Saturday, 24 March 2012

Bishop opens Extraordinary Form Shrine in New Brighton

Bishop Mark Davies at the throne.

I have just returned from the opening of the church given into the care of the the Institute of Christ the King Sovereign Priest by Bishop Mark Davies of Shrewsbury Diocese. At a purely human level, what a joy it was to attend an event in the Catholic Church in England and Wales celebrating the OPENING of something, instead of gritting our teeth at at what is so often billed with the misnomer of a "celebration" for the closing of something - be it parish, convent, monastery, seminary!

The church of Ss Peter and Paul and St Philomena was packed out with standing room only with 1,046 people counted through the door! Beneath the great "Dome of Home" on a splendid sanctuary the rites were carried out with great aplomb by all those taking part. Servers and deacons drafted in from the seminary as well as many local faces. The singing from the choir loft was adorned with he assistance of a group of Sisters (Adorers of the Royal Heart of Jesus) singing from the Sacred Heart side chapel. The liturgy was certainly very splendid and I'm not sure when a regional parish church in this country can last have seen the like.

That being said, it was no stuffy affair but a real microcosm of the Church Militant. Gathered around the Bishop were the founder of the Institute Mgr Gilles Wach who offered the Mass, seminarians and men young (and older) served, thirty or so priests were present (great to see so many diocesan priests there - from Shrewsbury, Liverpool and further afield) but Religious Life too was represented by the Nuns and by members of the Equestrian Orders, people near and far filled the church, young and old, men and women, families with young children and babies. At the Reception afterwards, the bishop drew out the winning raffle tickets - just like many a parish event we've all been to. A warm and welcoming family atmosphere sat comfortably together with the grandeur of the Church's ancient liturgy. It should be no surprise that genuinely prayerful and uplifting liturgy should engender genuine kindness and warmth.

In his homily the Bishop drew attention to the importance of making Christ present through the Holy Eucharist and recalled the Holy Father's words that what was sacred for past generation remains so for us. At the end of Mass the Bishop proclaimed the Plenary Indulgence granted for the day.

I'm promised more photographs but I managed to snap a few from behind the secrecy of my biretta!

Clergy awaiting to process in.
(I think there must have been a power of prayer to St Philomena, co-patroness of the Shrine, as the weather was fabulous.)

The altar adorned for Mass for Our Blessed Lady

Mgr Wach welcomes the congregation and thanks the Bishop before Mass begins, assisted by Canon Hudson translating from the French.

The Sisters at the front of the packed church

Bishop Mark at the Gospel

Canon Hudson, Pro-Provincial for England, reads part of the Indulgence proclamation.

Afterwards at the Reception in the Floral Pavilion Conference Centre


Webmaster Gareth said...

I long for the day when every altar in every Catholic Church is like that! What a beautiful sight in honour of Our Lord in the Blessed Sacrament.

The good Bishop is to be congratulated! May God bless his efforts.

A truly joyous occasion.

A Catholic Comes Home said...


David O'Neill said...

How wonderful that in the north of England we should have not one but TWO splendid EF celebrations in one day and celebrated by the diocesan bishops!!
No doubt the New Brighton Mass had to fit in with the joint diaries of Mgr Wach & Bishop Davies whereas the St Margaret Clitherow Pilgrimage in York - with Bishop Drainey - is set by history (the day prior to the anniversary of he martyrdom).
Many who attended the splendid Mass in York would have loved to be in New Brighton and I'm sure that the converse applies to those in New Brighton. Oh if only we had this wonderful dilemma more often.
It is all Ad Maiorem Dei Gloriam

Tancred said...

Any comforting words on the use of blue in this Liturgy for the overly scrupulous and liturgically obsessed?

Fr Simon Henry said...

Dear Tancred,

The Institute requested from Rome and received a special dispensation to keep the feast of teh Annunciation on Saturday.

David O'Neill said...

Which Equestrian Orders were present Father? From the photos I saw 1 member of the Military Order of Malta. Were the Knights of the Holy Sepulchre represented?

Fr Simon Henry said...

Dear David, I didn't see any other representatives of the Equestrian Orders except one of the Shrewsbury priests who was in the garb of one of the St Lazarus branches.