I am very pleased to pass on this report from Richard Marsden (Bashing Secularism) about the Faith and Family Conference that was held at London Colney last weekend. I am so glad that this conference, organised by two of my parishioners, was such a success.
Faith and Family abound
Families and young people from across the United Kingdom were inspired to convert England back to Catholicism through family life at a weekend conference.
About 200 people flocked to the Faith, the Family, the Future conference at the Diocese of Westminster’s All Saints Pastoral Centre in London Colney, St Albans, to reaffirm the orthodox Catholic teaching on the family.
Dominican friar and eminent theologian Father Aidan Nichols told parents and young people it was time to “pick up the torch” in the hope of restoring England back to her ancient faith and defeating secularism.
Fr Nichols said: “Seek to develop a Catholic culture in you home morally, devotionally and intellectually. In so doing you will take further the conversion of England almost without realising it.”
During his talk on “Rediscovering Catholic Culture”, Fr Nichols said it was humiliating for an ancient nation like England that has produced saints and institutions promoting virtue to be replaced by an “ethos of self interest”.
“What we’ve seen in recent years is secular elites using the legislature to inculcate on morality, or possibly a non-morality, of a very different kind and using such public instruments as OFSTED or the Equality and Human Rights Commission as well as the BBC to bring into line schools, charities and, through the role of the television in the household, the opinions of ordinary citizens,” he added.
He said Catholics had a huge fight on their hands to defeat the secularism that, as Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger put it in 2003, “is beginning to turn into an ideology that imposes itself through politics and leaves no public space for the Catholic and Christian vision”.
But Fr Nichols said a return to a moral, devotional, intellectual way of life in the home would help the conversion of England.
The conference, organised by Catholic families from south London, was a mixture of talks, social activities and prayer. Mass and Benediction were held on both days of the event, which also included a Blessed Sacrament Procession and all-night Eucharistic Adoration.
A spokesman for the organisers of the conference said: “We wanted to bring families so they feel supported to share their faith and spread it. One person said this was the best and most effective support they have had in years.”
In other talks, Antonia Tully, coordinator of the Society for the Protection of Unborn Children’s Safe and School campaign, exposed a number of Government initiatives that subject children the sex education and undermine the role of parents.
She raised concerns about increasing numbers of “nurture” rooms in schools and described the government agency Connexions, that promotes organisations like the Family Planning Association and the Brook Pregnancy Advisory Service, as “pernicious”.
Mrs Tully, a mother of six, said: “It seems to me that the Government is taking over the role of parents. This is something we need to be aware of.” She went on to explain the important of parents as protectors and educators of their children.
Fr Roger Nesbitt, co-founder of the Faith Movement, said the family was a “microcosm of the Church” and that “only in Christ do we find the true meaning of marriage”.
Johannes Waldstein presented a talk originally given by his father, Michael, at the Valencia World Meeting of Families 2006. It gave a refreshing vision of the interplay between a father and his developing children and emphasised that a father can learn from his children. Johannes’s parents, Michael and Susan, are on the Pontifical Academy for Marriage and the Family started by Pope John Paul II.
Southwark Diocese vocations director Fr Stephen Langridge addressed the question of “responding to the call in our secular world” and Lancaster Diocese director of education Fr Luiz Ruscillo spoke about passing on the faith to children.
Jenny Pfang and Sian Martin, who have both taught Natural Family Planning (NFP), along with LIFE Education officer Joanne Hill, explored the heart of the Church’s teaching on love and marriage.
Sessions and activities were also held for children and teenagers over the weekend. “Understanding confession”, “Amazing Saints” and “Chastity” were just some of the workshop titles. A tug of war, sports, music sessions and a “saints trail” kept youngsters entertained.
The talks were recorded and will soon be available to buy. To do this, email Faith and Family at or visit the Faith and Family website.