Continuing my visitation of the Preston deanery I spent last weekend in the parish of St. Walburge & Sacred Heart, linked with St. Edmund Campion.
I offered the Saturday evening Vigil Mass at Sacred Heart, where I had the opportunity to meet and talk to the parishioners afterwards.
On Sunday morning I joined the parishioners of St. Edmund Campion, celebrating Mass and chatting with them over refreshments afterwards.
Later I had the pleasure to go to the magnificent St. Walburge’s church for Mass at midday.
This truly striking church, an imposing witness to the Catholic faith of past Preston generations, enjoys Grade I listed status and is a well-known landmark in the city. The beauty and décor of St. Walburge’s certainly help to raise one’s heart and mind to Almighty God, the author of all beauty.
As is customary on Parish Visitation I joined the parish advisory council to listen in to their deliberations and hear some of their aspirations for the future direction of the parish.
In the company of the parish priest, I called on a small number of older parishioners no longer able to get to Sunday Mass. Such visits are invariably a delight, and it is a privilege to witness the deep faith and patient acceptance of the elderly. They have much to teach us!
The day concluded appropriately with a meal shared by the parish priest, the retired parish priest, the deacons
and their wives. It was a pleasing way to draw a busy day to a close.
The Parish Visitation concluded on Monday with a visit to St. Bernard’s Primary School in the morning and to Sacred Heart School in the afternoon. As ever, the children and staff extended a warm welcome to the bishop.
There were reflective assemblies staged in both schools, and I had the opportunity to meet the staff of the schools and offer them a word of thanks and encouragement in their challenging vocation as teachers in Catholic education.
Tuesday, 11th February, was the Feast of Our Lady of Lourdes, Patroness of the Diocese of Lancaster.
Our Lady of Lourdes is also the Patroness of the convent of the Augustinian sisters in Boarbank Hall, Grange-over-Sands, so it was highly fitting that the community celebrated the day with the first profession of vows of Sister Florence, who hails originally from Malaysia.<em>(My homily is here)
The presence of her family in traditional dress added a dazzling splash of colour to what was a moving Mass of profession.
I congratulate the Boarbank community on the profession of Sister Florence, with the added prayer that other women will follow in her courageous footsteps and embrace the consecrated life.
Devotion within the diocese to Our Lady of Lourdes is strong, and almost two hundred people gathered on Tuesday evening in the Sacred Heart Church, Blackpool, for a Mass (my homily is here) and short indoor procession in her honour. Given the special place afforded to the sick in Lourdes, we had the sacrament of the anointing of the sick during Mass.
I couldn’t help thinking that Our Lady of Lourdes was smiling on her devotees who braved the cold February evening to attend Mass in her honour on her feast day. Many graces were surely given by the Mother of Christ, and undoubtedly taken away from the Sacred Heart Church on Tuesday evening!
Until next week – may God bless you all,
+Michael G Campbell OSA
Bishop of Lancaster