Wednesday 19 December 2018

Christmas Masses and Services at St Catherine Labouré

Charity Carol Concert 
Saturday 22nd December

Mulled wine and Mince Pies afterwards


Fourth Sunday of Advent

8.30am Said Mass

10am Solemn Mass

11.30am Low Mass in the Traditional Form


Christmas Eve
Mass at 10pm

Mulled wine and Mince Pies afterwards


Christmas Day

8.30am Morning Mass

10am Sung Mass in the Traditional Form

Boy Bishop

Each year on the Feast of St Nicholas many places still preserve (or have re-introduced) the custom of the boy bishop. Chavagnes International College is one of them. The "Bishop" presides - quite solemnly and as proper liturgical worship - Sung Vespers - and then
 is seated at High Table in a place of honour at the dinner following. Complete with his own entourage. This part, as you may imagine, is a little more high spirited than the liturgical activity, for he is the hero of all the underlings for this one night.
There can be instances of carrying things too far, where the Bishop, newly excited by his episcopal authority (if one can imagine such a thing), tries to command his former superiors to all sorts of amusing tasks. (Needless to say that under the watchful eye of the Chaplain, this is not a predominant feature in this particular instance.)

It is a reminder of Our Lord's words that the first shall be last and the last first; that the greatest among you must be the least. In properly Catholic fashion with a human element, it is a point made in this way  with humour and fun.

Better dressed than a number of bishops I could mention!

(Photographs used with permission.)

Monday 17 December 2018


Just a reminder that our Carol Concert is this coming Saturday. Always a fantastic event. We have raised thousands at this event over the last five years which has been sent to Cardinal Malcolm Ranjith of SUROL, the leprosy charity of which he is the patron. Let's make this another great year!

Carol Concert

Free Entry

A collection for the work of SUROL

(those affected by leprosy in Sri Lanka)

will take place

Mince pies & Mulled wine to follow


St Catherine’s Church

Stanifield Lane, Farington. 
PR25 4QG

 Saturday 22nd December


Thursday 29 November 2018

Chavagnes International College Presentation 2018

A short video presentation of Chavagnes International College.

As well as the school, their first full year of the new Studium is also now up and running.
a liberal arts BA Degree.

The Chavagnes Studium Liberal Arts with French degree is offered through our partner ICES, Institut Catholique d’Etudes Supérieures:
Catholic University of the Vendée.

Friday 23 November 2018

Synod 2020. Liverpool. Number 3

Reflecting after the open meeting for the Archdiocese Synod, one of the views that has been frequently shared is that it reminds people of something else... but not something good.

A retired policeman said it reminded him of conferences and initiatives he had attended in the force.

A civil servant said it reminded him of days and restructurings he had experienced at work.

Both of these in the context of cutbacks with the ultimate aim of getting fewer people to do more work.

As I've already mentioned, it does all remind me of the same approaches we have tried before and which have failed to bare much in the way of fruit.

While it might be good to be as professional as we can in going about the practical business of managing the Church, simply imitating the structures and processes of the secular world around us may not necessarily be the best way to develop the Faith community.

The world around us really has lost all grounding in the Christian ethic. Even where the common good persists, it becomes ever paler, like a photocopier running out of ink. It has become detached from its roots in Christian Faith; at best a vague Moralistic Therapeutic Deism. 

Those who proclaim human rights and caring for the environment would and indeed science and learning itself, would, for the most part, have no knowledge of those ideals embedded in our Christian Tradition (which sadly extends to many within the Church too, having failed to teach our Tradition). The same changes that have engulfed the world around us have also engulfed the Church. We have placed unwarranted confidence in the health of our Christian institutions - Catholic schools in this country would be the prime example. Like the world outside, no more so than at this time of year, the Church no longer forms souls but rather, caters to selves.
Consumerist instead of formative.

I would hope to hear less about reforming programmes coming out of the Synod and more about how to live holy lives - as individuals and as Faith community. The challenge of the Faith in contrast to the world around us. Yes we have to engage with the world in which we live; yes we are to go out and meet it but... NO we are not to follow on its heels. The process is meant to be the other way around but too often we have capitulated and been converted to its glossy glamorous enticements. 

The world which we seem so often to seek to imitate and give in to has as its highest good the individual's will - in fulfilling themselves, in pursuing their every desire (good or bad) and now in even choosing to be a man or a woman.

The virtuous Christian society is by contrast one that shares belief in objective moral goods and the practices necessary for those human beings to embody those goods in community. But we live in a society where no-one agrees what constitutes virtuous belief and conduct and even doubts that virtue exists. It has become a collection of strangers each pursuing their own interests under minimal constraints.

In times of struggle for the Church throughout history, saints have called us back to the tenets of the Faith and been living examples of those tenets themselves. We must not be afraid to call our people back to a radical living of the Faith in communities that do indeed look very different from the neighbours among whom we live.

If we can't get back to that... we're doomed!

Thursday 22 November 2018

Remembrance Sunday

I was struck by the number of photographs I saw for Remembrance Sunday with various depictions of poppies. As well as offering Requiem Mass in the morning, I attended an outdoor evening service at the South Ribble Memorial at the top of the road where our church is situated. Poems were read, the Last Post sounded, a beacon lighted and prayers were led.

What I did notice in the many photographs going around was the abundance of different interpretations in Catholic churches. Cascades of poppies, candles and tea lights, flags and banners.

Although I did see one which had the altar draped in the national flag, which I think is strictly forbidden. I think canon law actually forbids the draping of coffins within the church at Mass with any national flag. Only Christian symbols are permitted - the crucifix being the most commonly seen. (Sadly, I now keep a crucifix to hand on the sanctuary at funerals because I've been surprised more than once by a coffin arriving in with no crucifix upon it.)

But I digress.

As artistic and thoughtful as many of these representations were, it did cross my mind that we were once again re-inventing the wheel. In our Catholic tradition we have a long standing and (until recent times) liturgically mandated way of presenting a symbolic image to call to mind those who had died.

 The catafalque.

This, what we might call a sacramental, is a powerful reminder of death - of those who fell in combat or for those for whom we are praying, for example on All Souls Day. It is powerful because it is personal. After all, when did we last see a coffin on that very spot in the church? Probably when we attended the funeral of a family member or friend. It reminds us that wee too will one day be on that same spot. A powerful incentive indeed, to pray for ourselves and for others. Also, a real experience in a society where death is put at a distance from us or sadly trivialized by the "celebration of life" fixation, which leaves the soul un-prayed for and again, distances us from the harsh realities of life and death.

Uncomfortable to bring thoughts of death so near and stir up perhaps painful memories? Indeed quite possibly so. But if our Faith asks anything of us, it is to confront the Truth. With Jesus at our side, the Truth can then begin to set us free - even from slavery to sin and death.

The word "religion" comes from the Latin "religare", meaning "to bind". From a sociological point of view, a religion is a coherent system of practices and beliefs through which the community of believers know who thy are and what they are to do. These beliefs and practices tell and enact the story that holds the community together. When we're all doing something different, this begins to fall apart. On a grander scale, the loss of Christian religion in the West has been accelerating precisely because of the loss of these shared experiences and practices. 

To me, this seems like one more example in the long, long list of what we have stopped sharing from our own Tradition in favour of mimicking the secular world around us... and therefore fragments and weakens us.

There is still room for creativity - as is evidenced from these images.

Monday 19 November 2018

Catholic history of Lancahire presentation

Presentation by Mr Christopher Robson on 
“The Catholic History of Lancashire”. 

Assisted with photographs, it should be an interesting evening to learn a little more about our Catholic heritage. All welcome.

It is part of an evening to celebrate our 
Patronal Feast
of St Catherine Labouré
Wednesday 28th November

7pm Novena to Our Lady of the Miraculous Medal

7.30pm Light refreshments 
& a glass of wine
followed by the Presentation.

St Catherine's
Stanifield Lane
PR25 4QG

Thursday 15 November 2018

Masses in Rome

 I took fifty pilgrims to Rome recently, a group made up mainly from parishioners and members of the Order of St Lazarus, as well as a representation from Chavagnes International College

We set out to St Peter's early one morning, as you can see from the photo above, very early! I last offered Mass in St Peter's more than ten years ago, so hadn't realised the procedures had changed in that time. In the past, so long as you arrived before 7.30am, you could just wander into the sacristy, present yourself to the sacristan and be led to an altar for an individual Mass or a small group. The Basilica was not open to the general public until 8am, so was very quite and prayerful, giving a much different experience from when all the tourists flood in. The line to go through security had never been more than 20 or so people.

All change now! Gone was the sacristan, a security man dealt with me there. Apparently, particularly if you are bringing any sort of group, you need to book on-line in advance. Anyway, there were no free altars, but he allowed me to wait until one became available and we were taken to the altar of St Margaret Mary, devotee of the Sacred Heart of Jesus.

The Basilica is also now open - at least half way down its length - to the general public from 7am. That meant that when we arrived at 7.10am there was already a queue stretching half way down St Peters Square. It also meant that the interior lacked the calm and quiet of my past experiences, which is a shame for those wanting to come as pilgrims to celebrate Mass, rather than just s tourists lollygagging their way around the famous art works.

Anyway, we did at least get to offer Mass there. A unique experience for many. 

Thanks to all the pilgrims who helped us all to have a great few days in the eternal city.

I'll make some further posts here and try to put up some pictures for parishioners on our 

Thank you to Anthony Dickinson for providing the accompanying chant at Mass each day.


Our other venue for Mass was right next to our hotel in the gem of a church, San Salvatore. It is part of the Pallotine Fathers House and the body of St Vincent Pallotti is enshrined under the high altar in a "basilica" arrangement. We were made very welcome there and celebrated Mass each morning with ease.

Thank you to Matthew Jackson for the photographs

The compulsory group picture, although not everyone is on it. Some of them escaped before I could get back out of the sacristy.

High Mass in Preston

I celebrated High Mass in Preston recently for the Order of St Lazarus.

A few photos here but you can see many more at
the Order of St Lazarus site.