News Archive for 2012 - December

Mr Dan Cooper awarded the Benemerenti

On Thursday, 20th December 2012, during the Carol Service at the John Fisher School, Purley, Monsignor Matthew Dickens, Vicar General, presented Dan Cooper with the papal award Benemerenti.

Dan has been associated with the school since 1968, firstly as a teacher at Laylham Lea (John Fisher's preparatory school), and then from 1978 at John Fisher where he taught Religious Studies, Geography and Classics.

Retiring from teaching in 1998, he has continued as an unpaid lay chaplain at the school, arranging retreats, confessions, the rosary and Stations of the Cross, encouraging students to be altar servers at daily Mass and Benediction and encouraging many students to become priests.

Full report on the John Fisher School web site

(posted 04-01-13)


Please pray for the repose of the soul of

Father Emmanuel Agius
of the Diocese of Arundel and Brighton

ho died on 29th December 2012

May he rest in peace


Please pray for the repose of the soul of

Father Robert Gould

ho died on 23rd December 2012

May he rest in peace


Thanet Churches Open Christmas

Once again the parishioners of the parish of Ss Austin and Gregory with St Anne, Margate, cooked and served the Annual Christmas Lunch offered to the homeless, poor, lonely and destitute of the Isle of Thanet.

Pictured are parishioners in St Austin's Hall preparing vegetables for the lunch which was held on Thursday, 27th December 2012, when the parish catered for 200 people at St Paul's (Anglican) Church Hall in Cliftonville.

(posted 02-01-13)


Guild of Saint Stephen at Margate

Fr Luke Smith and Deacon Neville Gascoigne with Altar Servers at Ss Austin and Gregory Church, Margate, following the St Stephen's Day Mass when they reaffirmed their promises to diligently serve at Mass during the coming year.

(posted 02-01-13)


Southwark Seminarian admitted to Candidacy

Matthew O'Gorman, Archbishop Arthur Roche, Mgr Nicholas Hudson
and Fr Stephen Langridge

On Friday, 21st December 2012, the last day of term for students at the Venerable English College in Rome, Southwark seminarian Matthew O'Gorman was admitted as a candidate for Holy Orders.

The Mass was celebrated by Archbishop Arthur Roche, the new Secretary for the Congregation for Divine Worship, who is at present resident at the English College. Southwark clergy who attended were Mgr Nicholas Hudson (Rector) and Fr Stephen Langridge (Vocations Director).

Matthew O'Gorman

Candidacy is usually the last formal step before ordination to the diaconate. Matthew continues his studies in Rome - we keep him and all our seminarians in our prayers.

(posted 30-12-12)


Archbishop Peter's Christmas Message

The Nativity (detail) c. 1665-1670  Bartolomé Esteban Murillo
Museum of Fine Arts, Houston

As we celebrate this wonderful feast of the Incarnation, we rejoice in the fact that the Almighty and Merciful God, who created us in his own image and likeness, reached out in love and became one like us in all things but sin. On the night that Christ was born, Luke tells us that the angel appeared to the shepherds and said, 'Do not be afraid. Listen, I bring you news of great joy, a joy to be shared by the whole people. Today in the town of David a saviour has been born to you; he is Christ the Lord.' He is, in the words of St. John, 'a light that shines in the dark, a light that darkness could not overpower', because the truth is that in that vulnerable, new-born child 'we see our God made visible and so are caught up in love of the God we cannot see.'

He came to save us from our self-centredness and isolation, and to show us through his own example how to reach out to others in that love which is always life-giving. He came to meet us where we are, and immersed himself fully in our confused and messy world, asking us to open our hearts to welcome him.

So if there are times when we feel afraid to approach God, through guilt, through apprehension, or feelings of unworthiness, we need to take to heart again the message of the angel to the shepherds: 'Do not be afraid.' Why? Because in this new-born child in Bethlehem, we are invited to see and experience the sheer tenderness of the love and compassion that he offers unconditionally to all who are willing to open their hearts to him. And that love has the power to transform our lives, and enable us to love others as he has first loved us.

May our Incarnate Lord fill your hearts with his peace and joy this Christmas and bring you, your families and all whom you love every blessing and happiness throughout 2013.

With an assurance of my prayers,

Archbishop of Southwark


Archbishop Peter with the Cathedral Dean, Canon John O'Toole

On the morning of Christmas Day, Archbishop Peter presided and gave the homily at the 10:00 am Family Mass in St George's Cathedral with the Cathedral Dean, Canon John O'Toole, concelebrating.

After the Mass he distributed chocolates to the children - and others who are young at heart.

The Cathedral Girls' Choir sang at the Mass

Archbishop Peter gives the homily

The Archbishop, the Cathedral Dean and the basket of chocolates ...

More photos of the Christmas Family Mass on RCSouthwark's Flickr page


Bishops offer Christmas Masses in prisons

Again this year our bishops offered Masses on Christmas Day morning in prisons in their areas.

Bishop John offered Mass at both HMP Stanford Hill and HMP Swaleside, Bishop Patrick at HMP Belmarsh and Bishop Paul at HMP Wandsworth.

Bishop John joined the prisoners and staff at HMP Maidstone on Wednesday, 19th December, for their Carol Concert, and Bishop Patrick offered Mass at HMP Thameside on Saturday, 22nd December, and will offer Mass at HMP Isis, Young Offenders' Institute, on Sunday, 30th December.



Archbishop Peter presided and gave the homily at the Christmas Midnight Mass at Saint George's Cathedral.

In his homily, describing Christmas as 'a season of hope', he said:

'It is only in the steady, unwavering light of God's love for us, manifested in the Incarnation, that we can find the courage and the strength to face our sinfulness, our own darkness, whatever that might be, and the darkness which, though not within us, sometimes surrounds each one of us. The challenge for you and me is to continue the ministry of Jesus Christ in our own times, by making our own unique contribution to the task of healing human brokenness, to fostering peace and harmony in human relationships, and to bringing a little light into the darkness and confusion of the world we live in.'

Full text of the Archbishop's homily (.pdf available)

Fr Christopher Pearson, Canon John O'Toole, Archbishop Peter,
Deacon Jim Sheahan, Fr Philip Smith and Fr Chuck Nnaji

The Cathedral Choir

More photos of Christmas Midnight Mass on RCSouthwark's Flickr page


Housebound this Christmas?

Those who are housebound this Christmas and have an internet connection may wish to tune in to one of the Christmas Masses at St Mary's, West Croydon.

The parish webcam usually gives live internet coverage from 7:00 am until 10:00 pm each day.

Please click here to visit the webcam

Christmas Day Masses that will be televised will be:

7:00 pm on Monday 24th December - Vigil Mass
12 midnight - Midnight Mass (preceded by carols from 11:00 pm)
7:00 am - Ordinariate Rite
8:00 am - Dawn Mass
9:15 am - Children/Family Mass
10:45 am - Sung Latin Mass
12:15 pm - Young Adults Sung Mass



Sunday, 23rd December

Emmanuel, you are our king and judge, the one whom the peoples await and their Saviour. O come and save us, Lord, our God.

Emmanuel: 'God-is-with-us'

Brief description of the 'O' Antiphons


Southwark's Catholic Directory for 2013

The 2013 edition of the Southwark Catholic Directory has been published and is available in most parishes throughout the diocese.

The Directory gives details of the Diocesan Curia and Offices and of all parishes, religious houses and schools in the diocese.

It includes a Liturgical Calendar for 2013.

In the Foreword, Archbishop Peter writes about the Year of Faith. He encourages us to renew our familiarity with the Documents of the Second Vatican Council and to develop a deeper life of prayer so that we may gradually come to a more vibrant communion with God.

With standard binding: £3:00;
with spiral binding: £3:50.


Centenary Celebrations at St Joseph's, Bromley

Provost Thomas McHugh, parish priest, with the clergy and people of St Joseph's, Bromley, are celebrating the centenary of the opening of their church by Bishop Peter Emmanuel Amigo on 13th December 1912.

On the day of the Centenary itself, Thursday, 13th December 2012, Bishop Patrick presided and gave the homily at Vespers, celebrated by candle-light. He is pictured below with the Mayor of Bromley, Councillor Michael Turner.

Then on Sunday, 16th December, Archbishop Peter presided at the Centenary Mass of Thanksgiving.


The Archbishop conferred the Papal Benemerenti award on three parishioners and a certificate was presented by the Archbishop and Bob Neill, MP of Bromley and Chislehurst, to the child who designed the parish centenary logo (left).

The Mass was followed by a Parish Shared Lunch in the parish hall.

Full centenary programme on St Joseph's web site 


Two Southwark Seminarians ordained to the Diaconate

Saint John's Seminary, Wonersh

On Saturday, 15th December 2012, two Southwark seminarians were among five men ordained to the Diaconate by Bishop Kieran Conry of Arundel and Brighton at St John's Seminary, Wonersh.

Our new deacons, who hope to be ordained to the priesthood next year, are Deacon Samuel Davey (from New Addington) and Deacon Thomas Lynch (from Clapham Park), both of whom started their seminary studies at the English College in Valladolid in 2006 and transferred to Wonersh in 2007.

They will minister as Deacons mainly in the Seminary Community and in the places where they exercise their weekly pastoral commitments.

We congratulate them on their ordinations and keep them in our prayers.

Linked page of photos (uploaded 30-01-13)


Terry Connor is awarded Papal Knighthood

On Thursday, 13th December 2012, during a reception at Archbishop's House, Archbishop Peter presented Terry Connor with a certificate from the Holy Father, Pope Benedict XVI, granting him the rank of Knight of the Order of Saint Gregory. This Papal honour was granted in recognition of the many years of dedicated work and service Terry has given to the Church, especially for young people during his over thirty years at the Cabrini Children’s Society (formerly the Catholic Children’s Society, which served the dioceses of Southwark, Portsmouth and Arundel and Brighton).

Papal awards are granted for exceptional service to the Church or the wider community. This was the case for Terry as an extract from the petition to the Holy Father shows:

'For over thirty years, Terry’s professional work has been both inspired and sustained by his unswerving faith in Catholic values and the Church’s teachings nourished by regular attendance at Mass. He has always sought to serve the most vulnerable in our society and to ensure that the level of care they receive is of the highest standard. In the Parish, he is well respected by both priests and people and the service he offers the wider community is much admired both locally and nationally.'

Terry retired as Director of the Cabrini Children’s Society earlier this year, and this Papal honour is a small token of the gratitude that not only the Church but most certainly many young Catholics in the South East of England have for his service.

Archbishop Peter with Terry Connor and Margaret, his wife


Combating Human Trafficking - a Training Day

© Mazur/ 

On Monday, 10th December 2012, at the Catholic Bishops' Conference Secretariat in Eccleston Square, the first in a series of training days focusing on combating human trafficking was held.

These days are being run by the Catholic Bishops' Conference of England and Wales in conjunction with the International Office for Migration, UK. They are designed to offer both a theoretical and practical approach to combating human trafficking through case studies, group work and real examples of instances of trafficking in the UK.

© Mazur/

Bishop Patrick is the liaison bishop at the Office for Refugee and Migration Policy of the Bishops' Conference. This office oversees matters concerning human trafficking and has established a very successful partnership with the Metropolitan Police to help in the fight against the scourge of human trafficking. With its global networks, the Church can help raise awareness of this heinous crime and provide care and support to the victims of trafficking.

© Mazur/
Bishop Patrick at the training day

Report on the CCEW web site

Photos of the training day on the CCEW Flickr page

(posted 17-12-12)


New Adult Formation Advisor at the CCF

The Centre for Catholic Formation has a new Adult Formation Advisor. Liam Connolly joined the team at Tooting Bec early in October.

Liam was previously a member of the faculty at the Maryvale Institute in the Archdiocese of Birmingham, specialising in Catholic Theology, Philosophy and Catechetics.

He studied Catholic Theology at St Mary’s, Oscott, with the University of Birmingham, Criminal Law at the University of Northampton, and Catholic Education and Catechetics at The Maryvale Institute, Birmingham. Liam has previously worked in Catholic Education across the primary, secondary, further and higher education sectors as a chaplain, governor and lecturer, and has a particular interest and commitment to Catechetics, those with learning difficulties and disabilities and youth ministry.

For over ten years, Liam has held an active leadership role in diocesan pilgrimages to World Youth Days and to Lourdes with HCPT – The Pilgrimage Trust.

We welcome Liam to Southwark and look forward to one of his first initiatives - the School of Faith series of seminars due to start on Wednesday, 9th January 2012. This study course for the Year of Faith will focus on the Catechism of the Catholic Church on the 20th Anniversary of its publication.

Please click on the image to view the School of Faith Brochure


Archbishops' statement on the government response
to the same sex marriage consultation


Statement by Archbishop Vincent Nichols and Archbishop Peter Smith on the government response to the same sex marriage consultation. Archbishop Nichols is President of the Catholic Bishops' Conference of England and Wales. Archbishop Smith is Vice-President.

The meaning of marriage matters. It derives that meaning from its function as the foundation of the family. The union of one man and one woman for love and mutual support and open to procreation has over the centuries formed a stable unit we call the family. Marriage is the enduring public recognition of this commitment and has been rightly recognised as unique and worthy of legal protection.

The government has chosen to ignore the views of over 600,000 people who signed a petition calling for the current definition of marriage to stay, and we are told legislation to change the definition of marriage will now come to Parliament.

We strongly oppose such a Bill. Furthermore, the process by which this has happened can only be described as shambolic. There was no electoral mandate in any manifesto; no mention in the Queen’s speech; no serious or thorough consultation through a Green or White paper, and a constant shifting of policy before even the government response to the consultation was published today.

We urge everyone who cares about upholding the meaning of marriage in civil law to make their views known to their MPs clearly, calmly and forcefully, and without impugning the motives of others. We urge all parties to ensure their Members have a free vote. It is not too late to stop this Bill.

Issued 11-12-12

Archbishop Peter has also written an article in The Daily Telegraph of 12th December 2012. It is reproduced in full on the CCEW web site.


Parish Evangelization Cells at Orpington

Father Victor Vella

Fr Victor Vella, parish priest of Holy Innocents’, Orpington, is exploring a radical new way of being parish in the 21st century. He believes that Parish Evangelizing Cells offer a new model to support our existing Catholic population and to reach out to those who have stopped practising their faith or who are spiritually searching. The concept has been pioneered in Europe by the parish of St Eustorgio in Milan, where the parish priest, Don Pigi Perini, credits the cells with totally transforming his parish over the last 25 years.

Fr Victor has visited St Eustorgio twice - on the second occasion with 14 members of his parish. The group recently organised a three day national seminar, “Come and See: Putting Evangelization into Practice” with talks by Fr Pat Collins CM, Michelle Moran, Canon Frank O'Sullivan and Don Pigi Perini. This took place at Orpington on the weekend 23rd - 25th November 2012 and was attended by 200 people: 120 from the parish and 80 people from elsewhere, receiving hospitality from the parishioners who welcomed them into their homes.

The Holy Innocents’ team is organising another visit to Milan from 19th until 24th May to attend the 2013 International Workshop on the parish cells, where participants will get an opportunity to hear about how the cells work and also to visit them in practice.

Those who are interested in going to Milan in May should contact Fr Victor:
Telephone 01689 817537 -  Email:
The closing date is the end of February.

Source: ICN web site

Visit the Holy Innocents Orpington web site

(posted 13-12-12)


New websites for St Augustine's Shrine

On 1st March this year, Archbishop Peter formally established Pugin’s church of St Augustine in Ramsgate as a shrine of the ‘the Apostle of the English’, commemorating his coming to preach the Gospel to the Anglo-Saxon peoples in 597. In an official decree the Archbishop granted the shrine canonical privileges and designated it as a place of pilgrimage. Work has already begun to repair the fabric of the church to restore it to its former beauty.

The interest shown in the Shrine and its restoration has prompted Fr Marcus Holden, parish priest and the Shrine's Guardian, to put two new web sites online.

Please click on the picture to visit the Shrine's web site

Please click on the picture to visit the Friends of St Augustine web site


Catholic Social Action Network
to move offices to Romero House

From February 2013, the offices of the Catholic Social Action Network will be located at Romero House, CAFOD's headquarters, in the precincts of St George's Cathedral.

This is in recognition that CAFOD's work internationally and CSAN's work in England and Wales are complementary parts of the Church's mission to address poverty wherever it exists.

Both CAFOD and CSAN are agencies of the Catholic Bishops' Conference of England and Wales, and sit jointly in the Caritas Internationalis federation as 'Caritas England and Wales'.

Source: ICN web site

Visit CAFOD's web site

Visit CSAN's web site


Advent Vocations Retreat

The new Vocations Centre at Whitstable was the location for an Advent Vocations Retreat over the weekend Friday, 7th until Sunday, 9th December 2012. Seven young men participated. This was the first retreat at the Centre specifically for men considering their vocation.

The Feast of the Immaculate Conception on Saturday was celebrated with liturgical and culinary splendour thanks to the presence of two seminarians from St John's Seminary, Wonersh.

And it is to Wonersh that Father Stephen Langridge, our Director of Vocations, has travelled to preach the Advent Retreat there.

The retreat is a prelude to the Ordination to the Diaconate of two Southwark seminarians, Samuel Davey and Thomas Lynch on Saturday, 15th December.

We keep Samuel and Thomas - and all our seminarians - in our prayers.

Source: Southwark Vocations Blog


Vespers with the Archbishop of Canterbury

© Mazur/

On Friday, 7th December 2012, the Archbishop of Canterbury, Dr Rowan Williams, attended First Vespers of the Immaculate Conception in Westminster Cathedral. He will be stepping down from the office of Archbishop of Canterbury at the end of this month.

Archbishop Vincent presided in the presence of Cardinal Cormac, Archbishop Antonio Mennini, the Apostolic Nuncio, and Catholic and Anglican bishops, including Archbishop Peter, Archbishop Kevin and Bishop Paul.

© Mazur/
In the sacristy before Vespers: Archbishop Peter, Bishop Edwin Regan, Bishop Emeritus of Wrexham, and the Archbishop of Canterbury

© Mazur/

More photos of the Vespers on CCEW Flickr page



Catholic - Oriental Orthodox
Ecumenical Vespers of Our Lady

© Mazur/

On Thursday, 6th December 2012, Archbishop Kevin presided at Ecumenical Vespers of Our Lady and Hymn of The Annunciation of The Mother of God in the Church of St James, Spanish Place. Coptic and Armenian prelates among others united in this prayer for unity.

The occasion marked forty years of Common Statements between the Catholic Church and the Oriental Orthodox Churches. 

© Mazur/

© Mazur/
Bishop Paul attended in the congregation

More photos of the Vespers on CCEW Flickr page


Anniversary Celebrations
at the Venerable English College

This year marks the 650th Anniversary of the foundation of the English and Welsh Hospice in Rome on the site which since 1579 has been occupied by the Venerable English College.


Two significant events have marked the conclusion of the anniversary celebrations. On Saturday, 1st December 2012, in the College Church, Archbishop Vincent presided at a Mass commemorating St Ralph Sherwin and the Martyrs of the Venerable English College. Cardinal Cormac, a former rector, was among the concelebrants.

The Duke and Duchess of Gloucester were present, representing The Queen. The Duke read a message from Her Majesty at the reception after the Mass.

The College Schola sings for the Holy Father

On Monday, 3rd December 2012, the Holy Father welcomed the Rector, Mgr Nicholas Hudson, students and staff at a private audience in the Sala Clementina of the Apostolic Palace. Archbishop Peter, himself a former student at the College, was among the bishops present.

Please click here for further coverage of the celebrations and link to the full text of the Holy Father's address

Page of additional photos uploaded 06-12-12


Bishop Richard is the new liaison Bishop for Prisons

Bishop Richard. the Bishop of the Forces, who is already the liaison Bishop for Mental Health has added a further responsibility to his portfolio. He is the new liaison Bishop for Prisons.

His role will be to oversee and support the work of prison chaplains. He will do this by working closely with the Catholic Bishops' Prisons Adviser, Monsignor Malachy Keegan, who is responsible for the day to day provision of Catholic Sacramental and Pastoral care in prisons.

There are presently a record number of Catholic prison chaplains, some 220, working in 142 prisons.

News release on CCEW News and Media site


Cardinal Turkson at Saint George's Cathedral

Cardinal Peter Turkson, President of the Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace, celebrated the 10:00 am Mass at the Cathedral on the First Sunday of Advent. Welcomed by the Cathedral Dean, Canon John O’Toole, the Cardinal spoke about the New Evangelization and quoted Pope Benedict’s homily at the conclusion of the recent Synod, saying: 'The Church’s task is to evangelize, to proclaim the message of salvation to those who do not yet know Jesus Christ.'

During the Synod, it was emphasized that there are still many regions in Africa, Asia and Oceania whose inhabitants await with lively expectation, sometimes without being fully aware of it, the first proclamation of the Gospel.

The Cardinal spoke of the unique role of Missio and the contributions made by the Church through the Red Boxes to support the Missionary Activity of the Church. Last year the Red Boxes gave £1,004.003 to support the Church in Ghana and in particular the University chaplaincies and clinics specialising in maternity provision. 

Concelebrating with the Cardinal were Fr Joseph Akono the Ghanaian Chaplain, Fr Michael Czerny, SJ and Mgr Canon Cronin, Director of Missio. Mgr Cronin said it was a great pleasure to have the Cardinal with us, especially in the year when we celebrate the 50th Anniversary of the Second Vatican Council which mentions in the Decree Ad Gentes the unique role played by Missio in supporting the Missionary Activity of the Church.

Visit Missio's web site


Archbishop Peter has written a Pastoral Letter to be read in our parishes on Sunday, 2nd December 2012, the First Sunday of Advent.

In it he writes: 'We cannot hope to be changed, to be gradually transformed into more mature disciples, unless we keep alert to the opportunities of grace which God offers us day by day. The work of transformation and redemption is God's work. It is literally a "labour of love" which God pursues through, with and in Jesus Christ by the power of the Holy Spirit. This season of Advent is a special time for us to co-operate with that work, opening our hearts to the presence and power of the Holy Spirit working in our lives.'

Full text of the Archbishop's Pastoral Letter (.pdf available)