Sunday 28 September 2014

Tradition to the rescue

I attended the opening of St Walburge's Church yesterday -  as a Shrine given over to the Institute of Christ the King in a bold and inspired move by Bishop Michael Campbell of Lancaster. I'm sure it must have been a decision that took a leap of faith - given that there is still an unaccountable hostility in some quarters when it comes to making provision for the Mass of Ages.  What a splendid and uplifting sight to see such a vast church packed with people of all ages and celebrating the liturgy for which it was surely built.  Built on the outskirts of Preston city centre, the area has become depopulated over the years and so the parish was struggling valiantly to cope with maintaining this iconic building.  

Its not just about the building, of course, but the living presence of the Church in this particular area.  Just as any family needs a house to call home, the Church, which is the living Body of Christ, needs a home in which to dwell, to grow, to love and to make others welcome.  Here is a home that can call people to it by its size and visibility.  I'm sure the Fathers of the Institute will make the welcome of all who venture in as splendid as the Church which the Bishop of Lancaster has so generously given them.

Great to see a church full of people!
Thanks to Martin Gardener for these photos (which I lifted from his Flickr site - I was unable to find a way of getting in touch to ask formal permission, so I hope that's okay.)  There are plenty of great photos of the day on his site here.

Bishop Campbells' Homily.

The Apostle counsels us today that if we are to boast or glory it should be in the Lord. So it is 
therefore, first and foremost, with a profound sense of gratitude to almighty God that we 
are here today to witness the beginning of a new phase in the history of this venerable 
church of Saint Walburge. To pick up the image of Christ in the gospel parable, in recent 
years, for a variety of reasons, there has not been as much oil as we would have wished for 
in the lamp that is St. Walburge’s church. The city of Preston has rightly taken pride in its 
long Catholic and Christian history, and a powerful symbol of that history has been St. 
Walburge’s, visible from near and far through its unique spire. The question has often been 
asked during these last decades, what is the future of St. Walburge’s, will it continue and
remain open as a house of prayer and worship as originally envisaged by the founding Jesuit 
fathers over one hundred and fifty years ago?

Our presence here today and the fresh initiative now starting give a definite yes to that 
question. St. Walburge’s assuredly has a future for which we thank God, the giver of all good 
things. The church will now be open every day of the week to cater for the spiritual needs of 
those who pass through its doors. Mass will be offered daily, there will be the opportunity 
for quiet prayer and adoration, with regular access to other sacraments and religious 
devotions. St. Walburge’s church will again become a much needed spiritual presence, and 
hopefully a beacon, in this part of Preston where the human spirit will find comfort and 
strength in our often confused and troubled twenty-first century world. The new venture 
now beginning in this magnificent church cannot but bring down blessings from heaven on 
the city of Preston. The common good and the city of Preston will indeed be well served by 
the worship and prayer that takes place daily here in St. Walburge’s.

From today another page in the history of St. Walburge’s is being turned and written, made 
possible by the gracious and willing generosity of the Institute of Christ the King Sovereign 
Priest. The Institute has accepted responsibility to ensure that St. Walburge’s continues to 
remain what is was intended to be - the house of God and a place of prayer for all people. 
As Bishop of Lancaster, conscious and grateful to the generations of clergy who have 
ministered here down the years, I thank most sincerely Mgr. Gilles Wach, Prior General and  the Institute of Christ the King Sovereign Priest for their acceptance of my bold and heartfelt 
appeal to assume responsibility for St. Walburge’s. I also place on record the cooperation of 
Canon Amaury Montjean, who has made every effort to ensure that the necessary 
negotiations with my clergy and diocesan officers have been smooth and trouble-free. 
The gospel parable highlights the wise virgins who stayed alert with oil in their lamps and so 
were ready to meet the bridegroom at whatever hour he came. The Church universal is 
constantly on the watch for Christ her bridegroom. The sacramental and spiritual 
nourishment – like that oil of the wise virgins in our gospel - which St. Walburge’s will offer 
to Christ’s people who gather for worship will ensure that they are equipped to meet Christ
as he comes to them in the events of their everyday lives. Mindful of the faith and 
commitment of the past generations who have gathered and worshipped almighty God in 
these sacred surroundings since 1854, we offer sincere thanks in this Mass for their legacy 
of this beautiful building. As we look to the future, with a spirit of renewed hope we entrust
St. Walburge’s and its future to the care and protection of Our Blessed Lady and St. 
Walburghe, and make our own the inspiring words of the ancient psalm: This day was made 
by the Lord, let us rejoice and be glad. Amen.

+Michael G Campbell OSA
Bishop of Lancaster


benedict said...


Retrospective permission duly granted.

Martin Gardner

Fr Simon Henry said...

With my thanks!

Sixupman said...

A more appropriate Recessional Hymn would have been "Faith of our Fathers Holy Faith we will be true till death ... ". Some hope!

David O'Neill said...

O that more bishops might see the benefits of such a step. Here in Newcastle we have a beautiful, empty church UNTOUCHED by the iconoclasts after Vat2 which is Grade 2* listed & has (I believe) 1 Mass per . week. Sadly I cannot see Bishop Seamus Cunningham being farsighted enough to follow on the example of his brothers in the episcopate Davies & Campbell.

David Gorman said...

An amazing experience.

Sylvester Edwin Lambert said...

Father, with regards to your comment that, "there is still an unaccountable hostility in some quarters when it comes to making provision for the Mass of Ages".

As a regular attendee of the Novus Ordo, I do not begrudge the provision of the Vetus Ordo. However, I am concerned by an attitude that I have frequently encountered amongst traditionalists that the Novus Ordo is inferior, or not even valid. Yet, at the same time, some of those expressing these opinions attend the services offered by the schismatic Society of St Pius X! I have attended the Latin Mass and tried to master the responses (and failed miserably), but met with little sympathy from those who believe that language shouldn't be a problem and that, "anyone should be able to master basic Latin". I think that perhaps there would be less hostility to the provision of the Vetus Ordo Mass, if there was less hostility from traditionalists to those of us who prefer the newer rite. We are, after all, members of the same universal church.

With best wishes.

Fr Simon Henry said...

I agree that there are some with those unfortunate attitudes - perhaps born out of many years of persecution. But certainly, they are not helpful. However, I would hope - and indeed trust - that you would not find such attitudes here in the only place I can vouch for, where both forms are given pride of place next to one another.

Sylvester Edwin Lambert said...

Thank you Father for those reassuring words.