(Fr) Daniel was born in Hampshire but later moved to Tunbridge Wells, where he attended St Gregory’s Catholic Comprehensive School and was a parishioner of St. Augustine’s Church. From an early age his passion was music and during his time at school developed an ambition to become a professional violinist.
With encouragement and support from his family and school he was delighted to win a place at the Royal College of Music in London and between 1993 and 1997 he studied violin with John Ludlow and piano with Yonty Solomon. Looking back he describes his experience there as ‘intense, competitive and highly stimulating’ and loved being immersed in a constant stream of high-level music-making.
In 1999, he was invited to take up a teaching post at the newly-formed National Conservatory of Music in Palestine, which was founded to offer musical education in all its aspects to Palestinian children living in the Occupied Territories. Daniel taught violin at the Conservatory at its branches in Jerusalem, Ramallah and Bethlehem and regards his happy time in the Holy Land as being a turning-point in his life.
Upon his return to England, happily busy as a freelance performer and teacher, the sense of a calling to priesthood began to grow and, after several years of thinking about it he contacted the Vocations Director for Southwark Diocese and applied to be accepted for priestly formation. He spent his first ‘propaedutic’ year in Valladolid, Spain, at the Royal English College of St. Alban – which opened in 1589 as a safe place for English Catholics to train for the priesthood away from the persecution in England – and then continued his formation at St. John’s Seminary in Wonersh, near Guildford. He is very grateful for the richly blessed time he spent at both seminaries.
Daniel was ordained Deacon at St. John’s Seminary in December 2015 and Priest on 16th July 2016 – the feast day of Our Lady of Mount Carmel – at St. George’s Cathedral, Southwark, by Archbishop Peter Smith. He is delighted to have been sent to serve the Parish and Faithful of St. Thomas of Canterbury and is deeply grateful for the warm welcome he has received from parishioners and clergy alike.
In every Catholic child’s life their first communion day is a day to remember. I can still recall exactly where I knelt in my church of St Bedes on the day of my first communion. I also have some sweet black and white photos of a group of us from the local estate posing in the local park after the Mass and breakfast. For this celebration the child is the centre of attention, and is often the recipient of religious gifts and other presents. After months of catechesis they receive Jesus under the appearance of bread and wine for the first time. They have reached a new stage in their journey of faith and are now able to participate in a fuller way in the one event that defines them, nurtures them and forms them. The Eucharist, also known as the Mass, is what Jesus has left us He has asked us to celebrate this liturgy in memory of him. The Church teaches that it is the source and summit of the Christian life.
Congratulations to all our children who are receiving Jesus in Holy Communion for the first time. Thank you to parents and catechists who have accompanied them on their journey. As a parish we have a responsibility to celebrate the Eucharist each week as well as we can. If we sing half heartedly, listen inattentively, respond without meaning in what we say then perhaps it is an indication we do not value this wonderful gift. It can become familiar and routine. These are some words written by Pope Benedict XVI in his document on he Eucharist.
“At the beginning of the fourth century, Christian worship was still forbidden by the imperial authorities. Some Christians in North Africa, who felt bound to celebrate the Lord’s Day, defied the prohibition. They were martyred after declaring that it was not possible for them to live without the Eucharist, the food of the Lord: sine dominico non possumus. May these martyrs of Abitinae, in union with all those saints and beati who made the Eucharist the centre of their lives, intercede for us and teach us to be faithful to our encounter with the risen Christ. We too cannot live without partaking of the sacrament of our salvation; we too desire to be iuxta dominicam viventes, to reflect in our lives what we celebrate on the Lord’s Day. That day is the day of our definitive deliverance. Is it surprising, then, that we should wish to live every day in that newness of life which Christ has brought us in the mystery of the Eucharist?”
We are very blessed in this Parish to have several relics of St Thomas Becket in the martyrs chapel of our church and at the end of next month, another relic of St Thomas a Becket that is kept in Esztergom, Hungary’s old capital, will be coming to the UK. and will be in Canterbury for the weekend of 28th and 29th May. What is St Thomas’ connection with Hungary? While studying in Paris, Thomas became friends with Lukas Banfi who later became Archbishop of Esztergom. After Thomas’ martyrdom, Archbishop Lukas founded a church and provostship on the hill named after St Thomas a Becket and dedicated it to the memory of the martyr. It is widely recognised that Margaret of France, Queen of England and later of Hungary, who had know Thomas Becket in the court of her husband, Henry II, was instrumental in bringing his relics to Hungary.
On Monday 23rd May at 5.30pm there will be a Mass at Westminster Cathedral and veneration of the relic. We have been asked to bring our own relic to be part of the veneration. The Hungarian relic will then be processed to Westminster Abbey. On Friday 27th it will be at Rochester Cathedral for evensong. On Saturday 28th the relic will arrive at St Michael’s Church, Harbledown around 3pm. From there will be a procession with the relic into the city and to the Cathedral where there will be a welcome service around 4pm. On Sunday 29th there will be Mass in the crypt of the Cathedral, celebrated by Fr Valentine Erhahon with Bishop Laszlo Kiss-Rigorous, Bishop of Szaged in attendance.
We don’t say that relics have any magical power but they are a material tangible connection with the Saint. In the fourth century the great biblical scholar, Jerome, declared, “We do not worship, we do not adore, for fear that we should bow down to the creature rather than to the creator, but we venerate the relics of the martyrs in order the better to adore God.” Relics remind us of the holiness of a saint and his cooperation in God’s work. At the same time, relics inspire us to ask for the prayers of that saint and to beg the grace of God to live the same kind of faith-filled life.
I will be in Lourdes that weekend with a group from the parish so, sadly, I won’t be able to attend. I do encourage as many as can to meet at St Michaels on the Saturday and walk in with the relic or join the procession at Westgate. We are also looking for about 6 volunteers to help steward the processions
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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
Syro Malabar rite is one of the oriental churches within the Catholic Communion and traces its origin back to St Thomas the Apostle. This is the 2nd largest oriental church within the Catholic church and this community is mainly from Kerala, one of the south India states. There are around 45 families within the parish of St Thomas’. They celebrate Syro-Malabar rite Mass in the parish every 4th Sunday of the month at 2.30pm. And Catechetical formation is conducted for the children of this community on the 2nd Saturday and 4th Sunday of every month. The contact person is: Mr Noby Mathew Tel: 07454 812983
31st October – 1st November 2015
Are you 18-40, do you want to deepen your knowledge of the Catholic faith, learn its devotions and meet like minded people? Young Catholic Adults are organising a weekend at Aylesford in Kent (just south of London), where you’ll be able to:- hear cate-chetical talks (including from Fr. Gregory Pearson O.P., and noted author Donel Foley), learn how to sing Gregorian Chant, say the Rosary and socialise with like minded adults. For further info: www.youngcatholicadults.co.uk/events.htm or see poster