Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Today`s the Day.

The relics of St Thérèse arrive in Newcastle today. I have failed to mention it so far but there is a blog following the visit round the country which makes interesting reading. You can find it here. Here is the programme for Newcastle:

Relics of St Thérèse of Lisieux

Wednesday 30th September 2009
3.00 pm Arrival Service
3.30 pm General Veneration
7.30 pm Bishop’s Mass
8.30 pm General Veneration
11.30pm Evening prayer of the church

Thursday 1st October 2009
Midnight All Night Vigil
8.00 am Mass for St Therese’s feast day
9.00 am General Veneration
10.00 am Departure Service
10.30 am Departure of Relics

Priests will be available for Anointing of the Sick up to midnight on Wednesday and from 7.30 am to 10.30 am on Thursday.
Priests will available for confessions up to midnight on Wednesday.

The Mass with the bishop was originally billed as being ticket-only but now it isn`t.

Monday, September 28, 2009

Franciscan Friars of the Renewal at Forest Hall

This year, at the beginning of September, for the retreat day for our confirmation candidates, the Franciscan Friars of the Renewal came up from Bradford. We were happy to welcome Fr Thomas and brothers Seraphim and Felice. I took a group photo but it was too blurry so here is the only usable photo of the day which is not ideal but better than nothing.
The friars led our young people in prayer and discussion and I hope the day will bear fruit. It is not often that young people round here get the chance to meet anyone in religious life. I`m sure the authentic Franciscan spirit and joy of the friars cannot fail to be infectious and hope that now they have met the community we may be able to get some enthusiasm going for events such as the annual Walsingham renewal weekend.

Friday, September 25, 2009

Should the Pope come to Tyneside?

In 1982 Pope John Paul II came to York which of course has great historical significance for the English Church. It was a mid-way point where the Catholics of Yorkshire and the North East could go to share in the papal visit. It would be understandable, given his advanced age, if Pope Benedict makes a shorter visit to these isles. It is said he will visit London and Birmingham ( and maybe Oxford) but I`ve not been keeping up with the latest proposals. However the local Newcastle paper, the Evening Chronicle, had a poll on whether people would like to see the Pope come to Tyneside. When I last looked there was just over 50% in favour and 49% against. The poll seems to have gone but the article is here.

So is there still a virulent No Popery movement in the North East? I`ve never met much of it although I was directed recently to a blog by an Anglican cleric who works a few miles away which is somewhat less than keen on Pope Benedict.

Well it`s all very exciting and gives us something to look forward to. I`m sure many of us will be prepared to travel, even if it means crossing the border into Scotland if that is the nearest the papal visit comes. Roll on 2010!

Monday, September 21, 2009

Bishops must help priests follow their vocation faithfully

Our bishop, Seamus Cunningham, is at this study week for new bishops although I couldn`t see him on this extract. `Bishops` boot camp` was the term our late bishop, Kevin Dunn, used to describe this week.

Forty Hours at 5.15am

This was the scene not long before dawn. All is going well and people seemed to manage without the heating last night so the candles survived the night and I hope they last until tomorrow morning. All the watching slots are now accounted for thanks to some last minute volunteers for some of the early morning slots. I`m always uplifted by the generous response the Forty Hours produces in people who are ready to give up time to be with the Lord.

Sunday, September 20, 2009

The Forty Hours underway

The Forty Hours is under way and almost every hour is now covered by volunteers to watch. I just hope the candles last. The heaters in church blow hot air around which makes candles gutter (they are also annoyingly noisy) but it is too cold for people to sit for an hour without any heat. Here`s a photo from a few minutes ago.

The Forty Hours

In my last parish, I came across the Forty Hours for the first time. That was in 1995. At St Wilfrid`s, Gateshead they had just kept it going while it had died out in other parishes. It was always a very special time in the parish year and even though the congregation was not large and mostly elderly there was great enthusiasm to keep it going. I offered to stop at midnight and start again at 8am but volunteers always came forward to ensure that there was watching through the night, both nights. I understand that my successor as parish priest, Fr Dixon, has kept it going.

I went to St Wilfrid`s in the week to borrow their candle stands as we are having the Forty hours here at St Mary`s this year. I didn`t think there would be enough interest to fill all the watching slots but most of them have been accounted for. Again I am very pleased that people have volunteered for the night-watching. So we start tonight at 6pm and will continue through to 10am Mass on Tuesday morning. I`m hoping it will help deepen our devotion to the Blessed Sacrament and that it will become an annual event ( even if we need to borrow the stands from St Wilfrid`s every year).

Here`s a picture of the altar as it was set up this morning after Mass.

Wednesday, September 09, 2009

North East Catholic History Society

I am delighted to say that our diocesan website now has a section on the North East Catholic History Society of which I have the honour of being chairman. There you can find the programme of talks for the next academic year and details about the magazine. Thanks to the diocesan webmaster for her work on this.

Monday, September 07, 2009

Brinkburn 2009

A much larger congregation than I`d feared turned up at Brinkburn on Saturday for the annual High Mass. As mentioned there was an all FSSP team. Fr Emerson was celebrant and Rev Simon Harkin was deacon and Rev Peter Bauknecht was subdeacon. Many thanks to them and to the Rudgate singers, Schola Borealis, organist Peter Locke and the altar servers for making it possible as well as English Heritage. Here are some photos, courtesy of Frank Erskine.

Wednesday, September 02, 2009


This Saturday there will be a Solemn High Mass at Brinkburn priory in Northumberland at 12 noon. Music will be provided by the Schola Borealis, the Rudgate Singers (who will be singing a Mass by Lotti and motet by Scarlatti) and organist Peter Locke. The celebrant will be Fr Emerson FSSP and the deacon and subdeacon will also be from the FSSP. This is normally a highlight of the year for the Extraordinary Form in the North East. I`m looking forward to not being the celebrant or a sacred minister for a change and just taking it all in.