Wednesday, November 26, 2014

...and here is...


...prizewinner Maddie Carling of St  Mary's School Bishops Stortford with her parents and Mgr Keith Newton at the 2014 TOWARDS ADVENT Festival.  She won a cash prize, a Missal (CTS, hardback, ribbons - something to keep and use for always) and books including, yes,  Auntie's book on St John Paul the Great.
pic: ©Oremus/DP

Tuesday, November 25, 2014

Wisdom on Europe...

...but will they listen? Read here...and here...

Monday, November 24, 2014

The Catholic chatosphere...

...doesn't seem to have made much of this, preferring on the whole to follow the NBC line of silence...

Sunday, November 23, 2014

Do children in Britain today know the Lord's Prayer?

Often the answer is "Alas, no."

No reason to assume this should be permanent or acceptable.

Read here.

Torrential rain meant that...

...we were unable to have the planned Procession of the Blessed Sacrament in honour of today's feast of Christ the King, rounding off the Church's year. All the Sunday school children had been taught about Christ the King and made crowns to wear for the procession, so wore them for Benediction in the church instead.




Saturday, November 22, 2014

Superb singing....

...from the choir of the John Fisher School, a splendid welcoming ceremony with Mgr Keith Newton of the Ordinariate of Our Lady of Walsingham, a hall filled with stalls and displays from a great range of Catholic groups and organisations, and lots of freshly-brewed coffee and delicious cakes and sandwiches to great people as they arrived...the 2014 TOWARDS ADVENT Festival was by any measure a really wonderful day!

It seems extraordinary to reflect that it is our 15th Festival.  Standing on the platform at Westminster Cathedral Hall  I was suddenly conscious of  the great adventure it has all been. When I first chaired a gathering of various Catholic groups (Aid to the Church in Need, Fisher Press, the Catholic Truth Society, the Catholic Writers' Guild,  Gracewing Books) to discuss the possibilities for such a Festival, we did believe that we were on to something worthwhile and rather exciting. And we've been proved right - but I honestly don't think that we realised just how deeply and confidently it would become embedded into the life of the Catholic community in London and its suburbs, or how easily it would adapt to the many and swift changes of the past decade and a half...the internet, swift desktop publishing, mobile phones, two changes of Pope, and the arrival of some wholly new things on the Catholic scene including the Ordinariate, a new translation of the Mass.

We celebrated the 15th Festival with the presentation of prizes in our special Schools Essay Project (see below) and with the blessing of a picture of St John Paul which will be carried on pilgrimage to Walsingham with the John Paul Walkers. The choir of the John Fisher School filled the great hall with glorious music. The talks and workshops proved hugely popular - these take place in the Hinsley Room on the opposite side of the Cathedral but no one seems to mind hurrying out into rainy Ambroiseden Avenue to get there - and the stalls reported good sales of books, Christmas cards, rosaries, home-made jam, and more...

We'll have the usual wash-up meeting shortly. There are many groups that ought to be at the Festival (we have a waiting-list now for participants).There were special successes this year (big new coffee-maker - my small nephew proved particularly useful in helping to fill it up with water as Auntie poured freshly-ground coffee in the percolator at the top). And there are lots of things to talk about...
but it was a grand day, and a happy atmosphere, and I've come home with some lovely cards from a craft stall, and some delicious cakes, and a glorious John Paul  mug from Youth 2000, and lots of reading material...

Friday, November 21, 2014

PRIZEWINNERS...the St John Paul/St John XXIII Essay Project 2014...


The organisers of the 2014 TOWARDS ADVENT Festival have pleasure in announcing the winners of the St John Paul/St John XXIII  Essay Project, organised in association with the Festival.

They are:

GEORGE EZEKIEL  and MADDIE CARLING of St Mary's School, Bishops Stortford, Hertfordshire. The prizes will be presented tomorrow (Sat Nov 22nd)  at the Festival at Westminster Cathedral Hall by Mgr Keith Newton of the Ordinariate of Our Lady of Walsingham. George and Maddie win a cash prize of £50 each, plus a commemorative Missal and other book prizes.

Runner-up prizes were gained by other pupils at St Mary's, and by pupils at St Augustine's School, Ealing. These will be presented in ceremonies at their schools over the next few days.

The Project was open to pupils at Catholic secondary schools in the diocese of Westminster, to mark the canonisation of Saints John Paul and John XXIII. We were impressed by the standard of entries and are glad to have played a part in enabling young Catholics to mark this very special year in the life of the Church.


Thursday, November 20, 2014

Britain's former Chief Rabbi...

...spoke superbly at the Humanum conference in Rome. Read  and watch here,

He defended marriage as the lifelong bond between a man and a woman, speaking with warmth, dignity, and truth:

"... compassion for those who choose to live differently should not inhibit us from being advocates for the single most humanising institution in history. The family, man, woman, and child, is not one lifestyle choice among many. It is the best means we have yet discovered for nurturing future generations and enabling children to grow in a matrix of stability and love. It is where we learn the delicate choreography of relationship and how to handle the inevitable conflicts within any human group. It is where we first take the risk of giving and receiving love. It is where one generation passes on its values to the next, ensuring the continuity of a civilization. For any society, the family is the crucible of its future, and for the sake of our children’s future, we must be its defenders."

The Catholic Union...

of Great Britain ...has been working to help support and encourage Catholics in public life in Britain for  somegthing like 150 years. The Annual Meeting began with Mass in Westminster Cathedral and then a gathering in nearby Vaughan House. The President, Lord Brennan, gave his retiring speech - he is handing over to Sir Edward Leigh MP. Lord Brennan has been an excellent President, and Sir Edward's strong and lively address gave us all a sense of confidence in the future. There is certainly plenty to do...the meeting was well-attended, the spirit good, but....oh my goodness there are grave issues facing us all and the mood when we tackled these was serious. Deliberate killing of the gravely ill. Imposition of a secularist agenda on all schools. Pressure on Christian doictors and nurses to accept gross and unethical procedures.

Lively talk over drinks and sandwiches...plans for 2015, no sense of abandoning hope or shrugging off the future as beyond our care.

The chairman is Councillor Robert Rigby, of Westminster City Council. Auntie is on the Education and Outreach Working Party. Among many other activities, there is a public lecture sponsored by the Catholic Union on Dec 4th, 6.30pm  at the University of Notre Dame, Suffolk Street, just off Trafalgar Square. Topic is Catholic education. Worth attending.

And there's more about the TOWARDS ADVENT Festival...

...here....and here...and here...and here...

At the TOWARDS ADVENT Festival....

...the winners of the special St John Paul II/St John XXIII   Project will be announced.  This is an essay project, a new venture for the TOWARDS ADVENT Festival. Pupils at Catholic secondary schools in the diocese of Westminster were invited to write essays about one or both of these great Popes, focusing on the question "What is a Pope?" and showing evidence of understanding the role and purpose of the papacy.

We have two winners, a boy and a girl, and each will recieve a £50 cash prize and a beautiful Missal. There are runners-up who will also receive Missals (for those of special merit) or other book prizes.

There were some good entries - choosing winners was not easy.

I am encouraged by the work produced in some of our Catholic secondary schools.

A sample: one entrant wrote:

"Jesus Christ appointed Simon Peter the first Pope, 'You are gthe rock and on this rock, I shall build my Church.' This means that the Pope is the Supreme Pastor which means he represents Christ's love and concern for every living being. All Popes are successors and descendants of Peter, although they are not blood descendants, they carry on Peter's work of spreading the good news across the globe."


After last night's Requiem...

...there was an Advent sale of craft goods to raise funds for the "Open House" that St Patrick's offers to the homeless - hot meals and companionship and a place to shelter. I bought some lovely Christmas decorations, and a bag of ginger cookies all tied up with ribbon. You can buy things after all the Masses this coming Sunday (Christ the King) and can also add names to those tucked into the greenery by the altar steps...