Monday, 30 June 2008

Year of St Paul

A special year dedicated to St. Paul was officially inaugurated by Pope Benedict XVI last Saturday, 28th June with the celebration of Vespers at the Roman Basilica of St. Paul's Outside the Walls.

The Orthodox Patriarch Bartholomew I of Constantinople was also present at this celebration to open the Pauline year.

The Holy Father has granted a Plenary Indulgence to any of faithful who fulfill the necessary conditions during the Pauline Year. Thanks to Fr Ray Blake at St Mary Magdalen for the link to the Urbis et Orbis Decree giving details of the Plenary Indulgence. He also has some super photos of the celebration of Vespers on Saturday evening.

Saturday, 28 June 2008

Mass with Anointing of the Sick

If any one of you is ill, he should send for the elders of the church, and they must anoint him with oil in the name of the Lord and pray over him. The prayer of faith will save the sick man and the Lord will raise him up again, and if he has committed any sins, he will be forgiven.” (James 5:14-15)

This afternoon at St Ann's we celebrated a Mass with Anointing of the Sick. About 30 people attended including many from the nursing homes in the parish and other housebound parishioners who would not normally be able to attend Mass in church. The Anointing of the Sick is one of the seven Sacraments of the Church and brings strength, confidence and many times physical healing to the sick.

This is a valuable experience both for the sick and the rest of the parish. Our sick and housebound parishioners are a silent 'power house' of prayer. We all benefit from their faithful devotion even though many in the parish are unaware that these prayers are being offered on their behalf.

It is a great to joy to welcome our housebound parishioners and let them know that they are an important part of our parish community. For some this may be the only opportunity they have to come to church.

This is why we always provide tea and cakes in the hall afterwards so that we all have a chance to chat with one another and make new friends. I was pleased too to see one of our regular altar servers who came along to serve Mass.

I am very grateful to everyone who makes this possible. As in any parish, we are very blessed to have volunteers who give so much time to organising lifts and visiting people in their homes and in the local care homes.

Tuesday, 24 June 2008

Deanery lunch at Epsom

Today Fr Bill hosted a farewell lunch party for the clergy of the Deanery at St Joseph's, Epsom before he begins his sabbatical leave.

In this picture you can see Fr Viktor, a visiting priest from the Ukraine. He is well known to Epsom parishioners and he may look familiar to St Ann's people too as he has celebrated Mass at Banstead on an earlier visit to the UK.

Monday, 23 June 2008

New CTS Website

Back in early May I added a post on some new children's books we had received from the Catholic Truth Society.

I mentioned that they are available to order via the parish or from the CTS bookshop in Victoria but omitted to say that of course they also also available to order online from the new CTS Website.

Many of us now have access to the Internet and I know for various reasons it is not always possible to visit a particular shop in person. I do recommend that you have a look at their new website. As well as books, you can also order DVDs CDs and other items and you'll find some downloadable publications there too.

Don't forget we also have a very good selection of CTS booklets in the display stand at the back of church. These fairly inexpensive booklets are often a very good source of information for many of the queries you may have about our Catholic faith and practice.

Friday, 20 June 2008

Hooray, 1,000 visitors!

Well I thought I couldn't let this landmark pass without some comment.

When I started this blog somewhat tentatively just a few months ago, I had no idea if anybody would actually look at it but luckily they have. I must say, I think we reached the 1,000 mark a little bit earlier than we might have done thanks to a mention on Joanna Bogle's blog, auntie joanna writes. Do please return the favour and drop in to her excellent blog some time.

Meanwhile here's a picture of a very good way to celebrate!

More photos of the Going Forth celebrations

Thanks to Rosemary for forwarding these lovely photos of the cake with some of the children and Bishop Kieran.

Thursday, 19 June 2008

Another visitor ...

Welcome back Fr Jarek. Yesterday morning I collected Fr Jarek Wasilewski from the airport. He'll be with us in the parish for a week of his well-earned summer break in between visiting his family in Poland.

Fr Jarek is working in Kimberley Diocese on the edge of the Kalahari Desert and has been there since 2004. I know he looks forward to his brief visits to the UK during his summer break and we in turn are very pleased to welcome him back. Please say hello to him if you see him around the parish.

Monday, 16 June 2008

Going Forth Mass with Bishop Kieran

Yesterday our usual 10.00am Mass was also the 'Going Forth' Mass for our First Holy Communion children - 39 in all. We were very lucky in that Bishop Kieran was able to be with us for the occasion to preside at Mass.

One lucky child receives a blessing from Bishop Kieran after Mass.

It was difficult to get a good photo in church with all the excitement afterwards. Here is one effort, with apologies to those children who have not quite managed to squeeze into the shot. If anyone has any good pictures and they would like to email them to me at the parish address, then I'll be happy to include them on the blog in the next few days.

Here is a shot from the balcony which gives you an idea of the difficulty in obtaining a clear photo!

After Mass we all went into the hall to enjoy the beautiful cake made by Sue Towersey. These young men were obviously having a good time.

And here is the cake in question. Luckily I took a photograph before it was taken over to the hall, otherwise it would just have been a photograph of a plate full of crumbs!

It was good to see all generations of our parish family enjoying the occasion.

Friday, 13 June 2008

Parish Catechesis

We have recently received the first batch of books for our Parish Catechetical programmes due to begin in the autumn.

We are using a new programme this year for our First Holy Communion children; "Jesus Comes to Me" by Dora Nash.

I ordered a sample to look at earlier in the year and was very impressed both with the straightforward Catholic content and the layout of the book.

We have been using Dora Nash's Confirmation Programme, "Confirmed in the Faith" for a few years now in the parish and have been very pleased with it so I thought I could rely on Dora Nash to give a suitable treatment to preparation for the Sacrament of Confession and the Sacrament of the Holy Eucharist, and I am not disappointed.

Both books are available from 'Family Publications', amongst others.

I feel like the BBC announcers saying, 'other listings magazines are available' when giving the Radio Times a plug!

Wednesday, 11 June 2008

Visiting old haunts ....

This morning I was able to visit the Angelicum (St Thomas Aquinas University) where I studied during my time in Rome a few (!) years ago.

Here you can see the seal of the university as you enter.

The Basilica of John Lateran from the outside .....

... and the interior of the Basilica.

And finally, the Irish College where I lived during my time of formation in Rome.

Tuesday, 10 June 2008


I'm just making a 'flying visit' to the Eternal City. Here you can see a picture looking down the Via della Conciliazione towards St Peter's Basilica, taken from the bus as I arrived.

I will be rushing around during my two-night stay but it is always good to be in Rome, even if for just a very short while. Being close to the Vatican and the Holy Father makes one feel very much part of, and in touch with, the Universal Church.

Of course, Rome is not just the Vatican and I hope to be able to snatch a few moments of leisure time to stroll along the streets and maybe pop into one of the many street cafes and watch the world go by for a while.

Monday, 9 June 2008

Annual Parish Meeting

Our Annual Parish Meeting took place last night, immediately after our 6pm Mass. I was very disappointed at the poor turnout of parishioners, especially considering we have between 650 and 700 people attending our Sunday Masses. Only about 25 people were present at the meeting.
Nevertheless in spite of this, I am very happy with the life of the parish in general. I just wish I could discover the secret of how to engage people in the activities of our parish. If anyone has any suggestions as to how to improve the situation, I would be delighted to hear from you. Please leave your comments here, anonymously if you wish.

Thursday, 5 June 2008

Shrine of Our Lady of Knock

On Thursday I was fortunate enough to be able to visit and celebrate Mass at Ireland's National Marian Shrine, which is in County Mayo on the West Coast of Ireland.

"The Story of Knock began on the 21st August 1879 when Our Lady, St. Joseph and St. John the Evangelist appeared at the south gable of Knock Parish Church. The apparition was witnessed by fifteen people, young and old. From this miraculous occurrence Knock has grown to the status of an internationally recognised Marian Shrine." You can find more information on the Shrine's website.

Pope John Paul II made a personal pilgrimage to the shrine in 1979, commemorating the centenary of the apparition. Mother Teresa of Calcutta visited the Shrine in June 1993.

One and a half million pilgrims visit the Shrine annually - make that one and a half million plus one this year!

Sunday, 1 June 2008

First Holy Communions - Part 3

The title of this post sounds a bit like a blockbuster film, but it does feel a bit like that sometimes. Some people might imagine it's difficult to sustain the sense of joy and celebration for three weeks running but I can assure everyone that as soon as I see the children arriving for Mass in their special outfits and with such expressions of anticipation on their faces and pride on those of their parents and the rest of the family, my spirits are immediately raised.

Each of the three First Holy Communion Masses has been very special for everyone concerned and I include myself in that. I feel privileged to have been able to celebrate all three Masses and have a part in each family's special day. I hope that all our First Communicants will have memories of this important day in their lives that they will treasure for ever.

By the way, there are a lot more photos of all our First Communicants taken on all three Sundays on our parish website.