Tuesday 11 March 2008

A Link in a Chain

This morning I gave an 'input' at a Day of Recollection for the Westminster Sick and Retired Clergy. There were 18 present, including two nonagenarians and a smattering of monsignori. I was very aware that there were several centuries-worth of priestly experience in the room while I could only claim 5 years!

My theme was the history of the diocese and the fact that we are links in the great chain of faith, acting as a bridge between yesterday and tomorrow. I wanted to pay tribute to the many extraordinary priests who had a key role in the growth of the Church in London (just as much as the bishops!) and who are now largely forgotten. There are Victorian missionaries like Fr Henry Hardy, who single-handedly founded five parishes in Hertfordshire, or Fr George Bampfield, whose Institute of St Andrew (based at Barnet) established many rural missions. There are writers and novelists like Ronald Knox, Robert Hugh Benson and Owen Francis Dudley, and the many pioneer priests from Ireland. One could even mention the two priests of the diocese who died on the Titanic and the Lusitania - Fr Thomas Byles and Fr Basil Maturin.

I was keen also to encourage the priests to record their memories and to look at the personal papers and photos that they may possess. Dioceses are not like religious Orders - there can be little sense of continuity in parishes and old papers often end up in the dustbin. Indeed, priests so often live solely in the present moment and it can be hard to look beyond the current page of the diary! Yet I'm increasingly aware if that if something isn't done about it soon, much anecdotal evidence from the pre-conciliar years will soon disappear.



Anonymous Anonymous said...


Father...read the attached and let me know what you think. Thanks.

7:27 pm  

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