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.

Saturday, October 27, 2007

Parish Pilgrimage to Lourdes

We all arrived home safe and sound last night after an event-free train journey from Lourdes to Ashford International. The spirit amongst the pilgrims was tremendous - I can't wait for our next pilgrimage. Punters have suggested Fatima, the Holy Land or Medjugorje. We shall see...

To read more about our pilgrimage, click here.

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Sunday, October 21, 2007

Syro Malabar Baptism

A week late, but last Sunday 14th October we did a bit of mixing of Rites. I'm not sure how 'liturgically correct' this was but we did it anyway. Little Evelyn Lizmaria Thomas received the Sacraments of Initiation during the 10.00am Mass according to the Syro-Malabar Rite.

As is the custom in Eastern Rite Churches, an infant receives all three Sacraments: Baptism, Confirmation and Eucharist. A Latin Rite priest can administer these Sacraments but would have to do so according to the Latin Rite. Where possible, it is preferable for a priest of the infant's own rite to officiate and so Father Joseph Karukayil concelebrated at Mass.
He baptised and confirmed after the homily.
Before the people's Communion, he and gave Holy Communion to Evelyn Lizmaria by placing some of the Precious Blood consecrated at the Mass into a small spoon, adding some crumbs of the Sacred Host and spooning it into the infant's mouth.
It's good for us to experience the different Catholic Rites and experience the universality of the Church. Congratulations to Evelyn Lizmaria and her parents Simi Therese and Manoj.

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Saturday, October 13, 2007

Parish Mission - Final Day

We were all glad of a lie-in on Friday morning. No morning Masses as all the focus was on the final Mass of the Holy Spirit in the evening. It was lovely to see a number of parents with their children attend the Stations of the Cross at 3.30pm in the afternoon.

Once again, we had a pretty full church for the evening Mass during which all the petitions which parishioners had placed in the petitions box in front of the icon of Our Lady of Perpetual Succour were brought up at the offertory and Mass offered for all those intentions. For me, it was an intensely moving Mass. People had shown such faith throughout the week and shown their need for the love, mercy and healing of Christ and the gift of His Mother Mary. Being the last evening gave it an added poignancy as the mission team had stolen everyone's heart. John gave a fantastic rallying call at the end of the Mass.

Parishioners who waited till the very end to get a photo with the team:
Thereza, Sarah, team members Niall and Catharine, Pat, team members Breda and Matthew with Pat's children Joseph and Danielle and his wife Tracy.

Saturday morning, the team left early to travel to Falmouth in Cornwall for their next mission. The house was strangely quiet as they left and, I have to say, I have been missing their presence and company throughout the hours of this day. We remain united in prayer. Pray for all the members of this wonderful community.

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Thursday, October 11, 2007

Parish Mission Days Two, Three and Four

Day two continued on the theme of God's Mercy with the evening service of exposition of the Blessed Sacrament and Confessions. It was a most moving night. Once again the Church was packed. Ten priests were on hand and all were kept busy. People had as much time as they needed to make their confessions. Many graces were given that night.
Day three: God's Healing.
In the morning, John Pridmore had to make an important visit. So after the morning Masses I took the rest of the team to Aylesford for a lunch-time visit. We had a bit of time to pray to the various Saints who are venerated there: Our Lady of the Assumption, St Anne whose intercession for families was requested, St Simon the patron of this parish, the English Martyrs, etc. We prayed the Rosary in the Rosary Way.

In the evening there was a most moving ceremony in which the Blessed Sacrament was carried (by me) to people kneeling around the sanctuary and almost everyone held the humeral veil while receiving a blessing from Christ truly present in the Blessed Sacrament, just as the woman who suffered from a haemorrhage for twelve years was cured after touching the hem of Jesus' garment.

Day four: God's gift of Mary
The two morning Masses took place as usual. An icon of Our Lady of Perpetual Succour was placed in front of the altar with a petition box for people to put their petitions in. Mass tomorrow will be offered for all these intentions.

In the afternoon we took John to visit Christchurch School and John gave his testimony to about two hundred pupils. We pray that it may have touched the hearts of some of them.

John with the Head Teacher and Head of RE at Christchurch School

In the evening, a beautifully simple service of exposition with two talks on Our Lady from the mission team. People just seem to be more and more grateful for the blessings they are receiving in this Mission. Many people placed intentions in the petitions box.
After the service, the primary school present were able to sing the song they had practised in school earlier in the week.

Margretta and her daughters Emily and Jessica chat with Mission Team member Catharine after the service.

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Tuesday, October 09, 2007

Parish Mission Day Two: God's Mercy

John speaks with a pupil at St Anselm's after his talk.

Masses at 6.30 and 9.30am again! With brief homily from me, Communion reflection from John and Testimony after Mass from Catherine. These testimonies are really touching people's hearts.

We celebrated the Mass for Forgiveness of Sins which is found in the Roman Missal amongst the Masses for Various Needs and Occasions, and I selected the Eucharistic Prayer for Reconcilation I. It's rather beautiful, and very explicit about the sacrificial nature of the Mass - the word 'sacrifice' is mentioned several times.

In the homily (Jn 8:1-11) I dwelt more on the men than the women. Perhaps they had already come to the temple prepared with stones under their cloaks. Perhaps they really wanted to stone Jesus once they had ensnared him in the trap the tried to set. Certainly, as Jn 8 starts with stones, so it finishes with stones. As Jesus goes on to speak of himself as the Light of the world, the fulfilment of the hope of Abraham and pre-existing Abraham, the Scribes and Pharisees pick up those stones to thow at Him. How hard of heart they had become. As they withdrew from His presence and left Him alone with the woman, so their hearts hardened. They should have stayed with her and heard the words of non-condemnation. As He told her to sin no more, so He would have given her the grace to avoid sin in the future. God does not ask the impossible.

After Communion John spoke about the forgiveness shown by Pope John Paul II to his would-be assasin. Apparently, the man was so moved by the Pope's gesture that he asked to join the Catholic Church! John was obviously encouraging everyone to attend tonight to celebrate the mercy of God and take the opportunity for Confession. Up to ten priests are expected to be available tonight.

Rather blurred image of John addressing St Anselm's school, holding the crucifix.

After the 9.30 Mass, John, Neil, Breda and I went to St Anselm's school where John adressed some 400 pupils. It was good to see some who had been at the Service last night, and others who know me from their days at St Simon's and who were happy to talk with me even if they don't come to Mass. What a lot of possibilities there are in these youngsters. Please keep them and all involved in their education in your prayers.

John's testimony was powerful as always and a number of pupils clearly identified with some of what he had to say. Please pray that the hurt some experience from broken family situations etc. may be healed by God's grace.

Further information on St Patrick's Community:

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Monday, October 08, 2007

Parish Mission - First Day & Night: God's Love

Team member Neil enjoys some Iraqi tea at lunch on Sunday with fellow team member Catherine.

Catherine, Breda, Neil and Matthew after Sunday lunch with Tim, his wife Maysam and son Alex who hosted us for lunch on Sunday.

Two morning Masses were celebrated today - Votive Masses of the Sacred Heart to ask for the grace of a greater awareness of God's love for us. Both were well attended. As well as a brief homily from me, Neil gave a reflection after Communion on the love of God experienced by St Therese of Lisiuex. After Mass Breda gave a brief personal testimony of how she came to a sure knowledge of the love of God after having been away from the practice of the faith.

The team visited the two Catholic primary schools in Ashford - St Teresa and St Simon - to talk about the Mission and to invite them to tonights Service. Breda taught them a lovely song which would be sung at the end of the service tonight and Matthew spoke to them about the Rosary.

Breda talks to St Simon's pupils about the Mass and Holy Communion

Matthew, Breda and Neil teach the pupils a song to be sung at tonight's mission service.

Fr John took Neil, Matthew and Breda up to the Stanhope estate where we chatted with people and gave them invitations to the Mission.

The climax of the day was the first service - a beautiful service of Exposition of the Blessed Sacrament with testimony from John Pridmore. He spoke about his broken family experience, his life as a gangster, having everything but true happiness, and his conversion. To know more you really need to read his book 'From Gangland to Promised Land' which was on sale this evening and will be available for the rest of the week.

The Church was filled to capacity, thank God. It was wonderful to see so many people turn out. We were delighted to see some of the people we had called on this afternoon including two sisters who had just finished reading John's book. I'm particularly grateful to our good parishioners who have volunteered on the welcoming/hospitality front. We continue to pray that the rest of the week will be blessed by God and be an occasion of rich graces for all who attend.

Unfortunately I have no photos of the evening as I was otherwise occupied in my priestly ministry. Hope to post a few illustrative photos soon.


Parish Mission 2007

Our Parish Mission, led by the St Patrick's Community, has begun. At Mass yesterday, one of the team, Neil, gave a testimony of his conversion and invited everyone to take part in the mission activities.
Tonight John Pridmore, a former East London gangster, will give his testimony about how his life was changed. It will move all who hear it.
Full details of the Mission can be seen by clicking on any of these images.


Sunday, October 07, 2007

Rosary Sunday Baptism

We had the great joy today of celebrating the Baptism of Ciara Louise Aldridge, the third daughter of Gavin and Lisa Aldridge. It's lovely for a parish priest to experience such continuity with the family, having witnessed Gavin and Lisa's marriage and baptised all three of their children. Many family members and friends had travelled from near and far to be present and participated in a most attentive and - I believe - prayerful manner. Lisa has been a great help with First Communion catechesis, although understably asks to be excused from helping this year!


Saturday, October 06, 2007

Autumn Fayre

General view of the church hall - photo taken with my camera by Izaak Radecki

A busy day today - our annual Autumn Fayre took place after much preparation by co-ordinating committee Anne Bulpin, Margretta Holmes, Eileen Conn and other supportive parishioners.
Bob and daughter Antonia on the video stall
Janet and Alan on the Soft Toy Tombola
Testing ball skills
Peter and Eileen on the SPUC stall
The Grand Draw prizes.
Suzy tries to dodge the camera
Linda and Monica
As well as the usual stalls and draw, a young group of Irish dancing students called Celtic Rhythm from our deanery secondary school, St Anselm's, gave a performance before the Grand Draw.

Sisters Emily and Jessica in mid-flight

Enthralled onlookers
Celtic Ryhthm receive applause

It was a most enjoyable afternoon and, by the end of the day, about £1,500 had been raised which will all go towards our Maintenance and Development Fund. Some unsold items will be available for sale tomorrow after Mass, so we hope the total will rise.


Tuesday, October 02, 2007

Day with Mary - 29th September 2007

I have posted details about this on South Ashford Priest, but want to record it's happening on the official parish blog!