St Simon's Parish Blog

Welcome to the Blog of St Simon Stock Catholic Church, South Ashford, Kent, UK. Our address is: Brookfield Road Ashford Kent TN23 4EU

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For nine years up till July 2010, I was parish priest at St Simon Stock Catholic Church, South Ashford, Kent, England. From July 2010 until June 2011 I was Associate Pastor at St Peter's Cathedral, Marquette, Michigan USA and then Pastor at St Anthony Parish, Gwinn, MI until October 2013. I then transferred to the Archdiocese of Portland in Oregon to serve as Director of the Tribunal. And that's what I am currently doing. Since February 2015 I have also been serving as Pastor at St Stephen Parish, South East Portland. I miss "da UP" (Upper Peninsula of Michigan) but love being here in the Pacific North West.

Sunday, October 29, 2006

Baptism of Harriet Jean Moore


Congratulations to Eric and Annelise Moore on the baptism of their third child, Harriet Jean, today. Three years ago on 31st October, I baptised their second child Alice, and their first-born son Sam was baptised at St Francis' Church, Maidstone. Eric and Annelise are, of course, one of the couples who submitted the wonderfully positive feedback on the baptism preparation course which I have previously posted. Annelise's father and mother, together with other family members, had travelled from France for the occasion. Eric's mother was also present. As is almost customary in this parish, the baptism took place during the 10.00am Mass in the presence of the parish community, and children were invited to gather round the font for the anointings and the baptism itself. So it's a great catechetical opportunity too. Our next baptism, that of Conor Alecks, is scheduled for the feast of Christ the King in four weeks time.

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Friday, October 27, 2006

Altar Servers Trip to Rome

I've posted several postings and photos on my personal blog. Go to the link to read all about it!

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Friday, October 20, 2006

Year 2 visit the Church

On Wednesday Mrs Ebenebe and Mrs Beretta brought Year 2 to visit the Church. For many of the children Church is not part of their normal experience. I always love finding out what they notice and explaining things to them. They learned how to pronounce tab-er-nac-le and were intrigued at the five crosses and relics of the consecrated altar. Here they are gathered round the font enthusiastically asking and answering questions. A very joyful part of a priest's ministry.

Faith Schools Admissions

Archbishop MacDonald has written a letter to all parish priests about the Governments plans to impose on faith schools a 25% quota of places that must be given to those not of the faith. Although the proposal at the moment is only intended to apply to new schools, it might also be imposed upon existing schools. This would mean, in some areas, that 25% of Catholic parents who presently send their children to Catholic schools would not be able to do so in the future. He writes: “Given the importance of Catholic schools to Catholic parents and to Catholic parish communities, and indeed the Church’s financial and other commitments to our schools, this is clearly unjust and must be resisted.” He goes on: “In relation to new schools, it could be that the Church would be unable to establish these, should they be needed, as it is difficult to see how any imposition of this kind by the state could be reconciled with my own responsibilities under Trust and Canon Law.”

The Archbishop asks priests to make their parishioners aware of these threats and to encourage them to lobby their local MPs and Education Ministers.

I have contacted our MP, Damian Green, and he has confirmed that he agrees with the Archbishop and that he has made his views known to the Conservative Education team.

You can find details of your local MP at http://www.parliament.uk/directories/directories.cfm.

Tuesday, October 17, 2006

Further feedback on our Baptism Preparation Programme

Answers in quotes. Other options in brackets.

1. What did you think of the timing (11.30am Sat):
"Fine". (Inconvenient)

2. Your evaluation of the four sessions.
"Very worthwhile" (Reasonably helpful. Not really necessary)
Comment: It allowed us to cover key elements quite thoroughly and, because the course was over 4 sessions, each time we could revise & recap what we had previously talked about which gives the course more weight that way.

3. Presentation style:"Excellent." (Good, Fair, Poor)
Comment: Well thought out. Concise Powerpoint presentation, complemented (or vice-versa) by two friendly and accessible "teachers."

4. Opportunity for discussion:"Excellent." (Good, Fair, Poor)

5. Would you be happy to recommend this preparation course to others?
"Yes." (Yes, with reservations. No.)

6. We acknowledge that you have given up four Saturday mornings which are probably precious in this busy world in which we live. Would you say:
"It was worth it." (It's too much to expect of families.)
Comment: We didn't see it really as giving up our time, as it was a good course to attend, and for a good reason!

7. It is not our intention that those who have previously attended this programme and who show that they practise their faith should have to repeat it when they ask that subsequent children be baptised. Would you:
(Say 'What a relief!')
"Like to attend for your own formation."
(Like to attend so as to support other parents who might be doing this for the first time.)

8. Is there anything else you would like to add?
Thank you for devising the course, Father John, and thank you to Rufina and Evelyn for bringing such passion and enthusiasm! The course really helped to consolidate our sometime shaky/vague knowledge of the key elements which must be included as part of the practice of the catholic faith, and also the session on the different approaches to prayer was inspiring and again Rufina was great at doing so. Thank you for putting it into words so well.

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Sunday, October 15, 2006

Word and Wisdom - Reflections on today's Sripture Readings

I have posted the gist of my homily today on my South Ashford Priest blog. If you'd like to read it, click here.

Saturday, October 14, 2006

New Baptism Preparation Programme

After much thought and prayer and discussion with a couple of parishioners, we decided to institute a four-session preparation programme for parents preparing for Baptism. Full details can be found at the parish website. Two families came along and today we had the final session. My thanks to Rufina Ebenebe and Evelyn Leonard for giving up their Saturday mornings to guide these families in their preparation.

I invited both families to evaluate the programme, and here are the replies of one of them (the other has yet to return the evaluation form):
(answers in quotes, options not selected in brackets)

1. What did you think of the timing:
"Fine". (Inconvenient)
2. Your evaluation of the four sessions.
"Very worthwhile" (Reasonably helpful. Not really necessary)
Comment: Good to hear about God and Baptism and would like to hear more.
3. Presentation style:
"Excellent." (Good, Fair, Poor)
Comment: Very professional.
4. Opportunity for discussion:
"Excellent." (Good, Fair, Poor)
5. Would you be happy to recommend this preparation course to others?
"Yes." (Yes, with reservations. No.)
6. We acknowledge that you have given up four Saturday mornings which are probably precious in this busy world in which we live. Would you say:
"It was worth it." (It's too much to expect of families.)
7. It is not our intention that those who have previously attended this programme and who show that they practise their faith should have to repeat it when they ask that subsequent children be baptised. Would you:
(Say 'What a relief!')
"Like to attend for your own formation."
(Like to attend so as to support other parents who might be doing this for the first time.)
8. Is there anything else you would like to add?
We would like to thank you for the inspiration you have given us. The personal experiences and message of God you have passed on to us has really helped re-unite us with God and the Church and we are sure this has helped put us back on the right parth. The more we hear, the more we long to hear more. Thanks again!

The baptism of Harriet Jean Moore will take place at 10am Mass on Sunday 29th October, and that of Connor Francis Alecks at 10am Mass on Sunday 26th November (feast of Christ the King.) Please pray for them and their families.

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Tuesday, October 10, 2006

Britain's Dark Night of the Soul

We had an unusually high attendance last Sunday. Other priests I have spoken to have said they had the same experience. Why was this? Parishioners might be interested to read an article from Zenit which shows that Church attendance amongst Catholics has declined significantly, with plummeting numbers of marriages and confirmations.

For the period 1998-2005, 1/2 million people stopped going to Church in England. Numbers of Catholics attending Church declined by one third.

Over a three decade period, numbers at Mass dropped by 40%, baptisms halved, and marriages and confirmations fell by 60%. First communions declined by 40%, adult converts fell by 55%.

Comments - and possible solutions - would be welcome and interesting. Read it here.

Monday, October 09, 2006

Parish Autumn Fayre 7th October

Our annual Autumn Fayre was a great success, raising over £1800 for our Maintenance and Development Fund. Special thanks to Anne Bulpin, Shirley Hook and Eileen Conn, and to all our parishioners who contributed items for the Grand Draw, raffles, stalls, and who ran stalls and helped in all sorts of ways. Some snaps from the afternoon:

Saturday, October 07, 2006

Celebrating Outstanding Service to our Parish Primary School
Yesterday, our parish school community recognised the great services rendered by Mr Peter Runciman who has retired after serving as a Governor of the School for 35 years, from the beginning of its existence. Bishop John Hine, auxiliary Bishop of Southwark for Kent, celebrated Mass in the school hall in the presence of the Mayor Councillor Norman Ayres and his wife Helen, the Mayoress. At the end of the Mass, the Mayor presented Peter with a certificate in recognition of his outstanding service. The day also included appreciation expressed by all the year groups in the school. Peter spoke very movingly and sincerely to the children about the privilege of having served as a Governor and gave them sound advice: listen to your teachers, do what they say, and you'll not go wrong.

Peter and his wife Eileen (pictured here together with the Mayor and Mayoress) are very committed members of the parish, particularly in the pro-life area, always promoting and supporting the activities of SPUC. Congratulations, Peter, and thanks for your service to the Church as a Foundation Governor of our parish primary school.

Welcome to this new blog

I have decided that it would be good to have a separate blog for the parish. My own blog is where I'll post my own views/opinions/doings etc. I'll seek to use this blog more specifically for parish matters and hope that parishioners, young and old, will consult it. It also seems a far easier way to create a record of parish events than having to update a website. We'll see how it goes.