Sunday, October 30, 2011

World Youth Day

World Youth Day by Southwark Vocations

When we were in Madrid for World Youth Day we stayed at the parish of Our Lady of Cana. We were staying in the rooms underneath the main Church which meant we had access to our own chapel for Mass and prayer each day. Meanwhile in the main Church, from the Monday of the week of World Youth Day, there was perpetual Adoration to pray for the event. It was impressive to see so many people coming day and night to pray before Our Lord in the Blessed Sacrament. Each night at 10.00pm there was a Holy Hour preached by Don Jesus Higueras, the parish priest. On the Wednesday night the Quo Vadis group provided the music for this. Since there were 83 in our group it was relatively easy, after a bit of practice, to produce some music that was both reverent and substantial enough to aid the prayer of nearly four hundred people. Don Jesus' meditations are recorded and made available to those who can't get to Church so we were flattered the following morning when the person in charge asked us to re-record the first hymn as she hadn't caught it all. The photo above is of our 'choir practice'.

An Unexpected Discovery

Moscow by Southwark Vocations

In September this year I visited Glasgow for the first time. I was quite keen to go as I have a number of parishioners from the city or thereabouts and I had heard a lot about it. For a long time Glasgow was synonymous with social deprivation but a lot has happened recently to improve things. In fact I suspect the reputation was never really fair as there are parts of the City that would certainly rival London in terms of large houses and well-heeled population. The centre is also elegant with many fine buildings although sadly some of them are still run down. 
I was in Glasgow for a sort of in-service course for priests and one day took a ride out into the countryside where I found a place I hadn't expected to discover in Britain!

Visiting Ards Friary

Church near Ards Friary by Southwark Vocations
A week ago I flew out to Belfast and then drove over to Donegal. The purpose of the trip was to visit Ards Friary, a retreat and Conference Centre which used to be the Capuchin seminary in Ireland. Set in two hundred acres of land and overlooking a dramatic bay the Friary is in a stunning location. It is also quite accessible from London, particularly if one flies to Derry rather than to Belfast. I am always on the lookout for good places for vocations retreats and other vocation activities so if you know of any do let me know. A prayerful Chapel or Oratory for Holy Mass and times of prayer is one of the most important factors. After that, beautiful surroundings, and reasonable accommodation are all a bonus. 
These days it is becoming harder to find things here in England because so many religious houses have closed down and been sold. The few that remain tend to get booked up a long time in advance.
The photograph above is of the local village chapel near Ards Friary. It was built to resemble the shape of the mountains behind it. Once you get inside it is surprisingly light and spacious.

Friday, October 21, 2011

Schools Vocation Project

Pupils at Catholic primary schools in the diocese of Southwark are being invited to find out about what it means to be called to be a priest or a religious sister.

In a special project, they will talk to priests and nuns, and also study the lives of Blessed John Paul II and Blessed Mother Teresa of Calcutta. Schools are inviting priests and sisters to come in and talk to the children and answer their questions.

There are prizes to be won – personal book prizes for the children and cash prizes for the schools, and all taking part will receive commemorative religious medals.

The  project, run by Southwark Vocations, is designed to help children understand what it means to be at the service of the Church as a priest or a Sister, to share in the experience of the first Apostles and all those who have served the Church in this way at different times and places, down to the present day.

The children will write essays and produce artwork, and the deadline for entries is December 15th. For more information contact the Vocations Office.