The conclusion of The Year of Saint Paul was celebrated in Southwark with a gathering at Aylesford Priory on Saturday, 27th June 2009, where Archbishop Kevin welcomed the bishops, priests, deacons and people from every corner of his diocese. The theme for the day was 'Proclaim the Good News' (Mark 16:15). The open-air shrine was filled to capacity - happily, the threatened storms did not materialise. The gathering of over 3,000 people expressed the ethnic and cultural diversity that enriches our diocese, as did the vibrant liturgies, which included African and Latin chants, hymns both traditional and modern and Bidding Prayers in English, Spanish, Ghanaian, Polish and Amharic (Ethiopian).
Archbishop Kevin presided and preached at the noon Mass, at the end of which he gave the Apostolic Blessing. In his homily, he spoke of Paul's conversion: 'His faith, his conversion was not the result of a long process of reflection and discernment at the end of which he concluded that Jesus was the Messiah. No, his conversion was the result of the direct action and and intervention of God.' 'Then as today, the important issue is the choice, the initiative of God and we should all draw strength from that when we're discouraged or tempted to give up on things.' He reminded us 'God's ways are not our ways. His thoughts are not our thoughts. His choices are not our choices and that is crucial for understanding the mystery of our faith which Paul explored so deeply. Personal choice which is so central in our culture is an entirely secondary consideration within the providence of God.'
The full text of
Archbishop Kevin's homily
At 3:30 pm, the Archbishop presided at a moving Celebration of the Word of God. Father John O'Toole gave the homily and students from Saint Paul's Academy led a reflection on how to live out the teaching of Jesus (summarised in the Beatitudes) in the spirit of Saint Paul. All who are involved in proclaiming the Good News were invited to give thanks and to dedicate themselves anew to the ministry of the Word: parents, carers, grandparents, godparents and sponsors; catechists and teachers; readers and cantors; bishops, priests and deacons; religious brothers and sisters; all who are ministers of the Word as beloved sons and daughters of God. Each group was represented by the lighting of a candle.
The full text of Father
John O'Toole's homily
The Missionaries of Saint Paul arranged that the Sacrament of Reconciliation was available throughout the day with other priests, including the Carmelites, assisting them.
The World Health Organisation has declared a pandemic (a worldwide epidemic) of H1N1 influenza, often called 'swine ‘flu'. This is a new form of human flu and is circulating widely in some parts of the world, including parts of the UK. As members of the Church it is right that we take every reasonable care of each other's well being. At the present time, for example, we should all take those precaution which help avoid spreading the influenza ('flu) virus.
The Liturgy Office of England and Wales has issued the following guidelines which are available on its site:
Resources in printer-friendly format:
Archbishop Kevin with the Area Bishops, the Vicar General and
staff of the Christian Education Centre
On Monday, 15th June 2009, at the Christian Education Centre, Archbishop Kevin was presented with a copy of the new diocesan sacramental guidelines 'Becoming More Like Christ'.
The occasion was the annual report of the CEC to the Archbishop's Council.
The Archbishop had asked that the guidelines on the Sacraments of Baptism, Reconciliation, Holy Communion and Confirmation should be revised and 'Becoming More Like Christ' is the fruit of consultation with parents, catechists, clergy and teachers.
The Archbishop stressed the importance of this work: 'The celebration of the sacraments and preparation for them lie at the very heart of the life of the Church.'
Bishop Patrick presided at the Procession and Benediction of the Blessed Sacrament among the ruins of Lesnes Abbey on the Feast of Corpus Christi, Sunday, 14th June 2009.
The annual event is attended especially by the people of the Bexley and Greenwich deaneries and the fine weather helped to encourage a large congregation.
The Abbey, in the parish of St Benet, Abbey Wood, was founded in 1178 by Richard de Lucy, who, in 1170, had been complicit with Henry II in the murder of St Thomas Becket, the Archbishop of Canterbury. He built the abbey within the boundaries of his Manor in reparation and, having assumed the religious habit, ended his days there and was buried in the Chapter House. It was a foundation of the Augustinian Canons.
Bishop Patrick was presented with a plaque celebrating the 90th Anniversary of the foundation of the Knights of St Columba, which reads 'Knights of St Columba - 90 years of Serving God by Serving others'. He is pictured above with Diego Gomes the Grand Knight of Woolwich Council (118).
Andrea del Sarto
The Last Supper (detail) 1520-1525
Convent of San Salvi, Florence
Archbishop Kevin has written a Pastoral Letter to be read in our churches on the Feast of the Body and Blood of Christ, Sunday, 14th June 2009.
In the course of the letter he reminds us:
'Sometimes we may be tempted to give up on the high ideals that the life of Christ puts before us. It is in the nature of Christian life that there will be struggle and, at times, we will fall short. But the blood of Christ brings both forgiveness and a new start. We need constantly to resort to the source of life, which is Christ, and to believe that we will be empowered to live a new life.'
He also makes an appeal, at the start of The Year of the Priesthood,
for us to do all that we can to encourage vocations for 'without the priesthood, there can be no Eucharist'. He adds: 'A priest is a bearer of life - eternal life'.
He concludes by inviting the diocese to join him at the celebration of the Eucharist at Aylesford on 27th June to mark the end of The Year of Saint Paul.
Pope Benedict XVI has announced a Year of the Priesthood to run
from 19th June 2009 until 19th June 2010. He said that this special year is intended 'to encourage priests in striving for spiritual perfection on which, above all, the effectiveness of their ministry depends'.
The occasion is the 150th anniversary of the death of St John Vianney, the Curé (Parish Priest) of Ars, renowned for his holiness and deep concern for the spirituality of his parishioners. He is the Patron Saint of Parish Priests, but the Holy Father is expected to name him as Patron Saint of all the priests of the world during the course of the year.
The Holy Father will open the Year at Vespers, in the presence of the relics of St John Vianney, on the Feast of the Sacred Heart of Jesus.
Cardinal Cláudio Hummes, the Prefect of the Congregation for the Clergy, has written to priests throughout the world (over 400,000) expressing the hope that 'this year may be an occasion for a period of intense appreciation of the priestly identity, of the theology of the Catholic priesthood, and of the extraordinary meaning of the vocation and mission of priests within the Church and in society'.
He describes the Year as '... a year of prayer by priests, with priests and for priests ...', and 'an opportunity to develop the communion and friendship between priests and the communities entrusted to their care'.
Spiritual and pastoral initiatives relating to The Year of the Priesthood will be reported on this site as the Year unfolds.
The parish of St Justus and St Anselm, Paddock Wood and Pembury, travelled to Canterbury Cathedral on Saturday, 13th June 2009, to celebrate the 900th Anniversary of the death of Saint Anselm who was Archbishop of Canterbury from 1093 until his death in 1109.
Fr Liam Gallagher, the Parish Priest, who celebrated the
tenth anniversary of his ordination the same weekend, lead the
gathering which celebrated Mass in the Cathedral crypt and
visited St Anselm's Chapel where the saint is interred.
Congratulations to Deacon John Simon Lawson, who was ordained on 12th June 2009, and to Deacon Peter Rennie, who was ordained on 13th June 2009. Please remember them and their wives, Elizabeth and Ruth, in your prayers as they begin their ministry in our diocese.
Deacon John Simon Lawson (on Bishop Paul's right) was ordained
St Joseph, New Malden
Deacon Peter Rennie was ordained at St John the Baptist, Purley
Mgr Richard Moth introduces Fr John O'Toole to Mgr Bruce Harbert
The International Commission on English in the Liturgy (ICEL) has been
working for several years on a new translation of the Order of the Mass which is
more faithful to the original Latin text. Its task has not been an easy one as
the translation had to be accepted by all of the eleven Bishops' Conferences
whose countries use English in the liturgy. The first phase - the Ordinary of
the Mass - has been completed and has received their acceptance and the approval
of the Vatican's Congregation for the Sacraments. We can look forward to
adopting the new translation in our celebration of Mass perhaps as early as next
Southwark Liturgy Commission, with Mgr Richard Moth as its Chairman, invited Mgr Bruce Harbert, the Executive Director of ICEL Secretariat, to introduce the new translation at a study day on Saturday, 6th June 2009. Fr John O'Toole welcomed participants to the Christian Education Centre where the day was held.
About sixty priests and deacons, mainly from the South-West area of our diocese, gathered with Archbishop Kevin at Merville in France from Monday, 1st June until Friday, 5th June 2009 for a week of prayer and reflection on their pastoral ministry.
Fr Timothy Radcliffe OP, former Master General of the Dominicans, led a Day of Recollection and Fr Paddy Sweeny, a priest with responsibility for the welfare of clergy in the Dublin diocese, led sessions on the practical and personal issues facing the clergy today.
Mgr Gerry Ewing and the Ongoing Formation of Priests team have organised, at the Archbishop's request, three such weeks during 2009. The first, mainly for clergy from the South-East area, was held in February and was valued by all participants. The final week will be held in October, mainly for the clergy of the Kent area.
These meetings provide a welcome opportunity for the Southwark clergy to express their unity with each other and with their Archbishop - and to enjoy each other's company.
The section will be further developed, so please return from time to time.
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