Sunday, 31 March 2013



Alleluia, Christ is Risen

He is Risen indeed, Alleluia

Friday, 29 March 2013


On Maundy Thursday we celebrated the Lord’s Supper with full ceremonial and ended the service with Benediction. We had an above usual attendance and I insisted on silence before Mass and afterwards in the main body of the chapel.

At 9.45 a.m. on Good Friday members from the Town Centre Churches gathered in the Chapel to prepare to go on the Walk of Witness through the centre of the town. This always begins with a brief service of hymns, prayers and a bible reading which was conducted by the Revd. Francis Acroyd from the Vine United Reformed Church.

At 12 noon we had Stations of the Cross with some of the walkers and others who had come for this devotional service.

Tomorrow, Easter Eve we have the Lighting of the New Fire, Blessing of the Easter Candle and the Easter Garden, the blessing of the font and renewal of Baptism Promises and the first Mass of Easter. This service excludes the Vigil Readings and is designed for those who are not able, because of age or infirmity, to attend their parish church for this wonderful service. It is at 5.00 p.m.

Tuesday, 26 March 2013


Ilford Hospital Chapel being so old takes quite a long time to warm up so I arrived early for the Christian Union Service to put on the heaters. The service was attended by the Deputy Mayor, the Mayor elect and several Councillors as well as people who work for the Borough Council. The address was given by the Revd. Francis Ackroyd who is the Chairperson of the Town Fellowship of Churches and Minister of the Vine United Reformed Church, Ilford.I welcomed people to the Chapel, did the opening prayer and played the organ for the hymns.

After the service hot cross buns and tea and coffee were served. A retiring collection raised £25 each for the Mayor’s Charities and the Hospital Chapel. Later a further donation of £10 was given to the Hospital Chapel. We look forward to welcoming the Christian Union again in December.

The Costly Start of Holy Week at Chelmsford Cathedral.

On Monday the Bishop of Richborough celebrated the Chrism Mass at Chelmsford Cathedral. It was a bitterly cold day and the wind around the cathedral was very icy. The main body of the Cathedral was full. Sadly the Cathedral Authorities have seen fit to impose a charge for the use of the Cathedral for the Chrism Mass of £700. I think this is really a scandal – they did so last year and, if the Anglo-Catholics wish to continue to use the Cathedral for this event, they will continue to do so. It seems to me that there is a message here – something upon the lines of “go away – you’re not wanted.” Makes a complete nonsense of the supposed “honoured” place Catholics were promised. It must be a matter of debate as to whether we can go to our Cathedral in the future or possibly seek an alternative venue.

In the evening I celebrated the Monday in Holy Week Mass at St. Augustine’s and gave a brief homily. Later today (Tuesday) I have the Redbridge Council Christian Union Service for their Holy Week service at the Ilford Hospital Chapel in the presence of the Deputy Mayor.

Sunday, 24 March 2013


I was pleasantly surprised this morning at the Palm Sunday Mass that so many people managed to get to church despite the atrocious weather. Whilst it was not possible to hold the usual outdoor Procession we did manage a Procession in church.CROSS

Tomorrow the Bishop of Richborough will be celebrating the Chrism Mass at Chelmsford Cathedral starting at 12 noon.

Almighty and everlasting God, who, of thy tender love towards mankind, hast sent thy Son, our Saviour Jesus Christ, to take upon him our flesh, and to suffer death upon the cross, that all mankind should follow the example of his great humility; Mercifully grant, that we may both follow the example of his patience, and also be made partakers of his resurrection; through the same Jesus Christ our Lord.

Almighty and everlasting God, who hatest nothing that thou hast made and dost forgive the sins of all them that are penitent; Create and make in us new and contrite hearts, that we, worthily lamenting our sins, and acknowledging our wretchedness, may obtain of thee, the God of all mercy, perfect remission and forgiveness; through Jesus Christ our Lord.

Saturday, 23 March 2013

Pope: "no true peace without truth"


As you know, there are various reasons why I chose the name of Francis of Assisi, a familiar figure far beyond the borders of Italy and Europe, even among those who do not profess the Catholic faith. One of the first reasons was Francis’ love for the poor. How many poor people there still are in the world! And what great suffering they have to endure! After the example of Francis of Assisi, the Church in every corner of the globe has always tried to care for and look after those who suffer from want, and I think that in many of your countries you can attest to the generous activity of Christians who dedicate themselves to helping the sick, orphans, the homeless and all the marginalized, thus striving to make society more humane and more just.

But there is another form of poverty!

It is the spiritual poverty of our time, which afflicts the so-called richer countries particularly seriously. It is what my much-loved predecessor, Benedict XVI, called the "tyranny of relativism", which makes everyone his own criterion and endangers the coexistence of peoples. And that brings me to a second reason for my name. Francis of Assisi tells us we should work to build peace. But there is no true peace without truth! There cannot be true peace if everyone is his own criterion, if everyone can always claim exclusively his own rights, without at the same time caring for the good of others, of everyone, on the basis of the nature that unites every human being on this earth.

One of the titles of the Bishop of Rome is Pontiff, that is, a builder of bridges with God and between people. My wish is that the dialogue between us should help to build bridges connecting all people, in such a way that everyone can see in the other not an enemy, not a rival, but a brother or sister to be welcomed and embraced! My own origins impel me to work for the building of bridges. As you know, my family is of Italian origin; and so this dialogue between places and cultures a great distance apart matters greatly to me, this dialogue between one end of the world and the other, which today are growing ever closer, more interdependent, more in need of opportunities to meet and to create real spaces of authentic fraternity.

In this work, the role of religion is fundamental. It is not possible to build bridges between people while forgetting God. But the converse is also true: it is not possible to establish true links with God, while ignoring other people. Hence it is important to intensify dialogue among the various religions, and I am thinking particularly of dialogue with Islam. At the Mass marking the beginning of my ministry, I greatly appreciated the presence of so many civil and religious leaders from the Islamic world. And it is also important to intensify outreach to non-believers, so that the differences which divide and hurt us may never prevail, but rather the desire to build true links of friendship between all peoples, despite their diversity.

Fighting poverty, both material and spiritual, building peace and constructing bridges: these, as it were, are the reference points for a journey that I want to invite each of the countries here represented to take up. But it is a difficult journey, if we do not learn to grow in love for this world of ours. Here too, it helps me to think of the name of Francis, who teaches us profound respect for the whole of creation and the protection of our environment, which all too often, instead of using for the good, we exploit greedily, to one another’s detriment.


Address to the Diplomatic Corps

March 22, 2013


So, the Chancellor has made a wonderful gesture for the average man in the street who can now save 1p (yes 1p) on a pint of beer. That means that if you consume one pint of beer a day for a whole year you will save £3.65. I gather that financial experts around the country are already drawing up plans to help those who make this saving find a suitable investment. Expect phone calls along the lines of those menaces ringing about PPI – we get at least one a week on the ordinary phone and countless on our mobiles. All this comes at a time when the top rate of tax is being reduced for the most wealthy giving them savings of around £50/£100,000 a year. Poor darlings have really felt the pinch and have had to substitute their Chateau Latour a Pomerol at £2,550  for a rather mundane Vin de pays for £7.95.

Friday, 22 March 2013




Maundy Thursday 28th March

12.35 p.m. Mass of the Last Supper, Stripping of the Altars.

GOOD FRIDAY 29th March

9.45 a.m. Service before the March of Witness through Ilford

12 noon to 1.00 p.m. Stations of the Cross

EASTER EVE 30th March

5.00 p.m. Lighting of the New Fire, Blessing of the Paschal Candle & the Easter Garden, & First Mass of Easter

CONFESSIONS for EASTER : Thursday 11.30 a.m. in the Lady Chapel or by appointment

Thursday, 21 March 2013


Today I celebrated Mass at St. Augustine’s Rush Green and gave a brief homily on the Gospel and after a very quick coffee, drove to Ilford to celebrate the weekly mid-day Mass at the Hospital Chapel. At both services we prayed for Pope Francis and for Justin, Archbishop of Canterbury; it is something  of a co-incidence that they both commenced their new roles within a few days of each other.

We got home just in time to see the final part of the enthronement of Archbishop Justin and it reminded me of the time, quite a few years ago, when I attended the enthronement of Archbishop Michael Ramsey at Canterbury Cathedral when the Red Dean Dr Hewlett Johnson was Dean of Canterbury. I rode a scooter all the way from Portsmouth leaving home at the crack of dawn to get there in time – the things you do when you’re young. Although I couldn’t see very much except on the television monitor, it was a wonderful experience and I can remember it very clearly even though it was 52 years ago.

Please pray for Pope Francis and Archbishop of Justin.

Tuesday, 19 March 2013


Today, whilst the inauguration Mass for Pope Francis was underway in Rome and the Archbishop of Canterbury was making his pilgrimage visit to Chichester Diocese I was en route to Mendelsham for the Mass for St. Joseph for the inauguration of the new Vicar of the St. Helen Chapter of SSC at which I played the organ. In his sermon Father Stuart reminded us of the importance of maintaining the Catholic faith. During the Mass we prayed for Pope Francis and Archbishop Justin in their new ministries as well as for Christian Unity and for our reconciliation with the See of Peter.

Sunday, 17 March 2013




On Wednesday 13th arch, the Labour MP Diana Johnson moved a Ten Minute Rule Bill, Bishops (Consecration of Women). The intention of the Bill is to allow women priests to “assume the more senior role of bishops in the Established Church” according to Diana Johnson’s office. Speaking against the Bill Conservative MP Edward Leigh, a Roman Catholic said it would be dangerous for Parliament to interfere in matters of doctrine. A one would expect WATCH were quick to issue a statement saying that the Bill was a “timely reminder” that legislation for women bishops must happen “sooner rather than later”. The Bill is due to receive it’s Second Reading on 3rd May but is unlikely to make any further progress unless it receives support from the Government.


I fail to understand just what M/s Johnson thinks she is up to; General Synod have already indicated that legislation will be introduced in July to allow this innovation which failed to reach the votes needed in July. Parliament should not get involved in legislating for the Church. The problem it seems to me is that many of those who favour this, particularly politicians do so on the grounds of women’s equality rather than on any sounds theological arguments. If this Bill should happen to succeed it will be a very sad day for the CofE and will spell the end of it’s establishment, in my opinion.

Saturday, 16 March 2013

The Ecumenical Patriarch to go to Pope Francis Inauguration Mass


It has been announced the The Ecumenical Patriarch will be attending the Inauguration Mass of Pope Francis. (the first time this has happened)

Friday, 15 March 2013


I was surprised and delighted when I received a letter post marked U.S.A from the International President of the International Brotherhood of Magicians saying “that in recognition of your long standing contribution and service to the art of magic ……. you will officially be inducted into the prestigious Order of Merlin”  at the International Convention in Phoenix, Arizona on the 18th July. The letter invited me to be present but I won’t be able to do so. I have been interested in magic since I was given “The Boys Book of Magic” as a child. The letter ends “Congratulations on achieving this high honour”

Wednesday, 13 March 2013


Tonight the white smoke emerged from the Sistine Chapel to announce to the world that a new Pope had been elected by the College of Cardinals. Around an hour later the new Pope Cardinal Jorge Mario Bergoglio of Argentina was announced from St. Peters with the information that he would be known as Pope Francis.

It is not known whether it was St. Francis of Assisi or St. Francis Xavier, co-founder of the Jesuits, that was his inspiration for his new title but as Pope Francis is a Jesuit I think that St. Francis Xavier is the probable choice. However, in his introductory speech Pope Francis stressed the need for Evangelisation and this was a priority for both St. Francis of Assisi and St. Francis Xavier. He asked the thousands gathered in Vatican Square and people of good will worldwide to pray for him. I will be doing so at Mass tomorrow at the Hospital Chapel and he will be a regular part of our prayers when we remember all Christian Leaders including Bartholomew, the Ecumenical Patriarch, Basil, Patriarch of the Orthodox, Justin Archbishop of Canterbury, the Leaders of the Reformed and Non-conformist tradition, Stephen our Diocesan Bishop and David Bishop of Barking and Norman Bishop of Richborough.
At this very important and special time we also pray for our Roman Catholic brothers and sisters as they greet their new Pope. We need to remember that as the successor of Peter, Francis is our Pope as well and to make regular prayers for him and for Christian Unity.

Tuesday, 12 March 2013


The 150 Cardinals eligible to vote for a new Pope will assemble this afternoon in the Sistine Chapel to begin the election process. As they contemplate who this should be, let us keep them in our prayers that they may receive the guidance of the Holy Spirit in their deliberations. We look forward, with anticipation, for the white smoke coming from the Chapel indicating that the new Pope has been chosen and that he has accepted the office as the successor of Peter. It is a formidable task and he will need our prayers as he takes up the office.

Sunday, 10 March 2013


Today I presided and preached at the Parish Mass at St. Mary’s Ilford. Unfortunately the sound system wasn’t working and in a church the size of St. Mary’s microphones are quite an essential piece of kit. It meant that the Intercessions which had been prepared by members of the Sunday School were virtually inaudible which was a great shame. At the end of the Mass. after the notices and after I had called some Banns I blessed the flowers which were then distributed by the Sunday School to the many mothers in the congregation. I also blessed two small flower arrangements which were placed at the Statue of Our Lady and the Statue of her mother, St. Anne.

In my sermon I pointed out that mothers continued their concern for their children long after they had grown up and had children of their own.. I related a story I read on the Internet: a 102 year old lady was asked if she had any worries. She replied “No not now, I have got my youngest son into an old peoples home.” I related how my mother-in-law was still concerned, at nearly 97, about her two children and that had spread to concern about her 4 grandchildren and her 4 great grandchildren. I pointed out how Mary had been concerned about her Son Jesus throughout his life following him right to the end when he had died on the Cross and how Jesus had given Mary to his church. That meant today we not only gave thanks and celebrated our own mothers, we also celebrated our mother the church, and Mary, mother of God, mother of Jesus and mother of us all

Friday, 8 March 2013





will be open tomorrow 9th April from 10.00 a.m until 2.30 p.m.

chapel tours, stalls, refreshments.

If you have never visited this gem, the oldest building in Ilford, why not do so.

Wednesday, 6 March 2013


The decision to limit bankers bonuses to one years salary has been taken by the EU Finance Ministers but is being hotly contested by our Government on the argument that banks will relocate so that they can pay what they like as bonuses or that salaries will increase to compensate. I suspect that the Government have very little public support for their attitude; certainly I believe that what some of the top bankers are paid in terms of bonus counts as obscene. The EU voting on this matter was 26/1 which shows that Britain has no support from any of the other amongst EU Finance Ministers.  As one person commentated:the bankers make trillions gambling using our money and earn vast amounts if they are successful; if they are not we end up bailing them out ………….and they still get paid vast amounts. The Government should listen to the views of the electorate which, as far as can be gauged, is bitterly opposed to the behaviour of the banks and their bonus systems and no doubt support the proposed curb.

Monday, 4 March 2013


The unexpected retirement of Pope Benedict quickly followed by the admission of Cardinal Keith Patrick O'Brien, that the accusations made against him were true despite having previously denied them vigorously, have left the Catholic Church in a difficult position. The press and media are having a field day and the Vatican has not covered itself in glory as it has emerged that the accusations against Cardinal O’Brien had been known to them some time earlier than the revelations in the Observer. It is salutary to think that had this whole distasteful affair not come to light Cardinal O’Brien would have been in Rome either choosing the next Pope, or possibly being chosen himself.

Sadly there have always been scandals of one sort or another in the Church (Roman Catholic, Anglican, Non-Conformist) and I suppose as we are all, by nature, sinful, there always will be. Never-the-less we have the promise that the gates of hell will never prevail against God’s Holy Church, The Gospels remind us that only those without sin should throw the first stone.  I feel the greatest sadness for the Catholics in Scotland as they come to terms with the downfall of a much loved and admired person and I hope that they will be supported by our prayers and I hope also that Cardinal O’Brien will be the subject of our prayers.

Sunday, 3 March 2013


Prayer of Thomas Merton

My Lord God,
I have no idea where I am going.
I do not see the road ahead of me.
I cannot know for certain where it will end.
Nor do I really know myself,
and the fact that I think that I am following your will
does not mean that I am actually doing so.
But I believe that the desire to please you
does in fact please you.
And I hope I have that desire in all that I am doing.
I hope that I will never do anything apart from that desire.
And I know that if I do this,
you will lead me by the right road
though I may know nothing about it.
Therefore will I trust you always
though I may seem lost and in the shadow of death.
I will not fear,
for you are ever with me
and you will never leave me to face my perils alone.

Hail, Holy Queen

Hail, holy Queen, Mother of mercy!
Hail, our life, our sweetness and our hope.
To thee do we cry, poor banished children of Eve;
to thee do we send up our sighs, mourning and weeping in this vale of tears.
Turn, then, most gracious advocate, your eyes of mercy towards us;
and after this our exile, show unto us the blessed fruit of thy womb, Jesus.
O clement, O loving, O sweet Virgin Mary.

V Pray for us, O holy Mother of God.
R That we may be made worthy of the promises of Christ.