Sunday 29 December 2013

Welsh Christmas

The journey to Wales for Christmas took more than five hours driving - for around 170 miles. But at least we got there, through the gales and traffic congestion. Others had much worse experiences.

View from the cottage

We were staying at a Farm where we have been before, in one of their converted barns. Tresigin (in English Siginstone, or Siggingstone, or some variant on these - try Googling it!) is a hamlet of maybe fifty residents and a pub. The Catholic Church is three miles away towards the coast, at Llantwit Major. The new parish priest there, Fr George Areekuzhy, C.M.I., invited me to concelebrate with him at Midnight, and at 9am I was principal celebrant and preacher. Fortunately the Vale of Glamorgan is almost exclusively anglophone so there was no wrestling with Welsh.

Some of the people in the congregation seemed glad to have a priest from the Ordinariate. They are looking forward to the time when there are Ordinariate clergy and congregations in Wales. At present there are, I think, exploratory groups. As in England, many catholic parishes are staffed by missionary priests from overseas. Fr George is from India, though he has served in South Wales for the past seven years.

On Boxing Day we had a little trip to the coast. The sea at Southerndown was furious, and it looked as though Somerset, on the opposite shore of the Bristol Channel, was getting many downpours.


Yesterday we made the journey home - just a three hours drive, despite quite heavy traffic. Now we are gearing up for Mass in Bournemouth this morning; and next Saturday, our Ordinariate Group comes to Lymington to have lunch with us. Should be a good start to the New Year. May 2014 be very happy for all who stumble across this blog.

Saturday 21 December 2013

Phillip Biles R.I.P

Sad news today of the death of a member of our Ordinariate Mission. Phillip has been a member of our Bournemouth Group from the very beginning. He had been a long-time member of St Stephen's Bournemouth. On joining the Roman Communion he missed that lovely building very much - one of the great works of J.L.Pearson, architect of such other one-time shrines of Anglo-Catholicism as St John's Upper Norwood and St Michael's Croydon - and he also missed many of those who had worshipped there. Yet he committed himself totally to our Mission in Bournemouth, and was a most loyal member of our Group.  Phillip had been a Server at St Stephen's, and those skills be brought with him into the Ordinariate. He had also been a Churchwarden, serving at one time alongside another of our Ordinariate members, Brian Harrison. He kept contact, though, with many old friends at St Stephen's, and always assured them there would be a great welcome for them in the Ordinariate. As welcomer and sidesman,  lesson reader or server, he was entirely reliable and self-effacing. We shall miss him sorely.

The photograph was taken back in the summer, when we were preparing to meet Fr Allan Hawkins.

Phillip's funeral will, we expect, take place in Our Lady Queen of Peace early in the New Year.
    Our Lady of Walsingham, pray for him, Blessed John Henry Newman, pray for him.
                                                          May he rest in Peace.

Wednesday 18 December 2013

Christmas in Southbourne

Not a post to say what we have been doing, rather what we are not going to do this year. Last Christmas it proved very difficult to arrange a Mass at a time when people could attend. We tried for 11.30 am, but the Parish's 10 o'clock was so popular and well attended that it was almost noon before we could begin. Fr Gerry has been very accommodating, but it would make life difficult for him and his people to abbreviate their Christmas morning mass. SO:-

We shall not be celebrating a separate Ordinariate Mass in Southbourne this year.
Fr Darryl, our most recent Ordinariate priest, will celebrate in his church of St Thomas More, Iford - the next door parish to Our Lady Queen of Peace, Southbourne - at 9.30am. Members of the Ordinariate will be very welcome at that Parish Mass; or, of course, in any other local churches.

There will be an Ordinariate Mass as usual at 9.30am in Our Lady Queen of Peace on both Sunday next, December 22nd, and on December 29th. On Wednesday January 1st we hope to celebrate the Mass of Mary, Mother of God, at 10.30am - our customary Wednesday time. If this has to be changed I shall use this blog to announce it.

A very Happy Christmas to all who read this blog regularly, or have just stumbled across it.


STOP PRESS! Good news, Mgr Keith comes to visit us on Sunday January 12th at our 9.30 Mass, and afterwards will talk with us about future plans for the Ordinariate, and for our Bournemouth Mission. Please put the date in your new diary and join us that day if you're able.

Tuesday 10 December 2013

First Mass

Now here is something you would not see at an Anglican Induction - though I have noticed a similar event in the enthronement of some  bishops. That is to say, one's predecessor present and assisting at the start of a new ministry. I do seem to recall a retiring Bishop of Ely handing on his cope and crook to his successor, but former Vicars and Rectors generally are kept well out of the way.

Fr Darryl and Friends
Fr Darryl Jordan had an extraordinary beginning to his taking over responsibility at St Thomas More, Iford. He has never had a parish of his own as an Anglican; and here he was as a newly ordained Catholic priest celebrating his first mass, assisted by his predecessor in the parish, Fr Vitalis Kondo MSP. Concelebrating with them were Fr John Lee who has pastoral responsibility for the Avon/Stour Area (in which St Thomas' is situated), Fr Gerry Onyejuluwa (like Fr Vitalis, a Missionary priest of St Paul Missionaries of Nigeria, and Fr Brian Copus and me from the Ordinariate Mission in Southbourne.

Fr John and fellow supporters
We presented Fr Darryl with a white stole from the Ordinariate, and some of our members laid on the bun-fight   - in reality a cheese and wine party. This time it was Sue who was the organising genius, and it seemed to be very well received. It was good to meet new friends from the parish of St Thomas More, together with a supporters' club for Fr Darryl from many other parishes (both Catholic and Anglican) around the area. After hearing his Texan accents one of the parishioners said to me, "Well, it's going to be different" - and so it is, and that is one of the best reasons Bishops have for making changes within their dioceses. We are less likely to get into a rut, sit back, and say "we've always done it like this".

There are pictures of the Ordination on the Ordinariate website  , and also a large selection on the Portsmouth diocesan site:

Monday 9 December 2013

Two Ordinations

So here they are, the two candidates; on the left, Fr Darryl Jordan of the Ordinariate, listening intently to Bishop Philip during the Ordination in Portsmouth Cathedral on Advent II - and with him, Fr Peter Kelly, now a Diocesan Deacon. It was a splendid occasion, with the choir in top form. We entered to 'Our' hymn. 'Praise to the Holiest'.'Come, Creator Spirit, Credo, Sanctus, Pater Noster and Agnus were all sung in Latin. Thanks to Madeleine's organisation (and her three-line whip) a coach load of the Ordinariate and friends attended to support Fr Darryl with their prayers; and most of them have said they will be at St Thomas More this evening for his First Mass as a Catholic priest.

I am sorry the pictures are a bit fuzzy (blame the incense). Here Fr Darryl is hiding modestly behind his daughter, and beside her Darryl's wife Lisa,who read one of the lessons. They also brought up the chalice and paten from the congregation, to be presented to the new Priest. On the left, Bishop Philip Egan of Portsmouth and on the right Mgr Keith Newton, our Ordinary, It was especially good that Bishop Philip had Darryl making his oath of obedience directly to our Ordinary, Mgr Keith, rather than kneeling before Bishop Philip himself.

Father Darryl will be on loan to the Diocese of Portsmouth, having been given responsibility (and a house) at St Thomas More in Iford. Fr Vitalis, who is moving on to a parish on the north of Portsmouth, joined me in vesting the new priest in his chasuble. These are small things, but they indicate how the Ordinariate is increasingly seen as a perfectly natural development within the Catholic Church and not as some odd idea of Pope Benedict's.

Thursday 5 December 2013

On Tour

This has been a week of 'journeyings often' (cf St Paul - though no shipwreck so far). We set off early on Sunday morning to get to Pembury in time for the 11 o'clock Mass. Fr Ed Tomlinson is in charge of the parish there; his next project is a Church Hall.They have applied for planning permission. Here is Father with some of the children who were in Church. They are having Plein Air refreshments, so you will understand why a Hall is urgently needed. There was a real family sense in the Church, and already the old building has been transformed and beautified by the efforts of Fr Ed, Fr Nicolas, and the congregation there.

We stayed with old friends who have recently moved from Crowborough into deepest Sussex countryside. Here is their beautiful old house (once a pub). In the middle of the last century (well, almost) Lisa was our babysitter; and now she is a grandma herself. Jane is Godmother to one of their daughters, and I solemnised the marriage of another, so we feel like family when we are with them.

We drove further East into Kent next day, to visit another friend. Fr Ron Gwyther SSC will be well-known to many. After his latest Incumbency in Swanley he retired to Fareham with wife Beryl. After her death he went into a very friendly nursing home in High Halden, near his daughter and son-in-law who live in Tenterden.

We were home again on Tuesday evening, ready for our Ordinariate Mass on Wednesday morning. Fr Darryl is now on top line ready for his priesting in St John's Cathedral, Portsmouth, at 3pm on Sunday afternoon. We hope many friends will join us there, or at his first Mass (of the Immaculate Conception) on Monday evening at 7pm.  This will be at the church of St Thomas More in Iford, where Fr Darryl will have the care of the Parish.

This morning it was again an early start, making for Andover. Farleigh School is a Catholic Prep School and Fr Simon, the Head there, is another friend from Anglican days, when he was Vicar of St John the Divine, Kennington. He had invited me months back to join in a team of Confessors. It is a humbling and very moving experience to hear children's confessions, and I was in distinguished company - two monks from Douai, another two from Downside, and Fr John Catlin - who is, dare I say it, yet another ex-Anglican from Portsmouth diocese. Where would the Catholic Church in England be without us? Sorry the vehicles rather spoil the view of the main house at Farleigh.

So, dear friends, retirement need not be boring - if there ever is such a thing as retirement in the present Government's brave new world. And if you are an Anglican cleric reading this, do know that the welcome will be tremendous for you if you decide to move from Ecclesia Anglicana into Ecclesia Romana - just don't leave it too late.

Wednesday 27 November 2013

Encouragement from the Pope

Many documents which come from the Vatican have a certain vocabulary, a style of expression, which makes them churchy and remote. That is not so with the latest Apostolic Exhortation; though did that title came from the Pope himself? I'd  guess it might have been the work of a diligent bureaucrat, setting the document up for publication. It would be better called simply "Words of encouragement"

The same heading says it is addressed  "TO THE BISHOPS, CLERGY, CONSECRATED PERSONS AND THE LAY FAITHFUL". But that too distorts it. It is much more than that, for in his first Chapter Pope Francis writes "I invite all Christians, everywhere, at this very moment, to a renewed personal encounter with Jesus Christ, or at least an openness to letting him encounter them". So it is, in the first place, for the encouragement of all Christians

Now it is a long document, and it has already been sub-edited by the Media and many bloggers. Anyone who tries to summarise it will betray his own attitudes. Risking that, though, I have made a little extract for myself of sentences which leaped off the page for me from the first part of it. I attach it here simply in the hope that it might encourage you, dear reader, to go to the source and study the whole thing for yourself.

"…evangelization is first and foremost about preaching the Gospel to those who do not know Jesus Christ or who have always rejected him. Many of these are quietly seeking God, led by a yearning to see his face, even in countries of ancient Christian tradition…. All of them have a right to receive the Gospel.
It is not by proselytizing that the Church grows, but “by attraction” 
….we need to move “from a pastoral ministry of mere conservation to a decidedly missionary pastoral ministry
Nor do I believe that the papal magisterium should be expected to offer a definitive or complete word on every question which affects the Church and the world. It is not advisable for the Pope to take the place of local Bishops in the discernment of every issue which arises in their territory
Each Christian and every community must discern the path that the Lord points out, but all of us are asked to obey his call to go forth from our own comfort zone [20]
The joy of the Gospel is for all people: no one can be excluded. [23]
 Evangelization consists mostly of patience and disregard for constraints of time.[24]
(of Parishes)  the call to review and renew our parishes has not yet sufficed to bring them nearer to people, to make them environments of living communion and participation, and to make them completely mission-oriented.[28]
Other Church institutions, basic communities and small communities, movements, and forms of association are a source of enrichment for the Church, raised up by the Spirit for evangelizing different areas and sectors. Frequently they bring a new evangelizing fervour and a new capacity for dialogue with the world whereby the Church is renewed. But it will prove beneficial for them not to lose contact with the rich reality of the local parish and to participate readily in the overall pastoral activity of the particular Church.[29]
 I invite everyone to be bold and creative in this task of rethinking the goals, structures, style and methods of evangelization in their respective communities.[33]
35. Pastoral ministry in a missionary style is not obsessed with the disjointed transmission of a multitude of doctrines to be insistently imposed. When we adopt a pastoral goal and a missionary style which would actually reach everyone without exception or exclusion, the message has to concentrate on the essentials, on what is most beautiful, most grand, most appealing and at the same time most necessary. The message is simplified, while losing none of its depth and truth, and thus becomes all the more forceful and convincing.
 it needs to be said that in preaching the Gospel a fitting sense of proportion has to be maintained. This would be seen in the frequency with which certain themes are brought up and in the emphasis given to them in preaching. For example, if in the course of the liturgical year a parish priest speaks about temperance ten times but only mentions charity or justice two or three times, an imbalance results. [38]  
Before all else, the Gospel invites us to respond to the God of love who saves us, to see God in others and to go forth from ourselves to seek the good of others. Under no circumstance can this invitation be obscured! [39]
… the Church has rules or precepts which may have been quite effective in their time, but no longer have the same usefulness for directing and shaping people’s lives. Saint Thomas Aquinas pointed out that the precepts which Christ and the apostles gave to the people of God “are very few”. Citing Saint Augustine, he noted that the precepts subsequently enjoined by the Church should be insisted upon with moderation “so as not to burden the lives of the faithful” and make our religion a form of servitude, whereas “God’s mercy has willed that we should be free” [43]

I prefer a Church which is bruised, hurting and dirty because it has been out on the streets, rather than a Church which is unhealthy from being confined and from clinging to its own security [49]

The whole document is challenging, and exciting. I hope many of those it is addressing - not just practicing Roman Catholics but men and women of good will - will find it an encouragement to connect, or re-connect, with Jesus and his good news.

Saturday 23 November 2013

The Kingdom of Heaven is ....

On Barton Beach

 Constantly Jesus tells us what the Kingdom is LIKE - never just what it IS. He finds its likeness all around. In nature - when things grow, like mustard seed or wheat and weeds. In men and women - the rejoicing housewife who has found the lost coin, the servant who will not use what he has been given but hides it away. He is telling us, surely, that we should use our eyes and ears. He who has ears to hear, let him hear ; or eyes to see, or hands to touch. If we will only expect to find him, signs of the Kingdom will leap out at us. But of course they will - for the whole of Creation is his, and reveals his working everywhere. Great poets have done this seeking. For me, one of the most exciting is Thomas Traherne, with his evocation of childhood.How we used to wonder at things we now find commmonplace: "The corn was orient and immortal wheat, which never should be reaped, nor was ever sown. I thought it had stood from everlasting to everlasting. The dust and stones of the street were as precious as gold: the gates were at first the end of the world". [see ]

 The light has been wonderful these recent winter days; by the sea, especially, it is so clear and so beautifully coloured, each moment changing. There was a lone fisherman working away last evening so he stands at the top of this blog for you to look at, and wonder. Is it to do with us being called to become fishers of men? Do we have the staying power, the commitment, of that lone angler? Or shall we just marvel at the waves and the sky? Tomorrow I am trying to work at another Parable of the Kingdom; but just now perhaps sea and sky and sunset will help. -

Towards Southbourne

Friday 22 November 2013


What do you do with a long chancel? That was a very live question in the 70's; and it became important for me in my second living as an Anglican clergyman. All Saints Hessle had been remodelled in the 19th Century,the aisles being made almost as wide as the nave. With a narrow Chancel Arch it meant that only a third of those in the church had any sight of the High Altar. Accordingly, not without opposition, we planned a more visible altar, which might be used either Eastward or Westward facing. The High Altar had its big six candles restored,and the central altar could be moved (for instance for weddings) when the long chancel once more came into its own. This week we were sent a card from Hessle, with on it a picture of the church interior. It was good to see how well the alterations have stood up, indeed been further improved. A very gifted artist, Nancy Lamplugh, made a version of a mediaeval hanging rood. That has given a much needed focus to the freestanding altar. Whereas we had used a Laudian altar cloth, the new frontal encroaches less on the space on the footpace. Our friend who sent the card wrote on the back "The changes (hard-earned) made such a wonderful difference to All Saints". I learned a great deal from the experience - not least the workings of the Church of England's faculty jurisdiction and the running of a Consistory Court. It was all worth it in the end. Seeing how some Catholic churches have been rather insensitively handled since Vatican II maybe the working of Faculty law is part of the Patrimony which the Ordinariate could bring with it from Anglicanism? Certainly consultation rather than imposition is necessary when pastoral relationships are at stake.

Wednesday 6 November 2013

Trust the Politicians

Today Government struck a blow at the heart of Southern England. They decided to end shipbuilding in Portsmouth and transfer all of it - even the existing work on two new aircraft carriers already being undertaken in Pompey - to Clydeside. In interview after interview on TV, Government spokesmen have been declaring that there is nothing political about this. Nothing at all to with the Independence vote in Scotland next year. All decided entirely on commercial criteria.
Naturally the BBC joins in the discussion. In one of their typically balanced pieces on Newsnight they had a Scots woman interviewer (you probably know her - she is, as a newsreader, a 'celebrity') interviewing a member of the Scottish Parliament, and the Government's Scottish Secretary. Where were the Portsmouth MPs? No doubt the Beeb tried to find them and failed. But local TV found them, and found them and everyone else they interviewed incredibly angry - angry not just at the loss of jobs, but at the cynicism of politicians who assert that these closures have no political motives. Yet after all this David Cameron is still surprised to learn that he might lose Tory seats at the next election because of the influence of UKIP! Perhaps he should move the referendum vote from the Anniversary of Bannockburn to that of Preston Pans - oh, but of course,that is not his decision, that was left to nice Mr Salmond.

Sunday 27 October 2013

Tea and Sympathy

TEA was Saturday afternoon in the Church Hall in Southbourne. Despite squally weather, the crowds turned out. There were bookstalls, plant stalls, bric-a-brac stalls, cakes, marmalades and jams and a good deal more. That is the TEA part -and it raised £350 in a couple of hours. The SYMPATHY concerns the purpose of this fundraiser; we were responding to Mgr Keith's appeal for sick and needy priests. One of his biggest concerns is how he can raise enough for priests who will retire with no occupational pension. Those of us who served a full term (it was 37 years - probably by now it is fifty or more) as clergy of the Church of England have a pension to supplement our State Pension, but the younger men who joined us soon after their Anglican Ordination will have no such provision. It will be an ongoing concern to provide for them and their families. There are, too, others still 'shivering on the brink' (as Issac Watts has it) waiting to see the outcome of General Synod and what provision it makes, or fails to make, for those who persist in holding to traditional Anglican catholicism. We used to say "a Code of Practice will not do": so is it enough that the decision of an Ombudsman will have to do? Fortunately that is no longer our business - though we still pray for our Anglican friends, and understand their dilemma. What is more,we can assure them of a great welcome; and the Roman Catholic Priesthood is very fulfilling.
Madeleine, Masterminder of our fundraising effort, with Assistant Treasurer-to-be, Brian One of the younger clergy who has made the jump is Fr Darryl Jordan. He was ordained in Texas then came to Christchurch as an assistant priest. Now a Catholic Deacon, he is to be ordained Priest at 3pm on December 8th in Portsmouth Catholic Cathedral - and then he is to be given responsibility for the Parish of St Thomas More - the next parish to ours in Bournemouth. Like many other local parishes, St Thomas More has been served by a mission priest - in their case Fr Vitalis Kondo MSP, from Nigeria. He is moving on to Horndean just north of Portsmouth. As a priest of the Ordinariate Fr Darryl will still be connected to our Southbourne Group. We shall have to see how relations between the two parishes might develop with Fr Darryl having, as it were, a foot in both camps.
Today we joined with other Parishioners in the Fairtrade sale(picture above); and now we are preparing for All Saints - our parish priest, Fr Gerry, has asked me to celebrate the 10am Mass on Friday. Peter, our Organist, has promised to be there, so we shan't have to miss "For all the Saints". Our next major Ordinariate event after the Ordination will be an Advent Carol Service (3pm on Sunday December 15th, for your diary).
By way of relaxation I went to the coast this afternoon to see whether the forecast storm has yet arrived. There were many with the same idea - but the real gale is due after midnight. Children and seagulls especially seemed to be enjoying it.

Friday 11 October 2013

Ancient no longer

The Coast Near Home : the Needles

After so many posts as Ancient Richborough, it seemed good to start afresh; there have been too many with the Richborough title since I handed on the crozier twelve years ago, and Antique seems a pretty good title to go along with Monsignor. So if you've followed Ancient Richborough, thank you, and if you want to keep on the trail, welcome to the Antiques Supermarket.

New readers start here

Still people ask "Where is Richborough?" It is in the Southeast of England, a now silted up port beyond Sandwich, but once the bridgehead for the Roman invasion of Britain. It still has impressive walls, which were enlarged toward the end of the Roman occupation when the tribes from the east were invading. That was when the magnificent Triumphal Arch, the first in Britain, was dismantled to strengthen the fortifications. Richborough was also where Augustine wanted to land on arriving from Gaul; only to be kept initially on the Isle of Thanet, in a spot called Ebbsfleet. All this you can read about in Bede's 'History of the English Chruch and People' (if you haaven't a copy, there is a Penguin version, and a good read it is.) It was thanks to Archbishop George Carey that his two suffragans, with the task of caring for those opposed to the ordination of women in the Church of England, were named after those two historic spots, Ebbsfleet and Richborough. The suffragan sees continue, though it is not clear how long they may survive in the new dispensation. Two former Richboroughs and one erstwhile Ebbsfleet are now happily in the bosom of Rome, priests of the Ordinariate of Our Lady of Walsingham, along with another hundred or so former Church of England clergy and now well over a thousand lay people..

The other two former Provincial Episcopal Visitors (PEVs, know familiarly as 'Flying Bishops') are very much in charge of the Ordinariate Operation, indeed the second bishop of Richborough is now the Ordinary with responsibility for all of us in Great Britain who have joined the Catholic Church under the provisions of Anglicanorum Coetibus. Alongside Mgr Keith Newton, Mgr Andrew Burnham is his right hand man in matters of liturgy (and much else besides). Together with them, Mgr John Broadhurst, one-time Bishop of Fulham, is a leading member of the team.  Fortunately in my dotage I am spared such tasks, and instead simply have the care of the Bournemouth Mission, based at the Church of Our Lady of Lourdes and the Blessed Margaret Pole, in Southbourne.

My aim is simple in this blog; just to give a flavour of what it is to belong to an Ordinariate Group in its early days, as we begin to grow and develop our particular gifts within the wider Catholic Church. We now have a new version of the Roman Mass published, which aims to incorporate elements from our Anglican past. Our little group is studying and discussing just how and when we will be able to use this form of the Liturgy in Southbourne. At the same time, we are trying to help the Ordinariate centrally; so, for instance, on the last Saturday of this month we are having a tea-party cum bring-and-buy, in aid of the Sick and Retired Clergy Fund of the Ordinariate (3-5pm, Saturday 26th in the Church Hall if you are able to get there). We are trying to get neighbouring parishes, both Catholic and Anglican, to join with us at some celebrations - so a few weeks ago we had a Marian Festal Evensong, and we are planning an Advent Carol Service for the afternoon of December 15th.

And we are growing; besides myself and another senior priest, Fr Brian Copus, we have a younger man, Fr Darryl Jordan with us. His Ordination to the Priesthood is to be on Sunday December 8th at 3pm in St John's Cathedral, Portsmouth. Little by little our congregation seems to grow, thanks be to God. We have already been recognised as no longer simply a "Group", but as a "Mission" - in due course we believe we might have the numbers and the strength to be named a Parish; but until then we continue to worship and study and pray together, knowing that my old school motto still hold true: "Dat Deus Incrementum".  Benedict planted, Francis watered (to adapt St Paul) and still God Gives the Growth.