Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Patriarchs making the news

I`m always somewhat surprised when an archbishop is transfered to another archbishopric. It just seems odd to me. Maybe I`ve not been paying sufficient attention and it is perfectly normal. We had archbishop Peter Smith move from Cardiff to Southwark recently. Today I read that Cardinal Scola, the Patriarch (no less) of Venice has become the new archbishop of Milan. I only mention this because the incumbent Scola is succeeding, Tettamanzi, has apparently not been very sympathetic to Summorum Pontificum and MiL sees this move as cause for hope for the Catholics of Milan attached to the ancient form of the Ambrosian Rite. The above picture from Venice helps confirm this.

The other Patriarch making the news is that of Lisbon who appears not to have understood Bl John Paul`s document on the reservation of priestly ordination to men, Ordinatio Sacerdotalis. However he is 75 so will be retiring soon.

UPDATE 08.07.11 The Patriarch of Lisbon has issued a clarification and expressed his allegience to the Magisterium!

Monday, June 27, 2011

The Curious History of the bishops of Hexham and Newcastle.

The death of bishop Ambrose Griffiths gave me cause to put on my North East Catholic History Society hat and to check up on the time in office of the previous bishops of Hexham and Newcastle. For this the Catholic Hierarchy site is invaluable.

We started off in 1850 quite well. William Hogarth had been appointed Vicar Apostolic in 1848 for the Northern District and in 1850 at the restoration of the hierarchy became the first bishop of the restored Hexham diocese which in 1861 adopted its present title of Hexham and Newcastle. He stayed in office until his death in 1866 at the age of 79.8 years.

He was succeeded by James Chadwick who became bishop at the age of 53.5 and lasted until 1882 and his death at the age of 69.1 which is perhaps a little premature. Things got worse with bishop James Bewick who died at the age of only 62.5 in October 1886. He was succeeded by bishop O`Callaghan who resigned in 1889 at the age of 62.5 (which seems to have been a dangerous age) although he went on to live until 1904 when he died at the age of 77.5. Bishop Wilkinson was more fortunate in that he became bishop in 1889 and lasted until 1909 when he died at the age of 84.

Bishop Collins died at the age of 66.8 in 1924. His successor, bishop Thorman died at the age of 65.2 in 1936. Bishop McCormack died at the age of 70.8 in 1958. Bishop James Cunningham died in 1974 at the age of only 63.9 having resigned a couple of months previously and was succeeded by bishop Lindsay who retired through ill-health at the age of 64.6 in 1992. (He lived to be 81.6.} Then came bishop Ambrose Griffiths, our only bishop not to be a secular priest, who did his full-term, retiring in 2004. He was followed by the unfortunate bishop Kevin Dunn who died in 2008 at the age of 57.8 and was succeeded by the present bishop, Seamus Cunningham who was appointed at the age of 66.7 and who is now 68.97 years old.

So all in all given that there is now a retirement age for bishops of 75 only bishops Hogarth and Wilkinson and Griffiths can be said to have completed what would now be considered a full-term: that is three out the twelve. Our present bishop, the thirteenth, was appointed at an age when many of his predecessors were already dead or retired.

The bishops of this diocese are traditionally buried at Ushaw (I`ve not yet mentioned anything about the reprieve of the college but will get round to it) but it seems unlikely that bishops will ever be buried there again. Bishops Lindsay and Dunn chose to be buried in the cathedral crypt which is appropriate but not open to visitors. Bishop Griffiths will be buried at Ampleforth.

Animae eorum et animae omnium defunctorum per misericordiam Dei requiescant in pace.

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Solemn High Mass to celebrate the 60th anniversary of Pope Benedict`s priestly ordination

On Wednesday 29th June at 7.30pm the annual High Mass will take place at SS Peter and Paul`s church, Benton Lane, Longbenton. This year the Mass will be offered in thanksgiving for Pope Benedict`s sixtieth anniversary of priesthood. The Schola Sancti Bedae wil sing the proper and the choir of St George`s, Cullercoats will sing Mozart`s Credo Mass, K.257. There will be light refreshments afterwards. All welcome.

PS Before the comments start,the rather strange image on the back wall was removed last year and replaced with a Pantocrator icon.

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

A day out with the North East Catholic History Society

On Saturday I finally managed (after years of trying and failing because of clashes with other commitments), to join the NECHS for one of its day trips. Thirty or so people left the Central Station at Newcastle at 9.30 and headed to Ripon. We had two hours there which was to include time for lunch so I went straight to the cathedral. When we got there one of the vergers asked us if we had come for the service. It was disappointing to see that there was a service starting at 11 as it meant we couldn`t walk round the choir area but when I saw the booklets the lady verger was giving out I was rather intrigued. (For those who may not know the Society of St Wilfrid and Hilda is an Anglican organization for those who, instead of joining the Ordinariate, are trying to preserve a Catholic identity in the Church of England.) I reproduce the front cover of the service booklet here. Our lady verger said they didn`t have a shrine of St Wilfrid so took issue with the description on the front! From what I remember from a previous visit there is a slab at the left of the high altar which marks the burial place of St Wilfrid. I was suspicious of the icon of St Wilfrid on the leaflet which shows no sign of his love for unity with Rome which was what he was all about I would have thought.

I went to sit at the side of the choir to follow the service. There were about thirteen concelebrating clergy and two deacons, one female, as well as the bishops. I was eager to see how things were done to see if I could spot the `patrimony` bits. One difference I noticed was that they sing a lot more than we do. The opening hymn was `For all the saints` with all eleven verses and the Gospel acclamation was a hymn with six verses! I wanted in particular to hear the sermon.

The Gospel was `Thou art Peter` from Matthew 16 which I thought might give material for an interesting sermon. However the bishop of Whitby avoided controversy and spoke about some exhibitions that had been on and were about to start at the National Gallery: the exhibitions with a Christian theme, starting with Seeing Salvation in the year 2000, which have attracted a lot of interest. The response to these exhibitions show that there is a thirst for knowledge about Christianity and, he said, the C of E is well-placed to respond to it. He spoke once about the need to look beyond internal divisions and instead to get on with preaching the Gospel. I left after the sermon as time was running short and I wanted to visit St Wilfrid`s crypt before finding lunch.

After lunch we headed to Markenfield Hall. I had first become aware of it through reading Fr de Malleray`s account of his visit in the FSSP`s Dowry magazine and as the NECHS are always looking for new places to visit I suggested it might make a good day out. Markenfield is a fortified manor house of the fourteenth century and is well worth a visit. The de Markenfields lost possession of it in 1570 after being punished for taking part in the Rising of the North in 1569.

We had a most informative tour after which I was able to celebrate Mass in the chapel. It was particularly moving to think of those who heard Mass in that chapel before setting off for the revolt. The altar is not free-standing so Mass can only be said ad orientem which I was more than happy with...

I had thought that was the end of our day out but we just had time for a quick visit to Knaresborough to visit the shrine of Our Lady of the Crag. As the PP was a classmate of mine at Ushaw I called at the presbytery but got no reply.

All in all a very good day out and despite the forecast for rain we only had a couple of showers in Ripon before the sun came out. I look forward to the next NECHS trip out next year.

Friday, June 17, 2011

Forty Hours at Forest Hall

Earlier than in previous years, the Forty Hours devotion will take place at St Mary`s starting this Sunday night at 6pm. I moved it to June to make more use of the warmth and light but it has worked out well as Cardinal Piacenza, Prefect of the Congregation for Clergy, has asked every parish, or religious community to offer sixty hours of Eucharistic Adoration during the month of June, to celebrate the Sixtieth anniversary of the priestly ordination of our Holy Father Pope Benedict XVI which is to be celebrated on 29th June and also for the sanctification of Clergy. Cardinal Piacenza says “in this way, the Pontiff could be honoured with an extraordinary spiritual bouquet of prayer and spiritual union"

We may not reach sixty hours of Exposition this month but we will come fairly close. There will be watching through most of the night on Sunday (only two hours are as yet not spoken for) and on Monday night we will have to stop at 1am and resume at 6am. If you are in the vicinity you are most welcome to join us for this very special time in the life of the parish.

PS. For anyone worried that the Annunciation icon has disappeared this is an old photo from before it came.

UPDATE: 20.6.11 I`m glad to say that the whole of last night was in the end covered and the same will happen tonight so we will cover all forty hours!

Thursday, June 16, 2011

Biddlestone Mass

From the local LMS newsletter:

The annual EF Mass organised by Jack Harvey will this year be held on 18th June 2011 at 12 noon.
The celebrant for the Missa Cantata will be Fr Shaun Swales. All are encouraged to attend & to enjoy a picnic in the grounds following Mass.

For more on Biddlestone see here.

Wednesday, June 15, 2011


This last weekend I was in Berlin. I know: I should have been in Chartres. It`s years since I`ve been. I was staying with friends and was trying to explain the joys of the pilgrimage. To remind myself, I had a look on YouTube and this I thought captured much of it.

My trip to Berlin did mean that I got to Mass at the Institut St. Philipp Neri. We had a beautiful Missa Cantata with an excellent schola and well-trained servers as well as a large, mostly young, congregation.

Bishop Ambrose Griffiths

I have been away for a few days. When I got back I found quite a lot had been going on. I was sad to hear yesterday about the death of bishop Ambrose Griffiths, bishop of Hexham and Newcastle from 1992 until 2004.

It was in 1992 shortly after his appointment that bishop Ambrose gave permission for a weekly Sunday Mass according to the 1962 missal at St Dominic`s Newcastle. Although this was four years after Ecclesia Dei it was still relatively rare in England to have a Sunday Mass in the same church every week. Other bishops allowed Masses every Sunday but often had them take place in a rota of churches ( as in Lancaster). Bishop Ambrose was a true liberal and although he had no interest in the Extraordinary Form itself he was willing to let other people attend it convinced that it was sought after only by a few nostalgics and that in time it would die out.

In about 1993 I asked the bishop for permission to celebrate the 1962 Mass at St Robert`s Morpeth where I was the curate. He gave permission and that monthly Mass continues to this day on a weekday. When I became a parish priest in 1995 I asked for permission to celebrate a 1962 Mass on a Sunday and once again permission was given even though this Mass was just over the river from St Dominic`s, at St Wilfrid`s Gateshead. So I was able to continue with a Sunday Mass until I was moved from Gateshead in 2005. When I was made parish priest of St Joseph`s, Gateshead in 2002 or so I moved the Sunday Mass to that church, the mother church of the town and it continues to this day and is now said by the parish priest. Fr Elkin was also gven permission for Mass at Ryhope.

We had an interesting time when bishop Ambrose came on visitation to St Wilfrid`s. I had thought to have a Missa Cantata to make it more user-friendly from a Novus Ordo perspective. However this didn`t materialise and so we had our normal non-dialogue Low Mass. Bishop Ambrose preached and all I remember about the sermon was that he told us that the Pharisees were the canon-lawyers of their day ( I was tempted to reply that the High Priest was the bishop of his day) and that he had a lot to say about Luther for some reason and how the Catholic Church and the Lutherans had sorted it all out now. HIs remarks made it into Christian Order magazine! However after Mass bishop Ambrose said he couldn`t understand why anyone would want to go to a Mass like that. He said he had loved it and celebrated it when young but had moved on. (I have felt the same about the Chrism Mass!) Nonetheless despite his own feelings he was happy for others to benefit from the then so-called Indult Mass. In this he was considerably more enlightened than some of his brother bishops then and even now.

May he rest in peace.

Bishop Ambrose`s Requiem will take place on Ist July at St Mary`s cathedral at 12 noon and is open to everyone. He will be buried at Ampleforth Abbey the following day.

Thursday, June 09, 2011

What to do with an old missal?

Back in May there was a thread on the Pray, Tell blog about disposing of old missals which has had me thinking. As you will see on that thread the U.S. Bishops’ Committee on Divine Worship said that old missals should be buried in church grounds or in a parish cemetery. The problem arises as the missal is often blessed. Fr Ruff adds:

The BCDW recommends burying the old sacramentary on church grounds or in a parish cemetery. Other possibilities are placing the liturgical book in the coffin of a deceased person, as is done in various Eastern Churches, as a sign of the person’s devotion to the liturgy. One could also do ‘cremation’ (my term, not theirs) and bury the ashes on church grounds.

I must admit I hadn`t thought about this. As you will see in the picture our missal is rather tatty. In fact it isn`t used. A previous PP bought the American Sacramentary and that is what we use on the altar. What I like about it is that the sung prefaces are placed alongside the unsung version which I find quite useful.

However I was brought up at Ushaw on stories of priests after the Council burning missals and antique vestments or throwing them on skips. Having been back to St Cuthbert`s school, Newcastle, a few years ago for an exhibition on the history of the school where some of the old vestments were put out on display I was surprised at how uninspiring they were. I do occasionally see a good vestment which I am told was rescued from a skip.

Much as I would like to remove all memory of the current translation I notice that in this parish we still have the 1959 altar missal which I use for daily morning Mass. No-one threw it away. I recently found all the parish altar cards too at the back of a cupboard. No-one had thrown away this rather run down altar missal too. I suspect I won`t be burying any missals although I`m slightly tempted. Maybe we should keep them lest we forget....

Blaydon Races 2012

My first brush with celebrity was in 1962 (as you can see above) at the Blaydon Races centenary celebrations when I was photographed with Hugh Gaitskell and T Dan Smith. Hugh Gaitskell died the next year. The photograph appeared a while ago on a programme about T Dan Smith, much to my surprise. I look a little worried. Maybe I`d just heard about the abolition of the Confiteor before Communion.

Today marks the 149th anniversary of the Blaydon Races and there is a campaign to ensure it is celebrated properly for the 150th anniversary next year. You can find the web page here where you will find a petition to sign too!

Wednesday, June 08, 2011

Clergy Retreat

News from Fr de Malleray today regarding the retreat he will be giving on the theme of `Priestly meditations on the prayers of the EF Roman Missal`. So far there are fourteen booked on the retreat including Fr de Malleray and there are still a dozen single rooms available at the Cold Ash pastoral centre for priests who might like to come. Although the retreat is centred on the prayers of the EF missal priests can say their daily Mass in either the EF or OF of the Roman missal. The publication of Universae Ecclesiae makes this retreat all the more appropriate. For priests travelling a long distance it is possible to spend the Sunday night at the FSSP`s St John Fisher house at Reading if you let Fr De Malleray know. As the retreat will be silent and, as happened to me at the retreat at Douai, priests meet other priests they may not have seen in decades, then there is the option of a pre-retreat lunch at 12 noon at the Spotted Dog in Cold Ash on Monday 4th July to allow a chance to talk before the retreat begins.

Cold Ash is six minutes drive from Bucklebury, where it is possible to visit the beautiful church of St Mary the Virgin and maybe say a prayer for the Duchess of Cambridge in her home village.

All the information about the retreat can be found here.

Tuesday, June 07, 2011

A chaplain abroad - Fr Bede Rowe

Fr Bede Rowe is from Gateshead (Heworth to be precise if my memory serves me well). Sad to say circumstances led to him becoming a priest of Clifton diocese rather than Hexham and Newcastle and so H & N`s loss was Clifton`s gain. Fr Rowe writes useful books. His most recent is a guide to the Old Testament but he has also produced books which provide a guide to Mass and Confession and a book on Synodality. Like me he is a regional chaplain for the LMS. However he is just about to take up a new appointment as chaplain to Chavagnes International College, a Catholic boarding school for boys which was the subject of a TV programme a while back (I can`t remember which channel it appeared on.)

Fr Rowe has started a blog and I`ve added it to my blog roll. I look forward to hearing about life at Chavagnes and wish him every success in his new appointment.