Dear friends in Christ,
Welcome back to the Bishop’s Blog for this week
My penultimate Parish Visitation for this year, within the Preston deanery, took place in St. Gregory’s parish, within sight of Deepdale, the celebrated football ground of Preston North End FC, and forever associated with the great Sir Tom Finney.
At the conclusion of the Saturday evening Vigil Mass I had the rare but happy task of presenting a papal blessing to a parishioner who had just celebrated his hundredth birthday.
The warm round of applause in the church was richly deserved by this regular Mass-going centenarian on this occasion, a surely remarkable milestone!
After the Sunday morning Mass, and meeting and greeting the parishioners at the church entrance, I joined the parish pastoral council and parish priest for an informal and very pleasant parish lunch.
Here I was able to acknowledge the important contribution each of them made to the life of St. Gregory’s parish.
One highlight of the visitation was the Sunday afternoon Mass of Confirmation during which I conferred the sacrament on a group of forty-four, mostly young people.
A large congregation of parents, family and friends filled the church for what was an impressive occasion.
Those being Confirmed were well prepared and had chosen with deliberation a particular saint’s name as their patron. The presence of so many at this Mass brought home to me yet again, as Bishop, the spiritual importance that family and friends of the young people attach to Confirmation.
In an often confusing world with so many choices and conflicting values, parents grasp that there is something very special, even precious, about the Sacrament of Confirmation for young teenagers. Their children are receiving the grace of the Holy Spirit as they enter a challenging period of their life.
Parents and sponsors have that ‘sense of faith’, as the theologians call it, an instinctive awareness of the presence of Christ and his Holy Spirit coming to rest on their young people as they are being Confirmed.
May this Mass of Confirmation live long and vividly in the memories and souls of the young people of St. Gregory’s parish!
A visit to St. Gregory’s Catholic Primary School, adjacent to the church, brought my parish Visitation to an end on Monday morning.
This visit began with a blessing of the new school entrance, a symbolic moment and, as a child remarked, the purpose of the blessing was to keep everything harmful from entering the school.
I spent the remainder of the morning touring the building and meeting the different classes of this popular and very successful school. The mid-morning break gave me the opportunity to meet the Head and staff and thank them for all that they are doing for Catholic education in this area of Preston.
Until next week – God bless you all,
+Michael G Campbell OSA
Bishop of Lancaster