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FEATUREChurch of Our

FEATUREChurch of Our Lady of Mercy and Saint JosephMike Reynolds reports on a special anniversary. Photographs by Maggie BradleyBishop CrispianThe BlessingFriday 22 May 2009 saw the 150thAnniversary of the Church of Our Lady ofMercy and Saint Joseph, the High Street,Lymington. Mass was celebrated byBishop Christian Hollis Bishop ofPortsmouth and other priests of thediocese attended. The packed congregationenjoyed a wonderful service whichincluded the blessing of the newly restoredwindow.The service was followed by a visit to thenewly created exhibition Catholicism inthe New Forest in the Parish roomsillustrating the Triumphs and Tragedies ofChristians in pursuit of the right toworship. The Exhibition was opened by theTown Mayor Martina Humber. MoiraSwaine, wife of Desmond Swaine and MPfor the New Forest, also attended alongwith representatives of seven differentfaiths.Three hundred years before the opening in1859 of the Church of Our Lady of Mercyand Saint Joseph, the local smugglingFather Jamie McGrath, Parish Priest, reaches for aslice of the action as Bishop Crispian cuts the caketrade, part of which operated through atunnel running under the very spot onwhich the Church now stands, developed aprofitable sideline: human trafficking.Before reaching their final port of call, thebootleggers would off-load one or twoyoung, ordained priests at some lonely partof the shoreline. These young missionariescame to minister to the spiritual needs ofthe Catholic population of ElizabethanEngland. They continued to come, yearafter year, moving from one safe house toanother, strengthening the undergroundChurch and replacing colleagues who hadbeen imprisoned or cruelly executed. Thedarkest depths of the New Forest proved aseffective a hiding place as the priest holesbuilt by Nick Owen. One particularfarmhouse at Stapehill became the centreof missionary activity in the South ofEngland for almost two centuries.The Catholic faithful suffered fines,floggings, loss of possessions and property,imprisonment and even death, while spiesand informers would make a living bybetraying the priests. Catholic familieswho survived the persecutions, such as theWeld family of Lulworth, were often ableto draw on help from abroad to supportthe local clandestine Catholic communities,providing protection for priests and secretvenues for the celebration of Holy Mass.Gradually the authorities began to loosentheir grip, at first commuting deathsentences to life imprisonment andeventually introducing legislation allowingHoly Mass to be offered publicly. Thanks tothe generosity of Joseph and Flora Weld,the Church of Our Lady of Mercy and SaintJoseph in Lymington was the very firstCatholic Parish Church to be opened in thewhole of the New Forest area.Deacon Hilary Parson, Bishop Crispian,Deacon Steven ChalkAnnette Weld de Long of the Weld family andPeggy Walsh wearing her Papal medal22PORTSMOUTH PEOPLE

Supporting our schools intheir Catholic missionToby Tyler reflects on traditional and emerging rolesFEATURE‘How beautiful are the footsteps of those who bring good news’(Rom 10:15-17).With these words Pope Benedict XVI began his address to CatholicEducators in the Conference Hall of the Catholic University ofAmerica in Washington, D.C. on 17 April 2008. He went on to say:‘Education is integral to the mission of the Church to proclaim theGood News. First and foremost every Catholic educationalinstitution is a place to encounter the living God who in Jesus Christreveals his transforming love and truth.’Of course, the Pope’s words resound the world over. It is for us toapply them in the context of the parishes and the schools that weknow in the Diocese of Portsmouth.In the West Berkshire Pastoral Area we are blessed to have twoCatholic primary schools, St. Finian’s at Cold Ash and St. Joseph’s inNewbury, and we are privileged that just over the border St. Paul’sin Tilehurst also serves our communities. All are places of learningwhere the Catholic faith and the teachings of the Church go handin hand with the primary curriculum. Mass, prayer, collectiveworship and religious education are woven into the fabric of schoollife. Indeed, they are the foundations of faith on which theseschools are built. That makes them more than places where childrengo to learn, play and make friends – though there is no doubt thatthey are that too. They are faith communities, where the faith ofthe Church is passed on to the next generation; where all canexperience the love of God and the life of the Church; where theCatholic Church in West Berkshire meets and engages with the localcommunity; where it smiles and laughs with the children, and theparents, that it welcomes and cherishes.So yes, in West Berkshire St. Finian’s, St. Joseph’s and St. Paul’s areintegral to our mission as Catholics to proclaim the Good News. Andyes, to all who know them they are places ‘to encounter the livingGod who in Jesus Christ reveals his transforming love and truth’.The staff of these schools have a special and profoundly importantmission to educate children in the Catholic faith. They take it veryseriously. They are professionals. They do it very well. In commonwith all staff in our Catholic schools, they deserve gratitude andsupport for the great work that they do in the community onbehalf of the Church – for the great work that they do in ourcommunity on our behalf.Recognising this, parishioners of St. Francis de Sales, WashCommon, have recently founded a parish group to work with andsupport St. Joseph’s Catholic Primary School. The group will lendparish support to the school in a multitude of small ways – forexample, reading with a young child, or escorting the children onthe walk to Mass at St. Joseph’s Church. In small ways such as these,the parish will be helping the school in its mission to ‘proclaim theGood News’, and to hand on the Catholic faith to the nextgeneration. In doing so they will bring back into the life of theparish something of the dynamic, energetic and profoundlyCatholic life of the school; they will have a small share in theinspiring work of our Catholic educators and their pupils.In his introduction to the Diocesan Pastoral Plan, Bishop Crispianwrote: ‘The Lord invites us to journey with him and to have no fearbecause He is always with us. St Edmund Campion wrote in hisfamous Brag: ‘The expense is reckoned, the enterprise is begun; it isof God, it cannot be withstood. So the faith was planted; so it willbe restored’ – stirring words, written for very different circumstancesbut entirely appropriate for us as, in prayer, commitmentand obedience to the Lord’s command, we put out into deep watersto seek out and bear the fruits of the Kingdom.’Hopefully the parishioners of St. Francis de Sales who committhemselves, in a small way, to supporting St. Joseph’s CatholicPrimary School will, in a small way, be responding to that call. Couldyou do the same, where you live?Pope Benedict XVI concluded his address to Catholic Educators withthe following words, which this article can do no better thanrepeat: ‘With Saint Augustine, let us say: “we who speak and youwho listen acknowledge ourselves as fellow disciples of a singleteacher’’ (Sermons, 23:2).’Toby Tyler, St. Francis de Sales, Wash Common, is a Foundation Governorat St. Joseph’s Catholic Primary School, Newbury. This article firstappeared in Together serving the West Berks Pastoral Area.CELEBRATE Weekend Sept 26th/27thSouthamptonSaturday 9am – 9pm Sunday 9.30am – 5.30pmAT ST. MARY’S COLLEGE, BITTERNE PARK.Faith and fun for the whole familySpeakers to include David Payne, John Vaughan Neil, SteveMurray & David MatthewsWorkshops & Seminars: both daysDramas by Steve Murray & Local Youth GroupsWorship by Tom Bonard, Steve Szymanski & friendsChildren’s groups for all ages and a Young Adult stream.For more information and a booking form see our web (click on Southampton) or,contact Peter and Lynda Szymanski on 023 8029 2058.or email: PEOPLE 23

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