St John Southworth has a very special place in our history and in our hearts. A Lancashire man, he had been ordained a priest in 1619 at the English College in Douai, in northern France, at a time when it was impossible to prepare men for the Catholic priesthood in this country. This year, Douai College is celebrating its 450th anniversary. We are all included in this celebration, for the College is a crucial part of Catholic survival and heritage, succeeded first by St Edmund's College in Ware, Hertfordshire, and then by Allen Hall, our own Diocesan seminary.
Today I ask you to pray for all our priests. Pray particularly for the six new priests and the priest(s) serving in your parish. Our lives may not be as dramatic nor as full of public conflict as the life of St John Southworth. Yet we priests strive to express in our daily ministry exactly the same dedication to the mission of Jesus Our Lord as he did. Like him, we depend on the support and love of faithful people.
In the months ahead, remembering Douai College and so many martyr priests, we will be striving to renew our priestly mission and purpose. As priests, we will try to encourage each other more steadfastly. This time of renewal will come to a key moment next year, on the Feast of the Sacred Heart of Jesus, a day set aside by Pope Francis for prayer and renewal for all priests throughout the world. On that day, 28 June 2019, all Diocesan priests in England and Wales will be invited to come to Westminster Cathedral to celebrate together a Mass of thanksgiving and renewal.
Day for Life is the day in the Church’s year dedicated to raising awareness about the meaning and value of human life at every stage and in every condition. The Church teaches that life is to be nurtured from conception to natural death.
On this Day for Life 2018, let us pray for victims of human trafficking and victims of crime, and for the traumatised, the sick and the dying. We remember the most marginalised and all vulnerable people in our society, the unborn, the homeless and the lonely.
‘As human beings each of us has a common responsibility that upholds the worth of every human life, especially that of the most vulnerable. This common responsibility involves different specific responsibilities at different levels: international, national, local and individual.’ (From ‘Cherishing Life’ – The Bishops of England and Wales – 2004)
With you is the fountain of life. In your light, we see light. (Psalm 39 v 6).
Jesus said, “The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I came that they may have life, and have it abundantly.” (John 10:10)