Saturday, February 10, 2007

Towards a Vision

At present we are inviting parishioners to reflect on the twin themes of Communion and Mission. This has been occasioned by the consultation initiated by the Archbishop concerning the future of the diocese. It is time for us all to take stock, to consider what we are about as a Church and to ask ourselves how we may improve given our limited resources.

It is a process that is much more than considering which Churches to close, which parishes to amalgamate, or where to create new ones. All the same, this photo represents a novel solution to the problems of demographic shift in a diocese!

Monday, February 05, 2007

The Missionaries of Charity

This morning I left early in order to get over to the Missionaries of Charity house near the Cathedral. Sr Amada, the Provincial, had asked me to celebrate Holy Mass and to give some talks on the Sacraments. The Superiors of all the Communities in this province are staying there for a study week, including one sister who has come over from Iceland.

There isn't a room large enough for a class so we have our talks in the Chapel. The photo shows a few of the sisters getting ready for the second talk on 'The Sacraments in General'. In the afternoon we have a talk on the Sacrament of Penance followed by one on the Eucharist. I'm always happy to help the sisters if I can. They do a wonderful work in whole-hearted and free service to the poorest of the poor.

I was only recently back in the diocese after my ordination when this house was opened. There was some consternation from the local authority and the Mayor of the time, who was a Catholic, tried to drum up support for the sisters at a public meeting. The sisters were asking to open a house in a run down part of London. One very pompous official peered over his glasses and asked the then Provincial in a condescending tone: "Could give an account to the assembly of precisely what research you've undertaken that suggests there may be a need for your 'work' in Southwark?" "I opened my eyes", was the immediate reply. Priceless!

The First Woodpecker?

I don't know when woodpeckers usually appear in England but I saw this fellow just a few feet from me on Saturday morning. I can't remember seeing one this early in the year and suppose his appearance must be due to the mild winter. I wonder how many Londoners can boast woodpeckers in their gardens? Saturday was a race against time to get the newsletter completed and ready for printing. After opening the Church and spending some time in prayer I came back to the house intending to get the computer on, but instead I found myself fetching the camera!
The morning Mass took longer than usual, On the first Saturday of the month we have a servers' practice. They all serve at the Mass which inevitably adds to the length. Afterwards we had the customary 'Blessing of St Blaise', a blessing of throats which is given on his Feast Day.

Then, unusually for a Saturday we had a baptism. Nicolas Maria, pictured here in the arms of his proud parents, today was reborn in the waters of baptism as a child of God.

After Mass we also welcomed the students currently on the Maryvale Catechists' Course. This is a two-year course that leads to a qualification as a catechist approved by the Congregation for Education.

In this photo we see some of the second year students, including two parishioners, who were having a class on the parables of St Luke.

And here we see some of the first year students at a class on Christology given by Lionel Gracey. Lionel specialises in using the traditions of Christian art to illustrate doctrinal points. Later Lionel met with one of our parishioners who is an artist and produces some very fine Christian art.
After the evening's Mass I popped round to check on the building where the new Vocations Office is going to be located. There's quite a lot of work to be done to make it fit for purpose but I'm sure we'll get there before too long. Finally I had a meeting with a parishioner who markets website management software. We want to update the Southwark Vocations site, so watch this space...