be canonised this October. He added: 'This is a cause of great joy for the Little Sisters of the Poor, who do so much in this diocese of Southwark and elsewhere, and it is a joy to be shared throughout the diocese.'


The Little Sisters of the Poor run the Residential Home and Day Centre at St Peter's Residence in Vauxhall, which is also the Congregation's Provincial House.

A Media Kit including a short biography of Blessed Jeanne Jugan has been produced by the Congregation and can be read here (.pdf)

... and of Blessed Damien of Molokai

And on the same day Blessed Damien of Molokai will be canonised. Father Damien lived among the lepers at the Hawaiian government's leper colony on the island of Molokai. He died of leprosy in 1889 at the age of 49.

Father Damien was a member of the Congregation of the Sacred Hearts of Jesus and Mary, a religious missionary order. Bishop Patrick is a member of the same order.

A great day then for the Little Sisters of the Poor, the Sacred Hearts' Fathers and Bishop Patrick ... we keep them in our prayers as we share their joy.

Cathedral prays as Australia mourns

On Sunday, 22nd February 2009, Australia will hold a National Day of Mourning to honour the victims of Victoria's devastating bushfires in which nearly 200 people have lost their lives.

Through the Australian High Commission, the Australian Prime Minister, Kevin Rudd, has asked that prayers for the victims are offered throughout the world on this day.

The Cathedral Dean, Canon James Cronin, has responded to this request and will lead the congregation at the Cathedral in praying for the repose of the souls of those who died and that God will bring consolation to the bereaved.

Southwark edition of 'Walk with Me' for Lent 2009

Lent begins: Ash Wednesday is on 25th February 2009. Copies of Southwark's Lent edition of 'Walk with Me' are available in most parishes this Sunday (22nd).

The booklet is a Lenten Journey of Prayer, offering readings, meditation and prayer for each day.

In his introduction to the booklet,  Archbishop Kevin writes about conversion: 'Conversion means to change direction, or to change your mind. It means letting go of habitual patterns of thinking and behaving in order to embrace a new way of being. This is our task throughout life but the season of Lent offers us a special invitation and opportunity to let go of old ways of thinking and acting in order to take on the life of Christ.'


New Coordinator for Diocesan JPIC Commission

We are pleased to announce that Terry Brown has been appointed as the new Co-ordinator for Justice, Peace and Integrity of Creation for the Southwark Archdiocese.

Terry is married with 4 grown up children and a growing number of grandchildren and lives just outside the diocese in Crowborough.

As well as considerable business experience Terry has been an active local member of the St Vincent de Paul Society since 1974 and has acted as their National Twinnage Organiser since 1994. In this role he has administered the links between the SVP in England and Wales and their twinned countries, India, Sudan, Grenada, Guyana and Romania as well as their Disaster Fund which supports the SVP work anywhere in the world at times of special need.


Merville - report and photos

Archbishop Kevin presides at the final Mass at Merville

A report of the gathering from Father Brian Coyle and more photos

Archbishop Kevin and clergy gather at Merville

Maison Diocésaine d'Acceuil, Merville

The first of three gatherings for Southwark's bishops, priests and deacons is taking place this week form 9th until 13th February 2009 at the Maison Diocésaine d'Acceuil in Merville France. Merville is about 30 miles south of Dunkirk and 25 miles west of Lille.

This week the majority of the priests and deacons are from the South East area of the diocese. Further weeks are arranged for June (mainly for those in the South West Area) and October (mainly for those in the Kent Area).

Archbishop Kevin and the clergy are gathered for prayer and formation - and simply to enjoy each other's company. One of the days has been set aside for a Day of Recollection which is led this week by Bishop David McGough (Auxiliary Bishop in Birmingham). Father Paddy Sweeney from the Dublin diocese, who has special responsibility for clergy welfare there, will lead sessions on the practical and personal issues facing our clergy today.

We keep them in our prayers.

View from a chapel window


Pax Christi delegation to Israel and Palestine

Two members of our diocese, Pat Gaffney and Mary Boley, are part of a Pax Christi delegation travelling today, 12th February 2009, to Israel and Palestine to visit partners in the area.

The group, all involved in education for peace, will be based in Bethlehem for their six-day visit. They will meet teachers' and women's groups and join members of the Ecumenical Accompaniment Programme in Israel and Palestine, experiencing first hand their work in Hebron and Bethlehem.

On Saturday, 14th February, the delegation will join with partners at the Arab Educational Institute for a candle-lit vigil for peace near the separation wall in the area of Rachel's Tomb.

They invite us all to join them in lighting a candle and praying for peace in Israel and Palestine on Saturday, 14th February.

Report of the visit from Pax Christi with photos


New Chairman of the Council of Priests elected

The Council of Priests met at Saint Peter's Residence, Vauxhall, on Wednesday, 4th February 2009. At the meeting Canon James Cronin, the Cathedral Dean, was elected  Chairman and Father John Clark, Parish Priest of Saint Francis, Maidstone, Vice-Chairman.

A few more photos taken during the day


Parish Support for the Unemployed

As the economic recession deepens, there is much concern for the plight of those who find themselves unemployed. Exploring ways in which the Church could reach out and support the unemployed, it has been suggested that parishes could offer opportunities for them to volunteer. Such opportunities could be of real value to unemployed people and give them a better chance of gaining employment.

A leaflet to promote this initiative (.pdf)

The Legacy of John Paul II

On the morning of Tuesday, 3rd February 2009, in the library of Archbishop’s House, Southwark, Archbishop Kevin was presented by Dr. Michael Hayes, Vice-Principal of St. Mary’s University College, Strawberry Hill, Twickenham with a copy of “The Legacy of John Paul II”.

Archbishop Kevin contributed to Chapter 6, The Legacy of Pope John Paul II: Ecumenical Dialogue. A response to his writing is given by the Rt. Rev. Christopher Hill, Bishop of Guildford who, like Archbishop Kevin, was a co-secretary of ARCIC, the Anglican Roman Catholic International Commission.

The book, published by Continuum, was edited by Professor Gerald O'Collins SJ, a research Professor of Theology at St. Mary’s University College and by Dr. Michael who is a priest of the diocese of Southwark.

Dr. Hayes was an assistant priest at St. George’s Cathedral, Southwark and in 1982 he accompanied Pope John Paul II in the Cathedral for the anointing of the sick. That visit is commemorated in a stained glass window in the Cathedral.


Vocations Retreat attracts record numbers

Last weekend, Friday, 30th January to Sunday, 1st February, twenty-three young men, mainly from the dioceses of Southwark and Arundel and Brighton, gathered at Saint John's Seminary, Wonersh to take part in a Vocations Retreat. This was the largest number of participants since the annual event was started by Fr Stephen Langridge, our diocesan Vocations Director, in 2005. In addition to the Spiritual Conference there were talks on discernment and on priestly life and ministry. The seminarians, many of whom had themselves attended previous retreats, were very much on hand to share their experiences and to give encouragement.

Feedback from the retreat has been excellent with many of those present keen to take up Spiritual Direction and to make space in their schedule for daily prayer. A number of those present resolved to apply as soon as possible, while others want to stay in touch as they continue to discern God's will in their lives. A notable feature this year was the number of participants from the diocesan Quo Vadis Group for sixth form and university students.

A cold Candlemas ...

Saint George's Cathedral

On 2nd February 2009, our diocese was on the front line of the heaviest snow fall for eighteen years. At least twelve inches fell across the North Downs and eight inches in London. Only the most intrepid will have managed to reach their parish churches to celebrate the Feast of the Presentation.

A few more photos of the Cathedral and its neighbourhood


Pastoral Letter - a reflection on the Presentation

Presentation at the Temple - Giovanni Bellini - 1460-64
Fondazione Querini Stampalia, Venice

In his Pastoral Letter for 1st February 2009 Archbishop Kevin focuses on the Feast of the Presentation of the Lord. He draws on the wisdom of this Feast to reflect on our Christian lives.

'In embracing suffering but also seeing it as the means by which new life comes into being, we are simply following in the footsteps of Jesus Christ who, though sinless, took to himself the realities of evil and sin so that we might have life. The cross is the symbol of this because it is both the symbol of evil and the sign of hope, hope for the future - for resurrection. It is the sign of hope for a new order, a new life which will be the fruit of God's purifying action in the world.'

Full text of the Archbishop's Pastoral Letter