Sunday, 22 June 2014


First, our Ordinariate Mission. We were a little worried about moving to a new home. Three members have withdrawn, we hope temporarily. But on our first Sunday a family joined us - they had Anglican connections, became Catholics a few years ago, and now have joined us in the Ordinariate.They are mum, dad and six children. The following Sunday a couple from the Reading Group came to Mass, having recently moved to Bournemouth. Now we are working towards the Ordinariate's open day in September, when we hope to have an opportunity for setting straight some of the misconceptions some people have about us. We ho;pe there might even be some who are moved to join us. We are Catholics, most of us formerly Anglicans, who have found in the Catholic Church the fullness of faith and practice which we had looked for in our former church.

Mgr Burnham expounds on Liturgy to Mgr Lopes
Then on Thursday last we had our Plenary meeting of  Ordinariate Priests at St Patrick's, Soho. Our Ordinary, Mgr Keith Newton, could not be present - he was on his way to Liverpool where his mother had died. Please pray for the repose of the soul of Eva Cowen.

The Ordinariate is taking continuing priestly formation very seriously. It was particularly good to have Mgr Stephen Lopes from the CDF to address us. He is from California, but has worked in Rome for many years now, and had a great influence on the establishment of the Ordinariate - so we are deeply indebted to him. He set us thinking theologically this week, looking at the working of the Spirit in the sacramental life of the Church, and at the Trinitarian nature of it all.

Fr Bennie with Mgri Mercer and Broadhurst
An indication of the importance put on what we once called CME (continuing ministerial education) is the distances people travel for these sessions in London. Fr Stanley Bennie is probably our furthest flung member (from Stornoway) but we come from all parts of the country, and it is good to hear how the Ordinariate is doing beyond our little concern. In Torbay, worship is happening in a former Methodist Church and the Group is well on the way to raising the money to purchase their building.

Fr John Pitchford from Worcesterhire, Fr Simon Ellis from Notts.
So we gather every few months, priests from north and south, east and west; and when we are all together we realise, as we were reminded last week, that in numbers we make up the equivalent of the priests of an English Catholic Diocese. We are gradually becoming an indispensable element of the Catholic Church in this country (to say nothing of North America, Canada, Australia.....

Now we are getting ready for our visit to Walsingham next weekend. We are bringing a coach-load from Bournemouth, and look forward to a very happy visit. At St Thomas More's there will be only one Mass, at 9.30am, for those unable to come on the Pilgrimage.

Tuesday, 10 June 2014

British Values

Schools are being told they must teach the elements of being British; which our Leader in Downing Street helpfully lists for us. He has not told us where we received them; perhaps we should remind him.

Tolerance towards others.  Presumably that means all others, whether they like us or not? Something like "you have heard it said 'Love your neighbour hate your enemies' but I say to you 'Love your enemies'". I am not sure if that appears in the Koran; but it certainly features large in the Christian Scriptures.

Respect for the rule of law is next.  What, even if the lawmakers are unjust towards us - like say Nero? In the time of that tyrant it was written "Honour all men. Love the brotherhood. Fear God. Honour the emperor".

The third in David Cameron's list is "Equal rights for all" - which seems to echo what was said by S Paul about equality;'There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free, there is neither male nor female; for you are all one in Christ Jesus.'

The fourth is a little more curious; "A belief in Democracy". That is the rule of the people. Not quite sure how that ties up with number two, the rule of law. The law is not made by all the people, but by those who are elected to represent us. For Christians, indeed for all people 'of faith' (as it is curiously termed today), that law must be coherent with the will of the Creator for his creation. So if the Demos enforces a law which is unnatural, which contravenes the way we were created .... Is that the Democracy our leaders expect us to honour?

At number five is "A respect for British Institutions". Like, I suppose, the MCC and Ascot. No, surely, it must be the institutions which have a longer lineage than those. The Monarchy. Parliament. The Forces of the Crown. And, dare one say it, the Church? Arguably, indeed, the ancient Church of our land  That predates those other 'Institutions' - and not the church foisted on us by a power-mad king and underwritten when 150 years later his  lawful successor was deposed in favour of some of his very distant relations from Germany.

'Acceptance of all Faiths and Nationalities' comes next. Did we not learn this first from the one who commended the good Samaritan, and sent his followers to tell good news to all nations, who was himself notoriously a friend of outcasts and those labelled as 'sinners'?

At number seven "social  and personal responsibility" comes along. Admitting our failings is a large part of personal responsibility; and the Church has the ability of helping people admit to those failings, through the sacrament of reconciliation. In times past, even the nation was encouraged to confess to its corporate failures. Perhaps that is on the agenda for the next Queen's Speech, when we do not say sorry for things our forefathers did centuries ago, but for what our country has done and is doing even now. Or perhaps that is not quite what the Prime Minister has in mind?

Sunday, 8 June 2014


So we made it. After a long wait, and some heart-searching, the Bournemouth Ordinariat Mission have landed up at the Church of St Thomas More, Iford. What's more, this very day another family has asked to join us - so whereas we feared we would be fewer, in fact there are now more of us than before the move. Today's Mass was very special. Friends from Our Lady Queen of Peace and other local parishes joined us. Starting at 11.15 means we are a bit late for coffee, but as you'll see from the pictures there was a good handful of us who stayed on.

On the last Sunday of the month most of us will be in Walsingham for the Ordinariate Pilgrimage, so that
Sunday (29th - SS Peter & Paul) those not coming on Pilgrimage are invited to join the parish at 9.30. Then next month, again on the last Sunday, we are to have a bring-and-share lunch at Mary and Martin Taylors' house. Now we are beginning to plan what we do for the Ordinairate's Open Day in September. Since Fr Darryl who is the parish priest of St Thomas More is also a member of the Ordinariate, we hope we can make this a joint venture, with the idea of inviting people from the neighbourhood to come into the church  to meet us - and discover that Catholics do not (contrary to received opinion) have two heads.

Saturday, 7 June 2014

The Arctic Star - seventy years late

Recognition at last: the Arctic Star
This week has been all Dunkirk; but it stirred my memories, seeing all those old sailors and soldiers and airmen with their medals. We spent the war, mother and I, following father from port to port. He sailed on a convoy from Liverpool in, I guess, 1940. There we were almost killed when a landmine exploded in the street where we were staying. Meanwhile our belongings, left in digs in Devonport, were destroyed in another raid. So father decided we should go to Greenock where his Destroyer was next based. 'The German bombers can't get that far', said he; within a week they had made it to the Clyde, and so another house where we were in digs was destroyed. But we remained there, in other lodgings, and went back to Scotland on three different occasions. Between these visits we would be in Devonport, or Croydon with maternal granmother, or in South Wales.That is how I managed to change school eight times between the ages of five and eight. It explains a good deal about me, I suppose. Meanwhile we had no notion of the conditions faced by our sailors on the way to Murmansk and Archangel in the depths of the Arctic winter; convoys which enabled Russia to continue the struggle against the Axis Powers.

Father had joined the Royal Navy at the age of thirteen; his elder brother signed his papers (saying he was fourteen, the age for enlisting in Boys' Service). That was in 1925. From then until the war he had been a submariner, had served on an aircraft carrier, and became a Petty Officer (Gunner).

Throughout the war, he served as a gunner on Destroyers. The mournful sound of their sirens as they left port is with me still. All his brothers (there were seven of them) had joined the services in the 20's. My grandfather was a farm labourer, and his sons wanted to escape the grinding poverty of life on the land. The family had been peripatetic, moving from farm to farm wherever the work was. So father had been baptized at Abbot's Ann near Andover, had gone to school in Combe Bissett neat Salisbury, and at some stage they were in Worplesdon in Surrey. When I knew my grandparents in the 1940's they were in their last home,  a smallholding in Botley, just the other side of Southampton from our present home.   Father and all his brothers became senior NCOs - Chief Petty Officers or Sergeant Majors. Father was the only one of them to be offered a commission. I can still remember - by then I was eight - how he wrestled with the idea. Though he might not have expressed it in such terms, he was afraid of betraying his class. It was in mid 1944 that he was recommended for a Commission, which he received the next year. He had a very happy time on board HMS Guardian, one of the Navy's two net-layers, and with that ship went to the Far East.. Recommendations from a succession of Commanding Officers made it clear he was destined to move up beyond Commissioned Gunner, but it was not to be. His health gave up, and he was invalided out of the service in March '48 at the age of only 35; he had served in the Navy for 22 years.

Father aged 33
The war claimed many lives; some immediately, some more slowly. Father continued on a full disability pension until he died in 1970, a little before his 58th birthday. The medal ribbons tell the story; Palestine before the war, mentioned in dispatches while on the Russian Convoys, then the Africa Star - they went straight from the Arctic to the North Africa landings at Oran. The Pacific Star, the War medal 1939-45, the long service and good conduct medal (which father said was for years of undetected crime). He would have been 101 had he lived. Last week his sole surviving brother-in-law, the last of my uncles, died aged 98. He has been a Sparks, a Naval Electrician during the war ... but that is another story, which I shall tell at his funeral on Friday next. At least now you will understand why I claimed my father's Arctic Star which the Government so belatedly and grudgingly awarded this year. Maybe if we made more of that campaign we would find President Putin a better friend.

Friday, 6 June 2014


The House at Frogmore: much altered through the years

 Frogmore, an 18th Century house in Windsor Great Park, is open to the public for charity just a few times a year. We went when it was the Leprosy Mission benefitting; an old Anglican friend (she was a girl in my second curacy parish!) took us as her guests. It was one of those will-it won't it days, with heavy showers. For all that we managed a picnic.
A day for brollies

The house is where Queen Victoria deposited her mother, the Duchess of Kent, once she had ascended the throne. No longer would the Duchess have any say in her daughter's behaviour. It is quite near Windsor Castle; but then, Victoria preferred Balmoral, or Osborne, or Buckingham Palace - though in her long widowhood she became the Widow of Windsor.

I only knew of the place as the setting for the Mausoleum containing the mortal remains of Albert and Victoria.
In fact we discovered TWO Mausolea, and I am not quite sure who is in the smaller one. Just for your interest I shall try to post pictures of both of them.

The rather Greek temple where V&A lie

Here on the left is the grander of the two, guarded by one of the Royal servants who abounded around the house and gardens to ensure that we behaved.

The other Mausoleum, dedicated to a Mater Dilectissima