Sunday, January 21, 2018

Large numbers of the people... Mass on Sunday are young families: we have a thriving Sunday school, a lot of young altar servers, and a wonderful Children's Choir, plus lots of smaller children and babies squeaking and wriggling with their parents in the pews. There are teenagers who sort of slope in separately to show they are independent.  And as this is London, we also have a good many visitors - sometimes people just google to find the nearest church to their hotel, or come across the church by chance and find us convenient for Mass on Sunday. And then there are students, some of whom live nearby...

After Mass there is coffee and a loud babble of talk. Then sometimes some of us who are not so young and don't have immediate commitments sometimes gather for a drink in a nearby pub. We are a slightly random group, and that is part of the charm: we probably wouldn't know each other at all except that we have this great thing in common, this Faith which is at once so important and so ordinary...

Saturday, January 20, 2018

Students of...

...America's Notre Dame University came on a London History Walk, organised by their Director for Catholic initiatives, Fr Jim Lies. I very much enjoyed leading the Walk: they were a delightful group. We explored Chelsea, and I explained about it being a Royal Borough...we followed the Thames and saw the Royal Hospital and so on...and then the story of St Thomas More...and finished at Allen Hall, where we were welcomed by the Rector, who told the story of the College's  foundation by Cardinal Allen, the  heroic Douai Martyrs, the move to Ware, and thence to London...and we finished at the More family's  famous mulberry tree...

Notre Dame's London base is a fine building just off Trafalgar Square, familiar to me as the Catholic Union organises regular lectures there.

Tuesday, January 16, 2018

An evening...

...with the Emmanuel Community, at the rather fine church of Our Lady of Victories in Kensington High Street.

Jamie and I first met the Emmanuel Community at Paray-le-Monial in the summer of 1990 with some Austrian friends. We were impressed. But I was not sure how it would be in  Britain on a rainy January night some thirty years later....

It was beautiful. A good crowd of people...rather tender temoinage from a woman describing how God - and Our Lady - had guided her through some family tragedies and to the adoption of a little boy...the beauty of glowing candles as people came forward to leave their own petitions before the Blessed was a peaceful and beautiful way to start the New Year.

Monday, January 15, 2018

The first Catholic History Walks of 2018...

are as follows:

Sunday, 4th February, 3pm. Catholics and Politics: St Thomas More, Guy Fawkes, Pugin, Parliament and the Abbey. Meet on the steps of Westminster Cathedral. Nearest Tube: Victoria.

Monday 12th February, 2pm. Explore the varied and fascinating history of the City of London.  Meet at the Church of the Most Precious Blood, Southwark. SE1 1TA. Nearest Tube: Borough or London Bridge.

Tuesday 20th February, 2pm. The story of St Thomas More, who died defending the faith duringHenry VIII's reign.  Meet at the Church of Our Most Holy Redeemer and St Thomas More, Cheyne Row. SW3 5HS. Nearest Tube: South Kensington.

ALL WELCOME:  no need to book, just turn up!

We suggest a donation of £5 per person.

Saturday, January 13, 2018


the great encyclical from a truly holy Pope, Blessed Paul VI, marks its 50th anniversary this year.  And, despite the gleeful hints by Mrs Melinda Gates and others, this anniversary will not be an  occasion for a change or adaption in the unchanging and unchangeable teaching that artificial contraception is intrinsically immoral. 

Lots will be said on this: among much else, HV was an extraordinarily prophetic document, and this aspect is one worth studying and emphasising. But there is more. At all times, the true and authentic teaching of the Church needs to be defended and upheld, and this requires courage. So while there can be no change in the teaching, there is alas no guarantee that Bishops - and Popes - will always have the courage to keep on repeating it with the courage, insights and wisdom required. So let's pray that in this anniversary year the courage will be forthcoming. Paul VI, who so often looked frail and solemn, showed true courage in 1968: read about it here.

It's an open secret that Pope Francis is much disliked and despised among many orthodox Catholics: I have been told so much about his quick temper, angry outbursts, and secretive plotting. But all of that misses the point: his role as Peter means that he has a special call on our prayers. He is meant to "confirm the brethren" in the Church's teachings, so that all will remain strong. In order to help him, what is needed is prayer.

Thursday, January 11, 2018

Five years ago...

...the Church of the Most Precious Blood at The Borough, London Bridge, was placed in the care of the Ordinariate of Our Lady of Walsingham.


Look here for a pic taken 5 years ago and one taken at Sunday's celebration

The Spirit of Vatican II... the theme of the new series of


at The Challoner Room
(basement) 24 Golden Square London W1F 9JR
7pm. Followed by cheese and wine

Nearest Tube: Piccadilly Circus

TUESDAY January 30th:
 DEI VERBUM: Revelation in a scientific world
Dr Gregory Farrelly

TUESDAY  13th February:
The Eucharist: source and summit of our Lives
Holy Hour: Fr Matthew O'Gorman

Tuesday 27th February
Humanae Vitae: the dignity of marriage and sex
Mr Ryan Day

Tuesday 13th March
Lumen Gentium: the nature of the Church today
Fr Timothy Finigan


Tuesday, January 09, 2018

A warm welcome... St Elphege's Church in Wallington: my home parish where I was baptised, confirmed, and married and where my family were part of the parish community for decades. It was lovely to be back.  I was invited by the Union of Catholic Mothers to talk about the story of Croydon Aiport,  and if you think that sounds obscure, that's because you just don't understand how important it all was, and why Wallington is so proud of this heritage. It was from that airport on the open land on the edge of Wallington - New Barn Farm,  the manors of Bandon and Foresters, mentioned in the Doomsday Book - that the air routes of the world were carved out. From here, Amy Johnson flew solo to Australia. From here, daily, the British newspapers were flown across to the European mainland, and the  12.30 to Paris linked Europe's two best-known capital cities. Here, Lindbergh flew in to a hero's welcome after flying the Atlantic. And here, in the summer of 1940, the young men of the Royal Air Force defended our country and its freedom in the Battle of Britain.

Want to know more? Read the books: there are four of them in all. Try The First Croydon Airport   which tells the story of WWI at the airfield, or The Great Days  with stories of Amy Johnson, Charles Kingsford Smith, Bert Hinkler etc....or this one about the Battle or Britain or this one which wraps up the story...

Writing the books on the history of Croydon Airport was a major part of my young adult life. My father became the first Treasurer of the Croydon Airport Society which would eventually establish a fine museum at the Airport where new generations can learn the story of the magnificent early  years of flight in Britain.

It was lovely to be home: a happy afternoon.


...a relevant comment here.

Sunday, January 07, 2018


...with the distribution of blessed chalk to mark our homes, and the singing of  splendid Epiphany carols...

...and then champagne  to mark the 5th anniversary of the Church of the Most Precious Blood being given into the care of the Ordinariate.

Then a large gathering of those original Ordinariate pioneers, plus others, for a splendid Lunch, with and excellent hearty menu, speeches and toasts...

Friday, January 05, 2018

On Epiphany... this.

...and what will....

...Auntie Joanna be doing in 2018? In response to enquiries, here's the info:

- working on the history of St Mary's University as Visiting Research Fellow
- editing FAITH magazine, a theological journal
- chairing the work of  CHRISTIAN PROJECTS, an ecumenical group running various projects for schools
- lecturing at Maryvale
- and, yes, relaxing a lot: enjoying countryside, relishing family and friends, and doing the sewing and embroidery that I very much enjoy...

January 2018 looks set to start on a good note: as well as Epiphany, with lovely carols, the traditional blessing of homes and chalking up of the date, etc etc,  there will be celebrations here to mark the 5th anniversary of the parish being placed in the care of the Ordinariate of OL of Walsingham.

Great teaching...

...from Bishop Robert Barron for the feast of the Epiphany...enjoy here

And he spoke this week at the big conference organised by FOCUS, the Fellowship of Catholic University Students.  One of the best things that happened to me while working at St Mary's University in Twickenham, was coming across the FOCUS event that was being held there. Superb. It is inspirational, and I enjoyed meeting Curtis Martin, the founder of the group - did an interview w. him for FAITH magazine (copy of magazine available if you want to enjoy it - just send a Comment to this blog with a postal address to which I can send it. I won't publish your address).

A major project for 2018...

...begins for me with  a meeting at Church House, Westminster, on February 1st: next stages in the campaign to ensure the truth is told about Bishop George Bell, and his reputation fully restored. Please come to this event: info here.

The campaign is gathering pace: many new developments. Worth reading this  to get the current picture...

Tuesday, January 02, 2018

What were the best books...

...that you read in 2017?  The Catholic World Report asked a number of us for our thoughts on this. You can read about Auntie Joanna's here...

Monday, January 01, 2018

There's lots to say... the New Year opens, and you can read some of it in The Portal.... Auntie is among the contributors...

We saw in the New Year...

...with traditional family games, and party food, and fireworks, and fun. The children adore it all, and love to hear about how the games and traditions go right back to long ago and to gatherings of great-great-great grandparents...

After the children were tucked up, the older among us marked the chimes of midnight with champagne and hugs, and went out into the street where there was a glorious gathering of neighbours to ooh and aaah at a great firework display over the town, and to sing "Auld Lang Syne in proper style, arms linked for the second verse and dancing forward and back...