News Archive for 2012 - January

Commissioning of 96 new Extraordinary Ministers

New Extraordinary Ministers of Holy Communion from St Joseph's,
Shooter's Hill, with Bishop Patrick and Monsignor Matthew after the
Mass of Commissioning

On Saturday, 28th January 2012, Bishop Patrick and Monsignor Matthew Dickens led the Day for Commissioning of Extraordinary Ministers of Holy Communion at St George's Cathedral.

96 new ministers were commissioned during the Mass which was the climax of this day of instruction and prayer.

The new ministers came from 28 parishes in the diocese.

In the morning, Bishop Patrick gave a talk on the Eucharist which he based on the Road to Emmaus (Luke 24:13-35) and there was a period of Adoration of the Blessed Sacrament.

After lunch, Mgr Matthew explained the role and the rubrics of the ministry.

During the Mass the new Extraordinary Ministers made their commitment and were commissioned after the homily and received their certificates before the final blessing.

More photos of the Commissioning Day on RCSouthwark's Flickr page


The Catholic Fund for Overseas Development celebrated its 50th Anniversary on Saturday, 28th January 2012.

CAFOD opened its offices at Romero House in the precincts of St George's Cathedral to give supporters the opportunity to visit.

In the afternoon Archbishop Vincent was principal celebrant at Mass in Westminster Cathedral during which Bishop John Arnold, Chairman of the Board of Trustees at CAFOD, gave the homily.

Archbishop Peter, Bishop John and Bishop Paul were among the concelebrants.

Please mouse over the graphic to view CAFOD's history in full screen

News of the anniversary celebrations on CAFOD's web site

Read Bishop John Arnold's homily (.pdf)


Deacon Michael - 25 years at Archbishop's House

Archbishop Michael, Bishop John, Deacon Michael, Archbishop Peter,
Deacon James and Bishop Richard in the Cathedral sacristy before Mass

'A Silver Star'

On Friday, 27th January 2012, Archbishops and Bishops were among the guests that gathered at Archbishop’s House to celebrate a silver jubilee. Deacon Michael Kennedy marked the 25th anniversary of his first day working at Archbishop’s House in January 1987.

Michael’s friends and colleagues joined Cathedral parishioners for the regular 12:30 am Mass - regular but unusual, as instead of one of the Cathedral priests celebrating the Mass, Archbishop Peter presided and was joined by Archbishop Michael Bowen, Bishop John Hine and Bishop Richard Moth (former Chancellor and now Bishop of the Forces), as well as several other priests.

The celebration continued with a lunch and presentation to Deacon Michael in Archbishop’s House.

In his time working for the diocese Michael has helped three Archbishops and three Vicars General - all of whom were present for the lunch.

Deacon Michael has carried out several different roles in his career at Archbishop’s House, including work with the Tribunals, and then in the Chancery. As Chancery Administrator, Michael has been an invaluable member of the Archbishop’s team.

Archbishop Michael, Archbishop Peter, Deacon Michael and
Archbishop Kevin

Bishop Richard (former Vicar General and Chancellor), Deacon Michael
and Monsignor Matthew (Vicar General and Chancellor)

The clergy and many of the laity in the diocese will have good reason to be grateful for the help that Michael and others in the Chancery have given, especially dealing with the many and varied enquiries that are made to the Chancery Office.

Congratulations to Deacon Michael on his anniversary - we wish him many more happy years to  come.

Ad multos annos!


Archbishop visits Seminarians at Wonersh

Archbishop Peter visited St John's Seminary, Wonersh, on Tuesday, 24th January 2012, to meet with Southwark's seminarians. He is pictured with them, including Oladele Craig and Kurt Barragan (front left) whom he ordained to the diaconate on 17th December last year.

The Archbishop will return to Wonersh on Tuesday, 7th February, to celebrate St John's Day in honour of the Seminary's patron saint.


The Centre for Catholic Formation is seeking to appoint an

Adviser for Disability and Adult Formation

Salary: £31,280
Applications are invited from practising Catholics for the above post.
This full-time post is open to those with suitable experience and qualifications in the field of Disability, Adult Formation and Parish Catechesis.

The person appointed will work as a member of a Team and will contribute to the ongoing work of the Centre for Catholic Formation in its role as the diocesan agency for adult faith formation.

Closing date for applications: midnight on Sunday, 26th February 2012.

Further details of the post, together with an application form, are available
Fr David Gibbons, Director,
Centre for Catholic Formation,
21 Tooting Bec Road,
London, SW17 8BS.
Telephone: 020 8672 7684/2422

Download an A4 poster (.pdf) advertising this position


650th Anniversary
of the English and Welsh Hospice in Rome

Remnants of the original hospice in the back wall

On 27th January 1362, a group of Englishmen who belonged to the Confraternity of Saint Thomas of Canterbury - most of them merchants - bought a house in Rome for the convenience and use 'of the poor, sick, needy and distressed people coming from England to the City'. Its foundation in 1362 makes it the oldest English institution outside England.

The Hospice became the spiritual centre of the English in Rome and was extensively rebuilt in 1450. By the time of King Henry VII it came under the direct control of the English crown and became known as 'The King's Hospice'.

Remnants of the Royal Coats of Arms in the present College

For more than two centuries this site on the via di Monserrato in the heart of medieval Rome was a Hospice for England and Welsh pilgrims, but when the Reformation made it impossible to continue to train priests in England, the Hospice became a seminary in 1579 - it is now known as the Venerable English College.

A weekend to celebrate this anniversary is planned. Cardinal Cormac, a former Rector, Archbishop Vincent Nichols (Westminster) and Archbishop George Stack (Cardiff) will be leading the English and Welsh contingent and will be joined by many distinguished guests.

Much more information in the Press Release (.pdf available)

Visit the Venerable English College web site


Safeguarding the traditional understanding of marriage

On Monday, 23rd January 2012, Archbishop Peter, Chairman of the Bishops' Conference Department for Christian Responsibility and Citizenship, met with the Home Secretary, Theresa May, to discuss the Government's plans to introduce legislation to permit same-sex marriage.

The Archbishop, representing the Bishops' Conference of England and Wales, expressed opposition to any change to the traditional understanding of marriage as being a contract between a man and a woman. Furthermore, he questioned the need for such change as civil partnerships already offer broadly the same legal rights as marriage.

During the meeting the Home Secretary confirmed that it was not Government policy that Churches who refused to conduct same-sex marriages would have their ability to issue marriage licences withdrawn.

Mr William Fittall, Secretary General of the Church of England’s General Synod, was also present at the meeting which had been suggested by the Church of England.

The Standing Committee of the Bishops' Conference discussed ways on how to campaign against the Government's plans at its meeting this morning (Wednesday, 25th January).


Two London born Nuns on the path to Sainthood

Southwark is blessed by the many saints who have been closely associated with the diocese. Now the Vatican's Congregation for the Causes of Saints has asked for the files of two London-born Bridgettine nuns to be sent to Rome to be studied by historians and theologians.

Mother Riccarda Beauchamp Hambrough is remembered especially for helping to hide about sixty Italian Jews from the Nazis during the Second World War in her Rome convent, the Casa di Santa Brigida.

Born in 1887, she was baptised at St Mary Magdalene’s Church, Brighton, at the age of four after her parents converted to the Catholic faith. The parish was then in the Southwark diocese.

She was guided towards the Bridgettine Order by Father Benedict Williamson, who was the Parish Priest of St Gregory's Parish, Earlsfield, between 1909 and 1915.

Sister Katherine Flanagan was baptised at St Gregory's Church, Earlsfield. She, too, was guided by Father Benedict Williamson and joined the Bridgettine sisters.

She spent many years at the Bridgettine convent in the Piazza Farnese, Rome, and later became the Mother Superior to various Bridgettine communities:  Lugano (1928), England (1931), and Vadstena (1935).

Father John Henry, Parish Priest of St Gregory's, Earlsfield, said: 'To have a possible saint from the parish is wonderful.'

The Order of the Most Holy Saviour, better known as the Bridgettine Order, was founded in the fourteenth century by the great Swedish Mystic, Saint Bridget. Their famous pre-Reformation monastery at Syon Abbey, on the north bank of the Thames at Isleworth, was established in 1415 by King Henry V and dissolved by King Henry VIII on his decision in 1534 to break with Rome.

More information on the Bridgettine Sisters web site


Catholic-Oriental Orthodox Book Launch

© Mazur/

On Monday, 23rd January 2012, during the Week of Prayer for Christian Unity, Archbishop Kevin and Bishop Angaelos, General Bishop, Coptic Orthodox Church in the United Kingdom, who co-chair the Catholic-
Oriental Orthodox Regional Forum launched a book which brings together Joint Statements issued by the Catholic and Oriental Orthodox Churches.

Archbishop Kevin used the occasion to emphasise the international dimension of ecumenism, particularly today with the Arab Spring and with the impact of those unfolding events for all the Christian churches in North Africa and the Middle East.

The launch took place at the offices of the Bishops' Conference of England and Wales in Eccleston Square and was attended by Archbishop Bernard Longley of Birmingham, Bishop Paul and representatives of the Coptic Orthodox Church.

© Mazur/

Press release on the CCEW News web site

More photos of the launch on CCEW Flickr page


Meditations on the Stations in time for Lent

Mgr Matthew Dickens, our Vicar General and Chancellor, has written a series of meditations on the Stations of the Cross which are being published by the St Albert’s Press, the publishing house of the British Province of Carmelites.

The book includes a foreword by Cardinal Cormac Murphy O’Connor and illustrations by Anne Kelly, who created the textile presented to Pope Benedict as a gift from the Archdiocese when he visited St Peter’s Residence in Vauxhall in September 2010.




Mgr Matthew hopes that the Stations will be used by parishes, groups and individuals in the coming season of Lent. Each Station has a short scripture passage, a reflection on the experience of living the Christian faith, and concludes with a brief prayer. 

Copies may be ordered from the St Albert’s Press Distribution at Faversham.

All sale proceeds are for the British Province of Carmelites.

Please click here to download the flyer which includes an order form

Information on the British Province of Carmelites web site


London Bishops visit Olympic Park

© Mazur/

On Thursday, 19th January 2012, with just 190 days to go before the opening of the Olympic Games and 223 days before the Paralympic Games, the London bishops were invited to tour the Olympic Park.

Pictured above are Bishop Richard (Forces), Bishop Thomas  McMahon (Brentwood), Archbishop Vincent Nichols (Westminster), Bishop John Arnold (Auxiliary in Westminster), Bishop Paul and Bishop Patrick.

Bishop Richard Moth is the 'liaison bishop' for the Olympic Games.

© Mazur/

The Southwark contingent: Bishop Patrick, Cristina Gangemi (Disability Advisor at the Centre for Catholic Formation), Father Michael Scanlon (Parish Priest at St Peter the Apostle, Woolwich) and Bishop Paul.

More photos of the visit on the CCEW Flickr page


Inspirational Mission at St Anselm's, Canterbury

John Pridmore with students from the school

St Anselm's Catholic School in Canterbury is holding a school mission from 9th - 20th January 2012 which is being led by John Pridmore, international speaker and best-selling author, and the St Patrick’s Community Group, who helps young people experience God’s love through talks and retreats in schools, prisons and parishes.

The aim of the mission is to help young people know how much they are loved and valued and realise that by using their gifts they can make a difference to society.

Comments from the students include:

'At first the Mission was very emotional, but the videos really opened your eyes to what goes on in our world today, how much better it is from years ago. After confession, I think a lot of people felt better. Many people are really glad John and his team came in.'  Rebecca Burton

' I found The Mission very interesting. I was amazed how God could change people’s lives. Also, it made me think just how lucky I am to live the life I do.'  Daniel Hulme, Year 10

John Pridmore is a former London gangster who, after a life-changing experience, is well placed to reveal the secret to finding happiness in life.

He says: 'Young people need to know that their identity does not depend on what kind of trainers they wear or how good looking or successful they are. My message is simple: you are unique and you matter.'

His biography From Gangland to Promised Land  has become a best-seller and has been published in French, German, Italian and Hungarian. In his latest book, Journey to Freedom, he explores relationships, forgiveness, reconciliation and healing wounded emotions.

Visit St Anselm's Catholic School web site


Consultations about new Catholic Schools in Richmond

The River Thames flows through the London Borough of Richmond and forms the natural boundary between the dioceses of Southwark and Westminster. The North-East of the borough is in the Southwark diocese and the South-West of the borough is in the Westminster diocese.

Consultations about the provision of two new Catholic schools in the borough are to take place.

The consultations will allow people to express their views about the provision of a new 11 - 18 Catholic Voluntary Aided Secondary School and a new 3 - 11 Catholic Voluntary Aided Primary School on the Richmond Adult Community College premises at Clifden Road in Twickenham.

During the informal (pre-statuary) phase of these consultations, the Diocese of Westminster, in partnership with the Archdiocese of Southwark, will be hosting two drop-in sessions as follows:
• Tuesday, 24th January 2012 at St James Catholic Primary School, Twickenham, TW2 5NP between 4:00 pm and 7:00 pm.
• Tuesday, 7th February 2012 at St Elizabeth Catholic Primary School, Queens Road, Richmond TW10 6HN between 4:00 pm and 7:00 pm.

Further information on the Diocese of Westminster web site


Filipino Communities celebrate Santo Niño

© Mazur/

On the afternoon of Sunday, 15th January 2012, Filipino communities from around the diocese and beyond packed St George's Cathedral for an exuberant celebration of the Feast of Santo Niño.

The celebration also marked the World Day for Migrants and Refugees.

© Mazur/

© Mazur/

© Mazur/

After the Novena Prayer and Benediction, images of the Child Jesus,  venerated in the Philippines since 1521, were carried down the aisle during a Sinulog dance.

© Mazur/

© Mazur/

© Mazur/

© Mazur/

Archbishop Peter was principal celebrant at the Mass and gave the homily.

© Mazur/

© Mazur/

The celebrations were organised by the Scalabrini Fathers and the various Filipino communities under their pastoral care.

This year's Organising Committee included the Filipino communities from Roehampton (St Joseph), the Oval (Holy Redeemer), Peckham (Our Lady of Sorrows), Woolwich (St Peter), Mitcham and Farm Street; the Lord of Pardon and Santo Niño Prayer Groups, the Filipino Club of Westminster (Westminster Cathedral) and Couples for Christ.

More photos of the occasion on the CCEW Flickr page


The Southwark Archdiocesan Commission for Schools and Colleges is seeking to appoint a Media and Communications Officer to develop and maintain a strong presence across all forms of communication.

A job description is available as is an application form (.doc).

The closing date for applications is 6th February 2012.

Please contact Donna Gray (PA to the Director) for further information:


Archbishop Peter's concerns for social justice

In a letter published in The Times on Wednesday, 11th January 2012, Archbishop Peter expressed his concerns over welfare reforms being debated in the House of Lords.

He said that the proposed cap on household benefits would 'especially hurt larger families because it takes no account of family size, potentially forcing them to cut back on essentials such as heating and food, and in many cases resulting in the loss of their home'.

He also expressed concern over the Legal Aid, Sentencing and Punishment of Offenders Bill, saying that restricting legal aid would 'affect thousands of children whose parents are involved in civil cases, as well as victims of domestic abuse'.

Full text of the Archbishop's Letter:


In coming weeks Parliament will take crucial decisions on amendments to two Bills, which will have a profound impact upon thousands of families.

The proposed cap on household benefits in the Welfare Reform Bill will especially hurt larger families because it takes no account of family size, potentially forcing them to cut back on essentials such as heating and food, and in many cases resulting in the loss of their home. This impact will at least be mitigated if the Bill is amended so that child benefit is not counted towards the capped amount. There are other issues, too, not least claimants being liable for the cost of official errors, even if they are unaware of those errors.

At the same time, restrictions to the availability of legal aid outlined in the Legal Aid Sentencing and Punishment of Offenders Bill will affect thousands of children whose parents are involved in civil cases, as well as victims of domestic abuse, fewer of whom will be entitled to support. The result is likely to be increased long-term public costs as well as greater suffering.

The experience of the member charities of our Caritas Social Action Network  has underscored the increased poverty facing our society as a result of these changes.

While we all recognise that difficult decisions have to be made, it is vitally important to meet the fundamental needs of the most vulnerable families to prevent them from being pushed into further hardship.

Chairman, Department for Christian Responsibility and Citizenship
London SW1

News release from the CCEW News web site


Parishes are enriched by migrant communities

This Sunday, 15th January 2012, is the World Day for Migrants and Refugees.

Bishop Patrick, who is the lead bishop for migrants, has issued a statement in which he reflects that the Catholic Church in England and Wales has greatly benefited from ‘the faith and witness’ of migrant communities not only in our present day, but down through the years.

He says that parishes have been greatly enriched by 'the strong sense of community and commitment to family life within many of our migrant communities, by their love for the Scriptures, by their devotion to Our Lady and especially by their joyful participation in the celebration of the Eucharist.'

Coinciding with the World Day for Migrants and Refugees is the great Filipino Feast of Santo Niño de Cebú - a statue of the Child Jesus which has been venerated in the Philippines since 1521.

Central to the celebrations will be Mass in St George's Cathedral at 3:30 pm at which Archbishop Peter will be the principal celebrant. Bishop Patrick, Canon John O’Toole, Cathedral Dean, the Scalabrini Fathers and Filipino priests will be among the concelebrants.

Over a thousand people from Filipino communities across London and the South East are expected to attend, together with the Filipino ambassador, his Secretary and representatives from the Philippine embassy. The Mass will be followed by a reception in the Amigo Hall.

Before Mass, the Novena Prayer will be said (2:30 pm) followed by Benediction and a Sinulog Dance (3:00 pm) carrying the images of Santo Niño.

Press release from the CCEW New web site with a link to the full text of Bishop Patrick's statement 


Archbishop: 'Assisted dying' is not an option

The Commission on Assisted Dying, chaired by Lord Falconer, has proposed new legislation which would provide people with greater choice and control regarding how and when they die.

Archbishop Peter issued the following statement in response to the Commission's Report on 10th January 2012, on behalf of the Bishops' Conference of England and Wales:

'Many people have understandably questioned the credibility of the Falconer commission. Its set-up was promoted by Dignity in Dying (formerly the Voluntary Euthanasia Society), it was bankrolled by one of that organisation's Patrons, and three quarters of its members, including Lord Falconer himself, are on the public record as supporting the legalisation of assisted suicide. It will have come as little surprise to many that they have recommended a regime for legalised assisted suicide that is even laxer than the one proposed by Lord Joffe six years ago - which was roundly defeated in Parliament.

'I have been impressed and heartened by the wide range of thoughtful critical responses to the report, particularly from those with disabilities, and medical and legal experts of all faiths and none. They are right to point out that to legalise is to normalise, and that our society cannot change such a fundamental law which is there to protect the vulnerable without grave long term consequences. We must do more to care well for those who are dying, and support more and better hospice and palliative care. Legalising assisted suicide is not the answer.' 

Archbishop Peter is the Chairman of the Department of Christian Responsibility and Citizenship of the Bishops' Conference of England and Wales.


Helping provide accommodation for our retired priests

Last year the diocese registered with JustGiving - the on-line fundraising service. 

This initiative now makes it possible to donate directly to our Clergy Support Fund, which helps to provide accommodation and support for our retired priests. There are two ways to make a donation:

Either by visiting the main JustGiving page for the diocese by clicking on the logo on the right (or on the sidebar).

This page gives the options of giving a single or a monthly donation of the amount of choice.

On-line donations can be made from anywhere in the world but currently only in £ sterling. A bank/credit card company may charge extra fees for international transactions.

Or by texting RCDS27 followed by the amount you wish to give (£1, £2, £3, £4, £5 or £10) to 70070  eg RCDS27 £5.
JustTextGiving is currently free for those sending text donations to charities from any of the UK mobile networks, but they can only be made by mobile users on UK networks.

A reminder ... and please promote this code

Please be generous in your support of our retired priests.


Statement on the death of Stephen Lawrence

From Bishop Patrick Lynch SSCC
President of the Catholic Association for Racial Justice (CARJ)

"The death of Stephen Lawrence was a tragic event and our thoughts and prayers at this time are for his parents and family who have suffered greatly for the last eighteen years. They have conducted themselves with great dignity over those years and worked tirelessly in the face of huge obstacles and prejudice to ensure that justice was done.

"It is a great pity that it has taken so long and that in itself has contributed to the frustration and anger felt by many. It is also a reminder to all of us that we must do our best to repair and heal the damage done to our communities and society and continue to work together - as faith communities; as local councils, as police authorities, as community leaders and schools - to forge stronger partnerships so that our streets and neighbourhoods will be safer, our community relations will be stronger and racism and racial injustice will be eliminated from our society."