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, January 31, 2009

Parish Newsletter Sunday 1st February 2009

Parish Newsletter Sunday 1st February 2009


Syro Malabar Catechism Classes

If any parishioner were to ask me if they could run catechism classes for the children of the parish, they would get an unqualified 'yes'. This is what I was asked by one of our Syro Malabar people a couple of weeks ago, and here they are in action on their first Saturday evening.

This is very much the tradition in Kerala as I witnessed myself when I visited there a couple of years ago. Although the priest is involved, it is the laity who carry out the teaching of the faith.

So, if any of our Latin Catholics in the parish, whether they be from the broadly English speaking community, the Polish community, or other wish to run catechism, just let me know.

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Visit of Russian Orthodox Sister

This morning Sister Photinia, a nun from the Russian Orthodox Convent of St Elizabeth the New Martyr in Minsk, Belarus, came to speak about their work for various marginalized groups and to appeal for donations for their expanding work and church building.

From a letter I received asking if they could come:

The Convent was founded in Minsk in 1999. It grew up from the Sisterhood. Sisters of mercy have been serving disabled people at the Republican Psychiatrist Hospital, a children’s and adults’ asylum and one of the city’s hospitals.

Everything began in 1994, when the first sisters of mercy, who were parishioners of St Peter and Paul Cathedral in Minsk went to the psychiatrist hospital willing to take care of the patients. Sisters started coming to disabled people in order to share their compassion and love which they had received from the Church and its sacraments. In 1997 the construction of a church started nearby the Hospital. In 1999 first sisters of mercy took their veils.

At present over 85 nuns live in the Convent. The construction of the churches is still in process, the work carried out in the hospitals and charitable project is still growing..

We have got an estate about 30 kilometers far from Minsk where many homeless people, former prisoners, drug and alcohol addicts find shelter and work, where they have got a chance to start a new life.

We have got plenty of workshops on the premises of our Convent in which we produce candles, ceramics, paint icons, sew priests’ vestments, make embroidery, wood and metalwork. Some laic people are former patients of the hospitals who want to serve God. There is a publishing office as well in which we publish homilies, lives of saints, etc.
Sister told us that the 85 sisters in the convent range in age from 20 to 40. It is remarkable (or is it?) that this community is gaining such young vocations to a way of life that is contrary to the world and so clearly consecrated to God. In the Catholic Church this is happening in those communities that give a clear and distinctive witness to consecrated life e.g. the wearing of a religious habit, strong contemplative and community life, etc.

Sister showed me the work the brothers and sisters do in church construction and design. When I asked her what she thought about our modern Catholic church architecture, she was eloquently silent.

Take a look at their photoalbum.

Here are a few photographs of her visit, which was thoroughly enjoyed by all.

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Janet Dorey RIP

I report belatedly the funeral of Janet Dorey, who died on 2nd January, which took place on Tuesday 20th January.

Janet and her husband Alan moved to the parish a few years ago, but from the first moment they got involved: cleaning the church, helping count the money, helping at social events, etc.

Janet had been diagnosed with cancer only recently. Before moving to Ashford, she had travelled to Lourdes with HCPT Group 16 for twelve consecutive years. She and Alan went in their first year as South Ashford parishioners but missed the last two Easters due to Janet's poor health.

Her funeral Mass was extremely well attended, not only by our own parishioners but with many visitors from the parishes of Beckenham and Beckenham Hill and members of the HCPT group referred to above, as well as many other friends. Among those present were Father David Peck, parish priest at Wimbledon Common, who travels every Easter with the group. Father David concelebrated at the Mass and led the Final Commendation. Brother Anthony Jukes, a Franciscan, was also a member of the HCPT group, and he served as Deacon at the Mass.

Janet was an extrememly thoughtful person, and this quality was manifest right to the end of her life, even leaving instructions that at the reception following the funeral, a bouncy castle should be arranged for the grandchildren who were all to be present at the Mass.

The presence of so many family - her four children with their families which have produced nine grandchildren - is always a lovely sight at funerals. The prayer uttered at their wedding that they might see their children and children's children was surely answered in the case of Alan and Janet.

Janet died aged 66. May she rest in peace.

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Marriage instruction

We have quite a number of couples preparing for marriage just now. Today, Greg and Aghi Clovis came to speak about Natural Family Planning, always an integral part of marriage prep at St Simon's. Here they are on the right discussing their powerpoint presentation with some of those present.

Greg and Aghi sought to present the natural method of deciding when and when not to have a baby and its distinct advantages, e.g. no ingestion of hormones into the female body, rendering a natural process inoperative; improved communication between husband and wife; etc.

Please keep in your prayers the following couples who are currently under preparation: Justyna and Massimo, Joanne and John, Kamila and Michał, Agnieska and Grzegorz.

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Monday, January 26, 2009

I live with the very wrong decision that I made...

Here is a testimony from a parishioner who was moved to write following the SPUC White Flower Appeal that was held here on Sunday 11th January. My thanks to Professor Tom Healy who gave the appeal.

Listening to the talk a few weeks ago about SPUC I came out of Church feeling as if a massive weight had been lifted off my shoulders when I heard the words "all those unborn babies go to heaven." I felt they were safe.

Even through my selfishness some good has come for these babies I chose not to have.

I live with the very wrong decision that I made not once but twice and wish every day that I could turn back the clock and un-do the wrong I chose to make things right for myself.

The first time I was young and had a 6mth old child and had just recovered from cervical problems and it seemed at the time to be almost justifiable. I know now that it was not.

The second time was just pure selfishness from both parties. 100% inexcusable. We already had a number of children and "this new addition" just didn't fit into our busy materialistic lives. There was no room for one more!

I laid in the bath the morning of the termination placed my hand over my flat stomach and thought "it's not too late to change my mind." But things were arranged and I tried to convince myself it was the "right" thing to do.

I had no one to ask... "Help me do what deep down I know is right, tell me it's wrong." I had no one to put their hand out to me and say ... "I'm here for you, it's going to be fine." I was alone.

I have been to confession many times since but am still tormented by the grief and the unjust choices that I made for those two tiny lives that depended totally on me.

Forgiveness has to begin with forgiving myself.

I am happy for this to be read out at Mass or passed on to SPUC in the hope that it prevents other women making the same mistakes as I have.


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Saturday, January 24, 2009

Parish Newsletter Sunday 25th January 2009

Parish Newsletter 25th January 2009

Saturday, January 17, 2009

Parish Newsletter Sunday 18th January 2009

Parish Newsletter 18th January 2009


What is a Plenary Indulgence?

Next Sunday, 25th January, anyone who attends the 10.00am Mass for the Conversion of St Paul may, if properly disposed, gain a plenary indulgence. What is a plenary indulgence?

“An indulgence is a remission before God of the temporal punishment due to sins whose guilt has already been forgiven, which the faithful Christian who is duly disposed gains under certain prescribed conditions through the action of the Church. As the minister of redemption, the Church dispenses and applies with authority the treasury of the satisfactions of Christ and the saints. The faithful can gain indulgences for themselves or apply them to the dead.” (Catechism of the Catholic Church. n. 1471)

Every sin entails an unhealthy attachment to creatures which must be purified either here on earth or after death in the state called Purgatory. This purification and conversion can be carried out on earth by prayer, penance, works of charity, bearing the sufferings and trials of life with patience, etc… It frees us from what is called the ‘temporal punishment’ due to sin, the time of purification in Purgatory after death.

To encourage us to carry out certain acts of piety, the Church grants us the possibility of gaining indulgences. By performing the prescribed act, provided we are properly disposed, we can gain a partial or full remission of this temporal punishment.

So, on the 25th January, by attending the 10.00am Mass, if we are truly detached and repentant of sin, purified by the Sacrament of Penance (by going to confession on or around that day), restored by Holy Communion and pray for the intention of the Holy Father, we can gain a full (plenary) remission from the purification we would need to do in purgatory. The indulgence may be obtained for our own personal benefit or we may gain it for those who have died.

Those who are unable to attend this Mass or other special liturgy for the Year of St Paul through illness or some other serious cause may gain the indulgence by joining spiritually, offering their prayers and sufferings to God.


Pope Benedict's Message for World Day of Prayer for Peace

This World Day of Prayer is kept by the Church on 1st January but local Episcopal conferences may determine another suitable day for their local Churches. Here it is kept tomorrow, Sunday 18th January. The Pope's Message entitled Fighting Poverty to Build Peace may be found at the Vatican website.


Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Michael Anthony Shanny RIP

Yesterday we had a packed church with people standing in the foyer/narthex as we celebrated the Funeral Mass for Michael Anthony Shanny who died on 19th December 2008. As well as his wife Mary and children James, Gerard and Carmel with their respective families, three of his surviving siblings (Tony was the eldest of seven children) were present and many relatives had travelled from Ireland. Before the Mass began, his grandchildren Matthew and Hannah spoke in memory of their grandfather, of his love for Irish songs and his sporting prowess. There was also read the following moving tribute from the Irish GAA.

My homily follows:
Homily for funeral of Michael Anthony Shanny

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Friday, January 09, 2009

Our shool sings When a Child is Born

Many thanks to Karenfor taking the trouble to point me to this. Our primary school was entered into Invicta FM Radio's Xmas factor competition. They didn't win but they were aired on the radio. Winning depends not on quality but on how many people get on line and vote as many times as they want/can during the period alloted. I was away on retreat at the time and so unable to make my crucial votes. I'm sure my votes would have made the difference!

I think the voices sound very sweet!


Thursday, January 01, 2009

Then and Now

Easter 2008

New Year's Day 2009