Saturday May 12th 2007
To Brompton Oratory, where couples from various central London parishes were gathered for a day of talks etc as part of Marriage Preparation. My task is to speak from the perspective of a married Catholic...then there's a time for discussion which is guided to explore issues like the values and virtues that should guide our lives, and how these relate to our hopes and plans for marriage. The day is part of a full programme which includes talks week by week on topics ranging from the place of prayer in our lives to the discovery of Natural Family Planning.
It was pouring with rain, and Father Charles Dilke, who was there to be part of the discussion and lead a prayer at the end, hurried off to lend me a large cycle cape - - which was immensely useful as I cycled off to Kenington High Street to a rather grand hotel where the
TAMEZIN YOUNG JOURNALIST AWARDS
were taking place. I have mentioned Tamezin elsewhere on this blog - an excellent initiative, it is a magazine for teenage girls, written by and for young people. Its readership is growing rapidly - you could join in by simply taking out a subscription - and the Young Journalist Awards ceremony was the culmination of the various talks and Journalism Workshops I and others have been giving in schools. A team of top journalists were there to hand out the Awards and certificates, led by Cassandra Jardine of the Daily Telegraph. The young writers had been invited to do an interview with "some one inspirational" and there was an excellent field of entries which gave the judges a good deal of work. Prizes included a week's work experience at a TV station, including a chance to watch the News being broadcast live, and a week with a national newspaper. Looking out at the sea of faces in a packed room - with a delicious tea to follow, and an atmosphere of great celebration - made all the work of running those workshops in schools worthwhile. Among the schools that I have visited which produced winners and certificate-winners for the Award were Babington School in Kent, Wilmington School in Kent, and Prior Park College in Bath.
I cycled back along past Kensington Gardens and the Albert Memorial - which on this cool spring/summer evening looked simply splendid, glittering in gold. It's one of my favourite London landmarks. Have just been reading - and have reviewed for the current issue of the Catholic Times - the excellent biography of one of Victoria and Albert's granddaughters, Grand Duchess Ella of Russia, who was slaughtered by the Bolsheviks and is honoured by the Orthodox Church, and rightly, as a saint (new biography by Christopher Warwick, Wiley books £16.95p, hugely recommended).
at home with emails and trawling through the Internet I looked up the latest on the Holy Father's visit to Brazil and came across this lovely picture (connect and then scroll down) which shows him in a wonderful hug with four happy children...and they are clutching COPIES OF THE CHILDREN'S BIBLE DONATED BY AID TO THE CHURCH IN NEED!! For years, people have been generously giving money so that children could have copies, of their very own, of this delightful children's Bible with its bright red cover and lovely illustrations, produced in innumerable languages and distributed across the globe. It's very, very satisfying to know that the Holy Father was himself giving out this little gift, and the small recipients were responding with a glorious hug. Supporters of ACN across BRitain, please, please do take a look at this pic! Launched initially as part of the International Year of the Child, and expanded year on year from there, this project has meant that many, many children who have never owned a book and had had no prospect of owning one, have recieved this most important book of all....and all through the simple system of encouraging people to give one to a child in Britain (where children also need Bibles!) and make a donation to fund a couple of books overseas...
Next time you hear a grumble about charities being over-bureaucratic and the whole thing getting too complicated, remember ACN and this simple but magnificent project, and those children in Brazil (pic taken, incidentally, at a drug rehabilitation project also partly funded by ACN....)