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, June 21, 2008

From tomorrow's parish newsletter

This is my 'Desktop' article in tommorow's parish newsletter.

Forty three years ago last Friday 20th June at the tender age of seven I made my First Holy Communion at the Church of the English Martyrs, Streatham. I remember the day well: the teachers who guided us, the large group of boys and girls, the Mass, the moment I received Our Lord for the first time, the breakfast in the Church hall afterwards. Funnily enough, I don’t remember any party, and I don’t recall any of the other children having parties either. It was not the fashion then. Another thing I don’t remember is what Canon Crowley, the parish priest, said to us! (although I remember him very well). And I didn’t realise then that 20th June is the feast of St Alban, the first martyr of England.

We learn from the Ecclesiastical History of St Bede that St Alban was a still a pagan when he gave shelter to a priest who was fleeing from his persecutors. When Alban saw the holy man spending all his time in prayer and vigils, he was suddenly touched by the grace of God. He was moved to follow the priest’s example, and began to emulate his faith and devotion. In the course of time he … renounced the darkness of idolatry and wholeheartedly professed the Christian faith. Soon, however, word got out that Alban was sheltering a Christian, and when the soldiers arrived to search the house, Alban dressed himself in the priest’s clothes and gave himself up in the place of his guest and teacher. For this act of subterfuge and for refusing to offer sacrifice to idols, Alban was sentenced to be scourged and was eventually beheaded around the year 287 near the city of Verulamium, present-day St Alban’s in Hertfordshire. An abbey now stands above the site of Alban’s martyrdom.

Today 13 of our young parishioners make their First Holy Communion. I don’t expect them to remember in 43 years’ time what I will say to them today. Like dear Canon Crowley, I expect I will be pushing up the daisies by then. By happy coincidence, today too – were it not a Sunday – would be a feast of English martyrs, namely the bishop St John Fisher and the lawyer, chancellor of the realm, friend of the King, husband and father St Thomas More. These most famous of our English Martyrs resisted King Henry VIII who wanted the Pope to declare his perfectly valid marriage to Katherine of Aragon null. When the Pope refused, the King proclaimed himself head of the Church in England and required his subjects to swear an oath accepting the King’s supremacy over the Church. Because they refused, John and Thomas were beheaded in the year 1535, Thomas declaring himself the King’s good servant but God’s first.

Our Lord’s offering of Himself to us in His Body and Blood in the Eucharist and his injunction to Do this in memory of me call forth from us a corresponding offering of ourselves completely to Him, just as the martyrs Alban, John Fisher and Thomas More did. As Our Lord gave and gives His Life to us and as the martyrs were prepared to give their lives to Christ, to give a Sunday every week of our lives is not so great a sacrifice, and just think of what we get in return: the God Who made us dwells in our bodies and in our souls. I pray that our young people today will always remember the day of their First Communion and that they will give their lives, day by day, completely to Our Lord Jesus and His Holy Church. May God bless them, their families and all of us this week.

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