Report for Parish Pastoral council for Year ended March 2019

Background

On 14 March 2018 the inaugural Parish Pastoral meeting was held. The meeting was attended by the full attendee list of 11 committee members and the President (Canon Anthony). During this meeting it was decided that the terms of reference as proposed would be adopted.

Rob Meredith was elected as Chair, Helen Natrass elected as vice chair and Isabel Mead elected as secretary. These are the only elected officers. The remaining members included Louise Beesley, Resmi Benni, Josephine Lewis, Lisa d ‘Agostini, Helen Natrass, Christine Robinson, Joseph Connor, Mary Claire Francis and Canon Anthony. It is with regret that Joseph Connor passed away during the term. We were also delighted to welcome Catherine Spratley during the term.

Purpose

The PPC need to represent the parish community. It is a means whereby all parishioners can take part in discussions relating to the Parish, its mission and future development

Achievements during 2018/2019

During the period under review the following was achieved during the 4 meetings held as well as subcommittee support:

  • Work commenced on a revised website. This is still work in progress and any volunteers would be gladly received
  • Coordinated a highly successful celebration of Oscar Romero including
    • Prayer cards
    • Film
    • Biography compiled
    • Celebration Mass on 21/10/18Event held
    • Commenced discussions on a shrine
  • New tourist leaflet drafted
  • New detailed information about St Thomas’s
  • Decision reached regarding future plans for relocation of the Church and Junior School
  • Held a highly successful open air mass open to all
  • Commenced a home prayer group

Ongoing activities have included the following:

  • Narthex update
  • Education linkages to Church
  • Pilgrimage centre
  • Designation of Shrine to St Thomas
  • Visiting of sick
  • Transport to masses
  • Priest Welfare
  • Took feedback from all Parish committees
  • Consideration of an Alpha course
  • Parish magazine

Committee changes

During the year there were 2 resignations from the committee. It was decided to wait for the AGM before accepting nominations for these positions. We would be pleased to consider applications at the next meeting. As per the Terms of Reference, the Chair, Vice Chair and Secretary need to be elected due to the term being restricted to a one year term. New officers will be elected at the next meeting.

Conclusion

May I express my thanks to all members of the committee for their support during the past year.

Rob Meredith(Chair)

March 2019

2019 ANNUAL GENERAL MEETING    17th MARCH 2019 PARISH PRIEST REPORT

ST THOMAS OF CANTERBURY CATHOLIC PARISH

CANTERBURY KENT

Good afternoon everyone and welcome to our 2019 Parish Annual General Meeting. I want to give you a brief overview of key things we have achieved in the last 18 months as a Parish since out last AGM.

Firstly though a few thank yous:

(a) Thank you

TO everyone who attends our parish church and to all who play such an important part in contributing to its success as a community of worship. I specifically wanted to mention:

  • Deacon David for his consistent and helpful ever-present support;
  • George who always gives great encouragement and support and is now happily resident in St Peter’s Residence in Vauxhall;
  • Sylvester for coming to us in August 2018 from his home in Nigeria and making himself such a loved and respected member of our community;
  • Fr Daniel – who left us in June 2018 but gave so much to this parish during his time here and leaves a wonderful legacy in the Pub and Prayer Group that continue to meet;
  • Eucharistic Ministers who visit the sick and housebound and unfailingly support the priest at all our Masses;
  • Linda Scott who gives such committed, professional and valuable service to the parish as its secretary and administrator;
  • Joan Blows for acting as Linda’s deputy covering the desk if needed and for her tireless work in the archives;
  • Andrzej and Jola for their loyal, ongoing and valuable work in the church, Hall and Presbytery;
  • the Parish Council – set up in March 2018 – who’s leadership in partnership with the priests helps to develop the mission of Christ in Canterbury;
  • the Finance Committee who conscientiously and professionally manage the finance of the parish. THANK YOU

 

(b) Sign’s of fulfilling Christ’s Mission in our Parish

 In 2018 we celebrated:

  • 5 people into our faith community through the RCIA programme
  • 32 new members through the sacrament of baptism
  • 30 children made their First Holy Communion
  • 25 young people confirmed their faith through the sacrament of Confirmation
  • 8 weddings were occasions of great joy and I did the paperwork for many more couples who were married in other parishes
  • 39 funerals said goodbye to loved members of our community

Adoration of the Blessed Sacrament three times a week in the Church provides a needed and sacred space and silence for our spiritual reflection and growth as God’s people.

Our Parish Ministries continue to thrive as the Parish Directory shows – thank you to all who lead and support these vital parts of our community life.

Our Schools – St Thomas Primary School and St Anselm’s Secondary remain places of high quality education but also places where the faith is nurtured and developed in our future.

 

Your generosity in all the collections we have continues to be great – and in particular the second collections we have to support such wonderful services such as Catholic Fund For Overseas Developement and our own St Vincent de Paul Society.

We continue to welcome many, many visitors from all over the globe (as the visitor’s book testifies) – we are definitely a place of pilgrimage as well as a community parish.

Our diversity is seen in the special Masses hosted once a month for our parishioners in the Polish, Philippine and Syro-Malabar communities. It is notes that the Syro-Malabar community now have a Saturday evening Mass every week at St Finbarra’s Aylesham. As a consequence we might see less of this community joining us at the weekends..

(c) Special Events

Our Open Air Mass in July 2018 was a wonderful occasions – blessed by the weather and a great feeling of coming together to praise God as one community.

The Annual HCPT Pilgrimage to Lourdes – organised devotedly as ever by Annie Judge – was successfully run in August 2018.

Two members of our Church – Fiona Gault and Steve Williams – attended the Adoremus Conference for us in September 2018 and gave us feedback one evening that provoked thought and debate.

Our patronal commemorations of St Thomas of Canterbury through the Translation Mass on 7th July. The main celebrant this year was Bishop Nicolas Hudson who was an assistant priest here  and the Feast Day on 29th December.

Fundraising through quiz nights, raffles and other social occasions throughout the year has brought us together as a Parish as well as raised much needed funds. I would like to thank the social committee for their planning and enthusiasm

Early in 2018 our Musical Director Ben Saul arranged for classical concerts to be performed each Saturday morning in the Hall where we were treated to a varied and highly professional array of young musical talent.

We had a very popular Opera night earlier this year

(d) Finance

I won’t say much here as our Finance committee gave a brief talk at Masses in January and circulated further details on the current state of our finances. Just to say it is going to be a challenging year for us as our Diocesan Development Fund contribution has unexpectedly increased by £8000 and all our charges have gone up – usually over and above the rate of inflation. The Finance committee are doing all they can to manage the situation and thank you for all you continue to contribute.

(e) the Future

Looking Forward to the coming year..

  • we have 42 children preparing for First Holy Communion. There are two adults to be received into the Church at Easter, two adults to be confirmed and one person to be fully initiated. There are twentytwo young people being confirmed in June by Archbishop Peter. Many thanks to all the dedicated catechists who have made this possible.
  • the Parish Holy Land Pilgrimage in November 2019 – a pilgrimage tour to which all are welcome;
  • The HCPT Pilgrimage to Lourdes will hopefully take place in October.
  • Our OpenAir Mass will be held on 30th June at St Anselm’s School and our Translation Mass on 7th July, which this year falls on a Sunday and the Feast Day on 29th December in the Cathedral;
  • Lenten reflections are starting on Tuesday 26th March at 7.30pm on the Pope’s letter on spirituality – Gaudete et Exsultate in the Hall; and on Tuesday 2nd April we are having an evening entitled, “Global Healing,” A film presentation responding to the Popes letter: “Laudato Si on April 2nd.
  • There are areas of the parish life that really need developing. One is our Sunday Liturgy. It is the one day when we gather together as one family albeit over five Masses. Last year the average attendance over the weekend was 755. Our celebration of the Sunday liturgy should always be the best that it can be. The reason I wrote about various aspects of the Liturgy in the newsletter at the beginning of the year was to help us reflect on the ways we do things. Do we celebrate Sunday as if it is the source and summit of our life? Thank you to our Readers, Eucharistic Ministers, Servers, Sacristans, Welcomers, Choir and musicians and flower arrangers who contribute in different ways. Echoing the liturgy constitution Sacrosanctum Concilium, which taught that the liturgy is the font and summit of all the Church’s life, Pope Francis told the assembly that “the liturgy is in fact the main road through which Christian life passes through every phase of its growth. You therefore have before you a great and beautiful task: to work so that the People of God may rediscover the beauty of meeting the Lord in the celebration of His mysteries.”
  • Adult Education: Alpha and Life in the Spirit
  • Justice and peace issues.
  • Mission or Maintenance, Fishers of Men or keepers of Aqariums.

(f) The Buildings

The Finance Committee are working on an affordable and sustainable programme of ongoing maintenance and repairs for the church, hall and Presbytery. The buildings have not had a regular programme of upkeep for many years and we are putting right much that has been left for some time.

Our biggest project is the re-ordering of the Narthex. The plans for this have been passed by the Archdiocese Art & Architecture Committee and we are now in the process of organising the tendering for the work and the finance.

 

 

NOTES FROM PARISH ANNUAL GENERAL MEETING HELD IN THE CHURCH HALL ON SUNDAY, 17TH MARCH COMMENCING AT 12H20.

Present:        Father Anthony Charlton, Rob Meredith, attendance list attached

Linda Scott (note-taking)

Apologies:     Apologies were received electronically from parishioners

Father Anthony opened the meeting and Rob explained the purpose of the meeting and detailed and that he and Fr Anthony would be presenting their reports after which the floor would be opened for questions.

Fr Anthony thanked the parishioners and members of the parish team and then read his report.

Rob then thanked Fr Anthony for all his work to keep the parish community working and then presented his report.  He discussed the requirements for parish council members and explained that due to circumstances, we need additional members.  He invited anyone interested to speak to him after the meeting.

Rob then opened the floor to questions and confirmed that issues raised would be discussed at the next Parish Council meeting to be held two weeks from today.

Questions/Issues Raised

  1. Is it possible to get ± 12 large print hymnals for use by those with poor eyesight? (Annie Judge)

    There was some discussion around how these would be issued and some alternatives such as DVD’s which could be projected onto screens.
    ACTION: Linda will contact the hymnal suppliers to investigate availability.

  2. With Una Harris trying to retire, could we instigate a rota system for Sacristans and provide a training session? (Stuart)

    Fr Anthony explained that there was some help but not enough and explained that it is both the week days and the weekend Masses where we need more Sacristans. Rob asked if there were any volunteers.  Linda explained that the Sacristans could be assisted by the cleaning teams with some of the more onerous tasks.
  3. Could we introduce the Diaconate? (Tessa).

    Linking to the previous question Tessa asked whether we could not use the diaconate to support the priest.  After some discussion Fr Anthony touched on the implications of being a permanent deacon and explained that lay people could play a bigger part in the church including leading funerals.  Rob spoke about visiting the sick, aged and lonely and Fr Anthony confirmed that there is a hospital rota.  Pauline said that all Extraordinary Ministers of Holy Communion should be able to conduct a communion service.  There was some discussion around this and Fr Anthony confirmed that at this time this was not needed in our parish.

  4. The Diocese are thinking of turning the Church into a Shrine – when will there be a formal announcement? (Chris Smith)

    Fr Anthony explained that we have initiated this process, not the diocese and that there are two criteria in the process which are still being addressed. When all has been approved, the Archbishop will make the declaration.

    Fr Anthony confirmed that with regards to the 2020 St Thomas celebrations there is quite a lot happening.  We will be celebrating something in our church on Tuesday, 07th  Archbishop Nichols is talking to Archbishop Welby about interdenominational celebrations. We are hoping Archbishop Nichols will participate in our celebration on the Tuesday.  Joan Blows has been attending the meetings in preparation for this event.

  5. With regard the Missions – what programmes do you favour?

    Fr Anthony explained that he needed help to decide which programme was suitable. He mentioned two – Alpha and Life in the Spirit. There was some discussion around Alpha and the support needed to run it successfully.  Rob asked if we had the appetite to develop the Alpha Course and asked that people supported it.  We need to get it started and continue it!

  6. Mary McGillie stated that before we look at a programme life Alpha, we need to set the Parish on fire with a Parish Mission.

    In support of Mary’s suggestion, Cherry Silcock-Stone gave an example of a Parish Mission. Fr Anthony discussed various missionary groups including the Zion Missions and the Redemptorists who run Parish Missions.  Each one of these had pros and cons.  Rob asked what time of year and although October was suggested, there were some issues around evening light etc.  Louise Beezley stated that we need the mission before Alpha.
    ACTION:  Rob said that this item would be investigated by the Parish Council.  He reminded those present that the council needed two additional members.

  7. In support of the previous point, Annie Judge stated that our parish almost has five separate parish communities – for each Mass attended.

    Annie explained that we need to be able to meet people from other Masses to share experiences. Annie explained the World Café system of shared experience and encouraged the parish to use this to get to know one another.  Canon Anthony mentioned the Open Air Mass as one way to meet other parishioners as well as events such as the new parishioners meeting and the new tea dances, the first of which is scheduled for the second Sunday in April.
  8. John Renn raised the issue of the property group taking into consideration the aesthetics of the church. He stated that the Reliquary Chapel is inappropriately placed and that this will be considered.

    There was some discussion regarding the placement of information in the Martyrs Chapel and Father Anthony said this item would be added to the Parish Council Agenda for the next meeting.
    ACTION:  Parish Council Agenda item

As there were no further questions, those present were invited to join in the bring and share lunch.

 

The meeting formally closed at 13h15.

ATTENDEES 17 03 2019

Name Mobile
Christine Robinson 07754 502543
Jonathan Butchers
margaret Butchers
Gerard Buckels 07887 941961
Chris Smith
Lesley Smith
Mary McGillie 07710 472876
John Renn
Marie-Claire Renn
Annie Judge 07866 515797
Tessa Metcalfe
Jo Wilkins 07738 259011
Marjery Craig 07708 762868
P Beesley
Stuart Henderson
Phil 01227 907973
Pauline Ventress 01227 452970
Betty Scott
Nieves Castro 07932 645919
Gemma Macey
Mary Alexander 07796 271458
Louise Beesely
Terry Spratley 01227 455125
Monica Spratley 01227 455125
Catherine Spratley 07808 018986
Roberta Johnson
Mary Scott
Cyril Scott
Cherry Silcock-Stone

 

Feast of the translation of St. Thomas Becket

 Saturday 7th July at 8pm: Mass of the Translation, in Canterbury Cathedral Quire.

 

Woodcut of St Thomas’s martyrdom.

 

History of the translation (Just a fraction of it!)

The feast of the Translation of St. Thomas Becket on 7th July commemorates the anniversary of the translation (removal from one place to another) of the relics of St Thomas Becket in 1220.  50 years after his death, St. Thomas’ tomb in Canterbury Cathedral was opened so that the relics moved to a grander shrine.  Known as Henry II’s “troublesome priest”, the martyr had been canonised in 1173, less than three years after his murder in the cathedral on 29 December 1170. Famed for his heroic defence of the church in the face of extraordinary political pressure, St. Thomas’ prominence as a Christian leader had come at the expense of friendship, position, security and, ultimately, his life. After his death, the saint’s popularity had continued to grow in response to a common belief, in his sanctity and the healing power of his blood, that had sprung up in Canterbury.

However, the translation of the relics were not only intended to be an occasion to honour the saint but also set the stage for a new, period of reconciliation, though this turned out to be short-lived. Presided over by Archbishop Simon Langton, St. Thomas’ persecutor’s teenage son, Henry III, was present, together with royalty, nobility, bishops and archbishops from across Europe. Great crowds of people attended. Positioned behind the great altar, the shrine had been allocated the most prominent position in the cathedral but was later destroyed in the reformation.

 

The relevance of the feast of the Translation today

One of the reasons that we continue to honour the feast of the translation is because in so doing we are, collectively, able to pause for reflection on how this pivotal moment in history is still relevant to our lives. St. Thomas Becket lived a life notable for his exemplary commitment to Christ, demonstrated most of all by extraordinary integrity, in spite of the personal risk involved and that ultimately cost him his life.

We are not all called to be martyrs but there was much about the saint’s life that provided a good model for us today. Although the church certainly does not recommend the severe practices that St. Thomas maintained1,  it is right that we should hold ourselves accountable for our sins, seeking absolution through the sacrament of reconciliation.

St. Thomas was also known to have enjoyed an ostentatiously materialistic lifestyle which provided some cause for concern when he entered the church. However, after he was appointed archbishop, he adopted an ascetic lifestyle, increased the funds available to support the poor and is even reported to have made a daily habit of washing the feet of thirteen poor people at his home, after which he would feed them and give them  money2.

Each of us has the potential to reach out to those who are less fortunate than ourselves, to those who are in pain, need, fear or distress. It may not be practical or possible to provide the Christ-like hospitality to 13 people each day that Thomas indulged in but sometimes the smallest, ordinary gesture can be transformative in the day of another person. Just as the woman afflicted with haemorrhages for twelve years, described in today’s Gospel, reached out in faith, if we will do likewise then we open the way for grace to follow.

In fact, Thomas appears also to have been living the model given in 2 Corinthians that we heard at Mass today:

“For you know the gracious act of our Lord Jesus Christ,
that though he was rich, for your sake he became poor,
so that by his poverty you might become rich.
Not that others should have relief while you are burdened,
but that as a matter of equality
your abundance at the present time should supply their needs,
so that their abundance may also supply your needs,
that there may be equality.”

As Fr. Daniel explained in the homily today, healing the woman who had suffered so long, cost Jesus something. As she reached out and touched the hem of his cloak, she didn’t know it but she was touching the fringe of heaven. “Aware at once that power had gone out from him”,  His restoration of her health is His response to her courage to ask for help, inspired by her faith.

Prayer

Lord, grant that I may today give of myself to those in need, recognising your face in all.

Action

The second collection today, rather fittingly, was for the SVP. Of course, there are many ways to respond to God’s call to love one another. However, if you would like to reach out in compassion to the vulnerable and lonely of the local community, as part of this wonderful organisation, please contact the parish office for more information.

Photos from the Mass of the Translation of St Thomas of Canterbury on 7 July 2018 at Canterbury Cathedral

 


 

1 “After becoming archbishop, Thomas Becket went through a drastic transformation and changed his entire lifestyle. Before he had lived ostentatiously but now he became an ascetic. He became devout and austere ..”  Source: 

http://spartacus-educational.com/

2 “Herbert of Bosham claims that after being appointed as archbishop, Thomas Becket began to show a concern for the poor. Every morning thirteen poor people were brought to his home. After washing their feet Becket served them a meal. He also gave each one of them four silver pennies. John of Salisbury believed that Becket sent food and clothing to the homes of the sick, and that he doubled Theobald’s expenditure on the poor. ” Source: http://spartacus-educational.com/

Anselm Study Circle

  • 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.butrous@kent.ac.uk 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

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.

Blessed Oscar Romero

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.

Dean Robert Willis
Pope St Gregory the Great

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

This Sunday Confirmation

This Sunday we welcome our area bishop, Paul Mason who is here Cjzjo3zUYAA7t9Dto confirm some young people of our parish. Confirmation is one of the three sacraments of initiation and is intimately linked with Baptism and the Eucharist.
Let us pray especially for the candidates for Confirmation, Ethan Tighe, Charles McMenemy, Edouard Paul de Vitry d’Avaucourt, Maja Coben, Emily Onuh, Anna Poddi, Max Olszowski, Bon Hee Koo, Sara Razanadimby, Dawid Zochowski, Alexander Royle, Edward Pollock, and Joanne Howes. Today they are to receive the Holy Spirit that seals, strengthens, confirms and perfects what has already been given to them at Baptism. Today they will be brought into a deeper unity with the Church. Something new happens to them at confirmation. We see this sacrament as a commissioning by the Risen Christ in his Church for “official”, public witness to the Good News in the world. As it says in the Catechism of the Catholic Church, “by the sacrament of Confirmation, (the baptised) are more perfectly bound to the Church and are enriched with a special strength of the Holy Spirit. Hence they are, as true witnesses of Christ, more strictly obliged to spread and defend the faith by word and deed.”
What I pray for today is that our young people will be “truly aflame with a Pentecostal passion for proclaiming the Good News of the Risen Jesus outside of their cosy “upper rooms”. These are words from Bishop Michael Evan’s book on Confirmation.
Hopefully they will be part of a parish and a church that is called to share in the mission of Christ and the mission of the Holy Spirit, the mission of God himself. “There is no room for a vision of a church as simply a community of believers who pray and worship together, and love one another, but who have no desire to be drawn into the continuing work of the Risen Lord to bring his saving love to every human being in every time and place.” (Bishop Michael Evans).
I would like to thank Fr. Daniel and the catechists on their dedicated and hard work in preparing our young people for this important day in their lives. Also thanks go their parents for bringing children to the fullness of faith and finally I would like to assure our young people of the prayer and support of the people of St Thomas of Canterbury parish.

Through the fresh outpouring of the Holy Spirit today may your inner self grow strong and may you be rooted and planted in love so that you will be able to bring the power of God’s love to others and help change their lives, and so renew the earth

Hungarians bring Becket week to Canterbury

Hungarians bring Becket week to Canterbury

A fragment of bone believed to come from the arm of Thomas Becket is being brought back to Canterbury Cathedral this weekend.

The relic is coming from Hungary, where it is held in the Basilica of Esztergom, to be the centrepiece of a week –long pilgrimage which finishes in Canterbury during the weekend of 28 May and 29 May.

Note: The relic will be on public display in the Cathedral’s Crypt ONLY on Sunday morning from 9am until 12noon (special opening time) prior to a Mass at 1.30pm in the Western Crypt 

After services and public events in London beginning on Monday 23 May, the reliquary in which the piece of bone is set (pictured right),  is being brought to Rochester and then to Canterbury on Saturday (28 May). The pilgrims, including Hungarian Ambassador, Mr Péter Szabadhegy and other Hungarian delegates, are planning to walk and carry the relic from Harbledown on the outskirts of the city to the Cathedral.

Welcome service

The pilgrims will be greeted at the Cathedral by the Dean, the Very Revd Dr Robert Willis; the Bishop of Dover, the Rt Revd Trevor Willmott and the Lord Mayor of Canterbury Councillor George Metcalfe. A short service of celebration will then be held and all are welcome to attend.

The relic will be on display in the Cathedral’s Crypt on Sunday morning from 9am until 12noon (special opening time) prior to a Mass at 1.30pm in the Western Crypt which is being celebrated by Canterbury’s St Thomas’ Roman Catholic Church. All are welcome at this service after which the relic will return to Esztergom.

There are various theories as to how the relic came to be in Esztergom in 1220 but it later became a symbol of Hungarian Catholic resistance to communism and is therefore of considerable importance for the Hungarian people.

The pilgrimage is happening during the same weekend as the Cathedral opens its private gardens to visitors as part of the National Gardens Scheme and to raise money for charity. Normal Precincts charges will apply during the weekend for visiting the Cathedral, including for visiting to see the relic and there is more information on our website about the Open Gardens. There is no charge to attend Cathedral services.

For more about the week-long pilgrimage visit the Hungarian Embassy website.

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