Sunday, November 12, 2006

Fr Benedict Visits Balham

On Thursday evening we were very pleased to welcome Fr Benedict Groeschel to the parish. During an Evening of Recollection Fr Benedict spoke to a packed Church about the 'Spirituality of Pope Benedict XVI'. He spoke with his usual candour and good humour. If you weren't there you missed a real treat!
Fr Benedict was very badly injured in a car accident some years ago and has only recently resumed his weekly television show on EWTN, so we were exceptionally lucky that he came to Balham. It was a great grace to have him here.

One of the impressive things about the evening was the sheer number of young people who turned out to meet him, as you can see in this photo. During his inaugural Mass Pope Benedict said that one of the legacies of Pope John Paul II was a more youthful Church. Fr Benedict speaks of the "John Paul Generation". We certainly saw them present this evening.

After Benediction Fr Benedict met people as they left the Church and then went into the school hall to talk to more people while coffee and tea were being served. We'd like to thank all those who helped out in various way and contributed to making this evening such a significant one in the history of our parish. Fr Benedict was greatly impressed by our parish. As he said when he walked into the Church his first thought was, "Thank God! A CATHOLIC Church!".

Wednesday, November 08, 2006

Fr Benedict Groeschel speaks to priests

Fr Benedict Groeschel today addressed a gathering of priests at St. Bede's parish, Clapham Park. He spoke to the group of about 30 clergymen about the turn around taking place in modern pyschology and how the concept of virtue has returned to mainstream discussion. Groeschel who is a professor of pastoral psychology explained that many in his field are now abandoning the 'value neutral' understanding of life, by which we make our own truth and decide on our own good, for a more meaning and goal directed approach based on objective reality. He was very well received and joined the group for Benediction and Lunch afterwards.

Maryvale Institute

Yesterday I was up at 5.00am in order to leave at 6.00am to get to Birmingham for a meeting at the Maryvale Institute at 9.00. When I got there the meeting had been postponed to 10 but, since others who left London later got horribly delayed in traffic, I was glad for the early start. Maryvale was celebrating its Silver Jubilee as an institute dedicated to catechesis and further education and its guerst of honour for the day was Archbishop Michael Miller, the Secretary of the Congregation for Education in Rome.
The parish's association with Maryvale goes back several years, and we are the only parish listed in its jubilee handbook as a Maryvale 'partner' - the others are all dioceses, institutes and organisations. Over a hundred catechists from all over London and beyond have trained here to become Catechists. Parishioners have completed a number of different Maryvale courses, and several have gone on to begin the BA in Theology. I am an external member of the Maryvale Board of Studies which gives me a good opportunity to feed information and experience from the parish back to the various course directors at the Institute.

I am also on Maryvale's Pontifical Development Group, which is an important new project aiming to develop closer ties with the Holy See. The meeting yesterday morning was a meeting between this group and Archbishop Miller. It was an opportunity for him to grow in appreciation of how much of an effect Maryvale has in the Church - its distance learning programme makes the study of theology accessible all over the world - and he was particularly impressed to hear that 2,000 catechists in the Arab world have been trained thanks to Maryvale programmes. The Archbishop expressed the Church's gratitude for our work and encouraged us to look into the possibility of becoming an Institute accredited by a Pontifical University.
Later that day the Archbishop presided over a special Mass of thanksgiving which was attended by people from all over the world who had come for the occasion. The Mass was followed by a celebratory supper prepared, as always, by the wonderful Brigittine sisters.

Monday, November 06, 2006

Matt O'Gorman at Forum Christi

Forum Christi is the parish group for 16-30s. It meets every Sunday in Visitation House. It brings young Catholics together to meet one another, to pray, to receive some catechesis and to hear some of London's best Catholic speakers (addressing a wide variety of topics relating to faith and life). This Sunday Matt O'Gorman, the dynamic press secretary of the charity LIFE, addressed the group. He spoke about the various pro-life challenges that young Catholics face today. As always at Forum Christi the evening was completed with prayer and then some 'theology on tap' at the local.


Yesterday I was in Oxford to preach at the University Chaplaincy. Before the morning Mass I was able to take a stroll through the city and took this photograph of the Cathedral from Christ Church meadow. It was a lovely bright morning and the streets were pretty well deserted. The centre is now closed to traffic apart from buses and taxis but I had the impression that the city was looking rather un-cared for. Perhaps it was just that the roadsweepers hadn't had a chance to clean things up after a Friday and Saturday night of student revelry. In my day we had to live within a fixed grant (most of which went on 'battels' - accommodation fees) the advent of the Student Loan seems to have allowed a certain relaxation of economies.

The celebration of Mass went well and the students were very kind about the sermon afterwards. I even met two of our parishioners who had travelled up for an annual Cathsoc football match. In the afternoon I attended a meeting of the Vocations Group and was able to talk to them about vocations discernment, seminary formation and the process of application. This is a really good initiative and is a credit to Fr Jeremy Fairhead the chaplain.