Thursday, 26 February 2009

I haven't been posting very much recently, not only because it's a busy time of year in the parish but because my 83 year-old father has been rather unwell. This has prevented me from following or commenting on some of the recent excitements on the blogosphere. So that I can focus on the 4th commandment, I won't be blogging in the near future - though I will, of course, keep the blog online and may be inspired to write the occasional post when I feel the urge.

Oremus pro invicem!

Update Of you charity please pray for the repose of the soul of my father, Dr Arthur Norman Edward Delsart Schofield, who died at home on Monday 9th March, aged 83. Born in Rochdale in 1925, he studied at the School of Slavonic Studies, University of London, and worked as Curator in the Department of Manuscripts at the British Library, until his retirement in 1987. His Requiem will be celebrated at 12.30pm on Friday 20th March at St John the Evangelist, Berry Lane, Rickmansworth. Requiescat in pace.


Wednesday, 25 February 2009

International Summer School for Young Catholics

I'm delighted to post the following advert for the International Summer School for Young Catholics, founded by the late David Foster. As a former student I warmly recommend it:

Restore All Things in Christ

July 25th – August 1st 2009
at the Oratory Preparatory School, near Reading

After the sad death of David Foster in late December, Dominic Sullivan, Sr. Valerie Walker O.P. and Susanna Ward intend to continue the International Summer School which he started in 1982. David had a high ideal of what a Catholic school should be, insisting that it must not simply impart religious doctrine as an isolated subject, but that supernatural revelation should inform the whole of its syllabus and life. Although only a week long, his summer school tried to cover a wide range of knowledge within a Catholic framework, and to demonstrate that modern culture both derives from Catholic roots and yet denies them.

The course is not a retreat, although there is Holy Mass and Rosary every day, and lessons on religious doctrine and spiritual subjects form part of the curriculum. There are also opportunities for swimming, sport and other activities in the beautiful setting of the Oratory Preparatory School. On most evenings there is a visiting speaker.

The course is open to young people between the ages of 13 - 19. The cost will be £220. For further information about application, please contact the Course Director by March 31st 2009.

Enquiries to:
Course Director
Dominic Sullivan
Tel: 0208 788 8659


Thursday, 5 February 2009


Last week I visited St Mary's College, Oscott, the seminary for the Archdiocese of Birmingham, in order to collect some archival materials. It seemed quite a happy place and three members of the staff (including the Vice-Rector) were contemporaries of mine in Rome. The College has a fine building, designed by Pugin and with stunning views over Birmingham (particularly impressive at night, when flickering lights replace the uglier aspects of the urban sprawl).

In the Pranzorium, where the staff (and guests) have breakfast, there is a wonderful collection of portraits of past Presidents, including two of the greatest Vicars Apostolic of the Midland District.

This is Bishop John Milner (1752-1826), whom Newman called 'the English Athanasius.' He offered a new model of what an English Catholic bishop should be – confident, unafraid of controversy, keen to uphold the primacy of ecclesiastical authority and defend orthodoxy, and also truly pastoral. Many of his fiery opinions could be found in the appropriately named Orthodox Journal. Milner moved the Church away from dependence on the great Catholic families and looked towards the victory of Ultramontanism later in the nineteenth century.

This is Bishop Thomas Walsh (1777-1849), who was moved to London in the last year of his life, with the expectation that he would become the first Archbishop of Westminster after the restoration of the Hierarchy. He died and Wiseman filled his shoes. As bishop in the Midlands, what marked Walsh out was the grandeur of his vision and his openness towards new forces within the Catholic community, such as the Oxford converts and the gothis revival. At his death in 1849, The Tablet observed that ‘it is to his Episcopacy that posterity will trace the great development of ecclesiastical architecture which forms so distinctive a feature in the history of our period.’ A keen supporter of Pugin, Walsh oversaw the opening of a number of churches and institutions that were gems of the gothic revival: the future Cathedrals of Birmingham (St Chad’s) and Nottingham, New Oscott, the Trappist monastery at Mount St Bernard’s, the glorious churches at Cheadle and Derby, and the religious houses of Hanley, Ratcliffe and Aston. Many of these ambitious projects were made possible through the patronage of John Talbot, sixteenth earl of Shrewsbury, and Ambrose Phillips de Lisle.

Walsh’s vision for Oscott was to make it a centre of Catholic life and scholarship that would provide a home for many of the converts. Pugin was given the task of decorating and furnishing the chapel, using ornaments ‘executed by ancient artists in the days of faith’ but ‘torn by heretical and revolutionary violence from their original positions in the noble churches of France and Belgium,’ and restoring ‘the ample and dignified vestments which were anciently used in this land.’ Walsh bought an impressive library that had been made available in Rome and appointed converts like George Spencer to high positions.

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