Dear Friends and followers of this Bishop’s Blog,
Welcome to this week’s post!
I had the pleasure last Sunday morning of joining one of our senior parish priests, Canon Tom Dakin, as he celebrated Mass two days after his ninetieth birthday and now in the sixty-fifth year of his priesthood.
The parishioners of St. Nicholas Owen, Little Thornton, came to be with the Canon and acknowledge gratefully and gladly his long priestly ministry to their families over many years here, and in the neighbouring Sacred Heart parish where he had previously been parish priest.
The papal blessing from Pope Francis which I presented towards the end of Mass seemed particularly appropriate as we marked this faithful priest’s long and devoted service, going back as far as 1951.
Canon Tom’s brother, Fr. Gerry, himself now a priest for sixty-three years, was also present both for the Mass, and with a good number of parishioners for the meal afterwards. The warm and congenial atmosphere throughout the whole day, I felt, was an expression of the appreciation of Catholics for their priests, and of the realisation that the Lord does minister to his people through the gift of priesthood which he bequeathed to the Church.
A later appointment that day was for a Confirmation at Castlerigg Manor, near Keswick, of one of our Volunteers, a young lady from Spain. Her colleagues formed the congregation at what was a simple but moving Confirmation Mass.
The Holy Spirit chooses his moments, I reflected, and the time was just right for this young person to receive this special sacramental outpouring of grace.
The meal with her friends afterwards and the presentation of a bilingual English-Spanish bible will ensure that Sara will long remember her Confirmation day!
It was back to the Fylde and Bispham, near Blackpool, on Tuesday evening for the annual Mass in honour of the local martyr, Blessed Edward Bamber, (d.1646) who was born close to where our priests’ retirement home now stands, Saint Winefrides.
Blessed Edward was imprisoned for his faith in Lancaster Castle and martyred in the city. Well over one hundred people, friends of St. Winefride’s, gathered in the grounds of the house for an open-air Mass with the retired priests and those from the locality.
The good weather permitted us all to mingle and share a cup of tea afterwards.
How the memory of our Catholic martyrs lives on, to inspire and encourage us well over three hundred years later!
It is reassuring, even comforting, to assemble and offer Mass on a peaceful summer’s evening in memory of Blessed Edward. He and his Lancashire martyr companions do live on in our faith memory, and by remembering them we are also acknowledging the great debt we owe them.
Meetings apart, my last engagement of the week was to confer Confirmation on Thursday evening in St. Gregory’s parish, Preston (close to Deepdale, and Preston North End FC!).
The parish had prepared their young Confirmandi well, and after a Confirmation Mass Catholics always seem to leave the church with a smile, not to mention those just Confirmed. St. Gregory’s was no exception. Would this, I wonder, be an example of St. Paul’s words of “being aglow with the Spirit”?
As ever in Christ,
+Michael G Campbell OSA
Bishop of Lancaster