Our Seminarians!

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Dear Friends in Christ,

Welcome to this week’s post on the Bishop’s Blog!

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Our four diocesan seminarians have this weekend completed their pastoral placements in different parishes around the Diocese of Lancaster. A feature of modern seminary life is that each year a student does a pastoral placement for about a month to become acquainted with the realities of day to day life in a parish of the diocese. St. Mary’s Oscott, where our seminarians prepare, also arrange during term time for the students to be attached to a parish in the Birmingham area, again with the aim of enriching their pastoral experience in a variety of situations.

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The reasons for these pastoral placements is to make sure that when a seminarian becomes a deacon, and eventually a priest, he will have been already inducted into some of the challenges of parish life in today’s Church.  Three of our Lancaster seminarians have spent most of the month of January in Our Lady of Furness, Barrow,   Sacred Heart, Blackpool, and St. Cuthbert’s, Blackpool, respectively.  The fourth seminarian has just spent three months in the parishes of St. Joseph’s, Ansdell and St. Peter’s, Lytham.  I met all four this week and they spoke of the rewarding and new experience they had in their different pastoral assignments.

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The four now return to Oscott seminary, enriched for their time back in the diocese, and no doubt eager to compare notes with their fellow seminarians from other dioceses. I am grateful to the parish priests who have responded generously to my request to host a student for their designated placement. I need hardly add how much our people like to see a student for the priesthood among them, for a seminarian represents a sign of hope and the presence of God’s grace in the life of a person who wishes to follow the call of the Lord as a priest. I also express my gratitude to the people of the respective parishes who have made our seminarians so welcome. The warmth and friendliness of their reception has meant a lot to our four seminarians.

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Although our numbers in training for the priesthood are fewer nowadays than previously has been the case, we are grateful to the Lord for the gift of the four students we have, one of whom we hope will be ordained priest later in the year.

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I am also aware, as Bishop, of the prayers and especially Eucharistic devotions for vocations which take place regularly and quietly all around the diocese, and thank sincerely everyone who takes part in such pious exercises. We need never fear that the Lord in his own time and in his own way will answer our prayers for vocations for tomorrow.

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Let us pray for our seminarians, while at the same time asking the Lord of the harvest to send others to join them. Never forget that faith can move mountains!

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Until next – May God bless you all!

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+Michael G Campbell OSA

Bishop of Lancaster

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A Word on the Relationship between Faith & Reason

Dear Friends in Christ,

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Welcome to this first post of the year – here at the Bishop’s Blog!

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On Friday at Sacred Heart Primary School, Thornton, I blessed a library and a new science building, the latter interestingly and perhaps appropriately named after that great Italian Renaissance figure and multi-talented genius, Leonardo da Vinci. The occasion and especially the figure of the polymath, Leonardo da Vinci, led me to reflect on the often fraught and misunderstood relationship between science and religion, or faith and reason.

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Leonardo’s unquenchable thirst for knowledge and tireless experiment led him to discover the wonders of science in the broadest possible understanding of that term. Yet that world and its vast mystery is the work of a loving Creator God who has placed it in the care of us human beings. The marvellous power of reason and reflection, which distinguishes us from the rest of the created order, is a reflection of the divine image in which we have been created. When we use our gifts of intellect and curiosity in investigating the world about us in all its many dimensions, as Leonardo did, we are undoubtedly reflecting the glory of God within us, a mark of which is our reason and understanding.

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Blessed Pope Paul VI described the gap between culture and the gospel as one of the tragedies of our time, by that he meant the inability of modern man to realise that there is no incompatibility between faith in a loving God, revealed as our Father by his Son Jesus, and the universe as seen through scientific eyes. The facilities now available to the children of the Sacred Heart School in their new da Vinci science block will enable them to delve into and appreciate all the wonder and beauty of that marvellous and many dimensional ‘playground’ which is Almighty God’s gift to us.

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The Lord Jesus, especially in his parables, drew on the wonders of nature to proclaim his gospel. He spoke of the mystery of seed sown by the farmer which eventually turns into a harvest, an occurrence quite beyond the understanding of the farmer. He also gives the example of a housewife who, when baking, uses a small amount of yeast which somehow permeates a large amount of dough, to illustrate how God’s kingdom can have small beginnings. He also remarks on the wonder of a tiny seed eventually becoming a great tree, or the seemingly ordinary phenomenon of the wind, yet which we fully cannot explain. We are very familiar with the Lord’s words on the lilies of the field which just mysteriously appear in time in all their beauty.

As the extensive world of science and research continues to uncover the hidden depths of the earth, outer space, and what lies yet undiscovered beneath the seas, or even something as simple but striking as a beautiful sunset, we might in humility make our own the sentiments of the Jesuit poet, Gerard Manley Hopkins. Speaking of the astonishing variety and diversity in creation, the poet says, ‘He fathers-forth whose beauty is past change: Praise him.’

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May our children come to appreciate not only the beauty of God, but the God of beauty!

Until next week,

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As ever in Christ,

+Michael

 

Rt Rev Michael G Campbell OSA

Bishop of Lancaster