Next week, Year 4 of Our Lady of the Rosary School are coming down to the Church for Mass in the morning. I was over at the school today to have a little talk with the children and give the teachers a copy of the readings for the Mass. I suggested that we should have a Votive Mass of Our Lady of Lourdes as it is near to the feast day and this is a theme that the children can learn a lot from. Frankly, it is a lot easier than trying to manufacture some spiritual point out of "Building Bridges" or "Special Places" or some other theme provided by the "Here I Am" programme.
I was glad of the chance for a chat with our very effective and experienced Headteacher. My conscience has been nagging at me because I have not been into the school this term as much as I should.
This evening, I was over at St Stephen's, Welling for the Induction of Fr Jim Spencer as Parish Priest following the retirement of Fr Peter Ryman. Fr Ryman taught me Chemistry at school. That was in the days when we could make bombs out of Phosphorus and Hydrogen Sulphide or mushroom clouds by burning Magnesium in a crucible filled with Potassium Permanganate.
As the Dean, it was my duty to read the Letter of Appointment from the Archbishop. I also volunteered to MC for the Mass, celebrated by Bishop Pat Lynch, Auxiliary in Southwark with responsibility for the SE London area of the Diocese. I'm not sure I got everything right but I think I managed to look as though I knew what I was doing. Matters were complicated by the fact that is is Candlemas. I had somehow managed to forget that, despite having celebrated Mass in my parish this morning and recited the breviary during the day... Maybe my frontal lobes are wearing out with all this blogging.
It was an ideal induction. The parishioners of Welling were excited and expectant at the arrival of their new parish priest. The parishioners of Herne Hill (the parish Fr Spencer has just left) came in good numbers to wish their former pastor well on his new appointment. While I was looking over the sanctuary, some children from his old parish came up to Fr Spencer to greet him warmly but a little sadly. They will always be the better for his ministry and he will bring new youngsters to know Christ in his new parish.
The Deputy Mayor, Councillor Colin Tandy and his wife were there on behalf of the local Council. I have come to know Councillor Tandy well through my duties as Mayor's Chaplain this year. He is a good Christian man, (a practising Anglican) and always very complimentary about the Catholic Church and especially Pope Benedict. He was kind enough to check with me before Mass that although he understood that he should not receive Holy Communion, it would be all right to come up to ask for a blessing from the Bishop. Thank God there are still such politicians in Britain.