This morning I had a round trip of forty miles to say Mass. Fr Bill, the Parish Priest in Southbourne, is off work after an asthma attack. Meanwhile another retired priest was celebrating in Lymington, where I live, because our Parish Priest, Fr David Adam, is off work with a back injury. Just up the hill from us is the Priory of St Joseph, and their priest, Fr Richard Saksons O.Praem. is in hospital..
So, dear friends still ministering in the Church of England, may I ask you that if you believe (as many of you do) that your future lies in Communion with Peter in the Catholic Church, why delay an longer? Your ministry is needed now. What will it take to persuade you? You are concerned for your present faithful Anglo-Catholic congregation. Of course you don't want to abandon them; but one day, through retirement or death, they will not have your ministrations. Look around at neighbouring former Catholic strongholds and see what has become of them. Your people are going to have to decide at some time, and far better that you should give them a lead while you still can.
There is a pressing need today in the Roman Catholic Church in this country for more priests. The faithful are there, ready and waiting - and hugely appreciative when a priest makes an effort to help them, whether the journey is twenty miles from Lymington, or the distance from Thames to Tiber. Daily I am grateful to Pope Benedict for making it possible for groups of Anglicans to enter the Catholic Church together. On this day when we hear Our Lord in the Gospel say that he has other sheep, not of this fold - can we do more to realise what he said -"there will be only one flock and one shepherd".