Yesterday evening, for the first time in history, Mass according to Divine Worship, the liturgy of the Ordinariate, was celebrated at St. Thomas of Canterbury Catholic church in Sevenoaks. It was the perfect setting for a re-launch of the Sevenoaks Ordinariate, now under the umbrella of St. Anselm’s in its role as a Minster. And thanks to the kind and generous welcome of the Sevenoaks priest, Fr. David Gibbons, himself a former Anglican, St Thomas’ now becomes home to the group which meets alternate Thursdays at 7:30pm.
The setting was perfect because this is a church whose art and architecture is dedicated to English Saints. Accompanying St. Thomas, above the altar, stand St. John Fisher and St. Thomas More (proudly sporting Canterbury caps!) alongside St. Edith (I think!). I am personally delighted to celebrate Mass here because I have a strong devotion to St. Thomas of Canterbury having served my title as an Anglican curate at a church dedicated to his honour in Brentwood, Essex. Here is a favourite photograph from those days which another cleric, now of the Ordinariate, is clearly visible; the wonderful Fr. Bob White who was a superb training incumbent.
Amongst the congregation last night were friends from St. Anselm’s and from the Maidstone Ordinariate Group. They too have agreed to come under the umbrella of the newly conceived Minster for the West Kent Area. They will be visited by a priest of St. Anselm’s on the last Sunday of every month. This ensures we are present amongst the smaller groups and able to offer support where necessary. They in turn can visit the larger church in Pembury on high days and holy days. By standing together we become stronger. And with three active priests and a deacon, as well as a priest and deacon in formation, we are blessed in terms of clerical help.
So lots of good news to celebrate in this season of Easter. The next meeting of the Sevenoaks group is on Thursday 26th May. So any Catholic wanting to celebrate the Ascension on its proper day is very welcome to join us at 7:30pm! It will be followed by refreshments in the parish room.
Back to Pembury and this Sunday we continue to thank God for the great English Saints as we celebrate our Patronal festival. The feast of St. Anselm actually fell on the Friday of the Octave of Easter- so we have transferred it to this Sunday. He will be honoured at all three Masses on this day.