News Archive for 2010 - March

The Chrism Mass - priests renew their commitment

The Chrism Mass was celebrated in St George's Cathedral on Wednesday, 31st March 2010, with Bishop John presiding. Archbishop Michael, Bishop Patrick and Bishop Howard with over 200 priests from around the diocese concelebtated. Archbishop Kevin was able to be present after his recent hip replacement operation.

The Chrism Mass is always a highlight of the Church's liturgical year, but as it is the Year for Priests, the annual renewal of priestly commitment held a special significance.

Bishop John spoke in his homily about the spirit of sacrifice which is at the heart of the priesthood. He said: 'There is no following of Christ unless that notion of sacrifice is firmly embedded in our spirituality, and perhaps particularly as priests, with that great privilege of standing at the altar offering the sacrifice of the Mass for all people, that notion of self-giving is absolutely core.'

Bishop John blessed the Holy Oils, which will be received in the parishes during the Mass of the Last Supper on Maundy Thursday evening and used in the celebration of the Sacraments of Baptism, Confirmation and the Anointing of the Sick throughout the year.

Before the final blessing, Bishop John thanked Archbishop Kevin for his dedication as our Archbishop for six years until ill-health necessitated his resignation. He presented Archbishop Kevin with a cheque from the parishes of the diocese.

Archbishop Kevin said that it had been a great privilege to be part of the Southwark diocese and that he had valued the times he spent in parishes, schools and working with the diocesan organisations. He thanked everyone for the generous gift.

After the Mass the priests gathered for a meal in the newly refurbished Amigo Hall, celebrating together the Year for Priests.

Archbishop Kevin took this opportunity to present the Diocesan Chancellor Fr Matthew Dickens with the rescript from the Holy Father appointing him a Prelate of Honour. Congratulations to Monsignor Matthew.

Read Bishop John's homily at the Chrism Mass (.pdf available)

More photos of the Chrism Mass and lunch

Some screen captures from the video of the Chrism Mass

Brief explanation of the Chrism Mass



Deacons open formation day to all

In a new initiative, the On-Going Formation Team for the Permanent Diaconate is opening one of the diaconal formation days to all who are interested.

The occasion will be a lecture by Stratford Caldecott, well known Catholic author, on Pope Benedict XVI's encyclical 'Caritas in Veritate'.

The date is Saturday, 1st May 2010, commmencing at 10:00 am and the venue is the Amigo Hall.




Bishop Patrick supports The Sanctuary Pledge

Photo credit: Mazur/

On Thursday, 25th March 2010, Bishop Patrick joined other religious and community leaders at the Houses of Parliament to launch The Sanctuary Pledge, a campaign by the Citizen Organising Foundation to implement the findings of the Independent Asylum Commission.

The Sanctuary Pledge calls on prospective parliamentary candidates from the mainstream political parties to commit to rebuilding public support for the provision of sanctuary to refugees in the UK and to work to end the detention of innocent children and families for immigration purposes.

Leaders of the Churches and organisations supporting The Pledge (which includes the Office for Migration Policy of the Bishops' Conference for England and Wales of which Bishop Patrick is the Chairman) will be writing to the Home Secretary and Home Affairs spokespersons of other political parties, to ask them to support the aims of The Pledge and to outline what steps their party would take, if elected, to reduce sharply - and ultimately to end - the detention of children and families.

The Campaign is also organising courses to train individuals to lobby prospective parliamentary candidates in 200 key constituencies and to hold them to account after the election.

Bishop Patrick said:

“The Catholic Church upholds the Citizens for Sanctuary pledge especially the call to support policies that will end the detention of children and families for immigration purposes.

“The Church has repeatedly taken up an advocacy role in the defence of human rights and dignity. It has enhanced its commitment on behalf of vulnerable migrants, especially women and minors, and will continue to develop and increase its cooperation with governments, civil society and local authorities in responding to the needs of migrants and advocating for their dignity and rights.”

Photo credit: Mazur/

Visit The Sanctuary Pledge web site

More photos of the launch of the campaign


St Anselm's now in the 'Most Improved Schools Club'

St Anselm's Catholic School in Canterbury has just learnt that it has become a member of the exclusive' Most Improved Schools and Academies Club' in recognition of its achievement in the 2009 GCSE and equivalent examinations.

The Specialist Schools and Academies Trust acknowledges that St Anselm's was successful in meeting the criteria: 'A school with 5+ A*-C results improved by 15 percentage points or more year on year from 2006-2009.'

Headteacher, Ms Fiona Quilty said  "The Governors are delighted that the SSAT has recognised the excellent progress our school has made in the last three years. All staff and students have worked very hard to achieve this award. We would like to thank all parents and carers who work alongside us to support the students."

Visit St Anselm's Catholic School web site


30th Anniversary of the Death of Archbishop Romero

Wednesday, 24th March 2010, is the thirtieth anniversary of the death of Archbishop Oscar Romero, Archbishop of San Salvador, who was assassinated while he was celebrating Mass.

He spoke out fearlessly against the repression of the Church in El Salvador, the oppression of the poor and the widespread violation of human rights.

The cause for his canonisation has been introduced and Pope John Paul II has named him as a 'Servant of God'.

It is not only within the Catholic Church that Archbishop Romero is venerated. A statue of him among ten 20th century martyrs has been placed above the West Door of Westminster Abbey.

His anniversary is being commemorated in many countries throughout the world. Cardinals Cormac Murphy-O'Connor and Keith O'Brien, Archbishop Vincent Nichols, Archbishop Rowan Williams and Archbishop John Sentamu will all be among those taking part in Masses and ecumenical services in England, Wales and Scotland. Archbishop Bernard Longley with Bishop Arthur Roche will be in San Salvador to offer Mass in Archbishop Romero's own cathedral on the anniversary of his death.

In Southwark, an anniversary Mass will be offered in Saint George's Cathedral at 12:30 pm on Wednesday, 24th March.

Visit the Romero Trust web site


'Faith Today' coming to a parish near you

Faith Today is a new magazine supporting the Bishops' Conference in England and Wales. It will be launched in May and published monthly; it will be distributed through the parishes.

Faith Today is warmly commended by Archbishop Vincent Nichols.

Alive Publishers are offering a free sample copy of Faith Today together with a free copy of 'Choosing the Common Good'.

For more details visit the publisher's web site


Former PP in Southwark to be Bishop of Gibraltar

Our congratulations and best wishes to Father Ralph Heskett CSsR who has been appointed as the new Bishop of Gibraltar, following the retirement of Bishop Charles Caruana.

Bishop-elect Ralph was born in Sunderland in 1953. He made his religious profession in the Congregation of the Most Holy Redeemer in 1971 and was ordained priest in 1976.

He has worked in Scotland and England and has  undertaken vocation and mission work as well as his parochial responsibilities.

He has had a close association with the Southwark diocese having been the Redemptorist Master of Novices at Canterbury from 1997 until 1999 and Parish Priest of St Mary's, Clapham, from 1999 until 2008.

We keep him in our prayers as he undertakes his new responsibilities.

(posted 18-03-10)


The Holy Father's visit to Britain is officially announced

HM Government and the Bishops' Conference of England and Wales have jointly welcomed the Holy Father's visit to Britain later this year.

The joint press conference was held on 16th March 2010 after Her Majesty The Queen had announced that the visit will take place from 16th until 19th September. It will be the first ever Papal State Visit to the UK – the visit by Pope John Paul II in 1982 was a pastoral visit only.

Some details of the Holy Father's itinerary have been given and an official web site dedicated to the papal visit is now online.

The Holy Father will travel to Scotland where he will be received at the Palace of Holyroodhouse by Her Majesty the Queen. He will celebrate a public Mass in Glasgow.

He will visit the West Midlands to beatify Cardinal John Henry Newman during a public Mass at Coventry Airport.

In London, the Holy Father will give a major address to the British civil society in Westminster Hall. He will be present at a prayer vigil and there will be an event focusing on education. 

Relations between the Christian Churches will be a theme of the visit as will the relations between the major faiths.

The Holy Father will visit the Archbishop of Canterbury at Lambeth Palace and will pray with other Church leaders at Westminster Abbey.

Full details or the Holy Father's itinerary will be announced nearer the time.

The photos below were taken at the joint press conference giving the official announcement of the Papal Visit. From the left: Matt Tee , Cardinal Keith O’Brien, Rt Hon Jim Murphy MP and Archbishop Vincent Nichols

Photo credit Mazur/

Photo credit Mazur/

Please visit the official papal visit site

Press release from the Catholic Church in England and Wales web site 

Announcement on The British Monarchy web site


Clergy appointments and news

During the period of the sede vacante in the diocese, the Diocesan Administrator may not appoint parish priests until one year has passed. He can therefore only appoint parish administrators. The following two appointments will be taken up after Easter:

Fr Douglas Bull from St Thomas of Canterbury, Rainham
to be parish administrator for Holy Cross, Catford

Fr Brian Coyle from sabbatical
to be parish administrator for St Thomas of Canterbury, Rainham

Fr David Peck has asked that a parish administrator be appointed to assist him at Our Lady and St Peter, Wimbledon Common. Fr Philip de Freitas is appointed to this position.

We express our gratitude to Fr David for his committed ministry to his parish and assure him of our continuing prayers.

Fr Jan Bak SDS will replace Fr John Vallomprayil SDS at St Michael's, Pollards Hill, in April. We thank Fr John for all his hard work and the Salvatorian Provincial for his commitment to this parish.

Our prayers for those who are sick: especially Fr David Peck, Fr Kevin Pelham, Fr William Hogg and Canon Tony Charlton.

Our congratulations and best wishes go to Deacon Fintan Phelan, who is soon to celebrate his ninetieth birthday and is still ministering at St Gregory, Earlsfield.


Young Adults to focus on theology - in a pub

A new initiative from the Southwark Catholic Youth Service - Theology on Track - is to be launched next month on Wednesday, 21st April.

It offers the opportunity for young adults (18+) to listen to talks on various theological topics, to ask questions and join in discussion. The first topic is 'Theology and Politics' and will be led by Dr Michael Kirwan SJ.

The evenings will start at 7:00 pm and will be held in the Upper Room of The Railway Tavern, Clapham High Street, offering a good venue for socialising before and after the sessions.

(posted 13-03-10)


Bishop Paul commissions new Eucharistic Ministers

On Wednesday, 10th March 2010, Bishop Paul, at a special Mass at the Ursuline High School in Wimbledon, commissioned 14 pupils to be Extraordinary Ministers of Holy Communion. They are all members of the sixth form and will carry out their ministry at the school.


Decades of service to the Church is recognised

Jean Treloar was presented with the Bene Merenti medal by Bishop Paul at the Holy Innocents Church in Orpington on Sunday, 7th March 2010.

Her service to the Church in Orpington and Farnborough has spanned many decades - she qualified as a catechist over fifty years ago and is still involved in co-ordinating the RCIA programme. She is the parish organist and has conducted the choir since 1975. She is also much involved in ecumenism.

Fr Victor Vella, parish priest of Holy Innocents, Orpington and Fr Paul Fennessy, parish priest of St Michael and All Angels, Farnborough, were present to give Jean their congratulations and gratitude.

The Catholic Bishops’ Conference of England and Wales launched a document “Choosing the Common Good” today, Wednesday, 3rd March 2010. Archbishop Vincent Nichols and Archbishop Peter Smith, president and vice-president of the Bishops’ Conference, presented the document at a press conference at 39 Eccleston Square at 11:30 am.

Photo: Mazur/

The document presents some of the key themes of Catholic social teaching and while it anticipates the forth-coming general election, it is a contribution to the wider debate about a shared vision for our society.

Full text of Choosing the Common Good in .pdf format

Press release from the Bishops' Conference of England and Wales web site