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Friday, 16 September 2016 11:31

WORLD DAY OF PEACE IN ASSISI

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(photo © catholic herald)

STATEMENT BY ARCHBISHOP KEVIN MCDONALD

This World Day of Prayer for Peace, on the 20th September, is taking place thirty years after the first World Day of Prayer for Peace convened by Pope Saint John Paul II on the 27th October, 1986. Pope John Paul's inititaive in gathering together other Christian leaders and leaders of other religions was without precedent. It was inspired by the world's need for peace - a need that has only become more urgent and more pressing with the passage of time. But as we keep this anniversary it is important that we see it in context. It was not an isolated goodwill gesture; it must be understood as a key moment in the development and profile of the Papal office and of the Church in the world. It must also be seen against the background of the rich catechesis on the relationship between Christianity and other religions which was so central to Pope John Paul's legacy to the Church.

Only the Pope could have convened a meeting of this kind. Pope John Paul was the first truly "global" Pope and his concern and sense of responsibility extended well beyond the bounds of the Catholic Church.He convened this meeting because he knew that it fell to him to do so. In his great encyclical Ut Unum Sint ('That they may be one') he acknowledged this new responsibility and also the need to discern how to exercise his primacy in a way that 'is open to a new situation.' This is a discernement that is still very much work-in-progress but Pope Francis is clearly exercising it. He is inviting the Ecumenical Patriarch, the Archbishop of Canterbury as well as Jewish, Muslim and Buddhist leaders to witness to Peace together in Assisi.

The first World Day of Prayer must also be understood and interpreted in relation to the great body of teaching that Pope John Paul left us. In that teaching he developed the ecclesiological teaching of the vatican II's Constitution on the Church, Lumen Gentium, ('Light of the Nations') as it relates to other religions and also the Council's Declaration on Non-Christian Religions, Nostra Aetate ('In our Time') which further elucidated the teaching of Lumen Gentium.

Central to this catechesis is his teaching on the Jews and especially his affirmation of the continuing validity of God's covenant with the Chosen People. More broadly in Chapter 10 of Redemptoris Missio ('The Mission of the Redeemer') the Pope affirms that for people who grow up in other religions "salvation in Christ is accessible by virtue of a grace which while having a mysterious relationship to the Church does not make them formally part of the Church but enlightens them in a way which is accommodated to their spiritual and material situation. The grace comes from Christ; it is the result of his Sacrifice and is communicated by the Holy Spirit." In his Christmas address to the Roman Curia given two months after the 1986 World Day of Prayer John Paul II took the opportunity to give one of his most remarkable addresses on other religions. In particular he stressed the "profound unity of those who seek in religion spiritual and transcendent values."

So this communication is not just about recalling something that happened thirty years ago. It is about claiming and exploring the role and profile of the Church as it has developed and continues to develop in a world marked by suffering and war but in which human beings continue to hope and believe despite the terrible sufferings that many have to endure. The Holy See has recently invited episcopal conferences to join the Holy Father in Prayer for Peace by organising events to mark this occasion. While it may not be possible at this stage to organise an event on the 20th September, it could also be marked on the 27th October, the anniversary of the first Day of Prayer; or indeed at any convenient time or occasion. What is important is that Prayer for Peace is and should be part of the life of the Church and organised in whatever way is best suited to the circumstances and resources of each local Church.

Archbishop Kevin McDonald is responsible for Catholic-Jewish relations and Interreligious Relations on behalf of the Catholic Bishops' Conference of England and Wales.

Thursday, 15 September 2016 09:21

THE SPANISH MARTYRS

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Between 1936 and 1939 Spain erupted into a bloody and dramatic civil war: It was a conflict which ignited ideological enmities, resulting in a battle between democracy and fascism, between republicans and rebels led by General Franco. The Spanish Church also paid the price, subjected as it was to anarchic militias, and violent persecution.

 

Many members of Salesian Family massacred

Thousands of priests, religious men and women and lay people were massacred, simply because they were Christians. Amongst these were many members of the Salesian Family: 39 priests, 22 clerics, 24 Brothers, 2 Salesian Sisters, 4 Salesian Cooperators, 3 Salesian Aspirants and 1 lay Co-Worker; 95 in all. Three separate causes were introduced, finally reduced to two: 

 

Two causes pursued

The group from Valencia – 32 martyrs – with Fr Joseph Calasanz at the head of them, the two groups from Seville and Madrid – 63 martyrs –with Fr Enrico Saiz Aparicio at the head of them. The first group was beatified on 11 March 2001 together with the other martyrs from the diocese of Valencia; while the second group were Beatified on October 28, 2007.

 

Fr Joseph Calasanz

Fr Joseph Calasanz (1872-1936) was born in Azanuy. Nel 1886 in Sarrià he saw Don Bosco by this time tired and suffering. He became a Salesian in 1890, and a priest five years later. He was secretary to Fr Rinaldi and following that superior of the Province of Perù-Bolivia. After returning to Spain he became Provincial of Terraconense (Barcelona – Valencia). He was a man of great heart and a hard worker, interested in the salvation of his confreres from the outset. He was captured together with other Salesians while he was running a Retreat in Valencia. He was killed while being taken away, with a single shot to the head.

 

Fr Enrico Saiz Aparicio

He was born in Ubierna (Burgos) on December 1, 1889 and was baptised the following day. He joined the novitiate in Barcelona at the age of 16, andwas ordained in 1918 at Salamanca.


When the civil war began, he was Rector of the Salesian Aspirantate at Carabanchel Alto, on the outskirts of Madrid. When soldiers broke into the institute, he immediately said to them: "If it is blood you are after, then here I am. However, do not harm the youngsters". The young men were freed, while Fr Saiz and eight other Salesians were taken and then killed.

 

Others

Priests:
José Batalla Parramón (1873-1936),
José Bonet Nadal (1875-1936), 
Jaime Bonet Nadal (1884-1936),
Antonio María Martín Hernández (1885-1936), 
Sergio Cid Pazo (1886-1936), 
Juan Martorell Soria (1889-1936), 
Julio Junyer Padern (1892-1938),

Recaredo de los Ríos Fabregat (1893-1936),Francisco Bandrés Sánchez (1896-1936),Julián Rodríguez Sánchez (1896-1936),José Otín Aquilué (1901-1938),José Castell Camps (1901-1936),José Giménez López (1904-1936),Alvaro Sanjuán Canet (1908-1936),José Caselles Moncho (1907-1936).

Brothers:
José Rabasa Bentanachs (1862-1936), 
Angel Ramos Velázquez (1876-1936), 
Gil Rodicio Rodicio (1888-1936),
Jaime Buch Canals (1889-1936), 
Agustín García Calvo (1905-1936), 
Eliseo García García (1907-1936), 
Jaime Ortiz Alzueta (1913-1936).

Clerics: 
Miguel Domingo Cendra (1909-1936), 
Félix Vivet Trabal (1911-1936), 
Pedro Mesonero Rodríguez (1912-1936),
Felipe Hernández Martínez (1913-1936),
Zacarías Abadía Buesa (1913-1936), 
Javier Bordas Piferrer (1914-1936).

Lay co-worker: Alexandro Planas Saurí (1878-1936).

Salesian Sisters: 
Maria Carmen Moreno Benítez (1885-1936, vice provincial, directress and confidant of Blessed Sr. Eusebia Palomino who prophesised her martyrdom), 
Maria Amparo Carbonell Muñoz (1893-1936).

The decree of martyrdom was published 20 December 1999; they were beatified 2001 by John Paul II.

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Brother Kevin O'Donnell was ordained to the Diaconate by the Most Reverend Peter Smith, Archbishop of Southwark on Saturday 6th August in the Sacred Heart Parish Church, Battersea.

Joined by his mother and family, friends, parishioners of the Parish and members of the Salesian Family from all over the UK, Kevin committed himself to the ministry of worship and service for the glory of God's name.

The Rector, Fr Tom Williams and the Salesian Community in Battersea invited all the guests to continue the celebrations with a buffet reception in the main hall of St John Bosco College.

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Tuesday, 23 August 2016 16:37

NEW PROVINCIAL - FR GERRY BRIODY SDB

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On Sunday 14th August 2016, our new Provincial was installed at a Mass at Thornleigh Salesian House, Bolton. Fr Tadeusz Rozmus SDB, Regional Councillor for Central and North Europe, presided at Mass, during which he thanked Fr Martin Coyle SDB for his 6 years of leadership as Provincial of the Province of St Thomas of Canterbury (GBR).

 

After the homily,  Fr Rozmus read the Rector Major’s Letter of Appointment and Fr James Gerrard Briody SDB made the solemn Profession of Faith in order to assume the ministry of service and leadership as Provincial.

 

Our congratulations go to Fr Gerry on his appointment, and we pray and celebrate this great occasion.

 

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 Fr Martin Coyle SDB, Fr Tadeusz Rozmus SDB and Fr Gerry Briody SDB

 

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Photos © Fr Michael Winstanley SDB

 

Sunday, 08 May 2016 10:02

50th WORLD COMMUNICATIONS DAY

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Pope Francis' Message for the 50th World Communications Day:

Dear Brothers and Sisters,

The Holy Year of Mercy invites all of us to reflect on the relationship between communication and mercy. The Church, in union with Christ, the living incarnation of the Father of Mercies, is called to practise mercy as the distinctive trait of all that she is and does. What we say and how we say it, our every word and gesture, ought to express God’s compassion, tenderness and forgiveness for all. Love, by its nature, is communication; it leads to openness and sharing. If our hearts and actions are inspired by charity, by divine love, then our communication will be touched by God’s own power.

As sons and daughters of God, we are called to communicate with everyone, without exception. In a particular way, the Church’s words and actions are all meant to convey mercy, to touch people’s hearts and to sustain them on their journey to that fullness of life which Jesus Christ was sent by the Father to bring to all. This means that we ourselves must be willing to accept the warmth of Mother Church and to share that warmth with others, so that Jesus may be known and loved. That warmth is what gives substance to the word of faith; by our preaching and witness, it ignites the “spark” which gives them life.

Communication has the power to build bridges, to enable encounter and inclusion, and thus to enrich society. How beautiful it is when people select their words and actions with care, in the effort to avoid misunderstandings, to heal wounded memories and to build peace and harmony. Words can build bridges between individuals and within families, social groups and peoples. This is possible both in the material world and the digital world. Our words and actions should be such as to help us all escape the vicious circles of condemnation and vengeance which continue to ensnare individuals and nations, encouraging expressions of hatred. The words of Christians ought to be a constant encouragement to communion and, even in those cases where they must firmly condemn evil, they should never try to rupture relationships and communication.

For this reason, I would like to invite all people of good will to rediscover the power of mercy to heal wounded relationships and to restore peace and harmony to families and communities. All of us know how many ways ancient wounds and lingering resentments can entrap individuals and stand in the way of communication and reconciliation. The same holds true for relationships between peoples. In every case, mercy is able to create a new kind of speech and dialogue. Shakespeare put it eloquently when he said: “The quality of mercy is not strained. It droppeth as the gentle rain from heaven upon the place beneath. It is twice blessed: it blesseth him that gives and him that takes” (The Merchant of Venice, Act IV, Scene I).

Our political and diplomatic language would do well to be inspired by mercy, which never loses hope. I ask those with institutional and political responsibility, and those charged with forming public opinion, to remain especially attentive to the way they speak of those who think or act differently or those who may have made mistakes. It is easy to yield to the temptation to exploit such situations to stoke the flames of mistrust, fear and hatred. Instead, courage is needed to guide people towards processes of reconciliation. It is precisely such positive and creative boldness which offers real solutions to ancient conflicts and the opportunity to build lasting peace. “Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called children of God” (Mt 5:7-9)

How I wish that our own way of communicating, as well as our service as pastors of the Church, may never suggest a prideful and triumphant superiority over an enemy, or demean those whom the world considers lost and easily discarded. Mercy can help mitigate life’s troubles and offer warmth to those who have known only the coldness of judgment. May our way of communicating help to overcome the mindset that neatly separates sinners from the righteous. We can and we must judge situations of sin – such as violence, corruption and exploitation – but we may not judge individuals, since only God can see into the depths of their hearts. It is our task to admonish those who err and to denounce the evil and injustice of certain ways of acting, for the sake of setting victims free and raising up those who have fallen. The Gospel of John tells us that “the truth will make you free” (Jn 8:32). The truth is ultimately Christ himself, whose gentle mercy is the yardstick for measuring the way we proclaim the truth and condemn injustice. Our primary task is to uphold the truth with love (cf. Eph 4:15). Only words spoken with love and accompanied by meekness and mercy can touch our sinful hearts. Harsh and moralistic words and actions risk further alienating those whom we wish to lead to conversion and freedom, reinforcing their sense of rejection and defensiveness.

Some feel that a vision of society rooted in mercy is hopelessly idealistic or excessively indulgent. But let us try and recall our first experience of relationships, within our families. Our parents loved us and valued us for who we are more than for our abilities and achievements. Parents naturally want the best for their children, but that love is never dependent on their meeting certain conditions. The family home is one place where we are always welcome (cf. Lk 15:11-32). I would like to encourage everyone to see society not as a forum where strangers compete and try to come out on top, but above all as a home or a family, where the door is always open and where everyone feels welcome.

For this to happen, we must first listen. Communicating means sharing, and sharing demands listening and acceptance. Listening is much more than simply hearing. Hearing is about receiving information, while listening is about communication, and calls for closeness. Listening allows us to get things right, and not simply to be passive onlookers, users or consumers. Listening also means being able to share questions and doubts, to journey side by side, to banish all claims to absolute power and to put our abilities and gifts at the service of the common good.

Listening is never easy. Many times it is easier to play deaf. Listening means paying attention, wanting to understand, to value, to respect and to ponder what the other person says. It involves a sort of martyrdom or self-sacrifice, as we try to imitate Moses before the burning bush: we have to remove our sandals when standing on the “holy ground” of our encounter with the one who speaks to me (cf. Ex 3:5). Knowing how to listen is an immense grace, it is a gift which we need to ask for and then make every effort to practice.

Emails, text messages, social networks and chats can also be fully human forms of communication. It is not technology which determines whether or not communication is authentic, but rather the human heart and our capacity to use wisely the means at our disposal. Social networks can facilitate relationships and promote the good of society, but they can also lead to further polarization and division between individuals and groups. The digital world is a public square, a meeting-place where we can either encourage or demean one another, engage in a meaningful discussion or unfair attacks. I pray that this Jubilee Year, lived in mercy, “may open us to even more fervent dialogue so that we might know and understand one another better; and that it may eliminate every form of closed-mindedness and disrespect, and drive out every form of violence and discrimination” (Misericordiae Vultus, 23). The internet can help us to be better citizens. Access to digital networks entails a responsibility for our neighbour whom we do not see but who is nonetheless real and has a dignity which must be respected. The internet can be used wisely to build a society which is healthy and open to sharing.

Communication, wherever and however it takes place, has opened up broader horizons for many people. This is a gift of God which involves a great responsibility. I like to refer to this power of communication as “closeness”. The encounter between communication and mercy will be fruitful to the degree that it generates a closeness which cares, comforts, heals, accompanies and celebrates. In a broken, fragmented and polarized world, to communicate with mercy means to help create a healthy, free and fraternal closeness between the children of God and all our brothers and sisters in the one human family.

From the Vatican

Francis

Saturday, 23 April 2016 10:47

FEAST OF ST GEORGE

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On this Feast of St George, we wish all the English members of the Salesian Family every blessing and grace.

Monday, 04 April 2016 15:37

PROVINCIAL CHAPTER ENDS

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The Provincial Chapter of the British Province ended on Friday afternoon (1st April). Thirty five members attended the Chapter which was held at the Royal Foundation of St Katherine's in Limehouse, London.

The main tasks of the Provincial Chapter were to look at the Implementation of the GC27, to determine the criteria and guidelines for the reshaping of the Salesian presences of the Province, the revision and re-writing of the Province Directory and a piece of AOB looking at the Province response to the recent announcement on Academies by the Government.

Led by the Moderator Fr Bob Gardner SDB the Chapter members explored the main tasks and celebrated being 'Province'.

Prayers and 'Good nights' were shared by all the Communities of the Province, whilst Fr Michael Winstanley SDB, Fr Kieran Anderson SDB and Fr Martin Coyle SDB presided at the Eucharist.

Thanks are offered to all for a wonderful week, but especially to the preparation committee who worked with Fr Bob - namely, Fr Francis Preston SDB, Fr Kieran Anderson SDB, Fr Graham Forristalle SDB and Fr Saju John SDB. Thanks also to the Chapter steering committee of Fr Michael Winstanley SDB, Fr Gerry Briody SDB and Fr Andrew Ebrahim SDB.

Sunday, 27 March 2016 14:15

HE IS RISEN

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Wishing you all a very happy Easter - every blessing on this great Feast!!

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