Please pray for David Howell, a fifth-year Southwark seminarian who was admitted as a Candidate for Holy Orders on December 20th 2013 by Bishop John Arnold, Auxiliary Bishop of Westminster, at the Venerable English College in Rome with five other seminarians from Westminster, Shrewsbury, Copenhagen and Salford.
At the heart of our Christmas celebrations lies the mystery of the Incarnation: “The Word was made flesh, he lived among us, and we saw his glory, the glory that is his as the only Son of the Father, full of grace and truth.” (1 John 1:14) This is the central truth of the Gospel, the Good News, that God, almighty and all powerful who created everything out of nothing, stripped himself of his divine majesty and became one like us in everything but sin.
Filled with the overflowing riches of divine love, compassion and mercy, he came to heal a broken world and he did it in a very human way. As St. Paul puts it, “You know how generous our Lord Jesus has been: he was rich, yet for your sake he became poor, so that through his poverty you might become rich.” (2 Corinthians 8:9) Out of his infinite love for us he chose to be born into a poor family, in a poor village and spent the greater part of his life on earth in Nazareth, another poor village. When he began his public ministry “he had nowhere to lay his head”. He associated particularly with the poor, those in need and the rejected, preaching the Gospel to them, ministering to and healing the blind, the deaf, the dumb and those who were crippled. Finally he gave his very life for us when he died on the Cross, stripped of everything.
When we come to meet him face to face, he will ask each of us how we responded to that call. “Lord when did we see you hungry and feed you; or thirsty and give you drink? When did we see you a stranger and make you welcome; naked and clothe you; sick and in prison and go to see you? And the King will answer, ‘I tell you most solemnly, in so far as you did this to one of the least of these brothers of mine, you did it to me.’” In the poor and needy we meet the suffering Christ, who said to his disciples, “you will always have the poor with you.” (Matthew 26:11)
As Pope Francis has reminded us, Christ’s mission to the poor and needy is also our mission as his disciples. So whilst we celebrate this great feast with joy and thanksgiving we should also reflect on how we are responding to that mission in our own parishes, our local community and further afield, asking God to enkindle within us the fire of his love that we might better reach out to, and serve, the poor and needy in our midst today and in the coming year.
Wishing you, your families and all whom you
peace and joy this Christmas,
and God’s blessing on you in the coming year,
Archbishop of Southwark
Archbishop Peter presided at the Family Mass at St George's Cathedral at 10:00 am on Christmas Day morning.
After the Service of Carols on Christmas night and the blessing of the crib, Archbishop Peter presided at Midnight Mass of the Nativity of the Lord in St George's Cathedral. Canon John O'Toole, Cathedral Dean, and Fathers Philip Smith and Chukwuemeka Nnaji concelebrated and Deacon James Sheahan ministered as Deacon.
Full text of Archbishop Peter's homily at Christmas Midnight (.pdf available)
Christmas is a difficult time for those away from family and friends and this is especially so for those in prison. During the Christmas season, our bishops are intent on bringing the joy of Christ's birth to prisoners by attending Carol Services and offering Masses in prisons.
Archbishop Peter attended a Carol Service at HMP Elmley, Sheppey, on Thursday, 19th December, 2013.
Bishop John will offer Mass at both HMP Swaleside, Sheppey, and HMP Stanford Hill, Sheppey, on Christmas Day morning.
Bishop Patrick will offer Mass at HMP Belmarsh on Sunday, 22nd,
at HMP Brixton on Christmas Day morning, at HMP Thameside,
Saturday, 28th, and at ISIS Prison, Thamesmead, on Sunday, 29th.
Bishop Paul attended a Carol Service at HMP High Down, Sutton, on Wednesday, 18th December. He will offer Mass there on Sunday, 22nd, and Masses at HMP Wandsworth on Christmas Day morning.
Monday, 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.
Announced December 2013
The Order of Friars Minor Conventual (OFM Conv) has established the province delegation of Great Britain and Ireland as a Provincial Custody under the patronage of Blessed Agnellus of Pisa.
The Friars have elected as 'Custos' ( Local Ordinary) Father Peter Damian Massengill OFM Conv. He is an American Friar and will reside at the Conventual Friars Curia at Waterloo.
On Monday, 16th December 2013, the Vatican announced that Pope Francis had appointed Archbishop Vincent Nichols, Archbishop of Westminster and President of the Catholic Bishops' Conference of England and Wales, as a member of the Congregation for Bishops.
This dicastery discusses the suitability of candidates whose names are submitted by a country's apostolic nuncio, and makes its recommendations to the Pope.
Cardinal Cormac was a member of this Congregation until he reached his 80th birthday in August 2012.
We keep Archbishop Vincent in our prayers as he undertakes his new added responsibilities.
In March 2012, Archbishop Peter formally established Pugin's
Church of Saint Augustine in Ramsgate as a shrine of 'the Apostle
of the English'. A campaign was launched to fund the repair and
restoration of the church and this work is in progress. Now it is
proposed that a new centre is provided: the Pugin and St Augustine
education, research and visitor centre. Last month it was
announced that the Heritage Lottery Fund had given £82,100 towards
the proposed centre and on Tuesday, 10th December 2013, local MP
Laura Sandys hosted a reception in Parliament in support of the
project. Archbishop Peter was among the quests.
Father Marcus Holden said: 'The centre will be there for the Ramsgate community, for schools, and for the many Pilgrims from home and abroad who come to visit St Augustine’s shrine. We believe this centre celebrating the landing of St Augustine and his work in evangelising England to Christianity, and that of the architect Pugin who dedicated his church to St Augustine, will add to the area’s religious significance and cultural attractions.'
Supporter, Faustine Smiley with Laura Sandys MP and Fr Marcus Holden
Paul Sharrock, Project Leader with Archbishop Peter
Fr Marcus Holden and Alastair Stewart
Photos: Marie Muscat-King
On Thursday, 12th December 2013, Canon John O'Toole presided at an Advent Service at St George's Cathedral. The service was followed by mulled wine and mince pies in the Amigo Hall.
On the evening of Tuesday, 10th December 2013, Archbishop Peter hosted the annual Advent Reception for members of the diocesan agencies in the dining room of Archbishop's House.
He thanked them for their work on behalf of the diocese throughout the year.
John Toryusen, Director of the Southwark Catholic Youth Service
On Saturday, 7th December 2013, Archbishop Peter attended the launch of a new resource from the Southwark Catholic Youth Service which took place in the Amigo Hall.
John Toryusen, Director of the SCYS, introduced the launch of 'Life in Christ', a triple DVD programme which explores the foundations of the faith with reflections from a range of contemporary Catholic theologians.
Archbishop Peter welcomed 'Life in Christ', saying: 'I think it is going to be an excellent resource for the diocese and further afield, especially to help young people understand their faith and to be able to explain it to others.
'This is exactly what Pope Francis has asked us to do - he talks about 'evangelizing' not 'proselytising'. It's a task not just for priests and religious - but for everyone - as Pope Paul VI, Paul John Paul II and Pope Benedict have all said. The first way to evangelize is through the witness of our lives - demonstrating the love, mercy and compassion of Jesus - but then we've got to explain why we are trying to live like this.'
The programme is aimed at young people/young adults 15+ and is composed of 45 sessions, each engaging with prayer and scripture.
Announced December 2013
The Archbishop has made the following appointment
Father Arbogast Lekule as Chair of the Commission for Justice, Peace and Integrity of Creation.
He thanks Father Michael Scanlon who stands down after eight years as the Commission's Chair.
Archbishop Peter has approved the design of a new 'logo' for the Southwark diocese.
It has been unveiled in the 2014 edition of the Southwark Directory.
It is intended to add to rather than replace the Archbishop's personal coat-of-arms, but may be chosen especially where a diocesan publication is planned to remain relevant even though the bishop could change.
The 2014 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 2014.
In the Introduction Archbishop Peter writes: 'The election of Pope Francis has brought a sense of renewed energy to the Church, and I was very pleased to be able to meet him briefly only a few weeks after his election. The moment that was the "Year of Faith" may have ended, but our life-long journey of faith, as a response to our personal call to holiness, continues. Let us pray for one another, that the seed of faith may bear fruit in our daily lives, as, to quote Pope Francis, a Christian "proclaims the Gospel with his witness".
With standard binding: £3:00;
with spiral binding: £3:50.
Canon John O'Toole with pupils from St Joseph's School, Borough
On Wednesday, 4th December 2013, Canon John O'Toole welcomed 700 children from eleven primary schools in the diocese to the Cathedral for the annual Christingle Service in support of youth homelessness.
Each school contributed to the hour long service by singing their favourite hymn. Two children gave a reflection on homelessness and read a poem they had written. One school performed a specially created ribbon dance.
Gifts were presented in support of the work of Depaul UK and Canon John spoke of three gifts in life which are free: Faith, Family and Friendship.
Two children from each school then took a Christingle, an orange decorated with ribbon, a candle and sweets, to the front of the church where one Christingle was lit from the central candle. The light was passed by one child to another from Christingle to Christingle.
Please pray for the repose of the soul of
Deacon Antonio (Tony) Cannavina
who died on 30th November 2013
His body will be received in the
English Martyrs Church,
37 Frindsbury Road, Strood, Kent ME2 4JA
on Wednesday, 11th December, at 5:00 pm
His Funeral Mass will be offered there
on Thursday, 12th December, at 10:30 am
May he rest in peace
Today, 3rd December 2013, is the Day of Prayer for Migrants. Bishop Patrick, the Chairman of the Office of Migration Policy for the Bishops' Conference of England and Wales, has recorded a short (3m 52s) reflection for the daily Advent Podcasts (#Thought4Advent) produced by the Bishops' Conference. Please listen to it here:
Today is also the feast of St Francis Xavier. We ask his intercession on behalf of our migrant brothers and sisters.
Announced December 2013
The Archbishop has made the following appointment
Father Alfred Osamor, C.Ss.R. as Parochial Administrator of the Church of the Resurrection of Our Lord, Sydenham Kirkdale.
The Home Mission Desk of the Bishops' Conference of England and Wales is promoting an outreach to welcome back those who have lost touch with the Church and wish to become more active members of the Catholic community.
A leaflet has been produced for use in parishes and schools and copies are available from the Home Mission Desk.
This encouraging initiative should be specially welcome at Christmas.
It is also suggested that a Welcome Evening for non-churchgoing Catholics could be organised in parishes which will enable them to explore further a return to the full practice of their faith.
Archbishop Peter has written a Pastoral Letter to be read in our parishes on the First Sunday of Advent, 1st December 2013.
In it he writes: 'Wherever we are in our spiritual journey, our awareness, our belief that God loves us unconditionally, should fill us with hope and consolation. That love has been revealed in the person and ministry of Jesus Christ whose birth we will celebrate again at Christmas. The spirit of Advent is the spirit of renewed hope and expectancy as we long for the coming of the Saviour into our hearts and minds – not just at Christmas, but every day of our lives. Each day we are called to become more and more like the person of Jesus Christ and model our lives on him. Then we too, in some small way, will be able to reveal to the world something of the unconditional love of God, which he offers as pure gift to everyone without exception.'
Full text of Archbishop Peter's Pastoral Letter (.pdf available)