Newsletter for the week starting 12 May 2019


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A Great Message for All Young People

On the Feast of the Annunciation this year 25th March, Pope Francis issued an Apostolic Exhortation to young people and to the entire people of God. This was written in response to the Synod that met last October and is entitled Christ is Alive.  I wonder how many young people have read it or planning to read it. I would love the opportunity to explore this letter with a group of young people to hear their response to what has been written. Like most Apostolic exhortations it is not short!   I would like to give you a flavour of what he wrote to encourage you to read it yourself. 

Pope Francis says reflecting on Jesus as a young person can prove inspiring for all those young people who are developing and preparing to take up their mission in life. “This involves growing in a relationship with the Father, in awareness of being part of a family and a people , and a people, and in openness to being filled with the Holy Spirit and led to carry out the mission God gives them, their personal vocation. None of this should be overlooked in pastoral work with young people, lest we create projects that isolate young people from their family and the larger community, or turn them into a select few, protected from all contamination. Rather, we need projects that can strengthen them, accompany them and impel them to encounter others, to engage in generous service, in mission.”   We are reminded to be open to the signs of the times. The Pope recognises that many young people do not ask the Church for anything because they do no see her as significant for their lives. “A Church always on the defensive, which loses her humility and stops listening to others, which leaves no room for questions, loses her youth and turns into a museum. How, then, will she be able to respond to the dreams of young people? Even if she possesses the truth of the Gospel, this does not mean that she has completely understood it; rather, she is called to keep growing in her grasp of that inexhaustible treasure.”  These are for me challenging words.  Chapter four is entitled “A great message for all young people.” In which three great truths are expressed. The first is that God loves you. “Never doubt this, whatever may happen in your life. At every moment you are definitely loved.”  The second great truth is that Christ out of love, sacrificed himself completely in order to save you.  “Young people, beloved of the Lord, how valuable must you be if you were redeemed by the precious blood of Christ! Dear young people, “you are priceless! You are not up for sale! Please, do not let yourselves be bought. Do not let yourselves be seduced.” The third truth inseparable from the second is Christ is alive! “Alive, he can be present in your life at every moment, to fill it with light and to take away all sorrow and solitude. Even if all others depart, he will remain, as he promised: “I am with you always, to the end of the age” (Mt 28:20). He fills your life with his unseen presence; wherever you go, he will be waiting there for you. Because he did not only come in the past, but he comes to you today and every day, inviting you to set out towards ever new horizons.”  The Pope encourages young people to allow the Holy Spirit to open their hearts to receive this message. “Ask the Holy Spirit each day to help you experience anew the great message. Why not? You have nothing to lose, and he can change your life, fill it with light and lead it along a better path. He takes nothing away from you, but instead helps you to find all that you need, and in the best possible way.”

Newsletter starting week 05th May 2019


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Any copying, disclosure, distribution or any action taken or omitted to be taken in reliance on it is prohibited and may be unlawful. Unless stated to the contrary, any opinions expressed in this message are personal and may not be attributed to Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Southwark CIO. Registered Charity No.: 1173050
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Report for Parish Pastoral council for Year ended March 2019


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
    • 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.


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

Rob Meredith(Chair)

March 2019




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.




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



I am sure that most of you are aware of the process by which an adult becomes a Catholic Christian in the church. It is known as Rite of Christian Initiation of Adults. The RCIA as it is known consists of various stages. Firstly there is an enquiry period at the end of which the person is formerly welcomed into a period known as the catechumenate which comprises of a systematic formation in the faith. At the beginning of Lent there is a Rite of Election when the person is called to the Sacraments of Initiation by the bishop. The time during Lent is known as a period of purification and enlightenment. It is a time fo prayer and reflection. At the Easter vigil the adult is baptised and confirmed and receives Communion for the first time. In our parish this Easter, Amir was baptised and Alex and Chris were received into full communion. Also at the vigil Darren and Angus completed their initiation when they received the sacrament of Confirmation with the other three. Now the final stage is called the period of mystagogia. Mystagogical Catechesis is the period of catechesis, from Easter to Pentecost, that instructs the neophytes, the new faithful, in the significances of the signs and symbols of the Sacraments and sacred liturgy, so as to increase their full, conscious, active participation in the life of the Christian community. “Mystagogia” is a strange word that is gradually returning to the Christian vocabulary. It means “going deeper into the mysteries”—that is, into the truths of the faith. Mystagogia describes the ancient custom of spending the first week of Easter with the newly baptised, helping them experience the depths of the truths they had accepted in their Baptism, Confirmation and first Eucharist. The Easter season is a time of “mystagogia” for everyone, not just for new Christians. The newly baptised, or neophytes, continue to meet with one another after Easter until Pentecost, gradually taking their place in the Church, to discuss and discover the living of a sacramental life; living out the Gospel and becoming involved in the parish. Topics often covered are evangelisation, stewardship and lay ministry. As it is for all Christians, it is a lifelong process of entering ever more deeply into the death and resurrection of the Lord. As a parish, this is an ideal time for us to reflect on what we have celebrated.
Here are some questions we can ask ourselves. How am I living a sacramental life? How do I see my place within the Church and the parish? Am I a missionary disciple? Am I a good steward of my gifts and talents? Do I use them for the building up of the community? What difference does the Eucharist make to my life? Am I open to the working of the Holy Spirit in my life?

Hopefully in the coming weeks between Easter and Pentecost we will be able to reflect on these areas of our lives as a member of the body of Christ, the Church.

Newsletter for week starting 28 April 2019


This message is only for the use of the intended recipient(s). It may contain information which is confidential and legally privileged within the meaning of applicable law. If you are not the intended recipient, please contact the sender as soon as possible.
Any copying, disclosure, distribution or any action taken or omitted to be taken in reliance on it is prohibited and may be unlawful. Unless stated to the contrary, any opinions expressed in this message are personal and may not be attributed to Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Southwark CIO. Registered Charity No.: 1173050
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Resurrexit Sixut Dixit, Alleluia

I am sure that I have shared this before but one of the most enduring memories of my primary school days was when our parish priest, Fr Joe, talking to our class about the resurrection, said “If the resurrection of Jesus did not happen then would take off my roman collar and throw it away.” With that he took off his collar. We are sat there open mouthed. Father Joe was recalling St Paul’s words “How can some of you say that there is no resurrection of the dead? But if there is no resurrection of the dead, then Christ has not been raised; if Christ has not been raised, then our preaching is in vain and your faith is in vain. … But in fact Christ has been raised from the dead, the first fruits of those who have fallen asleep.” The resurrection was a real physical event. Belief in the resurrection of the dead has been an essential element of the Christian faith from its beginnings. “The confidence of Christians is the resurrection of the dead; believing this we live.” (Tertullian) As we celebrate this great feast, this life changing event, we need to ask ourselves: How does the resurrection of Jesus change the way we see things today? How does it affect the way I live my life? What difference does it make?
Bishop Robert Barron in his podcast sermon for Easter Sunday reminds us of three things. The first thing is that the fact of the resurrection shows us that that this world, as we know it, is not all that there is. For some people this world is the final framework of their lives and death is the most frightening feature. For many, everything that comes into being will eventually fade away. The psalmist says of us that our span of life is seventy years or eighty for those who are strong. Even our world and the universe will eventually fade away. But the resurrection of Christ proclaims that death does not have the final word. We don’t have to live as though death had the final word. In the light of the resurrection we see our time as a time of something in gestation. We are not meant to live here ultimately. Our life here is a preparation for life everlasting. The second thing to remember is that the resurrection of Jesus declares that the cross, which for the Romans was the ultimate symbol of torture and death, was not victorious. For tyrants, violence was the way that they get their way. The cross was the means the Romans used to subjugate and control. The risen Christ is the inspiration of rebellion and is the taunt of tyrants. Christ has been victorious over tyranny. Jesus had taken the worst that the world could possible have thrown at him and he returned alive and triumphant. The third thing to remember is that Jesus died and rose to bring everyone to new life. Salvation is open to all. Christ endured great suffering to be one with the whole of humanity.
The resurrection shows that Christ can gather back to the Father everyone he has embraced through his suffering and death. Jesus went all the way down in his suffering to reach all those who wandered from God. What a great feast! What great hope!
We will spend the next fifty days celebrating the resurrection. Father Sylvester, Deacon David and his wife Bridget and myself wish you a happy and joyous Easter. Thank you to all who have helped in making Holy Week prayerful and uplifting.
Resurrexit Sixut Dixit, Alleluia