However there were a few things I learnt during the week.
1) On the first morning of the retreat we learnt of the sudden death of Fr Kevin Gallagher, parish priest of Horden. For ten years he was a Spiritual Director at the college and as such was a help to many priests of the Northern Province who were his directees. He was my director from entering the college in September 1983 and remained so until the present apart from my two years in Rome. I personally owe him a lot and was very shocked to hear of his death at the age of 62. I expect his funeral Mass will be packed with priests from all over the north. His Requiem Mass will be celebrated on Tuesday 8th June at 12 noon at Horden, followed by burial at Our Blessed Lady Immaculate, Washington. May he rest in peace.
2) A couple of us took advantage of the provisions of Summorum Pontificum to say private Masses in the Extraordinary Form. We spoke to the priest acting as sacristan and set up things in the Oratory (or relics`) chapel. However one day we arrived to find that the altar had been decorated for the feast of St Philip Neri with a relic of the saint as the centre-piece. This was a great surprise as any interest in relics would probably have been a formation issue in my day. That made sense of the two candles in front of the altar of St Bede the day before. I forgot to check the chapel of St Augustine of Canterbury the next day. This was a most encouraging development. By a stroke of co-incidence I had put two reliquaries out on the altar at St Mary`s here on Sunday, for the first time. So I said Mass in the St Charles Borromeo chapel that day,where I had conducted my instructions in saying Low Mass. It was a pity that the Octave of Pentecost in the 1962 books allows of no commemorations as I would have liked to celebrate these three saints this week.
3) I was seriously surprised by the number of priests who said they look at this blog.
4) I learnt that there are only fifteen seminarians in residence at Ushaw at the minute. The fourth year seminarians spend January to June on a parish placement but even including them the numbers are still only in the twenties. The situation is thus even worse than I imagined.
The retreat talks were given by Fr Eamon Mulcahy. He is a very good speaker with an amazing range of material at his fingertips. I didn`t agree with everything he said but as with any retreat there were good points to hang on to which made it a worthwhile experience.