This Sunday afternoon I am representing the Archbishop, Peter Smith in the Luther Quincentenary Choral Evensong being held in Canterbury Cathedral. The last day of October is the 500th anniversary of the occasion when Martin Luther, a German Augustinian monk wrote to the Archbishop of Mainz, Albert of Magdeburg. He criticised the way the St Peter’s indulgence was being promoted and preached. Pope Julian II began to rebuild St Peter’s basilica in Rome and he announced an indulgence to help finance the costly project. Luther enclosed with his letter a copy of the 95 Theses which he offered as a way of clarifying the teaching on indulgences and other theological questions that he regarded a doubtful. As Holmes and Bickers wrote in their book “A Short History of the Catholic Church”.
“These theses, written in a polemic and provocative way, touching on questions and grievances long felt, became the symbol, and Luther, the spokesman, of all those who were disillusioned with the present state of the contemporary Church. The historical importance of this whole episode lies in the Church’s failure to respond because of both the inability or unwillingness to accept the seriousness of Luther’s complaint, and to recognise the number of those who supported him.”
What began as a justified reaction to corruption in the Church spiralled into schism and division and destruction. I strongly agree that, at the time of Luther, reform was vital but obviously do not agree or condone the change and rejection of Catholic teaching that followed.
Much dialogue and progress has been made since those days of the 16th Century, especially in the last fifty years. In 1999 a joint declaration on the Doctrine of Justification was agreed between the Catholic Church and the Lutheran World Federation.
Last October the Pope travelled to the Lund cathedral to commemorate the Reformation with Bishop Munib Younan and in our own Cathedral of St George, Southwark there was a joint commemoration of the 500th anniversary of the Reformation hosted by our Archbishop, Peter Smith. Fr Raniero Cantalamessa, Preacher to the Papal Household, said, referring to this commemoration,
“It is vital for the whole Church that this opportunity is not wasted by people remaining prisoners of the past, trying to establish each other’s rights and wrongs. Rather, let us take a qualitative leap forward, like what happens when the sluice gates of a river or a canal open to enable ships to navigate at a higher water level. The situation has changed dramatically since then. We need to start again with the person of Jesus, humbly helping our contemporaries to experience a personal encounter with Him. Justification by faith, for example, ought to be preached by the whole Church – and with more vigour than ever. Not in opposition to good works – the issue is already settled – but rather in opposition to the claim of people today that they can save themselves thanks to their science, technology or man-made spirituality, without the need for a redeemer coming from outside humanity
27th September 2017
Apologies received from: Lesley Smith; Tom Hill; Phil Gascoyne: Mary Reynolds; Glenda Flanagan
Attendance: 20 people
Meeting opened at 7.20pm with prayer.
The notes taken at the Parish Gathering on 7th December 2016 were taken as agreed having been published on the website and reported by Canon Anthony in the Newsletter at that time.
The following notes capture the main points of the meeting:
- Parish Priest’s Report
(a) Thank you
Canon Anthony wanted to thank everyone who has contributed in any way to the parish throughout the last 12 months. He specifically wanted to mention:
- Deacon David for his consistent and helpful ever-present support;
- George who always gives great encouragement and support;
- Binoy for the services he is always willing to give us;
- Fr Valentine who has now begin his work in the prison service;
- Eucharistic Ministers who visit the sick and housebound;
- Anna Thompson who has given nearly 3 years service to the parish as its administrator and whose last day was today as she moves into a new job. Anna has been a great asset and help – a friendly voice on the telephone and at the front door. Thank you Anna;
- a temporary 4 month contract will be put in place while the job description for the post is revisited and the post advertised
- for the next 3 weeks voluntary help only will be covering the desk
- Margaret, Andrzej and Jola for their loyal, ongoing and valuable work in the Presbytery;
- Fr Daniel – who has just had his first year with us as assistant parish priest – for all the energy and commitment he is showing to his placement here.
(b) Specific Events/Issues
Canon Anthony summarised:
- the church roof is now free from dry rot;
- Eucharistic Ministers – we need to encourage more people to this mInistry and also have to update the Archdiocese records;
- changes at Kent & Canterbury Hospital Chaplaincy – the priests are still called there for sick visiting and still celebrate Mass once a month but this may not continue;
- the Pilgrim’s Hospice – the once a month Mass that used to be held there has been discontinued. The Chapel is being used for other purposes. In time, the Hospice is to move to a new site in Thannington Without and there may be a room set aside there;
- 2016 was the Year of Mercy and saw a pilgrimage to St George’s Cathedral to go through the Door of Mercy;
- 2017 saw the success of the annual pilgrimage to Lourdes led by Annie Judge;
- the church has received many, many visitors as a centre of pilgrimage including:
- a choir from the Netherlands;
- the 14 Bishops who con-celebrated Mass;
- many children’s groups from Schools;
- pilgrim groups from different countries as well as the UK.
- Matthew Donnelly from St John’s seminary did a 3 week pastoral placement with us in the Summer;
- Fr Daniel set up the Prayer and Pub night for the 18-30s years age group which has been very successful and is growing. This now includes University students who are welcomed into Parish life rather than standing outside of it;
- July saw a very successful Open air Mass in the grounds of St Anselm’s School;
- Robert McCulloch, the Procurator General of the Society of St Columban in Rome, gave the homily and concelebrated a stirring Mass of Translation on 7th July. He also presented the Dean of Canterbury Cathedral (The Very Reverend Robert Willis) with a relic of St Gregory the Great in thanks for his ecumenical spirit (Bishop Nicholas Hudson will celebrate this Mass in 2018);
- the funeral of Fr Barry Angus on Monday 10th April filled our church with our Archbishop, Bishops and many priests of the Diocese in memory of this long serving and loyal priest;
- January 2016 saw our first and very successful Epiphany Concert;
- School visits by the priests are more regular than ever before with Canon Anthony a governor of St Thomas’ primary school and Fr Daniel a governor of St Anselm’s Secondary School;
- January 2017 saw a successful Confirmation programme come to fruition with The Sacrament of Confirmation celebrated by Bishop Paul Mason (Fr Daniel has just launched this year’s programme);
- May 2017 saw an equally successful Sacrament of Reconciliation and Holy Communion programme culminate for our young children. Canon Anthony noted with regret that while our schools are always in demand (St Thomas’ is Ofsted Outstanding), there are reducing numbers of children who (a) are Roman Catholic and (b) if they are Roman Catholic they don’t attend Mass or make their Holy Communion and Confirmation;
- Baptisms; we are trying a new arrangement whereby the parents are seen in groups rather than singly and the ceremony is incorporated in the body of the Mass. This aims to incorporate the parents and family into the Parish by meeting other people in a similar situation.
- a new Charismatic Prayer Group has started in October on Monday nights
- Adoration of the Blessed Sacrament continues each week;
- the Franciscan Study Centre (FISC) sadly closed in June 2017 – this has understandably upset many people who regularly attended Mass there and played values roles in the life of the centre. All are being welcomed into our community and a social is being arranged for those connected with FISC (hopefully) for the first Friday in November (3rd);
- Talks by Fr Tom Herbst on Scripture and Mercy and a video course by Bishop Barron during Lent continued to educate and develop our knowledge of our faith
- At Pentecost we held a moving and well-attended Vigil arranged by our young people;
- the new Syro-Malabar Bishop to the UK visited us in June and celebrated Mass;
- our parish church has a Mass each month for our parishioners who are:
- the UCM celebrated long serving members this year with Mary Reynolds having 40 years and Geraldine, Celia and Margery having 30 years membership;
- the Universities have an ecumenical chaplaincy but Christ Church (Gregory) want to be part of the parish (Pub & Prayer) with a “cross fertilisation” across the two Universities and support from all the parish. A launch evening was held Sunday last for students and young people and will meet again in November for a weekend. (Canon Anthony mentioned that the rebuilding of St John Stone House had stalled owing to the builder going broke..)
- The Four Parish Projects
- Making the Most of Our Assets: a meeting was held in August (Annie Judge is leading). The meeting indicated that generally there is NOT a lot of enthusiasm for moving/selling our buildings but all agreed that we had to do something with the Hall. It needs upgrading then maximising its use;
- The Narthex: meetings have been held and Fr Daniel’s ideas of reorganising the sacred space to make what is available more welcoming and more accommodating. Mike Lilford (chartered surveyor parishioner) has promised a design and costings in the next two weeks. Ideas include the installation of automatic doors, re-framing the confessionals to allow for F2F and non-F2F confession but both in privacy, re-allocating storage space more effectively. Request was made to allow kneeling in confession – this would be looked at.
- Fun & Fundraising: Fr Daniel has met with a group (about 7 core people) to set up a social committee and organise events. Fr Daniel explained about the purchase of the grand Piano, the gift of a good upright piano from FISC and the disposal of the old worn out upright from the hall. The pianos are part of a strategy to raise funds for a new organ for the church and other projects. So far events organised are:
- Quiz & Curry Night on 11th November 2017
- Epiphany Party on 6th January 2018 – International flavour possibly but a planning team is needed for this
(4) Parish Links to our Schools and Universities: this hasn’t formally started but Ben Saul (our Musical Director) is keen to go into the schools to start a school children’s choir; Question was asked if St Anselm’s have retreats? Yes once a year and have had a mission though not recently (parish last had one 24 years ago)
- Our Parish Ministries
- Parish Directory – this has been updated and shows we have 47 (at least) different Ministries active in the parish. Canon Anthony will be asking all ministries to send in a brief (one page) report for 2017 to share on the Church Noticeboard;
- Canon Anthony thanked everyone who participated in and led and managed our ministries;
- Sign-Up Sunday; Fr Daniel spoke of asking a representative from all our groups to be available in the Hall after each Mass on the weekend of 25/26 November 2017 to invite people to sign-up to work in a ministry for just one year;
- Altar Serving; Fr Daniel said it was proving very difficult to secure people to give a reliable service and he was not sure what he could do. Fergal Clancy had given great and sterling service but has now gone to University and will only be home outside term time. There are 4 “grown up” men being inducted as MC (Master of ceremonies) servers. During the week the Syro-Malabar young people give devout service but often go to Ramsgate at weekends. Discussion mentioned at a certain age, young people may be embarrassed as you are very much “on show” on the altar. Overall we need to try and recruit new servers.
- Finance Report
Tessa Metcalfe (member of Finance Committee gave the headlines (Glenda Flanagan our Finance Accountant gave apologies for not being able to be here to do this). The key points were:
The accounts for the year ended 31st December 2016 were agreed, audited and finalised in July 2016; details will be made available on Finance Sunday which is hoped to be held (as usual) in November
- Headlines show that for 2016:
- We received exceptional income of circa £45k and spent £32k on major repairs detailed as follows:
|Funds received re mini bus||20,000|
|Loan from Diocese||14,662|
|Roof works in 2016||23,554|
|Presbytery Roof works||2,736|
|Hall – lift repairs||1,005|
|Hall – new heating pumps||4,530|
|Large Building works||31,825|
- In addition, a further circa £7.5k was received as non-specific donations likely to be in response to the roof appeal.
This highlights again the Parish’s reliance on legacies and special donations
- Ordinary receipts were down just over £1k with new income from fund raising activity being offset by a reduction in income from votive candles and repository sales however after an appeal on Finance Sunday November 2016, weekly income from both loose plate and Gift aid has increased (thank you); a new trial for votive offerings to be voluntary is being tried at present and details of this will be given in due course.
- Weekly collections have been steady at c70% non-Gift Aid and c30% Gift Aid; our new Gift Aid Officer (Sam Harmison) will be launching a communication programme to encourage more people to sign up. The new donations envelopes have helped with this.
- Utility contracts have been reviewed and credits recovered in respect of prior years. On-going tariffs will remain under review.
- Diocesan payments represent assessments made by the Diocese – the largest of which is levied with reference to the Parishes mass attendances. These levies account for around one fifth of ordinary receipts.
- Loan to other Parish
Given the age of the church and presbytery we should aim to have an on-going maintenance programme rather than purely reacting on a crisis basis. Although we currently have sufficient funds to repay the loan from the Diocese a programme of works is being drawn up so that these can be prioritised versus available funds.
- Organ fund
As the advice we have received is that the current organ is beyond repair and needs replacing we probably need to re-life the organ fund. There is currently circa £11.5k held in a Barclays reserve account in respect of monies previously collected for the organ fund.
Post year end there has been an investment on a grand piano to assist with fund raising activity.
- Fundraising Generally
One of the Parish Projects is aiming to re-introduce parish community functions, hoping to bring us together as a worshipping body and also raise funds for the church
- Repair of the Presbytery
This year has seen the main sitting room and dining room decorated and those of you who have seen the end result know how much of a considerable improvement this has been; we had a live infestation in the carpet and the lack of repair over 30 years had taken its toll. Total costs for this were £3675.
The garage doors have also had to be mended – this will happen later in October at a cost of £2900 (incl of VAT).
Unfortunately there are still major issues with repairs needed for the Presbytery – much caused by water & general damp coming through the roof and other areas of the building fabric. The Finance Committee has commissioned a full report of all that does need doing in order to prioritise the spend that has to happen in 2018.
Following this report a lively discussion took place on how the parish could raise funds and through this perhaps get people into the church and maybe even into or back to the faith. The main points arising were:
- we can’t rely on legacies or windfall donations; the current legacies tend to be from people of a generation that were able to save capital. Present day life seemed to suggest this is not something many people can do and if they have it, they are helping children and grandchildren with property buying or education fees;
- Canon Anthony suggested the setting up of a Friends of St Thomas’ Church inviting people from across the world to contribute to etc upkeep of a Roman Catholic Shrine of St Thomas á Becket? This has been done in Ramsgate with St Augustine. Our church is already a place of pilgrimage for many – we could affiliate ourselves to other St Thomas of Canterbury churches across the globe with a newsletter etc. Veneration of the relics (many people still do not know they are here) plus the items we have for Blessed Archbishop Oscar Romero – a modern day priest martyred at the altar. (Chapel of the Two Martyrs?)
- Fr Daniel spoke of the work he had started on hand-held pilgrim guides to replace the paper booklets in the Narthex. This is a way of catechising using the church building;
- Comment made that the RC Cathedral guides would bring the relics to the attention of the Cathedral visitors;
- Question was raised as to whether the relics were alarmed and had we taken advice from the police or insurance companies about them. Yes to the former, no to the latter; the relics are valueless in one sense though invaluable to Roman Catholics;
- this would be a very good thing to do but we need people to form a group to get it going and follow it through…….
- Parish Pastoral Council
- Canon Anthony handed out a draft of the proposed terms for setting up a Parish Pastoral Council (PPC) and ran through them and asked for comments;
- Canon Anthony wants more people to feel responsible in the parish as the priests cannot do everything. People need to initiate things and take ownership’
- it is also important for the people to have a vehicle for their voices to be heard, to feel involved and be effective;
- Canon law says we have to have a Finance Committee but the role of a Parish Pastoral Council is set out in Canon 536 of the code of Canon Law. If, after consulting the council of priests, the diocesan Bishop considers it opportune, a pastoral council is to be established in each parish. In this council, which is presided over by the Parish Priest, Christ’s faithful, together with those who by virtue of their office are engaged in pastoral care in the parish; give their help in fostering pastoral action. The pastoral council has only a consultative vote, and it is regulated by the norms laid down by the diocesan bishop.
Another lively discussion elicited the following points:
- it was thought to be a good idea if enough people are interested to do this;
- modern day life styles/work-life balances/competing interests and activities were all in competition with the church and parish;
- tea & coffee after the 9.30am Sunday Mass had successfully brought mass groupings together – could this work for other Masses?
- the parish let had a PPC in the 1980’s which comprised of all ministry groups and had a number of sub-committees;
- if representation was from the ministries would it be (a) too large & unwieldy and (b) full of “single issue” representation? People who had experienced the 1980’s version felt it had worked – the reps were charged with going back to their teams and reporting on all issues not just their own
- question was asked on what the focus of a PPC should be? the idea was posited that it should be formational – focusing on growing our faith. Formation groups could be set up for natural groupings of people i.e. under 18s, men, women, families – all to form and focus on our faith and belief. This in turn would naturally gain greater commitment and ideas to the church and (for example) young people would want to serve on the altar;
- Fr Daniel spoke of bringing together prayer, catechesis and social events – this way the Parish comes on fire;
The agreed way forward?
- idea given that each Mass be asked to elect 3 members for the PPC. Names to be out forward;
- try to set up the council to run from January 2018 for 2 years to see if it works;
The meeting ended in prayer at 9.00pm.
Notes taken by Tessa Metcalfe at meeting
& typed up 30th September 2017
- This new study circle /Group gathers to discuss and debate all theological and philosophical issues. Its purpose is to nurture a greater understanding and appreciation of difficult concepts and terminology; learning of emerging ideas and sentiments of the theology, philosophy, and Christian faith and the application of its rules to the contemporary world.
- This is an open and free discussion forum, and not doctrinal; all in a relaxed setting.
- The suggested format is to discuss selected articles published in theological or philosophical scholarly journals in particular Communio or Concilium.
- We link this group with St Anselm, our Canterbury Doctor of the church and one of the prominent medieval theologian.
- The meeting will be of special appeal to those with interest in Theology, philosophy and the study of religious faith, practice, and experience. It is especially suited for academic staff, teachers, research associates, undergraduate and graduate students and interested laypersons who wish to discuss theological and philosophical topics in some depth.
- We suggest meeting once every two months (6 times per years) for 1.5 to two hours.
- The suggestion for the first meeting is on Monday 2nd October 2017 at 7:00 PM in the Upper Room at St Thomas of Canterbury RC Church. We will discuss our modus operandi and how to run this group at the first meeting.
- If you are interested, please email Prof Ghazwan Butrous G.email@example.com expressing your interest in attending, and your special interest in the subject.
Mass of the Translation of St Thomas of Canterbury At Canterbury Cathedral 7 July 2017
The sermon of Fr Robert McCulloch, Procurator-General; Missionary Society of St Columban; On the occasion of the Mass celebrated in Canterbury Cathedral for the feast of the Translation of the Relics of St. Thomas Becket, 7 July 2017
“Know this, that although the world rages, the enemy rises, the body quivers, and the flesh is weak, I shall, God willing, never give in shamefully or commit the offense of abandoning the flock that is entrusted to me.” St Thomas Becket said this in the first week of October 1164 at a council called by King Henry II at Northampton during which those issues of principle became clarified for Becket and from which he determined not to withdraw and not to compromise.
We may recall the words of the Collect Prayer of this evening’s Mass when we prayed to God “who gave the martyr Saint Thomas Becket the courage to give up his life for the sake of justice”. These words lead us to recall the parallel between St Thomas Becket and Blessed Oscar Romero. Both martyrs. Martyrs for that justice which is the right ordering of human decisions and actions and choices according to the will of God. The fear of dire and dreadful and death-dealing consequences could not overcome their stubbornness in preferring to affirm God’s justice rather than succumb to the standards of justice proposed by the contemporary political authority of their time and country. In the case of Becket, King Henry II was the political authority who accepted no limits and who wished to make the church merely his holy servant. In the case of Romero, the political authority of El Salvador legislated for all but ruled solely for its own vested benefit and interest. Becket’s and Romero’s stubbornness were perceived as foolishness because they threw away the opportunity to share in power. They chose not to share flawed power exercised by flawed political structures according to flawed standards of justice. The contrary foolishness indecision that these two martyrs chose is that about which St. Paul speaks and which surges in the heart and mind and will to enable conscience to say what must be done. The enduring firmness of this cathedral tonight enables us to look about not merely with bodily eyes, but with eyes of memory and embrace the stream of Christian witnesses and martyrs who speak to us from history and affirm the primacy of conscience as we stand before God and man. Not for nothing did Cardinal Newman remark “to the Pope indeed, but to conscience first”. St Peter and the martyrs of the early church, Becket almost 800 years ago, Romero just four decades ago. On several occasions in recent weeks, most recently being 29 June on the feast of St. Peter and St Paul, Pope Francis has highlighted the witness we now in these days, receive from our Christian brothers and sisters who are being persecuted in many places and countries because of their steadfast commitment to the faith which they hold as the anchor for their living. Pope Francis has noted that 80% of all people in the world who are suffering religious persecution today in our day are Christians.
Being on the threshold of the 500th anniversary of the Reformation enables us to hear those clarion and challenging words “Here I stand, I can go no further” with wider historical insight and ecumenical humility as a restatement of what it is that has enabled and still enables the martyrs to shed their blood rather than shed their principles. We remember the 47 young Anglican and Roman Catholic Ugandan martyrs of the late 19th century who suffered brutality and were cast into the fires. Their bodies were broken, their lives were burnt away because they chose God’s justice instead of the perverse ways of King Mwanga II. The memory of that political power in Uganda who ordered their death has been eroded by the memory of his victims whose witness of faith and moral principle rises before us each year on their feast day. Our enriched historical knowledge enables us to rise above the huge divides which separated Latimer and Ridley from Roman Catholics and Campion from the Reformation so that we perceive and understand that it was for principle and conscience that they would not turn from being killed.
What we are celebrating tonight took place on 7 July 1220. The occasion of this evening when we commemorate the Translation of the Relics of St. Thomas Becket from the undercroft to the Trinity Chapel in the upper Cathedral, but also the setting of this cathedral where he was martyred, where he was venerated by Christian pilgrims for 300 years, and where his presence and memory continues to be recalled by pilgrims in worship and prayer and by visitors in their own way, alert us. We are alerted to remember and celebrate not only Becket but also the long enduring and continuing testimony of our martyrs to principles which flow from faith and which are carved into conscience and from which there can be no turning.
In and of our present day and about numerous countries, well may we ask whether faith can be conformed to a political party’s manifesto which has been cobbled together to save a majority rather than to serve the common good, whether principle remains intact if it can be changed by a caucus vote, whether conscience can retain its integrity if it must be contorted to embrace certain party platform planks which are touted as the means to electoral salvation but which are more often and mostly white-anted by ambition. “Here I stand, I can go further”. “… The King’s best friend, but God’s first”. “Will no-one rid me of this troublesome priest”.
The shrine of Becket has gone, his bones are mostly scattered, but he lives in devotion and historical memory. It is most likely that the great 13th century Catholic theologian St. Thomas Aquinas was named not after the apostle of Our Lord but after the martyr of Canterbury. Aquinas was born in 1225. His father’s lands included the town of Segni between Rome and Naples and it was in Segni that Pope Alexander III canonised Thomas Becket in 1173.
Becket is a saint from that time in history when we were one in faith. Today at this Mass and earlier at Evensong we, Roman Catholics and Anglicans, have celebrated the enduring memory of Becket. He is a witness of fidelity overcoming fear, of constancy in great tribulation, of trust in God when confronted with wild hatred. Becket speaks to us about friendships lost, about having to put up with whisper campaigns and in-the-face opposition, about making mistakes because of uncertainty, about wanting to live a pure and chaste life, about choosing between having it all and holding to principles, about wanting to be united to God, about doing what conscience says is right, about not being trapped by political correctness, about being both full of fear and courageous just as he was in the last when he fell under swords that came from the king.
We acknowledge tonight the ecumenical hospitality and kindness of Dean Robert Willis. He has opened to us this evening not only the doors of this great cathedral but also the heart of the Anglican Church. On this day just two years ago in 2015, a cardinal of the Roman Catholic Church celebrated Mass at the High Altar of the cathedral, the first to do so since Cardinal Reginald Pole. It happened because of the great generosity of Archbishop Welby and the “all things can be done” working of Dean Willis. Pope St. Gregory the Great sent St Augustine to do great things for God in England. Dean Willis has done great things for God by drawing the hearts of Anglicans and Roman Catholics closer to each other. Cardinal Newman’s motto was cor ad cor loquitur: heart speaks to heart. Greatly and in many ways Dean Willis has enabled our hearts to speak to one another as they do tonight. I should like to present to him a gift from Rome as a reminder that, as Augustine being sent by St Gregory did great things for God, so Dean Robert has done great things in the sight of God so that we may be one again. The gift to seal our thanks is a relic of Pope St Gregory the Great.
Honouring the Very Reverend Robert Willis, Dean of Canterbury with relic of St Gregory the Great
When we met on 7th December 2016 you raised things that needed doing in our Parish Community. We want to make a start on doing them and are asking for people to lead and take part in projects that will:
1. Do a Feasibility Study on Making the Most of Our Assets
2. Make Major Changes to the Narthex at the Back of our Church
3. Establish our Parish Fairs
4. Find out how we can forge closer links with our Schools, Colleges & Universities as well as setting up:
A Parish Council
A Fundraising Committee
A Social Committee
Everyone can do something to help – it can be a little bit of time for a long while or a lot of time for a short while or anything else in between. We will need funds. We will need prayers.
What Can You Do? Please fill the Volunteer Form and post it to the parish
Here are some photos of this year confirmation – Sunday 29th January at 1.30pm.
The celebration and liturgy presided by The Most Reverend Paul Mason our area bishop.
Welcome to the web pages of St Thomas of Canterbury’s Clergy Support Fund Campaign (CSFC).
Supporting the retired and sick priests of our diocese
What’s this about?
The Diocese maintains a duty of care towards its priests and has always provided for sick and retired clergy. For example, in the past, retired priests were often cared for by religious orders in return for chaplaincy services, the number of such orders in this part of the world has now declined to the extent that this form of arrangement is now rarely available. You may know that your priest will normally retire from full-time parish ministry when he reaches 75 years of age, however, many continue to work in some form of ministry.
Check here the slide presentation
When a priest resigns from his parish ministry or a full time ecclesiastical appointment, the Diocesan Finance Office establishes his likely income and needs on an individual basis and ensures he has sufficient financial resources to afford the necessities of life, live in properly heated and adequately maintained accommodation and can pay for some limited recreation and travel.
How many priests are involved?
There are currently 69 retired priests in our Diocese and this number is expected to increase to around 93 by 2018. The costs of supporting them are currently met by the Diocese, partly through an annual contribution from each parish, but the increase in numbers will create more pressure on these costs (the table below shows summary estimates).
Archbishop Peter Smith has therefore identified the need to ensure the continued support of sick and retired priests as a major priority for our Diocese. Led by the laity, this deeply human campaign has been unfolding over the last 12 months and will continue to raise funds over the coming three years.
Summary of costs, income and shortfall over five years
|Estimated number of retired priests||70||93|
|Cumulative shortfall over 5 years||4,505,000|
What is the latest position?
The generous support of parish teams in Southwark has helped the Clergy Support Fund Campaign reach £2,000,000 in funds raised and pledged across the Diocese, with the exact figure standing at £2,020,302.
A significant number of parishes are undertaking various phases of the Campaign in the next two months and it is hoped that, with sustained effort, we may be able to reach the half-way mark of £2,252,500 before breaking for the Summer holidays in mid-July.
Just over half of the 180 parishes in Southwark have delivered their Formal Presentations and the completion of all four phases in each parish will help us to reach our overall target of £4,505,000 in due course.
St Thomas of Canterbury Parish CSCF Contacts: via the Parish Office email: firstname.lastname@example.org
The following parishioners have been involved in the initial fundraising for the CSCF but everyone is welcome to participate with ideas and contributions of continuing to fund raise for this very important cause.
Chris Bull Tessa Metcalfe Tony Loughran
Tony Welch Michael Roberts Catherine Grogan
If you have any queries please do not to hesitate to ask your CSFG representative.
A group of 120 people from St. Thomas’s Catholic Church, Canterbury was recently led on a pilgrimage to Rome by Fr. Valentine Erhahon. The objective was to enable a group of young people currently preparing for Confirmation and those having been confirmed in the last five years now on the Young Mentors Award Programme for Confirmation to meet our Holy Father Pope Francis to present two gifts to him and also experience living in a seminary so as to encourage vocations to the Priesthood and to the religious life and be inspired by this Holy Year of Mercy. 57 families accompanied their young members on the journey to Rome.
The core of the Pilgrimage was from 5th-7th April and included attending the General Audience with Pope Francis, a private Mass in St. Peter’s Basilica and going through the Holy Door of Mercy. In addition, after a Football Match between the Parish Team and the Seminary Team, a formal dinner was organised with exchange of gifts with the seminary Rector, Staff and seminarians of the Pontifical International College Mary Mother of the Church.
In preparation for the Pilgrimage, Fr Valentine created two gifts for the Holy Father, a painting and a drawing book of letters written by the parish children. The painting depicts the Pope watering a garden made up of the signatures of many people including 300 children and young people, individuals from the parish, seminarians, priests, Muslims and non-Catholics. From the signatures grows the Canterbury Parish Family Mercy Tree, producing the 14 corporal and spiritual works of mercy shown as fruits of the tree. On the painting, there is a poem that recounts our salvation history and mission. The artist, Mrs. Charlotte Galt, painted the painting for the Holy Father. In addition Mrs. Nieves Castro organised over 70 children and young people to make drawings and letters for the Pope in anticipation of his birthday later this year.
Attending the General Audience on Wednesday, the group was seated in St. Peter’s Square. Clever positioning meant that many people came very close to the Pope during his perambulation in the Pope-Mobile. During his ride, the Holy Father stopped to bless the Icon of St. Thomas of Canterbury. This Icon blessed by Pope Francis is now housed at the Martyrs chapel in St. Thomas’s Church.
Father Valentine, representing the group from Canterbury met the Holy Father for a private audience were he was able to present the painting and the book personally to Pope Francis and told him about what the painting and book was all about.
The Holy Father was greatly interested in the gifts presented to him and spent time reading the poem and observing the painting and drawings. He asked Fr. Valentine to send his warmest thanks to all those who signed the painting and to all the children who made special drawings for him. Later that evening, the Pilgrims challenged the Seminarians to a football match. The Canterbury side captained by Joe Murphy, who scored the team’s only goal, suffered a catastrophic defeat against a polished and coherent seminary side. However there was plenty of amusement in the game and all took it in good part. During the ensuing formal dinner, Joe handed the trophy over to the Captain of the Seminary Team. At the dinner, the Seminary Rector Fr. Oscar Turrión, presented special gifts for the year of mercy to all the young people and memorabilia to all the families on the pilgrimage. The young people preparing to receive confirmation on Pentecost Sunday this year presented the seminary community with an Icon of St. Thomas of Canterbury and the leader of the Young mentors programme, Robert Emejuru lead the speeches to give thanks to the seminary community and to all the pilgrims for their prayers and support.
It was not serious for the whole time. The pilgrimage also contained a measure of fun. The 120 members from Canterbury stayed in guest accommodation at the Seminary and were able to enjoy each other’s company in the spacious grounds, at prayers and at mealtimes. The group rose early for morning prayers at 6am. They were able to enjoy beautiful walks around the grounds. It was a time for families to pray and play with their children and for them to make new friends. The pilgrims also had time to go in little groups to the Opera, visit the Colosseum and many other beautiful sights around Rome.
It was a very happy and joyous occasion for the parish community in Canterbury and everyone thoroughly enjoyed it.
Later in July, Canon Anthony Charlton will lead a group of young people from St. Thomas’s Canterbury to the World youth Day in Poland to meet with the Holy Father.
Press Release by Helen NATTRASS