On Wednesday I went to the afternoon of recollection for priests that we have twice a year in this diocese given by Fr Andrew Byrne of Opus Dei. He has been coming here for about ten years if I remember correctly. There was some raised expectation this time because for only the second time ever it had been mentioned in the Ad Clerum. The last time this happened, about eight years ago, we attracted ten priests. Unfortunately this time it omitted to say that Fr Byrne is from Opus Dei and only three of us turned up. Instead of meeting in a parish, as we usually do, we went to the convent of the Little Sisters of the Poor in Sunderland where we attracted three of the retired priests who live there too. The sisters were very welcoming despite having a golden jubilee of profession that day. However as we had about six non-retired priests last time it looks as if it is not now enough to rely on the Ad Clerum and I`ll have to go back to ringing up the priests who`ve expressed an interest to invite them for the next recollection in Lent.
By a coincidence at the parish reading group this week there had been talk of Opus Dei. We met to discuss the book `The Path to Rome` which is a collection of accounts of recent conversions. We had two new people at the meeting and one seemed to regard Opus Dei with suspicion. As Fr Byrne had given a talk to the parish in the Lent talk series with the title `What is Opus Dei` which many of the reading group had attended, our new member was immediately told how impressed they were by Fr Byrne and his talk about Opus Dei. With all the interest in the Da Vinci Code the Opus Dei topic had been the most popular of the lenten talks. I was hoping to have a series of talks in the autumn too but fear that it is too late now and we may have to wait until Lent next year.