Thursday, December 20, 2007

Advent Carols

The Christmas Fayre

The Community of St John

On Sunday 16th December, Brother Daniel from the Community of St John ( talked to Forum Christi about the subject of Joy. He discussed the concept of virtue, and the difference between moral and spiritual virtues, as well as the fruits of the spiritual virtues, including joy. Roberto taught us the Joy song (to the tune of Jingle Bells) "J.O.Y., J.O.Y., J.O.Y. we sing, Jesus first, Yourself last, Others in between."After the talk there was time for socialising at the end of term party. Forum Christi begins again in January.

The brothers of St John had been in the parish throughout the weekend. They had spoken to our Keep the Faith groups (11-13 year olds) and had led a intense retreat on Philosophy and Christ called 'Full Flight'. More than 30 young adults took part in this event.

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

Forum Christi on the C.A.S.E.

On Sunday 9th December Emily Davis (from the Catholic Agency for the Support of Evangelisation, CASE) spoke to the group about 'Living Faith' - A response to JPII's statement that a natural consequence of a real encounter with Christ is a desire to share him with others. She explained that there were three parts to evangelisation - living the faith, sharing your faith with others, and a chance to respond. She asked us to think about and share recent experiences of having been evangelised ourselves (easy for those of us who'd heard Kenny Thomas), and we also spoke about practical ways of sharing our faith with others.

Pop star pops into the parish

On Friday 7th December the pop singer Kenny Thomas visited the parish to speak to the Post-Confirmation and Faithform groups. Kenny had a string of hits in the early 1990s, and appeared on Top of the Pops nine times, and also made appearances on Wogan and The Big Breakfast. He was last seen on television on the ITV series Hit Me Baby One More Time a couple of years ago. (See talked to the groups about his life growing up on a council estate in Hackney, and about how his Catholic faith developed as a teenager, particularly after meeting some young Jehovah's Witnesses on holiday and becoming interested in finding out what "The Truth" was. He related stories about how there were times when he was performing on television, or shooting pop videos, when he had to stop and stand up for his faith, even though others may have considered him weird for doing so. He explained how important it is for all of us to do this, whatever career we may end up in. Kenny also discussed the importance of prayer, and particularly the Rosary, in his life. He helped lead a time of prayer in church, and there were also opportunities for confession, which is an important part of our Advent preparations.

Monday, December 03, 2007

The Spirit of Advent

On Sunday 2nd December Forum Christi celebrated the start of the new liturgical year with a talk on "The Spirit of Advent" by Fr Richard Whinder. He took us through general principles of how we should use Advent in a similar way to Lent - as time for spiritual preparation for the coming of Christ. He also talked about the readings used on the four Sundays of Advent, with the first two weeks focussing on the second coming of Christ, and then the last two weeks thinking more about his first coming as a baby. We finished the evening by praying a decade of the Rosary, and then went to the Nightingale to carry on the discussion.

SPUC at Forum Christi

On Sunday 25th November Anthony Ozimic, Political Officer for the Society for the Protection of Unborn children, spoke to Forum Christi on "Unborn children in danger: what you need to know about the Human Tissue and Embryos Bill". He told us about the major points of the Bill, in particular about potential changes being made to the rules for providing IVF, and the potential for creating animal-human hybrid embryos. For more information see

Saturday, December 01, 2007

Interactive Advent Devotions

For an interactive Advent Calendar that opens up the wonders of preparing for Christmas just follow this link.

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Servers' Winter Trip

This year our servers' trip was to the Brompton Oratory. We had Mass in the Little Oratory and then splitting into three groups there were tours of the sacristy, the side chapels, the nave and main altar. After lunch we went to see the new 3D IMAX film called 'Sea Monsters'. Many thanks to the Oratorian fathers for their hospitality, to Amanda Siravo for organising and sponsoring the trip and to Lu Slezak for his invaluable help in leading the servers.

Ten-Pin bowling

On Friday 23rd November a number of the youth groups enjoyed an evening ten-pin bowling in Raynes Park. The Keep the Faith I group (Year 7) played first, and Jared was among the highest scorers. Anya achieved a respectable score on her bowling debut. Then it was the turn of the Keep the Faith II, Post-Confirmation and Faithform groups. Competition at times was very fierce! In the adult competion, Fr Marcus's legendary bowling prowess proved to be merely a myth, as he was soundly beaten twice by Clare.

Monday, November 19, 2007

Forum Christi at Royal Albert Hall

On Sunday 18th November Forum Christi went to see Edward Elgar's "The Dream of Gerontius" at the Royal Albert Hall. After a worrying few minutes when we wondered if Sr Chiara would ever find a parking space within walking distance of the Hall, we eventually arrived with only a few minutes to curtain up. Elgar's setting of Cardinal Newman's poem was performed by soloists Ann Murray (Mezzo-Soprano), Andrew Kennedy (Tenor) and Matthew Best (Bass-Baritone) with the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra and a chorus of around 400 singers from Goldsmiths Choral Union, Guildford Choral Society and City of London choir. All three choirs are amateur, and the performance was absolutely superb. We had seats in the arena, and so had an excellent view of the orchestra and singers, as well as being able to appreciate the wonderful music and beautiful words. Father Marcus described how he found the first half, in particular, very moving. We were also pleased to gain a mention in the programme!
After the performance some of us went out for a meal at a Pizzeria close to South Kensington. After checking carefully for Irish Wolfhounds (see previous post) we carried on our discussions about the performance we had seen. Fr Marcus also regaled us with stories about his time in Rome, brought on no doubt by the excellent Italian food we were eating. All who attended enjoyed the evening, and we look forward to the next Forum Christi trip...

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Newman, Elgar and the Dream of Gerontius

On Sunday 11th November Fr Marcus spoke to Forum Christi about "Newman, Elgar and the Dream of Gerontius". We had an introduction to the lives of Newman and Elgar, and then learned about the oratorio "The Dream of Gerontius". We listened to some of the music, and discussed the Catholic theology of the words. This should aid our appreciation of the piece when we attend the performance next week at the Royal Albert Hall.
The evening ended with a meal at the Nightingale - John Pontifex almost made a dog's dinner out of it. Whilst we were saying grace an Irish Wolfhound decided to join us and almost made a premature start on the bangers and mash! Who said animals don't respond to prayer!?

Keep the Faith with the Franciscans of the Renewal

On Friday 9th November two of the Fransiscan Friars of the Renewal came to the parish to talk to the Keep the Faith groups. Br John Bosco spoke about the life of St Francis, and Br Dominic talked about his own life, and how he came to join the Friars. They also led the groups in their evening prayers and helped teach them some Taize music. As well as the talk there was time for games, including the opportunity to turn a friar (or Fr Marcus) into a mummy.

Monday, November 05, 2007

All Hallows Eve Party

On Wednesday night we hosted our annual 'All Saints Party' in the Holy Ghost School Hall. 35 children and young people came dressed as their favourite saints. Each had to explain to St Don Bosco (Fr Marcus in costume!) why they were in heaven. There was a great feast, many games and much much fun!

Rome Trip

Above are some photos from our servers' trip to Rome. We had an exciting time with visits to the St Mary Major, St John Lateran, the Coleseum, the Catacombs, Piazza Navona and much more. We celebrated Mass in St Peter's and had an audience with Pope Benedict XVI.

Wednesday, October 10, 2007

Joanna Bogle @ Forum Christi

On Sunday 30th September, Forum Christi began again for its third year. Joanna Bogle spoke about "The Pope Benedict Code". She spoke about the foundation of the papcy, and then gave us an introduction to the life of Benedict XIV (Joseph Ratzinger). Her talk was full of humourous anecdotes and personal insights. (See The evening concluded with Theology on Tap at the Nightingale.

John Pontifex ran a half-marathon for Aid to the Church in Need on Sunday 30th September. He was supposed to be taking part in the Windsor half-marathon, and when this was cancelled due to foot-and-mouth, he decided to run the distance around Wandsworth Common. He has so far raised nearly £3000. To give a donation see John's fundraising page (

Wednesday, June 20, 2007

Persecuted Chaldeans

We were all shocked recently at the brutal murder of a Chaldean Rite Catholic priest and three deacons in Iraq. Christianity, of course, is a much older religion in Iraq than Islam but sadly, since Mr Blair's 'liberation', the slaughter of Christians in cold blood is now a daily occurrence. It suits our Government to suppress publicity of these ongoing atrocities.
For more information about what's really happening follow this link to Fr Tim Finigan's Hermeneutic of Continuity blog.

Saturday, June 16, 2007

Catholics and Communion

This weekend over sixty children in our parish will receive Jesus for the first time in Holy Communion. Recently there has been controversy over the fact that Catholic politicians who vote to kill unborn children or allow scientific experiments to be carried out on them cannot receive Communion.
Here's an interesting interview on the subject with Cardinal Pell:

Cardinal Pell Explains Role of Church and Faith in Public Life
Sydney, Jun 13, 2007 (CNA).- Catholic bishops have the right and the duty to point out Catholic teaching to the public and to remind politicians, especially Catholics, “that public acts usually bring public consequences,” said Cardinal George Pell of Sydney in The Sunday Telegraph.
The cardinal issued his response after an investigation was launched into the views of Archbishop Barry Hickey of Perth by the W.A. state parliamentary privileges committee for investigation. The case was referred by the speaker Fred Riebeling, who sees the possible application of Catholic discipline as a “threat”.
“Some seemed to suggest that while a football club, a political party or a business certainly could in some circumstances sack or exclude a member or employee, it was totally out of order to suggest a Christian Church might even consider a similar possibility,” said the cardinal.
“A few intolerant politicians want to ban religious argument in public life, so that the only permissible reasoning will be irreligious or anti-religious,” he observed.
The cardinal said the debate also raised questions about what it means to be a Catholic.
“A Catholic is someone who believes Christ is Son of God, accepts His teachings and lives a life of worship, service and duty in the Catholic community,” he explained. “Catholics are not created by the accident of birth to remain only because their tribe has an interesting history.”
“All Catholics who continue to reject important Catholic teachings, even in areas such as sexuality, family, marriage, abortion, euthanasia, cloning where “liberals” claim the primacy of conscience rules, should expect to be confronted, gently and consistently, rather than comforted and encouraged in their wrongdoing,” he continued.
The cardinal concluded by saying that every Catholic politician who voted recently in favor of the cloning bill “should think twice and examine his or her conscience before next receiving Communion.”

Tuesday, June 12, 2007

Pope Encourages Eucharistic Adoration

On Sunday the Holy Father spoke about the importance of devotion to the Blessed Sacrament. This is what he said:

Dear Brothers and Sisters!Today’s solemnity of Corpus Domini, which in the Vatican and other nations was already celebrated this past Thursday, invites us to contemplate the great mystery of our faith: the most holy Eucharist, the real presence of the Lord Jesus Christ in the sacrament of the altar. Every time that the priest renews the Eucharistic sacrifice, in the prayer of consecration he repeats: "This is my body … this is my blood." He does this giving his voice, his hands, and his heart to Christ, who wanted to remain with us as the beating heart of the Church. But even after the celebration of the divine mysteries, the Lord Jesus remains living in the tabernacle; because of this he is praised, especially by Eucharistic adoration, as I wished to recall in the recent postsynodal apostolic exhortation, "Sacramentum Caritatis" (cf. Nos. 66-69).
Indeed, there is an intrinsic connection between celebration and adoration. The holy Mass, in fact, is in itself the Church's greatest act of adoration: "No one eats this food," St. Augustine writes, "if he has not first worshipped it" (Commentary on Psalm 98:9; CCL XXXIX, 1385). Adoration outside holy Mass prolongs and intensifies what happened in the liturgical celebration and renders a true and profound reception of Christ possible.Today, then, in all Christian communities, there is the Eucharistic procession, a singular form of public adoration of the Eucharist, enriched by beautiful and traditional manifestations of popular devotion. I would like to take the opportunity that today's solemnity offers me to strongly recommend to pastors and all the faithful the practice of Eucharistic adoration. I express my appreciation to the institutes of consecrated life, as also to the associations and confraternities that dedicate themselves to this practice in a special way. They offer to all a reminder of the centrality of Christ in our personal and ecclesial life. I am happy to testify that many young people are discovering the beauty of adoration, whether personal or in community. I invite priests to encourage youth groups in this, but also to accompany them to ensure that the forms of adoration are appropriate and dignified, with sufficient times for silence and listening to the word of God. In life today, which is often noisy and scattered, it is more important than ever to recover the capacity for interior silen ce and recollection: Eucharistic adoration permits one to do this not only within one's "I" but rather in the company of that "You" full of love who is Jesus Christ, "the God who is near us."May the Virgin Mary, Eucharistic Woman, lead us into the secret of true adoration. Her heart, humble and silent, was always recollected around the mystery of Jesus, in whom she worshipped the presence of God and his redemptive love. By her intercession may there grow faith in the Eucharistic mystery, the joy of participating at holy Mass, especially on Sunday, and the desire to bear witness to the immense charity of Christ.

Monday, June 11, 2007

John Pontifex on persecuted Christians

On Sunday 10th June, John Pontifex from Aid to the Church in Need spoke to Forum Christi. He highlighted the challenges facing the Christian church in Ethiopia and Eritrea, which he had visited in February and March. The bishops in these countries find it difficult to publicise their situation, for fear of reprisal from their governments. John showed us photographs of churches that ACN had helped build. For more details of the work ACN does, look on their website After the talk there was an opportunity to buy some of ACN's publications. The evening ended with a decade of the rosary and was followed by Theology on Tap at the Nightingale.

Wednesday, June 06, 2007

The Charities Act 2006

The Charities Act 2006 removed the legal presumption that charities established for the advancement of religion have purposes that are for the public benefit. 'Public benefit' is not defined in the Charities Act 2006 and it has specifically been left to the Charity Commission to consult on the matter. Christian charities will now have to prove their 'public benefit' to the Charity Commission. It is of concern that the Charity Commission has said it will interpret 'public benefit' in the light of 'modern conditions' and what this could mean for Christian charities that exist for evangelism or which promote traditional Christian teaching on family and life issues.
The Lawyers' Christian Fellowship has submitted a response which is well-worth reading. You can access it by clicking

Tuesday, June 05, 2007

Priest and three deacons killed in Iraq

Please pray for the repose of the souls of a priest and three deacons murdered in Iraq on Sunday. Christians are suffering a bitter persecution in Iraq. We can learn a lot from their heroism. This is the report published in today's Zenit:

Benedict XVI Mourns Clerics Slain in Iraq
Chaldean Patriarch Denounces "Shameful Crime"

Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone sent a telegram of condolence in Benedict XVI's name, remembering the priest and three deacons murdered Sunday in Iraq. The priest was killed in front of the Church of the Holy Spirit after saying Sunday Mass. According to Reuters, police said that gunmen stopped the priest's car, dragged him and the deacons out and shot them.
Iraqi sources said militants related to al-Qaida are responsible for the increasing persecution of Christians in Mosul. The papal telegram was sent to Chaldean Archbishop Paulos Faraj Rahho of Mosul.
The telegram said: "The Holy Father was deeply saddened to learn of the senseless killing of Father Ragheed Aziz Ganni and subdeacons Basman Yousef Daoud, Ghasan Bidawid and Wadid Hanna, and he asks you kindly to convey to their families his heartfelt condolences." It continued: "He willingly joins the Christian community in Mosul in commending their souls to the infinite mercy of God, our loving Father, and in giving thanks for their selfless witness to the Gospel. "At the same time he prays that their costly sacrifice will inspire in the hearts of all men and women of good will a renewed resolve to reject the ways of hatred and violence, to conquer evil with good and to cooperate in hastening the dawn of reconciliation, justice and peace in Iraq." The telegram concluded: "To the families and to all who mourn their dead in faith and in the hope which draws its certainty from the resurrection, His Holiness cordially imparts his apostolic blessing as a pledge of consolation and strength in the Lord."

Meanwhile, the Chaldean patriarch of Babylon, Emmanuel III Delly, published a declaration regarding the killings. "With hearts full of bitterness the patriarch of Babylon for the Chaldeans, His Beatitude Mar Emmanuel III Delly, and all the Chaldean bishops raise a disdainful protest and denounce the martyrdom" of the four clerics, the declaration said. It continued: "This is a shameful crime that any person of conscience rejects. Those who committed it did a horrendous thing against God and humanity, against their brothers who were faithful and peaceful citizens besides being men of religion who always offered their prayers and their supplications up to Almighty God that he would bring peace, security, and stability to all of Iraq."
The note said that the Chaldean bishops of Iraq, who are meeting in a synod in al Qosh, offered their condolences and prayers. "The bishops ask everyone for unity and solidarity in these difficult moments, and on this sad occasion, they repeat what they have already declared before about the persecution of Iraqi Christians, their forced emigration, and their being pushed to deny their faith," the declaration concluded. "They ask the Iraqi leaders and the international organizations to intervene and take the necessary steps to put an end to these criminal acts."

Monday, June 04, 2007


On Monday night eleven young adults were confirmed by Bishop Paul Hendricks. The reception of the sacrament was the culmination of nine months of solid preparation.

Weekly catechesis focused on key apologetic questions that todays youngsters face, pressing moral challenges (particularly in the protection of human life and personal chastity), and the meaning of a personal spiritual life. Each candidate made a plan of life by which they committed themsevles to personal prayer, weekly mass (sometimes daily), confession (at least monthly) and specific daily/weekly sacrifices. After each class there was time for prayer (usually the rosary) and confessions. In May the group made a Marian pilgrimage to the shrine of Our Lady of Consolation, West Grinstead. It was therefore with great joy that the parish witnessed their reception of the Holy Spirit in the sacrament. Many thanks to the catechists who prepared them and to their families who have helped to bring them to this stage of their life of faith. Next year we hope to run a post-confirmation group to build on the work already achieved.

The young candidates were joined by Karin Snelson, an adult candidate, who also received confirmation. Congratulations! The parish is very grateful to Bishop Paul Hendricks for his visit, for conferring confirmation and for presiding at the Mass.

Saturday, June 02, 2007

Congratulations James & Louise

Congratulations to James and Louise who were married in the Church today. Louise's parents were also married at the Holy Ghost. Until today Louise has lived with her parents in St Bede's, Clapham Park, my first parish. It was nice to see lots of my former parishioners at the wedding this afternoon.
They make a great couple and we keep them in our prayers.

Next Weekend

If you're in London this week do try to take part in some of the events being organised by Spirit in the City. Click on the link to see the details. Spirit in the City is a festival of Christian Faith in the heart of London. It involves times of prayer and praise in the West End Churches and also an exciting street programme to celebrate, reach out and give witness.
During the day on Saturday don't miss the Christian Festival in Leicester Square and in the evening wander over the Soho Square where, after the evening Mass and Adoration in St Patrick's there will be a concert of Gospel music from 8pm until 9pm with street evangelisation. The evening will conclude with a candlelit procession to the Church.

For more information contact Anne Marie.

Friday, June 01, 2007

Vocations Day at the Holy Ghost

Last week we had a vocations day at our parish primary school. Building on the work of Fr Marcus there were special presentations to years five and six. Fr Stephen took two morning classes on priesthood and Sr Jacinthe OP took two classes on religious life. We then spent the lunch break in the playground meeting as many children as possible. The day went extremely well and as usual there were lots of intelligent questions from the children.

Looking after schools can be a major part of a priest's life. Eleven years ago our parish school was deemed by Ofsted to have 'serious weaknesses'. Now, after a lot of work, it is a fantastic school where each child has an opportunity to flourish. It has certainly been well worth the effort. We are blessed to have an outstanding headteacher and a commited staff as well as a dedicated and hardworking Governing Body.

Wednesday, May 23, 2007

Together for Europe

Maureen Liddy, one of our parishioners, attended the international gathering of Christians organised in Stuttgart recently by the Focolare Movement. This is her report:

This remarkable gathering of more than 9,000 people representing 240 Christian Movements and Communities from all over Europe took place in Stuttgart, Germany on Saturday 12th May. Many Church Leaders and politicians were also present, while others sent very positive messages of support.

The initiative for such a gathering originated in 1998 when Pope John Paul invited the leaders and representatives of the European Movements to meet with him at Pentecost in Rome. There was a huge response and thousands thronged St Peter's Square in a spirit of joyful hope and enthusiasm to celebrate the diverse charisms which the Holy Spirit has bestowed upon the Church. During this historic event the Holy Father expressed his desire that the Movements would continue to build a network of relationships with each other and collaborate with their distinctive gifts to be a Christian witness throughout Europe. There was an immediate response to this request and a current of communion began which led to the first " Together for Europe " event in 2004 where 180 Movements were represented in Stuttgart. A joint declaration was made there, promising to work together with all people of goodwill to build true brotherhood in Europe.

This year's event showed the growth and development of the Movements and their influence on society, particularly in the areas of the Family, Work and Economy, The Poor and Underprivileged, Peace and Justice and the City. Many positive experiences were given to illustrate how the Gospel is the basis of bringing peace and fraternity in every situation. One couple shared a very moving experience of trying to build bridges between the divided communities in their town in Nothern Ireland despite immense difficulties and disapproval from both sides. Their faith in the Gospel message of love for every neighbour sustained them.

His Holiness, Pope Benedict XV1 sent his special blessing in a message which was read by Cardinal Bertone. In it the Holy Father quoted Pope John Paul saying his words were more relevant than ever; " I would like to mention in a particular way the loss of Europe's Christian memory and heritage, accompanied by a kind of practical agnosticism and religious indifference, whereby many Europeans give the impression of living without spiritual roots and somewhat like heirs who have squandered a patrimony entrusted to them by history ". Cardinal Bertone continued, " The Holy Father hopes that the meeting may strengthen the desire for communion which animates lay Movements and Communities of the different Churches; that it may contribute to overcoming prejudices, nationalism and historical barriers, and may urge people to work so that the spiritual dimension may not weaken in the Europe of post - modern times. "

Cardinal Walter Kasper, President of the Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity, spoke of his joy in seeing the Churches of Europe growing closer together with new attitudes of sharing in a spirit of communion. He said the Gospel gives us the hope and energy to build peace and solidarity in Europe, then to look beyond to the needs of the world , especially Africa.

Bartolomaios, Ecumenical Patriarch of Constantinople, said: "The secularized man of our time suffers simultaneously from material saturation and spiritual impoverishment ". He urged all Christians to build a personal relationship with God so we can overcome divisions and see everyone as brothers and sisters: "Let us look for our original Christian roots , so that an inspired desire becomes tangible reality ".

The Catholic Patriarch from Armenia said that this coming togetherof Christians has been initiated by the Holy Spirit ..."in order to give Europe a new heart according to the plan of God, a renewed soul to unify the peoples of Europe in the Spirit of the Gospel ....they will discover every day new ways , new "formulae " which will diminish the significant differences and increase the number of unifying values... The Holy Spirit astonishes us with his initiatives which generate light, joy and peace. "

Messages of encouragement and blessing were also given by the Archbishop of Canterbury, Rowan Williams; Cardinal Peter Erdo, Archbishop of Budapest and President of the European Bishops Conference; Cardinal Vlk of Prague ; Cardinal Karl Lehmann, President of the Catholic Bishops Conference in Germany; Rev. Dr Samuel Kobia, General Secretary of the World Council of Churches; Pastor Thomas Wipf, President of the Community of Protestant Churches in Europe: Johannes Friedrich, Bishop of the Evangelical Lutheran Church, and many others. The many politicians who supported the day included Jose Barroso , President of the European Commission, Angela Merkel, Chancellor of Germany, Mary McAleese, President of Ireland, and Bertie Ahern, the Irish Prime Minister. Romano Prodi, the Italian President, spoke of the challenges facing Europe in the Middle East and Africa which give us a great impetus to grow together to bring unity, fraternity, reconciliation and peace.

The vibrant joy of being part of this collaboration and enrichment gave the participants a new determination to live the Gospel together - " for the glory of God and the good and blessing of all humanity ". However, this was not just an emotional or superficial feeling , for a leitmotiv running throughout the day was a profound sense that the sufferings of Europe's past history and the experience of the present "dark night " can be resolved only through our love for Jesus, Crucifed and Forsaken.
In the final talk Chiara Lubich, foundress of the Focolare Movement, reminded us that it is Jesus Forsaken who is present in every division and suffering of society, and with Him we can overcome them: "This gives birth to and spreads in the world what we could call the 'Culture of the Resurrection' ... Jesus Forsaken, the modern day Crucifix , radiates the light of the Risen Lord and makes us generous in sharing His gifts... we want to give priorty to loving and following our mode: Christ Crucified and Forsaken. In this way, we will be able to take upon ourselves the cry of today's humanity, and through His 'cry' which redeemed everything, build around us that human family for which the world is yearning".

Tuesday, May 22, 2007


On Sunday 20th May, Brother Martin from the Fransiscan Friars of the Renewal spoke to Forum Christi on the topic of evangelisation. He gave us a number of examples from his personal experience of speaking to people about Jesus and said that the key things to remember when evangelising were: - Have confidence and trust in the truth of the Gospels - Use personal testimony - even if you think your life has been boring. Perhaps the fact that you play football will be enough to engage you in a conversation with a stranger that eventually leads you to talk about Jesus with them - Pray that God will put you in the situation where you can evangelise and make a difference to someone's life Brother Martin left us with a challenge: he gave us all a miraculous medal at the end of the talk, and asked us to pass it on before we got home. The evening ended with a decade of the rosary, and Theology on Tap at the Nightingale - where at least 3 miraculous medals were passed on.

Trip to Our Lady of Consolation and Chessington

On Saturday 19th May a group of 40 youngsters from the altar servers, Keep the Faith and Confirmation groups went on a trip to the Shrine of Our Lady of Consolation at West Grinstead. After watching the new film "The Nativity Story" during the coach journey, we had refreshments on our arrival at the shrine. We then said the rosary outside on the rosary walk, and had Mass where Fr David Goddard told us about the history of the shrine and about the secret chapel, where Mass was said during the reformation. He was very impressed with the prayerfullness of all the children during Mass. After this it was time for lunch and an opportunity for football and piggy-back races, whilst small groups were able to visit the secret chapel and see the relics of Blessed Francis Bell.

After lunch we left the shrine en route to Chessington World of Adventures. There we faced the challenges of surviving the Vampire ride, Dragon rollercoaster, Pirate Ship, Dragon Falls, Rameses Revenge etc. And we even got Fr Marcus on some of the rides! All the group enjoyed the day and we say a special thank you to Fr Marcus for organising the trip, and to the other adults who came along to help.

Monday, May 14, 2007

A Day with Mary

On Saturday 12th May, the Holy Ghost parish hosted 'A Day with Mary'. The Franciscan Friars of Mary Immaculate and about 400 others enjoyed a traditional day of Marian devotions. There was even an impressive procession of the statue of Our Lady of Fatima around Nightingale Square. With so many prayers, hours of adoration of the Blessed Sacrament, inspiring sermons and hundreds of confessions, this day has surely brought many blessings to our parish. Our gratitude to all those who made it happen.

Forum Christi explores Ecclesiology

On Sunday 13th May Fr Marcus spoke to the Forum Christi group, giving an introduction to Ecclesiology (the study of the Church). The talk focused on the questions "What is the Church?" and "Where is the Church?" In answer to the former question, Fr Marcus explained that the Church was not just a beautiful building at the bottom of Nightingale Square, or even merely the group of people who attend Mass there but that "the Church is the mystical body of Christ, the faithful united in the true worship of God". He also talked about the Church being on Earth, in purgatory and in heaven. The evening concluded with a decade of the rosary and Theology on Tap.

Stepping out for the Church in Need - London youngsters raise more than £2,500 for Christians in Burma

YOUNGSTERS from south London have put their best foot forward to raise money for fellow Catholics denied the freedoms we so often take for granted.
The 17 young people aged 12 and upwards walked nine miles to raise money to enable poverty-stricken Christians in Burma (Myanmar) to build a chapel in a village high up in the mountains.
The group from the Holy Ghost Catholic Church, Balham, have now collected more than £2,500, a significant contribution towards building the chapel in a remote village 130 miles from the Myanmar capital, Yangon (Rangoon).
Established only 10 years ago after a neighbouring village became overcrowded, the new community has had no permanent chapel – until now.
So determined were the 100 or so faithful to create a place of worship, they have constructed a temporary chapel made out of bamboo.
In response to their pleas for a permanent structure, their parish priest has appealed for help and Aid to the Church in Need, the charity for persecuted and poverty-stricken Christians, has offered the necessary assistance.
Christians in Burma are subject to institutionalised discrimination – and sometimes outright persecution.
Even Buddhists – who make up more than 70 percent of the population – are held in suspicion by the military regime, and for minorities such as Catholics, there are strict restrictions on construction of churches and evangelisation work.
Problems for Christians are compounded by the fact that so many of them belong to the ethnic groups responsible for insurrections against the government.
The plight of Myanmar’s Christians touched Father Marcus Holden, assistant priest of Holy Ghost Church, Balham, who organised the walk.
The route they followed from Holy Ghost Church, in Nightingale Square, led them to London’s Marble Arch – Tyburn – the site where many Catholics were martyred during the Penal times in the 16th and 17th centuries.
Fr Marcus described how he and the youngsters completed the walk with a Mass he celebrated at Tyburn Convent, which was established as a shrine in memory of the martyrs.
He said: “The link with Tyburn was very significant. It was fitting that our destination for this sponsored walk for persecuted Christians should end there.
“The walk also provided us with the opportunity to talk about our faith in a very natural way and to have fun together. It was an experience of faith and charity that they will never forget.” By John Pontifex