Dear Friends in Christ,
Welcome back to this week’s Bishop’s Blog!
My last pre-Easter Parish Visitation within the Preston deanery took place last weekend at Our Lady & St. Michael’s, Alston Lane, a parish which closely adjoins the town of Longridge and thereby the diocese of Salford.
Despite its proximity to Preston, Alston Lane parish retains a rural air and gives a sense of still being in the countryside.
I was pleased to be present and meet parishioners after the Saturday Vigil and Sunday Masses, while on Saturday evening I was fortunate to speak to the children preparing for Confirmation next month.
On Sunday morning between and after Masses I accompanied the devoted parish priest on a visit to the sick and housebound as he gave them Holy Communion. Such visits are an integral part of a parish Visitation by the bishop, and the welcome extended to me by these frail parishioners indicates just what value they place on seeing and meeting the bishop.
The grace and dignity they so often display despite their physical weakness is a sign of their closeness in faith to Christ and of their trust in his reassuring presence.
I returned to the parish on Monday morning where I celebrated a Lenten Mass for the children and staff of Alston Lane Catholic School and then went over to visit the school afterwards, thus bringing a pleasant and satisfying parish Visitation to a close.
An important feature of Alston Lane parish is the beautifully maintained cemetery in the church grounds which always attracts visitors and the relatives of those interred there. It was touching to observe last weekend the array of flowers on the different graves as families marked Mother’s Day.
The week continued with the monthly meeting of the diocesan trustees on Tuesday, and again I express my thanks to our trustees for the generosity of their time and skills which they so freely give in the service of God’s people in the Diocese of Lancaster.
It was the turn of the Council of Priests to gather on Wednesday for their twice-yearly meeting. This body, representative of the priests of the diocese, share responsibility with me for the running of the Diocese and hear reports on the different areas of diocesan life, for example, Youth Ministry, Finance, Education, and other topics which come under their brief.
Finally, on Thursday, a good number of us priests met at the Bernardine Convent of Hyning Hall, near Carnforth, as part of our ongoing formation.
The theme of the day was the Sacred Triduum of Holy Week, particularly the liturgical texts set to music in the new translation of the Roman Missal which the priest celebrant may sing.
It was an excellent and worthwhile day, and a useful refresher course for us on the liturgy of Holy Week.
As we enter into the season of Passiontide I encourage all who read this to reflect just a little more on Our Lord’s last days on earth and, as Pope Francis urges us, take a line or two from Scripture – particularly the Gospels – each day and turn it over prayerfully in our minds.
The Holy Father – who received the Queen this week in Rome – assures us that such a practice will make a real difference to our day!
As ever in Christ our Lord,
+Michael G Campbell OSA
Bishop of Lancaster