On Saturday, 14th July 2012, grandparents - many accompanied by their grandchildren - gathered for the annual Grandparents' Pilgrimage at The Friars, Aylesford.
They were joined by Bishop Kieran Conry of Arundel and Brighton and Bishop John.
The Pilgrimage celebrated Saints Joachim and Anne, the grandparents of Jesus, whose Feast Day is 26th July.
In the opening prayer service, Fr Graham Preston, Southwark's Episcopal Vicar for Marriage and Family Life, spoke of the day as being one of ‘Faith and Fun’.
There are few things that give grandparents as much joy as seeing their grandchildren enjoying themselves. The afternoon provided ample opportunity for this.
Mass was celebrated by the bishops towards the end of the day, after which hundreds of balloons, each carrying a prayer, were released by the bishops.
The Dockhead Choir is made up of forty children and teenagers from the church choirs of the Most Holy Trinity Parish, Dockhead, and St William of York Parish, Forest Hill, and this choir was chosen to sing at the Olympic Opening Ceremony on Friday evening, 27th July 2012.
It would be no exaggeration to say that it has received 'rave' reviews. The theme song is number one on YouTube all over Europe. The choir's success is largely due to Maggs Shepherd, the choir's director, who is known to many as the pianist with Canon Alan McLean's orchestra and choir which provides the music for many of the diocesan occasions.
One of the most moving moments of the Olympic Opening Ceremony was when 11-year old Humphrey Keeper sang the first verse of Jerusalem, live and unaccompanied. Humphrey is a member of the Dockhead Choir.
Watch the Opening Ceremony on BBC iPlayer -
Jerusalem at 4 minutes 50 seconds
Congratulations to all who were involved.
On Wednesday, 25th July 2012, a meeting of the Overseas Priests' Support Group was held at St Peter the Apostle, Woolwich. 34 priests from abroad who are working in our diocese attended.
The Vicar General, Mgr Matthew Dickens, and the Chancery Administrator, Deacon Michael Kennedy gave an input on the topic of 'Marriage Documentation'.
On Saturday, 21st July 2012, Bishop John ordained James Coleman to the Permanent Diaconate at the Church of St Thomas of Canterbury, Rainham.
Deacon James has been appointed to the Chatham Deanery with special responsibility to the parish of Rainham.
We congratulate him on his ordination and pray that he will receive every blessing and happiness throughout his ministry.
Also on Saturday, 21st July 2012, Bishop Paul ordained three former Anglican priests to the Diaconate for the Personal Ordinariate of Our Lady of Walsingham at the Church of the Precious Blood, Borough. They are pictured above with Bishop Paul (from left to right) Deacon Donald Minchew, Deacon Paul Gibbons and Deacon Ken Berry.
Deacon Paul is a member of the Maidstone Ordinariate Group and Deacons Donald and Ken are from the Croydon Ordinariate Group. They are due to be ordained to the priesthood by Archbishop Peter on Saturday, 1st September 2012, at St Mary's, West Croydon.
We congratulate them on their ordination and pray that they will receive every blessing and happiness in their new ministry.
The Holy Father has said: 'Faith grows when it is lived as an experience of love received, and when it is communicated as an experience of grace and joy'.
Archbishop Peter has highlighted some of the events which will be part of our diocesan celebration of this Year. Deaneries and parishes will have their own programmes to strengthen the faith of Catholics who go to church, to reach out to those who have left but still yearn for God in their lives, and to offer a response to those who are searching for meaning and help and those who think they do not need God.
We have a page dedicated to the Year of Faith which features the plans announced so far - please click on the logo above to link to this page.
The news about Bishop Patrick is good. He has left hospital after surgery and is reported to be doing well in the early stage of his convalescence.
We continue to keep him in our prayers.
Education for Parish Service has marked the end of the academic year with a liturgy and a celebration tea.
EPS said ‘goodbye’ to (from left to right) Berhanu Bisrat, Chris Leigh, Geraldine Hibbert, Lloyd Booker and Carl Fisher on completion of two years of study. They were wished well in their future ministries and it is hoped that they will continue their links with EPS through the expanding EPS Network.
Theresa Barber has retired from teaching for EPS after more than six years of dedicated teaching. Dr Anne Inman, the Director of EPS, thanked Theresa for her excellent teaching and her unfailing support for the EPS mission. EPS is delighted that Theresa plans to maintain her links with EPS and to continue to support its activities.
Friday, 20th July 2012, Bishop Patrick underwent surgery for
He has been advised by his doctors to clear his diary so that he
may have the opportunity for adequate convalescence.
We send him our best wishes and pray that he may have a speedy and complete recovery.
Mrs Afra Noronha, Secretary to the Finance Secretary, has retired after 16 years in the Finance Office.
She has been Secretary to two Financial Secretaries, Monsignor Canon Nicolas Rothon and Monsignor Canon Martin Lee.
Monsignor Canon Lee thanked Afra for all her hard work, commitment and personal support to him and joined with her friends and colleges who gathered to mark her retirement and wish all the best for the future.
Monsignor Martin Lee and Mrs Afra Noronha
Early in July, Ongoing Formation of Priests (OGF) ran the quarterly course for newly-arrived, newly ordained and first parish priests at Aylesford.
The courses are an opportunity for the priests to come together to foster a shared sense of ministry and for mutual support. Each priest attends on four occasions with the theme covering the different aspects of Pastores Dabo Vobis: pastoral, intellectual, human and spiritual.
This summer eight priests completed their final module: Fr Mark Binang, Fr Justin Daanaah, Fr Bartlomiej Dudek, Fr Ignatius Edet, Fr Soosai Manickam, Fr Christian Onyigbuo, Fr Henry Tiku-Wenna and Fr Jonathon Routh - although only five of them made it for the photo!
On Sunday, 24th June 2012, the parish community of St Joseph, Bromley, gathered for 'One Mass' instead of the usual five. The entire parish assembly was united, becoming one body, one spirit in Christ.
After the Mass, for the first time in a generation, a Procession with the Blessed Sacrament was held around the streets in prayerful silence - with at intervals Taize chants or other chants of adoration being sung.
Clergy and people knew themselves to be walking in the company of Jesus, following in his footsteps. Over 500 people - mostly young families - experienced themselves as pilgrims, returning to the church for adoration and Benediction. A profoundly moving experience of Christ's presence among us for all who took part.
The parish now has the opportunity to gather on four occasions during the week for Eucharistic Adoration: on Mondays and Fridays 7:00 pm - 8:00 pm, on Saturdays 11:00 am - 11:30 am and, during term time, on Wednesdays at 3:15 pm for school families.
Holy Communion for those who attended Mass by CCTV in the hall
Canon Tom McHugh, parish priest, carries the Blessed Sacrament
Return to the church for adoration and Benediction
The Catholic 2012 Office of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of England and Wales has produced a downloadable document detailing seven different ways that Catholics can still connect with the Games. These are categorised in their suitability for individuals, for group participation, for use by schools or a community group, by the Catholic community on its own or as a way of serving jointly with other churches.
On Sunday, 15th July 2012, the Thanet Deanery together with the Benedictine Sisters of Minster Abbey held their annual celebration of the Feast of St Mildred (c 660 - 730), the local saint who is patron of the Isle of Thanet.
This year they were joined by Bishop John as the Sisters were marking the 75th anniversary of their return to Minster and the re-founding of Minster Abbey.
Mass was held in Minster's Anglican Parish Church of Saint Mary-the-Virgin.
Bishop John and the priests of the Thanet Deanery were joined for the Mass by Fr Barry Angus, who was celebrating the 40th anniversary of his ordination that day, Fr James Hurley, Episcopal Vicar for Religious, and Fr Roger, a visiting priest from Benin, West Africa, who is currently studying in Rome.
The celebration was joined by local Anglican clergy and officers of the Salvation Army, who walked in the procession with the relic of St Mildred. From the Greek Orthodox Church in Syria, Bishop Demetrios Charba offered the blessing over the relic of St Mildred before the Act of Veneration. Later, Fr. Angelos Elantony, priest of the Coptic church of St Michael and St Bishoy, Margate, joined the reception which followed the Mass.
The deanery and the Sisters were pleased to welcome local dignitaries to the Mass: Sir Roger Gale, MP for Thanet North, and Councillor William Scobie, Mayor of Margate.
Sir Roger Gale, Bishop John, Greek Orthodox Bishop Demetrios
and Coptic Fr Angelos Elantony
The procession to the Anglican church
Brother Cyprian from Pluscarden Abbey (Scotland), Bishop Demetrios
and Fr Angelos Elantony
Two novice sisters from the Benedictine community at Minster Abbey
with the Relic of St Mildred and an Icon of the saint
Bishop John gives the homily
Offertory procession: two Sisters with a pupil from The Ursuline College, Westgate-on-Sea
On Sunday, 15th July 2012, Father John Mulligan, parish priest, and parishioners of St Teresa of the Child Jesus, Morden, welcomed Archbishop Peter to the celebration of the 75th Anniversary of the opening of their church.
Present at the Mass were the Mayor of Merton, Councillor David Williams, with the Mayoress - and former priests and parishioners.
Evelyn Agnes Baker, the first to be baptised in the parish in 1931 (the parish was established in 1930), was presented with a bouquet of flowers.
Archbishop Peter was congratulated on the 40th anniversary of his ordination to the priesthood which fell on that day. The parish gave him a gift to mark his jubilee.
After Mass there was a shared lunch in St Teresa’s School Hall.
The Archbishop's homily
Father John Mulligan congratulates the Archbishop on his anniversary
The congregation including the Mayor and Mayoress of Merton
On Saturday, 14th July 2012, Archbishop Peter ordained thee deacons to the priesthood at Saint George's Cathedral, Southwark. They were Deacon Alan Burgess, a parishioner of the Cathedral parish, who studied at the Pontifical Beda College in Rome, Deacon Kurt Barragan and Deacon Oladele Craig, who studied at Saint John's Seminary, Wonersh.
We congratulate Father Alan, Father Kurt and Father Oladele and pray that God will bless them with every grace and happiness throughout their ministry as priests.
On Sunday, 8th July 2012, a Day of Celebration to acknowledge the gifts of people of all abilities was held at The Friars, Aylesford.
The day's theme was
'Welcome, NOW is the time to be Friends'.
Hundreds of people attended from across the country, about half of whom were themselves disabled, with the focus being on the human person in all its diversity. Participants gathered at 12 noon and were joined by Bishop John, who offered Mass with them at 4:00 pm.
Aylesford 2012 - the Catholic Church's Paralympic launch
The reputation of this annual event has led to its adoption as the Catholic Church's national launch event for the 2012 London Paralympic Games. This year's event was coordinated by a joint committee made up of diocesan disability consultants, Faith and Light, HCPT - The Pilgrimage Trust and The Kairos Forum, in conjunction with the Catholic Office for the 2012 Games.
In the past, this has been an event solely for the Southwark diocese. This year all dioceses were invited to gather for the celebration.
The day united many people with wide-ranging abilities and needs. They joined in sport, art and music as well as breaking open God’s Word through drama, celebrating the gifts of people with a disability.
The day expressed a culture in which people with disabilities are not just included, but where they feel they truly matter and wholeheartedly belong.
On Friday, 6th July 2012, Archbishop Peter ordained Alfred Joseph Banya to the Permanent Diaconate at the Church of Our Lady of Sorrows in Peckham.
Archbishop Peter addresses the candidate
The Rite of Ordination
Archbishop Peter with Father Anthony Plummer, parish priest,
and Deacon Alfred
Archbishop Peter with Deacon Alfred and his family
We congratulate Deacon Alfred on his ordination and pray that God will give him every blessing and happiness throughout his ministry.
During the Mass of Thanksgiving at Aylesford on Saturday, 7th July 2012, Archbishop Peter announced the appointment of three new canons:
Chapter Canon: Canon Peter Stodart
Honorary Canons: Canon Alan McLean and Canon Francis Moran
We congratulate them and offer them our best wishes.
Archbishop Peter and Bishops John and Patrick celebrated a Mass of Thanksgiving at The Friars, Aylesford, on Saturday, 7th July 2012.
Each of the bishops is celebrating a significant anniversary of his ordination to the priesthood this year: Bishop John - 50 years and Archbishop Peter and Bishop Patrick - 40 years.
With gratitude to them, we pray that God will continue to bless their ministry among us and grant them every happiness.
Photo: Sean Mulligan
Photo: Sean Mulligan
Photo: Sean Mulligan
Photo: Sean Mulligan
Photo: Sean Mulligan
This joyful celebration was attended by Archbishops Emeriti Michael and Kevin, Bishop Emeritus Howard and priests and people from around the diocese.
Photo: Sean Mulligan
Photo: Sean Mulligan
Photo: Sean Mulligan
Photo: Sean Mulligan
Archbishops Emeriti Kevin and Michael
Gift letters to our jubilarian bishops
Monsignor Nicholas Hudson, Rector of the Venerable English College,
Bishop Paul and David Howell
On Sunday, 8th July 2012, in the Church of Our Lady of the Snows at the Venerable English College's villa at Palazzola, Bishop Paul conferred the Ministry of Acolyte on David Howell.
In his homily, the bishop invited the new acolytes (six in all) not to be afraid to enter into the mystery of the sacraments, which is the mystery of the Cross. Their new identity as acolytes would be valued by those whom they serve, especially when they take the Blessed Sacrament to those who are sick, who themselves share in the suffering of the Cross.
Archbishop Peter has recently contributed to two conferences which have, in different ways, focussed on the value of every human person.
'Understanding Human Dignity'
From Tuesday, 26th, until Friday, 29th June 2012, an impressive line-up of more than 50 speakers gathered at Rhodes House, Oxford, to discuss the meaning and scope of Human Dignity in an interdisciplinary conversation.
The Oxford conference, 'Understanding Human Dignity', brought together scholars from law, theology and philosophy. Participants included a great number of actual and former judges from England and abroad.
Its obvious Catholic leaning was no coincidence, as the event was sponsored by the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of England and Wales. Its president, Archbishop Vincent Nichols, and vice-president, Archbishop Peter, attended the meeting. The bishops explicitly referred to Pope Benedict XVI’s Westminster speech in 2010 in which the Pope encouraged dialogue between religious faith and secular reason.
'Everybody has a Place'
On Monday, 2nd July 2012, at Westminster Central Hall, an International Conference 'Everybody has a Place' was held to explore the interrelation of disability, sport and theology in the lead up to the Olympic and Paralympic Games.
Those attending included Faith and Light, HCPT the Pilgrimage Trust, the Kairos Forum and disability agencies from across the dioceses of Southwark, Westminster and Brentwood.
Archbishop Peter opened the conference. The speakers included Prof John Swinton, Baroness Sheila Hollins, Dr David Jones and Dr Pia Matthews. They explored how disability, theology and sport speak powerfully to one another and in so doing give a more complete vision of the human person.
The conference also included the witness of international paralympians, whose experiences brought life to the words of the speakers.
As a practical response to the conference, a National Day of Celebration of Disability will be hosted at The Friars, Aylesford this Sunday, 8th July.
In the past this has been an event solely for the Southwark diocese. This year, with the theme 'Now is the time to be friends', all dioceses are invited to gather for the celebration.
It is hoped that this liturgical event will unite many people with wide-ranging abilities and needs. There will be space to celebrate sport, art and music through the gifts of people with a disability, as well as the breaking open of God’s Word through drama.
Bishop John will attend the day and will preside at the Mass.
Speaking on behalf of the Catholic Bishops' Conference of England and Wales, Archbishop Peter issued the following statement on Tuesday, 3rd July 2012, on the British Government's draft Assisted Dying Bill Consultation:
'Few will be surprised to see yet another attempt by Lord Falconer and others to promote the legalisation of assisted suicide. This is merely the latest in a line of similar proposals that have been debated and repeatedly defeated in Parliament over the last five years. What is more, only last week the BMA re-affirmed its opposition to any change in the law.
The existing law serves a vital purpose in upholding the human dignity of all and gives protection to the most vulnerable members of society. Far from prematurely ending a person’s life, what is needed for those with terminal illnesses is a properly funded and universally accessible palliative care service. In helping the terminally ill to face their fears with tireless and dedicated support, and by relieving their pain and suffering, palliative care workers are integral to respecting and securing the dignity of those nearing life's end. They bring relief, comfort, and companionship to those patients and families who are coming to terms with the inevitable grief and distress which surrounds dying.'
The Brightlights Festival for Young Adults was held again this year at The Friars, Aylesford, from Friday, 29th June, until Monday, 2nd July.
Archbishop Peter visited the festival to meet those participating and to offer Mass with them in the Relic Chapel.
Pictured with Bishop Paul and Mgr Nicholas Hudson (Rector)
at Palazzola, are VEC students
On Sunday, 1st July 2012, two of our seminarians, received the Ministry of Lector at the 13th century church of Our Lady of the Snows, Palazzola (the Venerable English College's villa in the Alban Hills, just outside of Rome). Bishop Paul presided at the Mass and during the homily he reminded all the candidates for this ministry that time spent studying and praying the Holy Scriptures was never wasted. He urged them to take advantage of every opportunity to share the Good News of the Gospel.
Other students who received this ministry at Palazzola came from the dioceses of Hexham and Newcastle, Leeds and Reykjavik (Iceland).
Southwark's Venerable English College students - David Howell,
Philip Andrews and Matthew O'Gorman, with Bishop Paul and Mgr Nicholas Hudson
We congratulate the new lectors and keep them and all our seminarians in our prayers.