Weekly Newsletter(click to download PDF)
The Rector writes ...
Those who filled in a parish census form back in the summer should by now have received a mailing about “Growing in Faith” and this should have been already, or will be in the next couple of days, followed up by a phone contact. The Archbishop is asking us - and the other parishes in the Archdiocese – to support his initiative in raising a considerable amount of money. After each Mass this weekend, volunteers will be available at the back of the church to respond to any questions you might have about this initiative. They will have pledge forms which you are invited to complete and post in the box provided (either this weekend or next), and they have information packs for those who either did not fill in the original census form, or who worship here with us on an occasional basis and would like to be involved.
For those not fully acquainted with what the Archbishop is wanting to achieve, perhaps I can underscore his aims … with a growing number of Catholics in the metropolis (and with a renewed commitment to the evangelisation of those outside the Church) there is crucial need for more priests. The encouragement of vocations and the training of students (the norm is a seven year period of discernment and preparation) involves a necessary but expensive outlay of £25,000 per annum per person. Our seminary at Allen Hall in Chelsea is badly in need of renovation (estimated at £2.2 million), and better provision needs to be made for the ongoing formation of the priests currently exercising their ministry.
Westminster has seen eight priestly ordinations this year – for which we thank God – but given the age profile of the diocesan clergy this hardly matches the gaps that are opening up with the unprecedented number who are approaching retirement age, not to mention those younger men who fall ill and need to be cared for into old age. Based on increasing life expectancy and actuarial projections, there is an estimated annual shortfall of £1.5 million for each of the coming twenty years in the provision for the sick and retired among our diocesan clergy. The Archbishop is called to follow in the steps of the Good Shepherd, and he would be failing in his responsibility if he were not trying to make proper provision for his priests – but priestly ministry is not an end in itself, rather it is a means to an end.
Pope Francis has called for the Church to demonstrate a deeper concern for the poor. Poverty, of course, manifests itself in many forms and cannot just be equated with those experiencing material deprivation, but neither can it be separated from them. “Caritas” is the international Catholic umbrella organisation which seeks to address questions of social need. Here in the Westminster diocese “Caritas” supports a number of projects (drop-in centres for the elderly, food banks, night shelters for the homeless) and the St John Southworth Fund has distributed over £2 million since 2009 to those in need. The Church’s pastoral care has necessarily a sacramental dimension but it must also embrace the concerns of those least able to provide for themselves. “Growing in Faith” is an attempt to hold these differing realities in balance.
The next two weekends will be especially challenging of us all as we are invited to make a generous – and perhaps consciously sacrificial – pledge towards the parish’s “Growing in Faith” target of £400,000 (contributions can take the form of one-off donations or a pledge which can be extended up to five years). I cannot pretend that I find talking about money easy or this whole process a pleasant experience: but, as we all know from our personal circumstances, financial realities have to be faced, bills must be paid, sensible provisions planned: proper stewardship of what we have received is a Gospel imperative. Perhaps it is no coincidence that the campaign at Saint James’s finishes with the celebration of Our Lady’s Immaculate Conception: in placing us under Mary’s special care over these next few days, I ask that with her intercession we may together (to borrow a phrase of Mother Teresa of Calcutta) “do something beautiful for God”.
Our Church is right in the heart of London. It is a spiritual oasis to many people who come in for silent prayers and personal devotion. It serves the deep needs of those who desire to get away from the hurly burly of city life. On the other hand, the various parish liturgical services reflect the richness of catholic traditions and its pastoral orientation caters for all categories of people especially the young and those searching for truth.
The location of the church is not actually in Spanish Place as its predecessor used to be, but in George Street, almost at the corner of George Street and Marylebone High Street. Nearest Subway or Underground stations are Baker Street and Bond Street. For directions click here.