It was a joy to welcome Fr Stephen Morrison of the Norbertine Priory in Chelmsford to celebrate the High Mass for the feast of SS Peter and Paul. Fr Stephen preached on the gift of Romanitas that we have received as part of our Catholic heritage, as well as suggesting carbon-neutral methods of Papal transport. After Mass, Fr Stephen gave first blessings to the congregation.
Fr Stephen was an undergraduate at Oriel College, and was often in our church during that time. He joined the Norbertines when he finished in Oxford and was ordained priest last December.
Saint Philip Neri: On Fire With Joy, the prequel to Fr Daniel's children's life of Blessed John Henry Newman, arrived in time for the weekend. It is written by Fr Daniel and illustrated by Susan Bateman, and tells the story of Our Holy Father St Philip, and how he founded the first Oratory. Copies are available now from the Porter's Lodge.
It was a busy weekend as we celebrated the patronal festival of our parish. On Saturday twenty-eight children from St Aloysius' School made their first Holy Communion, and then a further six children on Sunday at the half-past-nine Mass.
Fr James Hanvey, S.J., the Master of Campion Hall, came to preach at the High Mass on Sunday, and delivered a really beautiful sermon about St Aloysius. He promises that he will type up his notes within a few weeks, and then we hope that the sermon may be seen here on the website.
After Mass, there were further celebrations in the Parish Centre.
The Wednesday Morning Group had a highly enjoyable trip to Hereford yesterday. The coach ride over to Herefordshire took us past some beautiful scenery, and then we were warmly welcomed by the Dean, The Very Reverend Michael Tavinor, and other members of the Cathedral community.
We had coffee on arrival, lunch and then afternoon tea in the College of the Vicars Choral.
Hereford Cathedral is noted for the shrines of St Ethelbert, King of the East Saxons, who was murdered by King Offa of Mercia in 794 AD, and St Thomas Cantilupe (sometime Chancellor of Oxford University) who died in 1282. Both of these shrines have been restored.
Before lunch, we were able to go to Holy Mass at the Catholic church of St Francis Xavier, in Broad Street, just next to the Cathedral.
St Francis Xavier is a magnificent church, originally built by the Jesuits, but since the 1850s in the care of the Benedictines of Belmont Abbey. Dom Michael Evans, O.S.B. was most gracious in his welcome, as were his enthusiastic parishioners, who clearly have a great love for their beautiful, well-restored church. It is evident that it is open as an important act of witness in the centre of the city. Here are some of our group, after Mass:
To the right of the High Altar is the relic of St John Kemble, a local martyr who ministered as a priest in Herefordshire and Monmouthshire for over fifty years, before being arrested on false charges in 1679 and executed. A Catholic woman managed to catch his left arm as it fell from the gallows when he was quartered, and it is this relic which is preserved at St Francis Xavier. The relic is believed to have worked miracles, down to our own time.
After lunch we had a tour of the lovely gardens, which was a great treat - especially to see the gardens of the Bishop's Palace and the Deanery.
We were also able to visit the exhibition at the Cathedral, which includes the Mappa Mundi, a 1217 copy of Magna Carta and the Chained Library, which, it was noted, houses three editions of the Annals of the Christian Church by Cardinal Baronius of the Roman Oratory.