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.

Friday, June 29, 2007

Evelyn Leonard

Please pray for Evelyn. She has just been informed that she has cancer of the lungs, liver and stomach. Since being received into the Catholic Church in December 2005, Evelyn has become a much loved and very dedicated member of our parish community. She bears her sufferings with great fortitude and serenity. Her grandson Thomas is due to be baptised this coming Sunday.


Sunday, June 24, 2007

Thursday Talks at St Simon's - concluded

The last in our series of Thursday Talks was given by Father Roger Nesbitt last Thursday evening. Father Nesibitt is Dean of Dover and Parish Priest at St Aloysius and Our Lady Help of Christians, Folkestone. Thursday happened to be the feast of St Aloysius Gonzaga.

The talk was entitled: JESUS IS WITH US - The Meaning of the Tabernacle. Father Nesbitt drew comparisons between the Tent of Meeting which contained the Holy of Holies, and later the Temple, and concluded that Jesus in the Blessed Sacrament is the new Tabernacle, Tent of Meeting. He is truly amonst his people. As the Holy of Holies was central to the Tent of Meeting, so the rightful place for the tabernacle in our churches is in a central position, to be worshipped continuously. The Latin Church has experienced a development in its understanding of the Eucharist and, over the centuries, became more conscious of the Real Presence, leading to central reservation in churches.

Again, the talk was well received. (Sorry about the blurred picture - the camera was obviously focussed on the wall in the distant background.)


Saturday, June 16, 2007

Day for Life - 1st July 2007 "Blessed is the fruit of your womb"

The Bishops of England & Wales have set Sunday 1st July as a special day for life. Together with the Episcopal Conferences of Scotland and Ireland they have set up a special website which is well worth visiting.

As I'm sure you will be aware, there have been a number of interventions by the ecclesiastical hierarchy which have made the news recently.

Cardinal Keith O'Brien of Scotland, compared the daily abortion of children in Scotland to two Dunblane Massacres every day. In his homily, which you can read in full here, he said:

I call on all politicians to answer one simple question: will you protect the right to life of all persons in our society from conception until natural death? And I call on you to hold these elected representatives to account.

For those unwilling to give this support we must be unwilling to give our vote. History will judge us on where we stood in this crucial issue. But there is a judgement more important than history. We shall all stand before the judgment seat of God.

I urge politicians to have no truck with the evil trade of abortion. For those at Westminster this means finding means of overthrowing the legislation, which makes the killing possible. For those at Holyrood that means refusing to allow our health services to participate in the wanton killing of the innocent. Peace cannot be built in the shadow of the abortion rooms.

In making this call, I speak most especially to those who claim to be Catholic. I ask them to examine their consciences and discern if they are playing any part in sustaining this social evil. I remind them to avoid cooperating in the unspeakable crime of abortion and the barrier such cooperation erects to receiving Holy Communion. As St. Paul warns us “whoever eats the bread or drinks the cup of the Lord in an unworthy manner will be guilty of sinning against the body and blood of the Lord. A man ought to examine himself before he eats of the bread and drinks of the cup.”

I would be failing as a pastor not to highlight the gravity of this situation not just to law makers but to anyone: mother; father; boyfriend; counsellor who in any way leads a mother to abortion.

As reported by Zenit, Cardinal Murphy O'Connor has also recently spoken out:

I would urge all Catholics, especially those who hold positions of public responsibility, to educate themselves about the teaching of the Church, and to seek pastoral advice so that they can make informed decisions with consistency and integrity... The Catholic Church believes that every life has been created by God in his own image and likeness. This means that all life is sacred, with value and meaning at every stage and in every condition, from the moment of conception to the point of natural death... It is for this reason that the Church strongly opposes abortion because it is the taking of an innocent human life... The long-standing tradition of the Church teaches that anyone who freely and knowingly commits a serious wrong -- that is, a mortal sin -- should approach the Eucharist only after receiving faithfully the sacrament of penance.

I would add that the Canon Law of the Catholic Church (Cann. 1398 & 1329(2)) states that anyone who actually procures an abortion, together with any accomplices without whose assistence the abortion would not have been procured, incurs a latae sententiae excommunication, i.e. they are automatically barred from receiving the sacraments. Normally such excommunications can only be lifted by a Bishop, but most priests have the faculty to lift this excommunication in the course of sacramental confession. Anyone affected by this is therefore lovingly advised to go to Confession and encounter the mercy and forgiveness of Christ the Good Shepherd.

Naturally, I am already considering my homily for the Day for Life. Do you have a question about life issues that you would like me to address? Is there any clarification that you think would be helpful for you or for the parish in general?

After Anthony Ozimic's talk last Thursday, one parishioner asked for clarification about the Church's teaching in the case of a pregnancy that is a cause of danger to the life of the mother. This is the sort of relevant question you might like me to address.

I hope to present the Church's teaching in a positive yet clear manner. Knowing what is on the minds of parishioners might be helpful to me in framing my comments.

Why not leave your thoughts as comments? Alternatively, email them to me. I am quite happy to accept anonymous submissions as I know that these matters (contraception, abortion, IVF, euthanasia etc.) might affect people very deeply.

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Friday, June 15, 2007

Thursday Talks at St Simon's

Since my last post on this subject we have had two talks.

On 7th June Father Stephen Dingley came to give a talk entitled Christ and the Church - Answer to the Modern World. In his talk, Father Dingley traced the decline of Christianity from the Reformation through Liberal Modernism and Materialistic Secularism. He then went through the principal world religions to examine their response, including Irrationalism (New Age, Superstitions etc.), Hinduism with it pluralistic and polytheistic theories, Buddhism (nihilistic), Islam (revelation of and obedience - submission as the word 'Islam' means - to the will of God, revelation being above the requirements of reason) and Christianity.

Fr Stephen enjoys a conversation with Suzy Gray after the talk.

In Christianity we have a religion that is both revealed and appeals to reason, as St Paul wrote:
Ever since God created the world, his everlasting power and deity — however invisible — have been there for the mind to see in the things he has made. (Rom 1:20)

Thus the world of science and of religion are interconnected, not opposed.

As St John wrote in his Gospel: The Word became flesh and dwelt among us, full of grace and truth.

Yesterday (14th June) Anthony Ozimic, Policitical Secretary of SPUC, gave a talk entitled Being Pro-life - The Most Important Work on Earth. Rather than speaking about his work in lobbying and preparing briefings for MP's, he addressed the pro-life vocation that all of us have, drawing abundantly on documents of the Magisterium, notably Lumen Gentium (Second Vatican Council) on the role of the laity and Evangelium Vitae (Pope John Paul II). Pope John Paul apparently told Father Paul Marx, founder of Human Life International, that his work was the most important work on earth. The defence of life is the foundation for the defence of human rights.

Anthony (centre) with Mark and Margaret after the talk.

Next Thursday we shall welcome Father Roger Nesbitt, Parish Priest of Our Lady Help of Christians and St Aloysius, Folkestone, and co-founder of the Faith movement. His talk will be entitled:
JESUS IS WITH US - The Meaning of the Tabernacle.
Do come along! (7.30pm, Thursday 21st June, in the Church Hall).

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Monday, June 11, 2007

Church Singing Workshop at St John's Seminary, Wonersh

I went with five parishioners to St John's Seminary, Wonersh, for this excellent day on Saturday. You can read about it on my blog.

Noella Thiebaut poses by the icon of the Transfiguration in the Seminary UCR.

Joan Hazell and Catarina Beresford in the Seminary gardens.

Thereza Baker, Joan, Catarina and Noella in the chapel choir stalls.

Guy Beresford (to the left) going through his paces.


Sunday, June 10, 2007

Corpus et Sanguis Christi - First Communions at St Simon's

Ten of our young parishioners received Our Lord Sacramentally for the first time during the 10am Mass this morning. A few photos for your delectation:

The group with their catechists Lisa Aldridge and Catarina Beresford before the Mass.

During the offertory procession, each of the children brings up a host in a beautifully hand-made tissue paper container. Each host is then added to all the others at the offertory.

Mass was followed by a Blessed Sacrament Procession around the Church grounds:

We don't have a cry chapel as such - just a children's corner with a box of children's books on such topics as The Mass, Noah's Ark, the Saints, etc:

The parents ensured that the catechists received appropriate tokens of their gratitude. Catarina receives a box of chocolates from William:

Lisa receives a bouquet of flowers from Danielle:

Without Susan Radecka, the hall would not be as clean as it always is, and she prepared the kitchen for the reception. So Jack is presenting her with a bouquet:

Congratulations to all our first communicants.

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Sunday, June 03, 2007

Archbishop McDonald visits the parish

His Grace Archbishop Kevin McDonald (pictured above kissing the Book of the Gospels) visited the parish today to celebrate the 10.00am Mass during which he baptised and confirmed Michael Light, and confirmed Jessica Holmes and Verity Green.

If you have adobe photoshop, you can watch a slide show of the visit by clicking here (pre-download courtesy advice: it's a 3MB file).

Here are some photos:

Michael James Jerome is baptised with sponsor Eileen supporting.

Michael, wearing his baptismal garment, is confirmed. His confirmation name is Jerome.

Verity Mary Sophie Green is confirmed, taking the name Cecilia, with her sponsor aunt Helen.

Jessica Kate Holmes is confirmed, taking the name Therese, with sponsor grandfather Alan.

Fr John thanking His Grace for being with us.

Leaving the sanctuary.

Verity with some of her family after Mass, including her father Damian Green MP (2nd left - he represents Ashford in the House of Commons) and mother Alicia (on Verity's left).

Verity and Jessica with Archbishop Kevin.


Michael receives his certificate of Baptism, Confirmation and First Holy Communion from His Grace.

Jessica receives her certificate of Confirmation...

and Verity hers.

Michael chatting with the Archbishop...

The Archbishop chats with local MP Damian Green, Verity's father.

Congratulations to all our newly initiated and thanks to all parishioners who helped make the Archbishop's visit such a success.

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