Dear Friends in Christ,
On Sunday, the solemnity of Saints Peter and Paul, I celebrated the morning Solemn Mass with the parish clergy in Our Lady and St. Joseph’s church, Carlisle in the new parish of Our Lady of Eden. My homily is here.
A good-sized congregation filled the church and it was lovely to meet afterwards with parishioners – many of whom were well-known to me.
It is is always a joy for me to return to the city of Carlisle where I spent by earlier years as an Augustinian Friar.
I have designated the rectory at Warwick Square as a place for those expressing an interest in the diocesan priesthood; a place where young men and others can meet with our vocations team to help them discern their vocational way ahead.
In an often challenging climate, those considering a call to the priesthood need a great deal of encouragement and support, and the assurance that the life of a priest is an extremely fulfilling one.
Please pray for our young people whom the Lord may still be calling to follow him as priests. He called Peter and Paul in his own way, and he still continues to call in our day.
Later on Sunday I travelled from the Northern end of the diocese to the Southern part, from Carlisle to Preston, and to St. Maria Goretti’s church, to join the Syro-Malabar community of Kerala and three of their priests for the celebration of Mass and procession in honour of St. Thomas the Apostle, whom they rightly revere as the founder of their Church. My homily is here.
The liturgy of the Mass took place according to their own Malayalam language and ancient rite, and this was followed by an outdoor procession in which the statue of St. Thomas was carried as well as a relic of one of their Syro-Malabar saint, Saint Alphonsa.
There were well over two hundred present at the Mass, including many children, and with their characteristically colourful dress were an impressive sight as they processed in the summer sunshine.
Through their music and singing the Syro-Malabar Catholics bring a devotion and richness to their liturgical celebrations, and are a powerful reminder of the universality of the Church.
On these occasions, the Church as the image of a mosaic made up of many distinctive parts comes to mind, each one of which contributes to the beauty and unity of the whole.
Saint Thomas the Apostle, highly privileged to have had a unique appearance from the risen Lord as the gospel relates, remains very much present and alive today in this vibrant Syro-Malabar Church!
On Monday I was visited by a lovely group of Franciscan Sisters of Siessen who were coming to the close of a course on healing in Lancaster. It was lovely to meet them and hear of their life and charism back in Germany.
I returned North again on Tuesday to Carlisle, to Austin Friars St. Monica’s School, where, with a number of clergy, I concelebrated the End of Year Mass. It was also the occasion to mark the retirement of Mrs Frances Willacy, the long-standing Head of the junior school, formerly known as St. Monica’s. My homily is here.
This meant I had to miss the Episcopal Ordination of the new Bishop of Brentwood Fr Alan Williams SM, formerly the Director of the National Shrine to Our Lady of Walsingham in Norfolk. I sent him the promise of our best wishes and prayers from Lancaster! Here is a slideshow of images of that day:
Frances Willacy has given thirty years of devoted service as teacher and Head to generations of children, and throughout that time has been both thoroughly professional and deeply Catholic in her approach.
I took the opportunity on Tuesday as bishop to thank Frances for her unwavering commitment to Catholic education over so many years and to wish her God’s blessing on her future.
Until next week – may God bless you all,
+Michael G Campbell OSA
Bishop of Lancaster