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.

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