News Archive for 2012 - March


Head Teacher of English Martyrs, Walworth, Retires

The last day of the Spring term marked the retirement of Mrs Anne Boyd as the Head Teacher of English Martyrs, Walworth. Anne has been the Head Teacher of English Martyrs since 1995 and has taught in the school since 1974. Mrs. Hyacinth Appah, the present Deputy Head Teacher, has been appointed the Acting Head Teacher for the summer term.

Bishop Paul presided at the Mass assisted by Deacon James Sheahan, from St George’s Cathedral - Anne is originally from the Cathedral parish. They were joined by local Head Teachers, representatives from the Schools Commission, Governors, parents, grandparents and great grandparents. This happy occasion celebrated the many gifts and talents of English Martyrs staff and pupils.



   The Chrism Mass

The Chrism Mass this year will be celebrated on Wednesday, 4th April, at 11:30 am at Saint George's Cathedral.

During the Mass the oil of the sick and the oil of catechumens will be blessed and the oil of Chrism will be consecrated.

It is also the occasion when our priests express their unity with their bishop and renew their commitment to priestly service.

Parishioners are most welcome to attend the Mass, although it may not be possible for everyone to be seated.


Induction of new Parish Priest at Cray Valley

Canon Tom McHugh, Dean of Bromley, Father Shaju, Bishop Patrick
and Monsignor Matthew Dickens, Vicar General

On Friday, 23rd March 2012, Bishop Patrick presided at a Mass during which he inducted Father Shaju Varkey as Parish Priest of the parish of Our Lady of the Crays, Cray Valley.

About 35 priests concelebrated at the Mass ...

... and about 350 parishioners and guests formed the congregation, including Councillor Reg Adams, Deputy Mayor of Bromley, and parishioners from Father Shaju's former parish of Woolwich.

(posted 28-03-12)


Flame Congress brings young Catholics together

Young Catholics (Year 10 - young adults) from around the diocese joined about 10,000 of their peer group from England and Wales for the first National Youth Congress, which was held at Wembley Arena on Saturday, 24th March 2012.

This dynamic and joyful event was inspired by the papal visit in September 2010 and the forthcoming London Olympics. It was organised by the Catholic Youth Ministry Federation (CYMFed) which has John Toryusen, Director of the Southwark Catholic Youth Service, as its board's Vice-Chairman.

Bishop Patrick attended the day.
The Holy Father sent his blessing to the young people. In a letter sent on his behalf, Cardinal Bertone writes: 'He prays that the flame of faith will continue to burn strongly in them, so that they will become convincing witnesses of Jesus Christ, “saints of the twenty-first century”, living examples of the spirit of the Beatitudes.'

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News item on CCEW News and Media site
with link to Archbishop Vincent's address

Many more photos on CCEW Flickr page

Visit Flame's web site


Our Diocesan Pilgrimage to Lourdes

Deacon Michael Kennedy, our diocesan Lourdes Pilgrimage Director, has opened the bookings for this year's pilgrimage. It will be led by Bishop John and run from Friday, 24th August until Friday, 31st August. As in previous years it will be held in conjunction with the Catholic Association, which has been organising pilgrimages to Lourdes for over 100 years. Bishop Paul is the Chairman of the Catholic Association and Mgr William Saunders is its Director and both with be part of the pilgrimage.

Posters (above) have been sent to the parishes and a section of our web site focussing on the pilgrimage has been established. Further pages will be added, but at present it contains the booking form, which can be downloaded.

Please click on this logo or the one on the sidebar.

This year there is the option of a 5-day (4-night) pilgrimage, which will run from Monday, 27th August, until Friday, 31st August.

Both Bishop John and Deacon Michael hope that you will join our pilgrimage and would be delighted if every parish were represented.


Congratulations, Father Michael ...

The Mayor of the Royal Borough of Greenwich, Councillor Jim Gillman,
with Fr Michael, Mgr William Saunders, Fr Michael Branch and
Fr Shaju Varkey

On Tuesday, 13th March 2012, Father Michael Scanlon was presented with the Freedom of the Royal Borough of Greenwich by the Mayor, Councillor Jim Gillman, during a reception at Greenwich Town Hall. He was one of 17 individuals or organisations who received the award.

The Certificate of Freedom states that it was presented 'in appreciation of the eminent services rendered by him to the Borough; in recognition of his service to the community, and as an expression of the high esteem in which he is held by Members of the Council and his fellow citizens'.

Archbishop Peter congratulates Fr Michael and Mrs Doreen Lawrence OBE


Pugin’s Church becomes Official Shrine of St Augustine

Archbishop Peter has formally established Pugin’s church of St Augustine in Ramsgate as a shrine of the ‘the Apostle of the English’. In an official decree the Archbishop grants the shrine canonical privileges and designates it as a place of pilgrimage.

Pugin dedicating his church to St Augustine his patron

The establishment of this new pilgrimage site fills a five hundred year gap created when the last shrine of Augustine was destroyed in the 16th century. A shrine to St Augustine existed on the Isle of Thanet before the Reformation and so this new place of pilgrimage recovers an ancient tradition. St Augustine’s is a Catholic church already dedicated to the saint and stands closer than any other to the place of Augustine’s landing, his first preaching and his momentous encounter with King Ethelbert of Kent in 597AD.

The official day on which the foundation of the shrine will be remembered is 1st March. This is Pugin’s birthday and recently the day of popular bicentenary celebrations in his honour. This day links the erection of the shrine with the church’s founder who is buried within.

Fr Marcus Holden the parish priest and custodian of St Augustine’s commented, ‘This is amazing news for us. Pugin’s church is secured by this added living identity which also fulfils many of his own dreams in honouring the English saints and St Augustine in particular. There was need here not only to rescue the church as a great work of art but also to find a fitting spiritual significance for the future of the site. Through his decree, the Archbishop has done just that. The shrine will now draw pilgrims keen to learn about the early saints and to pray for a conversion of England in our own times’.

Read the full Press Release (.pdf available)

Visit the Friends of St Augustine's Church web site

(posted 12-03-12)


The government is about to launch a consultation on changing the legal definition of marriage. Archbishop Vincent Nichols, President of the Bishops' Conference, and Archbishop Peter, Vice President, have written a letter to parishes in England and Wales, which is to be read this weekend, asking Catholics to voice their opposition to any change in the law and to make their objections known.

Supporting the traditional definition of marriage the Archbishops write:
'The roots of the institution of marriage lie in our nature. Male and female we have been created, and written into our nature is this pattern of complementarity and fertility. This pattern is, of course, affirmed by many other religious traditions. Christian teaching fills out this pattern and reveals its deepest meaning, but neither the Church nor the State has the power to change this fundamental understanding of marriage itself.'

Full text of the Archbishops' letter (.pdf available)

In the light of this letter, you are asked to consider signing the Coalition for Marriage’s online petition which can be found at
It reads:

'I support the legal definition of marriage which is the voluntary union for life of one man and one woman to the exclusion of all others. I oppose any attempt to redefine it.'

News report on the CCEW News and Media web site

Archbishop Peter has commended the 'Coalition for Marriage' (C4M), an ecumenical initiative, which is petitioning the Prime Minister to stop the introduction of same-sex marriage. He said:

'We welcome the formation of the 'Coalition for Marriage' as a grass-roots movement to campaign for the current definition of marriage to remain in English law. A change is not needed because the Civil Partnerships Act provides for the civil rights of same-sex couples already. Nor is a change desirable because it would fundamentally change the legal purpose of marriage by removing any reference to the begetting and rearing of children.

'Marriage is a fundamental social institution and neither the State nor the Church has the right to redefine its meaning. Together with the Church of England and the new 'Coalition for Marriage' we will be encouraging people to sign the petition registering their opposition to a change in the law on marriage.'

Please click here to sign the Coalition for Marriage petition online

Please click here to download the paper petition (.pdf)

(posted 10-03-12)


Women's World Day of Prayer at Sevenoaks

More than 200 women gathered at St Thomas of Canterbury Church in Sevenoaks, on Friday, 2nd March 2012, to celebrate the annual Women’s World Day of Prayer.

The 2012 focus was Malaysia with the theme ‘Let Justice Prevail’. The congregation was invited at the start to greet one another by placing hands together and turning to neighbours with a slight bow saying ‘Selamat Datang’ which means ‘peace and welcome’.

Mayor Margaret Crabtree with Ellen Teague (right) and Dorothy Allen,
Chair of Sevenoaks Women's World Day of Prayer Committee

The ecumenical service was organised this year by Gilly Fenner and Pat Harman of St Thomas’ parish, but women from all the churches of Sevenoaks participated, including the Catholic Mayor Margaret Crabtree. The church was decorated with the Malaysian flag, cloth, fans, tropical flowers and fruit.

Children from nearby St Thomas’ primary school played drums and shakers and led the music, alongside an ecumenical women’s choir. The children also held up banners they had made as stories were told of initiatives taken by Christian women in Malaysia to promote justice, care for migrants and the rights of women workers.

Ellen Teague of Columban JPIC gave a talk during the service, noting that millions of women around the world would be holding a similar service the same day. Prayers were said for the courage to stand up for justice. Afterwards, all were invited to share refreshments.

'I found this a very impressive and moving service', Mayor Margaret Crabtree said. 'It highlighted the plight of women in Malaysia and the difficulties churches there experience', she added, 'and I thank the Christian women of Sevenoaks for coming together in this wonderful example of ecumenical collaboration.'

Source: Independent Catholic News

Women's World Day of Prayer web site


Archbishop: 'Witness to Christ's love'

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Archbishop Peter presided and preached at the Mass which was the climax of 'Crossing the Threshold' - a conference held at the Christian Education Centre of the Arundel and Brighton diocese on Saturday, 3rd March 2012.

The focus of the day was ministry and outreach to non-churchgoing Catholics who number at least four million in England and Wales.

In his homily, Archbishop Peter stressed that witnessing to Christ's love is at the heart of the new evangelization. He said: 'We cannot have a tick box mentality if we want a loving relationship with God. Love is at the heart of what Jesus preaches to his disciples. We are a community of love, unconditional love, which we must reflect in the way we live. If we try to do this, people will see the real face of Christ in the Church, in you and me.'

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At the start of the day Archbishop Peter welcomed around 200 delegates from across the province.

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Bishop Kieran Conry of Arundel and Brighton gave the main talk of the day during which he said: 'There are lots of reasons why people stop practising their faith. They are rarely because someone has offended them, but things happen that mean they stop going. There is not a crisis in the Church but the Spirit is calling us to do something ... We should get back to preaching the Gospel. The changes that have taken place in the Church can leave people not sure what to do, but we must neither try to go back to some supposed golden age or look to some promised future, but rather get back to our founding story in Jesus Christ.'

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During the day, people who had returned to the practice of their faith gave their testimony and various workshops discussed the practical skills to support ministry and outreach to non-churchgoing Catholics.

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After the Mass, the bishops signed each person with the sign of the Cross saying: 'Go and announce the Gospel of the Lord.' Each delegate was given a copy of Blessed John Henry Newman's poem 'Radiating Christ'.

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The sharing and feedback from the 'Crossing the Threshold' Conferences will contribute to the writing of a resource for every parish about ministry and outreach to non-churchgoing Catholics which will be available next year.

Full report on the CCEW News and Media web site

More photos of the day on the CCEW Flickr page

'Radiating Christ' by the Blessed John Henry Newman (A4 .pdf)


Father Michael Scanlon to receive the Freedom
of the Royal Borough of Greenwich

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Father Michael pictured after the riots in Woolwich last August

Father Michael Scanlon, parish priest of St Peter the Apostle, Woolwich, and chair of our diocesan commission for Justice, Peace and Integrity of Creation is to be awarded the Freedom of the Royal Borough of Greenwich. He will be among the first recipients of this award since Greenwich was made a royal borough as part of the Queen's Diamond Jubilee celebrations.

Fr Michael said: 'I'm chuffed to be honest. It's great to be honoured after 18 years in the borough. It was a total surprise and it is a credit to our work across all faiths, not just Christianity, as well as those with no faith.'

Among the other recipients are Prince Philip, who has worked on behalf of the Cutty Sark Trust for the borough, and Neville and Doreen Lawrence, Stephen Lawrence's parents, who have fought tirelessly for justice since their son's murder.


New web site for the Centre for Catholic Formation

The new CCF website is now up and running: it is

It contains information about the diocesan Centre for Catholic Formation and the various programmes and resources it offers to the parishes and people of the diocese.

Please click on the logo above, or the one on the sidebar, to visit the  new CCF web site.


The front-page of the March edition of The Pilgrim features an interview with Archbishop Peter in which he expresses his concern for those suffering from dementia and calls for greater support for their families and carers.

In the course of the interview, the Archbishop said 'Our parishes need to be communities of welcome and outreach, so that those affected, as well as carers, can be given the opportunity to meet their spiritual needs in practicing their faith.'

A Week of Prayer and Awareness of Dementia is to be held from 12th - 19th March 2012 with a National Day of Prayer on Monday, 19th March. During this week, Archbishop Peter will offer Mass for those with dementia, their families and carers on Wednesday, 14th March, at St George's Cathedral at 12:30 pm.

Links on our Future Events page

The Southwark Marriage and Family Life Team have organised half-day conferences Exploring Spirituality and Dementia - at Forest Hill in May and New Malden in October.

Please see the box on our Future Events page for details