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Thought for the Week - Week Beginning 17th June 2024


On Thursday we celebrated the Feast of St Anthony of Padua who was born in the twelfth century in Lisbon and in his native land is known as St Anthony of Portugal. A lot of people have a devotion to this holy Franciscan monk remarkable for his love for the poor and being an eloquent preacher.

He is also well known for his intercession when things are lost and is often credited in finding things for us that are out of our reach. I am reminded of a diocesan pilgrimage for priests to Fatima in which I participated a few years ago. During this wonderful week, one free afternoon, I joined a couple of the other priests on a coach trip to Lisbon. Among other things, we concelebrated Mass in the church built on St Anthony’s family home, with a group of Italian pilgrims. It was a memorable experience that broadens my understanding of this well-known saint, and one I will always treasure.

On Monday, I was invited into Blessed Trinity Catholic College to answer questions about the priesthood from a class of year 8 students. Among the numerous good questions, in a very enjoyable lesson, one young man was very keen to know where I had been to on pilgrimage; they all had fun trying to guess how many times I had been to Rome, which is more than you might think! A young lady (perhaps thinking of St Anthony) asked if I have ever considered becoming a monk; I replied that our way of life is definitely a vocation and that I had never felt called to live in community. As you know I like quizzes, so I then went on to ask the class to guess how many out of my (almost) 31 years as a priest have involved me living with another priest; the answer surprised them. I shared with them that despite the answer to that question, I strongly believe that it is healthier for a priest to live with another priest. It is remarkable what young people want to know these days!

On Sunday we celebrated the first of this year’s First Holy Communion Masses at Christ the King. These both went very well and all the parents and children involved all seemed very happy with them. These will span all three churches over the next two weekends. I am still convinced that celebrating them in small groups at the Sunday parish Masses makes this significant encounter with Christ in the lives of these children more personal and intimate.

As I look upon the litany of thanksgiving used during the Prayer of the Faithful at the Parish Mass at St John’s on 6 th January, I next come across those who organised a lunch on Christmas Day for those who would otherwise have been on their own. Last Christmas was the second year running that we had tried to host such an event. This year it was held in the Parish Rooms at St Mary’s and all the food and drink had been donated by parishioners. Although the uptake was relatively small, I think that those who came really appreciated the hospitality they received. It was an enjoyable occasion, with good banter, dancing, a gift for everyone who came as well as a traditional Christmas turkey meal followed by a choice of delicious desserts. I was really amazed at the generosity of the 7 strong team of helpers who sacrificed being with their own loved ones to offer hospitality to others. The other wonderful thing about this well-planned event was that the seven of us all worked as one unit and willingly stepped in to do what was required; we all put our different gifts and experience to good use. At the end of the day, most of us were really exhausted after our endeavours of the day, but at a “reunion” team meeting in January, we all agreed it had been very worthwhile and we were really up for doing it again next Christmas. We give thanks to the Lord for all the blessings that comes from this now annual event.

Thank you for reading this reflection, which I hope you find interesting and helpful.

Fr David


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(With thanks to universalis.com (Diocese of Salford calendar))


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