Fr James Foley, who became parish priest in 1860, bought this plot in 1866 for £5,125. The architect was George Goldie, well known for his love of the Gothic style. The foundation stone was laid on 14 May, 1867. The site was large, but awkward, extending 300 feet back from the High Street with a very narrow frontage of only 33 feet, compared to the far end of 65 feet. The Church was opened on the feast of the Visitation--2 July, 1869.
Bishop Tray celebrated pontifical High Mass, and Archbishop Manning (later Cardinal) preached the sermon. On the night of 13 September, 1940, during a large scale air raid, the Church was destroyed as was the Carmelite Church in Church Street. Worship continued in a local cinema, the Cavendish Furnishing Company store, the Assumption Chapel in Kensington Square, and lastly the Congregational Chapel in Allen Street.
On 31 October, 1958, the doors of the current building were opened, with the official opening by Cardinal Godfrey on 6 April, 1959. Fr Charles Cox, one of the curates at the time, composed the music of the favourite catholic hymn “Sweet Sacrament Divine.”
In 1921, GK Chesterton was received into the Catholic Church and made his first communion at OLV. In 1869, Cardinal Manning named OLV as his pro Cathedral. It remained so, until the opening of Westminster Cathedral in 1903.
We celebrate the faith of our predecessors, brothers and sisters, the people, religious and clergy who have worshiped, served, and cherished this place as their spiritual home. Today we welcome our present Archbishop, His Eminence Cardinal Vincent Nichols, who will preside and celebrate this Solemn Mass. Our preacher is the Revd Canon Michael Brockie, Provost of the Cathedral Chapter of Westminster.
We welcome, too, Fr Patrick Ryall OSM, Dean of the Kensington and Chelsea Deanery. We have so much to thank God for. We have a lively multi-cultural parish with so many faithful people who are the living stones of The Church of Jesus Christ.
1794: The mission is re-established
1813: Holland Street Chapel opens
1869: The Church opens
1940: The Church is destroyed
1994: The parish celebrates 200 years
2019: 150th anniversary of the first Church on this site.
It’s not about personalities, is it?
In the Eastern Churches, the apostle Andrew is venerated as the apostle who is foundational to the preaching of the gospel. Venice claims St Mark, Ethiopia cites Philip, and we in the Latin West (that’s Europe south of the Urals) look to Peter and Paul. These personalities were key to the growth of the early Church. They come from the apostolic age, as we call it now: that generation who walked, talked, and ate with Jesus.
Pope Benedict XVI reminded us that Christianity is not an abstract notion or idea; it is, rather, an encounter with a person—Jesus Christ. Pope Francis invites Christians everywhere to a renewed encounter with Jesus Christ each day. No one is excluded from the Joy brought by the Lord. Whenever we take a step towards Jesus, we come to realize that he is already there, waiting for us with open arms. Sometimes we are tempted to find excuses and complain, acting as if we could only be happy if a thousand conditions were met. Living like that we are robbed of our joy.
Personalities matter: our approach to life, faith, and others matters. Being a Christian is not the result of an ethical choice or a lofty idea, but an encounter with an event, a person, which gives life a new horizon and a decisive direction. Thanks be to God for that person and all the personalities who lead us to Him, Jesus Christ, true God and true Man.
Next week, we celebrate with Cardinal Vincent Nichols, the Archbishop of Westminster, the faith of our fore bearers, who 150 years ago built a church on this site to shelter the Catholic community and praise God. The solemn Pontifical Mass will be celebrated at 11am, followed by a parish party.
Please remember, there is no 10.30 am or 12 noon Mass.
Who has ever been at Mass and suddenly heard the name of a completely unknown character in one of the readings?
This Sunday might be one of those days, and since the temptation to pull out the phone in the middle of Mass and Google the name might just get a little too overwhelming for some, I decided to spare you the struggle by dedicating a few lines to the character of Melchizedek. He appears only twice in the Old Testament: in Chapter 14 of Genesis, and once more in Psalm 110. Despite his being such an obscure individual, the striking similarities between him and Jesus have fed Christian imagination from the very early days.
Melchizedek was King and Priest of Salem, a place that Psalm 76 identifies as Jerusalem. Jesus, too, is King and Priest of the Heavenly Jerusalem. His name can also mean ‘King of justice’ and ‘King of peace’, but is there any king who has brought to the world justice and peace like Jesus has? Melchizedek was believed to be “without father, without mother, without genealogy, having neither beginning of days nor end of life” (Heb 7:3), and so does Christ exist from before all ages. But also, having no father and mother, and therefore being unable to trace his ancestry to the tribe of Levi--from which all priests must come--Melchizedek’s priesthood had to be of a completely new kind, just like Jesus’ priesthood is of a new kind. And if that was not enough, Melchizedek appears offering unusual sacrifices of bread and wine, which Jesus also used when he instituted the Eucharist.
Who exactly was this figure of the Old Testament? This is a question that still remains open. Some say he was a Canaanite priest, others believe he was Shem, the firstborn son of Noah. What all Christian theologians agree on, however, is that he is a figure that points towards Christ and speaks of God’s intention to save the whole of humanity.
Fr Daniel Herrero Peña
The Holy Trinity, God, is not an idea. The blessed Trinity is the reality of God, the ground of our being. As Carl McColman writes:
God is in us, because we are in Christ. As members of the mystical body, Christians actually partake in the divine nature of the Trinity. We do not merely watch the dance, we dance the dance. We join hands with Christ, and the spirit flows through us and between us, and our feet move always in the loving embrace of the Father.
The early Saints of Cappadocia came to express this insight by using the analogies, similes, and metaphors of dance.
God is not just a dancer; God is the dance itself. Whatever is going on in God is a flow, a radical relatedness, a perfect communion between three--a circle dance of Love.
Want to discover more? Consider reading Brother Elias Marechal, a monk of the Monastery of the Holy Spirit in Conyers, Georgia: Tears of an Innocent God
(Paulist Press; New York, 2015).
Or simply pray each day:
Glory be to the Father,
and to the Son,
and to the Holy spirit,
as it was in the beginning,
is now, and ever shall be,
world without end. Amen
Fifty days, or seven weeks, after the Feast of Easter, the Jewish people celebrate the feast of Pentecost, from the Greek πεντηκοστη, which means “fiftieth.” The feast is also known by its Hebrew name Shavuot שבועו)), which means “weeks,” referring to the seven weeks that separate it from Easter.
The feast of Pentecost commemorates the day in which God, seven weeks after rescuing the Israelites from slavery in Egypt, appeared on Mount Sinai and gave them the Ten Commandments (the Torah). On that day, God transformed a group of slaves into his people by establishing a covenant with them. We can find in the book of Exodus the account: “There was thunder and lightning, as well as a thick cloud on the mountain, and a blast of a trumpet so loud that the people who were in the camp trembled. Moses brought the people out of the camp to meet God. They took their stand at the foot of the mountain. Now Mount Sinai was wrapped in smoke, because the Lord had descended upon it in fire, the smoke went out like the smoke of a kiln, while the whole mountain shook violently.” (Ex 19:16-18)
The occurrence is strikingly similar to what happened with Mary and the apostles 50 days after the resurrection of Christ. They were together in a room, when suddenly a mighty wind blasted the house, shaking it, and fire appeared that divided and rested on each of them. It was the new Pentecost, the day in which God manifested himself again–as on Mount Sinai.
Only this time, God did not intend to speak exclusively to the Israelites. Instead he separated from the Israelites a small group—the twelve apostles. He filled them with the power of his Spirit so they could spread the Good News to all the nations of the world–the news that God had established in Christ a New Covenant to which everyone, Jews and non-Jews, are invited. As a sign, God gave his apostles the gift of tongues, so that all people could hear them speaking in their own languages. They could welcome the Good News and receive in themselves the same Holy Spirit and become children of God. Thus, the prophecies of old were fulfilled: “In the last days–the Lord declares–I shall pour out my spirit on all humanity.” (Acts: 2:17)
Fr Daniel Herrero Peña
To be glad of life, because it gives you a chance to love;
To work, to play, and to look up at the stars.
To despise nothing in the world except what is false and mean.
To fear nothing except what is cowardly.
To be guided by what you admire and love,
Rather than what you hate.
To envy nothing that is your neighbour’s
Except their kindness of heart and gentleness of manner.
To think seldom of your enemies, often of your friends, and every day of Christ.
And to spend as much time as you can, with body and with spirit, in God’s out-of-doors.
These are the little signs on the footpath of peace.
Henry Von Dyke
Perhaps you are among one of the many people who suffered the disruptions caused by the ‘Extinction Rebellion’ protests in Oxford Circus last month. They have certainly managed to upset more than one, but they have also helped to raise people’s awareness of the frailty of our world and its ecosystems.
"Are we the last generation?” their banners asked. It is a question that encapsulates the dramatic times in which we are living and the urgency of this issue, as the latest research has found we may not have much time left before the impact of human activity causes a massive extinction of wildlife. But what should be our take on this issue as Catholics?
The second reading today sheds some light on this question. The new earth and the new heaven John sees in his vision are not replacements of the old, but a transformation brought about by God. And why would God transform this ageing and broken world instead of replacing it for a completely brand new one? The answer is simple: because God created this world well; He loves it; and He wants it to remain.
And so, we too, as Catholics, need to do our best to maintain what God has created and entrusted to us. However, our take on this issue differs radically from other people’s, especially those who would be ready to sacrifice the human race for the sake of the planet. “Then I heard a loud voice call from the throne," our second reading today says, "you see this city? Here God lives among men. He will make his home among them, they shall be his people, and he will be their God." This means that creation makes no sense without humans. It was created for us to find joy in it, and above all, as a sacred space for us to meet God.
Consequently, the care for this world must go hand in hand with our defence of human life. We know, though, that humanity will sooner or later run its course, so the question “are we the last generation?” is an inevitable one. But we know that even then, it will not be the end. God will raise us up from the dead and will restore our bodies and with them the whole of creation. So that together with us it may sing the praises of God for eternity.
Today is a day of prayer for vocations to Religious Life and to Priesthood.
We welcome Fr William Nicol, Pastoral Director/Formation Advisor at Allen Hall, our diocesan seminary, who will speak at all Masses this weekend.
Priest Training Fund
We pray for priests and for vocations to the priesthood. The annual collection for the Priest Training Fund will take place after each Mass. This fund pays for the priestly formation of men for the Catholic priesthood. There are currently 45 men studying at Allen Hall seminary, 27 of whom are for our own Diocese, and last year eight men ordained to the priesthood to serve as our future priests. This fund also supports the ongoing enrichment and formation of our ordained priests.
Your generous donation helps ensure we can support these men who are called to be like Christ the Good Shepherd. Donation leaflets are available in the back of the church. Please take one home, read the information, and bring it back next weekend with your donation. You can also donate online anytime at www.rcdow.org.uk/donations.
Please continue to pray for vocations and for our priests.
to Sr Asterie of the Assumption Sisters, Kensington Square, who recently celebrated her Golden Jubilee to the Consecrated Life.
For more information on vocations visit: www.ukvocation.org
During their visit ‘ad Limina Apostolorum’ with the Pope, the bishops of England and Wales asked Pope Francis for a message that they could bring back to their dioceses.
The Pope answered their request very simply: “that we are to live the gift of our faith with joy." Joy is the supreme good. We may experience poverty, discrimination, failure, the loss of property or people we love… but we can more easily live through all that if only we have joy in our hearts.
Even for Qoheleth--by far the most critical and gloomy character of the whole Bible--life is worth living only because of the joy of family, of seeing the fruits of one’s work and of sharing your life, time, and food with good friends (Eccl 9:9; 3:22; 2:24).
Other biblical witness, however, affirms that there is an even greater joy in praising God in the liturgy. The liturgy is like an open door that allows us to have a glimpse into the infinite, the eternal, the divine… heaven. In the liturgy, we experience both the loving presence of God and the fellowship of the brothers and sisters. (Ps 33:1-3; 133).
There is an even greater joy, though: the joy of having an encounter with Jesus Christ. John the Baptist leapt for joy when--still in the womb of his mother--he heard the greeting of Mary, who already carried in her womb the child Jesus. Mary herself was told by the angel Gabriel that she ought to rejoice because she would be the mother of Jesus. And with them, so many other men and women who experienced Jesus’ love and power to forgive and to heal. (Mk 2:1-12; 5:1-20; Lk 5:17-26; Lk 8:1-8).
A joy that comes not so much from being freed of one’s ailments but from realizing that in the person of Jesus Christ, God has chosen us from among all the other people and called us to participate of his Kingdom (Col 1:11-14).
This joy does not fade when trials come; rather, it increases because the result of suffering is a deeper and more meaningful relationship with our loving God as well as an increase in faith, hope, and charity (Rm 5:3-5; Jm 1:2-4).
Let us rejoice, then, for having received the greatest gift of all: meeting the person of Jesus Christ in our lives.
Fr Daniel Herrero
As we gather in Rome for our visit ‘ad Limina Apostolorum’, we have spent time together reflecting again on the impact of the recent reports containing stark revelations of child sexual abuse within the Catholic Church, including in England and Wales, and of evident failures of local leadership. We have also reflected on the practical steps we must take.
We do so in the light of all that has been achieved since the Report of Lord Nolan in 2001. We have endeavored to build a culture of safeguarding within the Church’s parishes and religious communities in England and Wales, thereby providing a safe environment for all. In every parish, there is a Parish Safeguarding Representative. In every Diocese, there is a Safeguarding Coordinator and a Diocesan Safeguarding Commission, composed of experts in the main disciplines needed for effective safeguarding. We have established the National Catholic Safeguarding Commission (NCSC), with a strong majority membership of experts, independent of the authority structures of the Catholic Church. Much has been achieved. Much is to be learned.
Today, 24 September, 2018, we have decided to ask the NCSC to commission an entirely independent and comprehensive review of the safeguarding structures that currently operate within the Catholic Church in England and Wales. Importantly, we will seek to ensure that the voices of the victims and survivors of abuse, through the Survivors Advisory Panel established by the NCSC, fully inform the review and its recommendation.
Each bishop has decided that he will take steps to set aside time for the purpose of meeting with victims and survivors of clerical abuse who live in his diocese.
May God guide us during this week and in this work, that the voice of Christ, crying out in those who have suffered, may be heard with compassion and discernment.
Copies of the full statement are at the back of the Church.