First of all, on Wednesday morning, I attended the start of the APGL conference, organised by the good Fr Tim of Hermeneutic of Continuity. Among the priests present were three bloggers and we each took a picture of the group on our respective cameras - seasoned readers will recognise (from left to right) Fr John Boyle (South Ashford Priest), Fr Tim Finigan (Hermeneutic of Continuity) and your faithful Roman Miscellanist:
I was only able to stay for the inspiring address given by Mgr Ignacio Barreiro of Human Life International. Inspiring not because it contained anything new but because it was such a 'neat' synthesis of Catholicism and the problems facing it today. He stressed that in order to preach the 'Gospel of Life,' priests must make sure the totality of the Faith is preached. He recommended a systematic presentation of doctrine in our Sunday sermons rather than mere Scriptural exegesis, especially in Ordinary Time (or, as he put it, the 'Sundays after Pentecost'). I have often thought this although I wish someone more learned than I could put together such a doctrinal system for our three year cycle.
Here is a picture of Mgr Barreiro, courtesy of Fr Tim's blog. The grey haired head to the right of the foreground, by the way, is Aidan Nichols OP, whose many theological books got me through my seminary studies and is often mentioned as a potential 'B16 bishop.'
Mgr Barreiro's talk will be made available soon - but in the meantime, as a sample of his writing, check out the sermon on the Blessed Karl of Austria here.
Then I went to All Saints, London Colney, our diocesan centre on the outskirts of London. It's an impressive building - a former Anglican convent, boasting a chapel designed by Sir Ninian Comper:
The occasion of my visit was the twice yearly 'Under 5s' meeting - for young clergy ordained within the last five years. Like most 'in-service' events I always slightly dread these conferences but normally end up enjoying them. The young priests of Westminster are a good bunch and we all get on well and have a largely similar outlook on the Church. As well as spending an enjoyable evening at the bar, we had a Holy Hour, a talk by Bishop George Stack (the Auxiliary who ordained me) and a session on time management and the things that obstruct us from being truly effective. Covering my hands in permanent marker ink, writing words on post-it labels and sticking them onto a board brought back very vividly the pastoral classes we sat through in seminary. In March the 'Under 5s' will spend some days at the Royal English College of St Alban in Valladolid, in the company of Cardinal Cormac and Bishop Alan Hopes, which should be fun...