Dear Friends in Christ,
Welcome back to the Bishop’s Blog for this week!
For the past few days I have been in Rome as one of three bishops on our annual Visitation to the Venerable English College and the Pontifical Beda College. Both Colleges, with St. Alban’s College, Valladolid, Spain, are the responsibility of the English & Welsh Hierarchy, hence the reason for these official yearly visits.
The Venerable English College has a long and distinguished history in Rome, stretching back over six centuries and more. It was originally a hospice for visitors and pilgrims from Britain, but for the past three centuries its principal purpose has been the training of future priests, mostly for the Church in England and Wales.
Occasionally the College hosts a few seminarians students from the Nordic countries, as well as a number of student priests engaged in further studies.
Our task as bishop-visitors is to encourage the staff and students in their important mission, to hear their concerns, and to offer every assistance we can, especially in the provision of and seminarians and formation staff for the college.
We are invariably well received by the whole college community and it is a privilege for us bishops to play even a small part in the life of such a venerable institution, and vital for the future well-being of the Church in England and Wales.
A particular pleasure during this Visitation was the celebration of the Roman Station Mass on Tuesday in San Lorenzo in Damaso, which is the parish church of the English College. I had the privilege of presiding at the concelebration.
Well over three hundred lay people, Religious and seminarians gathered at 7.00 am for the Lenten concelebrated Mass, which is an exemplary way to begin the day. The practice of visiting a different church on each day of Lent for the Station Mass is an ancient one and wholly admirable. Occasions such as this do indeed boost a person’s faith.
The second phase of our Visitation took us to the Pontifical Beda College, founded in the early 1850’s, which is blessed with its close proximity to the splendid basilica of St. Pauls outside the Walls, the original site of the martyrdom of the great apostle.
The Beda traditionally caters for seminarians of an older age, and more increasingly students from English-speaking countries around the world study there, giving the college nowadays a truly international dimension.
During our visit the second year students received the office of Acolyte from one of the visiting bishops, which marks an important milestone for these mature students on their journey to priestly ordination.
Each Beda student has his own interesting life-story to relate before arriving at the college, and consequently brings a rich and enhancing experience to the seminary community.
The equally warm welcome we bishops received at the Beda brought our Visitation to the Roman colleges to a highly satisfactory conclusion, and we thank the Lord for all the good that has been accomplished and continues to be in our overseas colleges. We do indeed keep them in our prayers.
I did manage one morning to make a short trip to St. Peter’s and enter through the holy door for the Jubilee Year of Mercy. A steady stream of pilgrims were doing the same, and so the life of prayer and pilgrimage goes quietly on, invoking God’s grace on the peoples of the world.
Until next week – Sincerest good wishes & prayers,
As ever in Christ,
+Michael G Campbell OSA
Bishop of Lancaster
P.S. Again, looking forward to the summer, I use this opportunity to invite any person in our Diocese, especially our young people, at this time, over the age of 16 years, to consider coming on our Diocesan Pilgrimage to Lourdes in this unique Jubilee Year of Mercy. (The Deadline has been extended)