Congratulation to Prof Patrick Pullicino, a parishioner of St Thomas of Canterbury was ordained deacon at St Anselm, Tooting Bec in March 2019. He is to be ordained priest at St George’s Cathedral on 20th July at 12:30pm by Archbishop Peter Smith.
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.
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
- 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
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.
May I express my thanks to all members of the committee for their support during the past year.
ST THOMAS OF CANTERBURY CATHOLIC PARISH
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
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.
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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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!
- 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.
- 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.
- 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
|Christine Robinson||07754 502543|
|Gerard Buckels||07887 941961|
|Mary McGillie||07710 472876|
|Annie Judge||07866 515797|
|Jo Wilkins||07738 259011|
|Marjery Craig||07708 762868|
|Pauline Ventress||01227 452970|
|Nieves Castro||07932 645919|
|Mary Alexander||07796 271458|
|Terry Spratley||01227 455125|
|Monica Spratley||01227 455125|
|Catherine Spratley||07808 018986|
Saturday 7th July at 8pm: Mass of the Translation, in Canterbury Cathedral Quire.
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.
Lord, grant that I may today give of myself to those in need, recognising your face in all.
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:
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/
Image already added
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.firstname.lastname@example.org 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