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.

Wednesday, May 30, 2007

Parish trip to Rome/Lourdes?

In the parish newsletter last week, I included a notice about a possible pilgrimage in October. Parishioners might be interested in viewing Fr Tim Finigan's regular posts on his blog The Hermeneutic of Continuity from his parish pilgrimage to Lourdes which is taking place this week. Here are some links:

Two views of Lourdes
Finding St Bernadette
International Mass
Mass in the Crypt
Straws in the wind
Rue du Bourg


Tuesday, May 29, 2007

The Plight of Catholics in Iraq

One of our parishioners has written to me. His email is reproduced below. He expresses opinions about Mr Blair's conscience. Publication on this blog does not imply endorsement of the views expressed. The situation of our brothers and sisters in Iraq is very difficult and we must surely remember them in our prayers and offer whatever help we can.

I am sorry to be such a pain but I have been getting more and more frantic messages from Iraqi Christians asking for support. Even if it means only highlighting the issue or praying for them. The reason I sent you this e-mail is that should you get the chance please read about the kidnapped of yet another Priest in Baghdad whose crime was to visit a sick parishioner in his very dangerous area. Imagine you having to fight for your life and the bishop in you area having to find $1m or £500,000 to free you and then you MUST leave the country or else you will be beheaded. Well that is the fate of your brother priests in Iraq just like you they took the same vows and all that they wanted was to serve Jesus and the people. I have specifically enclosed an e-mail from an Iraqi Christian originally from Basrah like me and years ago Christians were treated very well and respected now we are treated very badly in that city which is supposedly under British control.

The last Chaldean bishop (the city now has no bishop) was so badly beaten that he required hospital treatment but sadly the clergy in Iraq and not for the first time kept quite in the hope that it was a "one-off" incident the former bishop of Basrah is now the Chaldean Bishop of Sidney in Australia.

When the Pope last year made some comments the Muslim people found offensive about their faith the response of one terrorist group was to kidnap a Protestant priest from Mosul (the place birth of Abraham) who was later crucified!! Even though people made appeals on the priests’ behalf and tried to explain that this particular priest’s branch of Christianity does not necessarily agree or follow the Pope in Rome it made no difference and later on a sickening video was released of the priests last horrendous moments with his killers screaming God is Great (Allah Akbar) and the poor man screaming with agony. It was taking a long time for him to die so they slit his throat anyway before dumping his body in a rubbish tip.

I must tell you also about something that happened to my father’s cousin last week. He is a man with little means but he was kidnapped on his way home from work. His kidnappers called his wife on his cell phone and demanded $400,000 or else! Eventually the family abroad managed to get together $50,000 and fortunately the kidnappers agreed to the much lower amount. Now the funny part (it really is funny but true) the kidnappers telephoned the wife gave her the address of an office in the centre of Baghdad and the sign outside the office said The "Mesopotamia Export and
Import Co-operation" but it was just a front all that that co-operation does is kidnap Iraqis for ransom. My relatives who went with the wife tell me that there were many people waiting outside and when asked why they were waiting they said that they had to wait for their name to called before they can go in to pay up and collect their loved one. If you are wondering why no one called the police well the answer is simple, the police station is only one block away and the police are paid a share of the ransom money every time a kidnapper is released and as someone found out to his cost that when you tell the corrupt Iraqi police they just tell the criminal gang who then promptly kill you!!

Mr. Tony Blair in his final "farewell tour" talked of having no regrets about invading Iraq, well he is either a man without any conscience, misinformed or simply does not know how to tell the truth in order to save his political legacy. I did not like Saddam and life was not great then but I can only describe Iraqis now as "Dead People walking" waiting for the inevitable day that a bomb, built or knife take them from their miserable existence. We are Christian and would never ever advocate violence and would never ever justify it under any circumstances. However, the world is literally doing nothing and people are now annoyed or bothered by our cries for help. However, even if we are ignored by man God will not and yes I am very sad and angry at my own inputted at not being able to do more to help but I hope that I can at least ask for your prayers and I urge you once again to highlight our plight. We are not anti Islamic indeed my two best friends are Muslims but in Iraq in Particular at the moment Christians are being persecuted for their faith and we have to pay a Tax called a "Jezia" or convert to Islam, flee or be killed .

I thank you in taking the time to read my letter.

My correspondent refers to a fellow-chaldean's blog for further information.

There is also a petition which you may wish to sign.


Monday, May 28, 2007

Pentecost Sunday International Mass

On the day when the Holy Spirit descended upon the Apostles and they proclaimed the Gospel in foreign languages, we celebrated by having readings and prayers in some of the languages of the many nations represented amongst our parishioners: Polish, French, Spanish, Maltese, Ibo, Swahili, Shona, Arabic (parishioner from Iraq), Tagalog. Of course, there was English too.
As last year, most of the Mass was sung in Latin to reflect the unity of the Catholic Church. I know that a number of our parishioners find the issue of Latin difficult, but it is our heritage and tradition. I received a sufficient number of encouraging remarks after last year's Mass, and before and again after this year's Mass, to be convinced that it is worth doing. In my homily, I began what I hope will be a series of homilies on the Liturgy taking themes from Pope Benedict's Apostolic Exhortation Sacramentum Caritatis. As well as talking about the Holy Spirit's continuing action in teaching the Church throughout time, I quoted the following sections of the Pope's letter:

Actuosa participatio
n. 52: The Second Vatican Council rightly emphasized the active, full and fruitful participation of the entire People of God in the eucharistic celebration... The word "participation" does not refer to mere external activity during the celebration. In fact, the active participation called for by the Council must be understood in more substantial terms, on the basis of a greater awareness of the mystery being celebrated and its relationship to daily life...
n. 55: Active participation in the eucharistic liturgy can hardly be expected if one approaches it superficially, without an examination of his or her life. This inner disposition can be fostered, for example, by recollection and silence for at least a few moments before the beginning of the liturgy, by fasting and, when necessary, by sacramental confession. A heart reconciled to God makes genuine participation possible. The faithful need to be reminded that there can be no actuosa participatio in the sacred mysteries without an accompanying effort to participate actively in the life of the Church as a whole, including a missionary commitment to bring Christ's love into the life of society.
Migrants and participation in the Eucharist (we have a significant number of parishioners who belong to the Syro-Malabar Church, an Eastern Catholic Church particularly predominant in Kerala, India. In fact, we have a monthly Syro-Malabar Mass in the parish at 5.30pm on the last Saturday of each month.)
n.60: Specific attention needs to be paid to migrants belonging to the Eastern Catholic Churches; in addition to being far from home, they also encounter the difficulty of not being able to participate in the eucharistic liturgy in their own rite. For this reason, wherever possible, they should be served by priests of their rite... Contacts between the faithful of different rites can prove a source of mutual enrichment. In particular, I am thinking of the benefit that can come, especially for the clergy, from a knowledge of the different traditions.
The Latin language
n. 62: In order to express more clearly the unity and universality of the Church, I wish to endorse the proposal made by the Synod of Bishops, in harmony with the directives of the Second Vatican Council, that, with the exception of the readings, the homily and the prayer of the faithful, it is fitting that such liturgies be celebrated in Latin. Similarly, the better-known prayers of the Church's tradition should be recited in Latin and, if possible, selections of Gregorian chant should be sung. Speaking more generally, I ask that future priests, from their time in the seminary, receive the preparation needed to understand and to celebrate Mass in Latin, and also to use Latin texts and execute Gregorian chant; nor should we forget that the faithful can be taught to recite the more common prayers in Latin, and also to sing parts of the liturgy to Gregorian chant.

Although we don't have any photos of the Mass at present, here are some taken during the reception that was organised by parishioners in the hall after Mass. There was food from the various continents of the globe.

Andrea with two of her children: Francesca and Joseph (who will be making his First Holy Communion in two weeks' time).

Like most parishioners, Michelle looks up to her parish priest!

Gladys, Lola and Rufina.

Alex, Antonia and Hannah (who will also be making her First Holy Communion in two weeks' time)

With Carmen and her parents who come from Peru.

Inytha (who will be making her First Holy Communion in two weeks' time) and her mother are from Sri Lanka.

One of our young Philippina parishioners.

Balloons of various colours were chosen to represent the many nations of the world - the youngsters had other ideas for them!

Thereza - who is also my parish secretary - together with her sister Rebecca and her mum explain the Maltese food she had brought along.

Merrick & Mary, Jim, Muriel, Audrey, Margaret and (hidden) Rita enjoying the food and company.

Beena and Jestine (whose house I visited last year when I was in Kerala), Syro Malabar Rite Catholics serving their food.
Maysam (from Iraq), Mary & John, Alice and Maysam's son Alex.

With Tomasz and Malgorzata, Polish parishioners.


Abbot Laurence O'Keefe

Last Thursday, Abbot Laurence came from Ramsgate Abbey to give his talk entitled Tota pulchra es Maria - Mary prefigured in the Old Testament.

He referred to three parts of the Old Testament in particular: Genesis chapter 3, Isaiah chapter 7, 2 Samuel chapter 6.

Abbot Laurence spoke also about the Rosary and said that he prays the Rosary every day. He did show it to us but promptly withdrew it from view when I tried to photograph him with it. Modest as he is, he didn't want to appear 'all pious'.

Those who attended expressed great satisfaction with the talk, two phoning me the next day to express their gratitude.

Why not come to the next talk at 7.30pm on Thursday 7th June on the subject Christ and the Church - Answer to the Modern World given by Father Stephen Dingley, a Lecturer in Theology at St John's Seminary Wonersh.


Thursday Talks at St Simon's

First of all, apologies for not keeping this blog up to date. A series of talks is taking place at St Simon's. The series is as follows and the talks take place in the Church Hall or Presbytery at 7.30pm (anyone - Catholic or not - is welcome to attend these talks):

19th April: Pope Benedict XVI - Truth and Tolerance
Rev. Timothy Finigan M.A., S.T.L.
Dean of Bexley, Parish Priest of Our Lady of the Rosary, Blackfen.
I have already referred to this on my personal blog.

24th May: Tota pulchra es Maria - Mary prefigured in the Old Testament
Rt Rev. Laurence O'Keefe L.S.S., O.S.B.
Abbot of St Augustine's Abbey, Ramsgate

7th June: Christ and the Church - Answer to the Modern World
Rev. Stephen Dingley M.A., Ph.D., S.T.L.
Lecturer in Theology, St John's Seminary, Wonersh

14th June: Being Pro-Life - The Most Important Work on Earth
Anthony Ozimic
Political Secretary, SPUC.

21st June: JESUS IS WITH US - The Meaning of the Tabernacle
Rev. Roger Nesbitt M.Sc., D.I.C., A.C.G.I.
Dean of Dover, Parish Priest of Our Lady Help of Christians and St Aloysius Church, Folkestone