Sunday, December 04, 2011

Fr Gerard Bradley - Praying the Mass

On Wednesday 30 November, Fr Gerard Bradley (Director of Spiritual Formation at St John's Seminary, Wonersh) gave this address on the new translation of the Roman Missal, and how we might enter more deeply into the mystery of the Eucharist through these revised texts.

Friday, October 21, 2011

Welcome to James Bradley...

Deacon James Bradley has joined us here at Holy Ghost parish while he continued his studies. James is a deacon with the Ordinariate of Our Lady of Walsingham, the new Ordinariate established by the Holy Father for Anglican parishes which have come into full communion with the Catholic Church. The Ordinariate is led by Monsignor Keith Newton and includes some 60 former Anglican clergy and 1,000 faithful. It was established by Pope Benedict with a special invitation Anglicanorum Coetibus, "To groups of Anglicans" so that they can bring with them their Anglican patrimony in customs and traditions and liturgy.

Deacon James is no stranger to the congregation here at Balham and was with the QUO VADIS group led by Fr Stephen at World Youth Day in Madrid this summer. And more: he played a major role in the opening ceremony welcoming Pope Benedict to Madrid, chanting the Gospel. This was televised worldwide.

Of course our parish here at Balham, while large, isn't quite as huge as that, but we are sure that James will be kept busy here and it is great to have him with us...

Friday, September 16, 2011

World Youth Day 2011

A great European city in the throbbing heat of August, a vast dusty airfield with two million people congregating on it, a dramatic thunderstorm, a night vigil of prayer led by the successor of St Peter – these are some of the ingredients that made the 2011 World Youth Day utterly unforgettable.

The group of young people led by Father Stephen of this parish was a large one: its core was the “Quo Vadis” group which meets regularly and includes young people who are discerning a vocation to the priesthood or religious life, and they were joined by a substantial number of others. Hospitality in Madrid was offered by a parish on the outskirts of the city – the magnificent church of St Mary of Cana where the priest had arranged that our group could camp out in the various parish rooms for the whole of the WYD events.

Divided into groups, the young people made themselves at home, making up beds on the floor and organising themselves for showers and meals. There was daily morning prayer and Mass, and then the whole range of WYD events – talks at the “Love and Life” centre (including a superb presentation on religious freedom and the mass media, led by America’s Archbishop Charles Chaput and with speakers including the head of the Knights of Columbus), confession at the Festival of Forgiveness in one of Madrid’s large and beautiful parks, an opportunity to explore some of the vast number of religious orders and new movements and charities and Catholic organisations at a Vocations Fair.

What many pilgrims perhaps most relished was the sheer exuberance and joy at being in a city teeming with a sense of Christian love and faith. Here were two million people surging around, from every nation on earth, a multitude of languages and flags and song and experiences. Groups gathered on street corners to sing and pray, to swap flags and badges and banter, to take photographs and to cheer the Pope. Cries of “Viva el Papa!” erupted from groups large and small all the time. People sang on buses and trains and in the streets and in cafes and restaurants. People prayed the Rosary in parks and while waiting in the (extremely hot) sunshine for the Pope to arrive.

And when he did come, what an outpouring of affection and enthusiasm! The crowds lining the streets and packing out the squares were huge – it was impossible to move, and the cheering and waving and rejoicing were on a massive scale. When the Holy Father spoke, however, his clear and rather gentle voice created its own sense of quiet calmness, and his words were straightforward, beautiful, and well worth hearing.

There was a magnificent welcoming ceremony for him – at which Deacon James Bradley of the new Ordinariate of Our Lady of Walsingham, who was part of our group, sang the Gospel. There was a poignant and moving Way of the Cross using some of Spain’s most magnificent works of art showing Christ’s walk to Calvary, brought from towns and cities across Spain where they have been venerated for centuries. And then, on the final two days, there was the gathering at the Cuantros Ventros airfield for the night vigil and the final Sunday morning Mass. Heat, ants, fierce sun, and then a thunderstorm gave way to immense peace when the night vigil began. We knelt together before the Blessed Sacrament, and gradually the silence spread out, from the front where the Holy Father was kneeling, through the crowds and crowds of people.

"As you return home, take back with you the good news of Christ’s love which we have experienced in these unforgettable days. Fix your eyes upon him, deepen your knowledge of the Gospel and bring forth abundant fruit!"- those were Pope Benedict’s words at the final gathering.

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Mary's Meals collects 120 backpacks!

Last Sunday we welcomed Lizzie Hastings from Mary's Meals to receive the backpacks which the parishioners have kindly assembled over this period of Lent. She gave a word of thanks, and was very impressed with the number we had collected so far, and she later met ith some young people from the Ignition group who have led this project.

Several of our Ignition group arrived at the church this morning to help pack the backpacks into large white sacks which will then be collected and shipped off to the children in Africa

The final count of backpacks is the astounding number of 120!! Well done and a huge thanks to everyone who took part in this project.

Please visit to see how you can continue to help support this worthwhile charity.

Frassati Society Hike

On Saturday 9th April 2011, 20 young adults from the parish who are involved in the Frassati Society, embarked on a 12 mile hike across the North Downs in Surrey.

We began our journey at Guildford stopping in Gomshall for a leisurely pub lunch. We had the pleasure of a visit from Fr Stephen who managed to squeeze us into his busy weekend at the seminary before continuing for the final 5 miles to Dorking. The day was enjoyed by all and the glorious weather made it all the more perfect!

Tuesday, April 05, 2011

Mother and Tots Quiz Night - Huge success!

On Friday 1st April the Mother and Toddler group organised the 'April Fool Quiz'. Participants were invited to 'leave your brains at the door' for the quiz with a difference! The event was held at the Oliver Plunkett Club on Nightingale Lane to to help raise funds for the Mother and Toddler group.

60 keen quiz-goers enjoyed a fish and chip supper and live entertainment, including a raffle with fabulous prizes! Everybody had a fantastic time and the group are delighted to have raised nearly £500.

The money raised will go towards the purchase of children's books for the church, toys, and other equipment to support the Mother and Toddler Group that meets every Thursday morning from 10.30 - 11.30am in the Visitation House. For more information contact

Sunday, April 03, 2011

Catholic Underground

Last Saturday the Catholic Underground team returned once again to the parish, this time with a variety of entertainment including singer, Alena and stand up comedy, music and drama by Rise Theatre. The evening drew a good crowd of young people. As with every Catholic Underground event, the evening opens with a Holy Hour in the church with music led by the Fransiscan Friars of the Renewal. This part is always so beautiful, and for myself it's often the best part of the evening. Here, we are invited to spend time in prayer with our Lord before the Blessed Sacrament, join with the Church in Evening Prayer and receive the Sacrament of Reconcilation. The evening then continues in the school hall with live entertainment. A wide variety of young people attend, some who are active in their faith, and others not. Many of those who attend Catholic Underground for the first time and who might not be so active in the faith do so because they have been invited and encouraged by their Catholic friend. For most, this is probably their first experience before the Lord in the Blessed Sacrament and I have heard several different stories of how the Lord has moved very powerfully in the hearts of these people and for some it has even prompted a return to the Sacrament of Reconciliation. Please look up the Catholic Underground Website and think about inviting some of your friends to their next event.

Monday, February 07, 2011

T3: Take on the challenge...

...of the Great Egg Drop at last Friday's session. The idea was to create a container which would support an egg and prevent it from smashing when dropped from a height of 8ft. Limited materials were supplied and the groups did exceptionally well! No crack in sight...

Come and join us each Friday (7pm - 9pm) as we continue with the T3 series (it's not too late to come along!!). Each week we have dinner followed by a fun team activity, then we watch the following chapter of the Teen Timeline and round up with a time of prayer!

Friday 18th February will take a different format as we will have a special viewing of The Human Experience with popcorn, ice-cream... the works. I'd suggest having a meal beforehand!

Check out the trailer:

Contact laura@hgbalham for any questions you may have!

Wednesday, February 02, 2011

Frassati Society - Sunday Soup Kitchen

On Sunday, a group of young adults from the parish and others involved in the Frassati Society visited the Missionaries of Charity to help serve Sunday lunch at their Soup Kitchen at Elephant and Castle.

We arrived to a packed dining hall of homeless men, with sisters and various volunteers running around doing different jobs. We quickly got stuck in - serving the meal, washing up, making tea, preparing dessert, offering seconds, and then setting up the tables ready for the second sitting. At least 100 men were welcomed and received a good home-cooked meal that afternoon.

The Missionaries of Charity were established in 1950 by Mother Teresa of Calcutta and adhere to the vows of poverty, chastity and obedience, with an addition of a fourth vow, to give 'Whole-hearted and Free service to the poorest of the poor.'

In London, the sisters run their soup kitchens every day of the week except on a Thursday where this day is reserved for rest and prayer. If you have any free time during the week and would like to volunteer, please have a look at their weekly schedule which you can find here:

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Youth Activities

Over the last few months, there have been lots and lots of different youth activities within the parish... Here are photos of just some of them...

The Confirmation Retreat

Ignition Winter Wonderland Trip (Ignition is a group for years 7 and 8 - it involves catechesis, prayer, time for fun & growing in friendships)

Frassati Society

Sunday evening saw the first meeting of the newly launched Frassati Society. This is a society for young adults, combining community, service of the poor and prayer. 25 young adults met for Adoration before the evening Mass, after which we hosted a (very packed!) dinner. Between courses, Fr. Agustin Conesa spoke to us on Jesus' teaching of the Beatitudes (Matthew 5:3-12). Bl Pier Giorgio Frassati is known as the "man of the beatitudes" - someone in whom the Beatitudes are radiantly personified. Each month, the speaker will be giving teaching on each of the Beatitudes. The next few monthly meetings are...

  • Sunday 20th February, Mgr John Armitage - "Blessed are those who mourn"
  • Sunday 20th March, Fr. Emmanuel Mansford - "Blessed are the meek"
Lots of the Frassati members will be committing to some regular, practical service of the poor. Many are planning to go and help out the Missionaries of Charity in serving a meal to the homeless on Sunday afternoons. If you would like to get involved, please contact Luke de Pulford on And join us in praying the prayer for the courage to be great....!

Heavenly Father,

Give me the courage to strive for the highest goals,

to flee every temptation to be mediocre.

Enable me to aspire to greatness, as Pier Giorgio did,

and to open my heart with joy to Your call to holiness.

Free me from the fear of failure.

I want to be, Lord, firmly and forever united to You.

Grant me the graces I ask You through Pier Giorgio's intercession,

by the merits of Our Lord Jesus Christ.