My trip to Cornwall was in at the invitation of Fr Chris Findlay-Wilson, to give a talk to his parish of St John the Baptist in Camborne. The audience represented 10% of the mass-going population of his parish! Cornwall is one deanery in the Diocese of Plymouth. After the parish of Camborne, there is St Ives, Penzance and then the sea. The Church was founded by Richard Pike who was a Quaker, married to a Catholic. He was a director of some of the tin mining companies in the area and he had to hire some Irish labourers when many Cornish miners went abroad to the new gold mines. The nearest Catholic Church was in Penzance, 16 miles away. Pike was so impressed by the devotion of the Catholics who would walk this distance on a Sunday to attend Mass that he became a Catholic himself and set up the first Catholic chapel in Camborne.
The Church is fairly small and can scarcely cope with its current Mass attendance. The interior has suffered somewhat from the liturgical reforms of recent decades.
The tabernacle has been removed from the centre of the Church to the side aisle - there can be no practical reason for this in such a small parish Church. The statue of Our Lady is standing on a small plinth between the two aisles and the centre of the Church is marked by an undistinguished modern banner. If he is able to, I'm sure Fr Chris would love to make the obvious improvement of moving the Blessed Sacrament to the centre of the Church and setting up a chapel in the side aisle to house the statue of Our Blessed Lady.
The statue is particularly fine but I had to get down on the floor to get a view of what it is meant to look like.
I was there to speak on AIDS and the Catholic Church. I'm relieved to say that the talk, which covered some controversial areas, was well-received. (You can see a copy at my parish website - controversies page.)
This morning, I concelebrated with Fr Chris at the school Mass. A very well-behaved class of children took part in the liturgy with reverence, read clearly and intelligently, and sang with gusto. A credit to their teacher and to Fr Chris.