Pembury be on alert because outlaws are coming to town. The good news being that we are fully booked for this year’s eagerly anticipated holiday club ‘Catholics in the Wild West’. This means 35 primary school aged children are lined up to don spurs, craft cactus and paint head-dresses as we explore 19th Century North American history.

Now some people might consider the lawless West a very dangerous place for the children of our parish to explore. But do not be concerned for these are experienced and intrepid explorers who, in recent years, mastered journeys to Space, explored under the Sea, trekked on Safari and overcame Tigers in India! Perhaps it is the wanted men who should fear. Here is the most notorious of all who, rumour has it, is planning to escape the country before the club begins.

The holiday club is always great fun, enjoyed by children and helpers alike. But it is only possible thanks to the organisational genius and dedicated hard work of my wife Hayley. She spends most of her spare time in July preparing craft, ordering equipment and planning each day meticulously. We are also indebted to all who assist her with prep and help on the day. Less than a week to go and the excitement is mounting…

 

My wife Hayley is the star of the latest educational video produced by the National Gallery in London, where she works, three days a week, as a painting restorer. In this short film she explains how varnish is removed from oil paintings as part of that restoration work and we see various techniques used by the conservators. The picture is Bonheur’s ‘The Horse Fair’.

Being married can bring about a sense of familiarity which makes us forget how talented and gifted our loved ones really are. Wow! Those days when Hayley sets off for London really are spent doing vital cultural work and it is good that her talents do not go to waste. Signed a proud husband!

Each year the Catholic author Joanna Bogle leads a series of walks around London which focus on our Catholic heritage and history. I am told they are first rate. Details about the 2018 walks are below and you would be very welcome to join Joanna for any or all of them:

MONDAY September 10th

In the footsteps of St Thomas More

Meet 6pm Church of Our Most Holy Redeemer and St Thomas More, Cheyne Row, London SW3. Nearest tube: SLOANE SQUARE or SOUTH KENSINGTON

 

SUNDAY September 16th

The City and its Wall

Meet 4pm (note time) St Etheldreda’s Church, Ely Place London EC1.

 

SUNDAY September 23rd

WESTMINSTER and PARLIAMENT

Meet 4pm (note time) on the steps of Westminster Cathedra, Victoria Street London SW1

 

SUNDAY October 7th

Southwark and The Borough

Meet 4pm Church of the Most Precious Blood, O’Meara Street London SE1

 

TUESDAY October 9th

WESTMINSTER AND PARLIAMENT
Meet 6.30pm (after 5.30pm Mass) on the steps of Westminster Cathedral, Victoria Street London SW1

 

SUNDAY October 21st

In the footsteps of St Thomas More

Meet 4pm Church of Our Most Holy Redeemer and St Thomas More, Cheyne Row London SW3.

 

NO NEED TO BOOK: JUST TURN UP!

Each Walk lasts about 1 ½ to two hours: you can of course leave at any time. We suggest a donation of £5.00p per person for each Walk.

Wear comfortable shoes and suitable clothes – we walk whatever the weather!

More information: www.catholichistorywalks.com

On Saturday Father Nicholas joined a large number of people in making the journey to Birmingham where eight men were ordained to the sacred priesthood, for work within the Ordinariate, at the Oratory church. The celebrant was Archbishop Bernard Longley who used the crozier belonging to Blessed John Henry Newman which now belongs to the Oratorians.

Several people have told me that the occasion was wonderfully uplifting- if hot! The Oratorians were all vested to support us and the congregation made up of Ordinariate members and supporters from across the UK. This was a unique occasion because it was the first ordination of men who discerned a vocation from within the Ordinariate; amongst them Thomas Mason who spent a summer chopping down trees and being chased around by the children of the summer holiday club here in Pembury. The Catholic Herald have written about the service here.

Meanwhile I was at Wonersh Seminary in Surrey where Jack Lusted was made a transitional deacon for work within the diocese of Arundel and Brighton. Jack was formerly Anglican minister in Robertsbridge and had wanted to join the Ordinariate. But with a family to support and no openings at that time it was eventually discerned that he would better serve the church by joining his local diocese. So a gift from us to them that shows how the Ordinariate is not only growing itself but helping serve the wider church in England and Wales.

Jacks delightful family were, of course, present and it was nice to catch up with them and share news from Pembury. Over lunch I ensured that the very many good wishes from folk in Pembury reached their ears; it is hoped we can organise a group from the parish to support him later this year when he is ordained priest. He will begin his ministry serving the Catholic parish in Crowborough which is positive news for the family as it means they continue living in Tunbridge Wells and schooling etc is not disturbed.

Jack was also supported by various priest friends. Here you see him posing, yes definitely posing, alongside Frs Biggerstaff and Bostock. All three were once students together at St. Stephen’s House in Oxford when training for ministry within the Church of England. They were both on very good form and it was a pleasure to catch up with them.

Yesterday we gathered for a very special Evensong in thanksgiving for the beautification of the church in recent years and for the generosity of all who enabled it to happen. It was a very uplifting and fitting occasion ably led by our choir who were bolstered for the night by various friends from local choral groups.

The Evensong setting was fittingly the Pepenbury Responses and the anthem, sung during the solemn blessing of the new window, was ‘This is the record of John’ by Orlando Gibbons. The three psalms were sung to Anglican chant and our hymns were Lead us heavenly Father, lead us, Eternal Father strong to save and Lead thou me on. The first two to reflect the nautical backstory of the new window. The final hymn penned by Blessed John Henry Newman, patron of the Ordinariate.

Monsignor Keith Newton and Bishop Paul Mason were our special clerical guests and we were also joined by clergy from the local deanery, ecumenical guests and former priests of the parish. A cohort from the Worshipful Company of window Glaziers were present having been so helpful in enabling us to secure the and restore the window. They were presented with a plaque which is to be erected in church in their honour.

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After the Evensong and solemn blessing of the window we all moved outside for a glass of bubbly and some canapés. Huge thanks to the ladies of the congregation who prepared the feast. Guests mingled and enjoyed a late summer evening. They included the headmistress of Kent College, pictured below right, which ensured my daughter Jemima was on very best behaviour. It will be her school in September!

I was delighted that two representatives of the parish of Shottermill in Surrey made the journey to Pembury to be with us. This is the parish that gifted us the gorgeous reredos by C. R. Ashbee which is now located in the Sacred Heart Chapel. It is of exquisite quality and remarked on by most every visitor to St. Anselm’s. Their parish, along with all who have gifted us items, were prayed for during the service.

Once everyone was refreshed they were marshalled back together by Father Nicholas, who was given some extremely rare praise from his priest for all his help in dealing with the procurement of the window. I simultaneously apologised to the Worshipful Company for having unleashed his eccentricity upon them. As you can spy over his shoulder Ron Crane was also present on behalf of the Ordinariate Portal- so watch this space!

We were then treated to a speech from Michael, a key figure at the Worshipful Company, who gave us the backstory of how our window came to be in their care. Rather shockingly, before they got hold of it, it spent several years lying on the garage floor of a vicarage! His speech brought home just how vital is the work of the Company in preserving, restoring and rehoming stained glass which is part of our national treasure.

All in all a wonderful evening then on which to thank God for the beautification of our parish. Looking back we have achieved a great deal together since the Ordinariate first arrived in Pembury seven years ago. May the next seven be just as exciting and full of life and promise.

For more photographs click on this link.