Issue 67 - The Pilgrim - December 2017/January 2018 - The newspaper of the Archdiocese of Southwark


The December 2017/January 2018 issue of "The Pilgrim", the newspaper of the Archdiocese of Southwark

Issue 67 December 2017/January 2018

Comic capers

in the parish

Page 5

The year in


Pages 6 & 7 Page 10

A journey through

the Christmas


The Adoration of the

Magi’ by Battista Dossi.

“Wherever we are in our spiritual journey, our awareness, our belief that God loves us unconditionally,

should fill us with joy, hope and consolation. That love has been revealed in the person and ministry of

Jesus Christ whose birth we will celebrate again at Christmas.” - Archbishop Peter’s Advent pastoral letter

Christmas dinner

for the homeless

By Greg Watts

This Christmas, as in previous years,

the Manna Day Centre near London

Bridge will be providing a dinner for

people who are homeless.

“We normally have two sittings

and although we say that only those

with tickets would be admitted, the

reality is that everyone who shows

up at the door gets a seat and is

served. Last year, we had about 170

guests,” said director Bandi Mbubi.

Thanks to the generosity of Better

Bankside, which collects Christmas

presents from local businesses and

distributes them to local charities

helping those in need, every person

gets a Christmas present when they


The Christmas is held a few days

before Christmas, explained Bandi.

“Christmas week is the only week

when we are closed during the year.

But rest assured that our serviceusers

are well looked after at Crisis

at Christmas, a project which

specifically runs during that week,

to allow workers from charities like

ours the time to be with their

families and loved ones.

“It gives us peace of mind

knowing that volunteers from across

London spend time with our serviceusers,

providing them with food,

advice and company.”


Ralph McTell.

Wandering the city at random, your inner

soundtrack might include Streets of London

By Bishop Paul Hendricks

I’m not a great one for going to pop

concerts, but I did go to one recently to

see Ralph McTell. (Yes, over seventy and

he’s still going strong). At the end he said

something like, “The usual thing is to

finish with a medley of your greatest hits.

Well, I’ve only ever had one, so here it is

...”— and then he played Streets of


This was the song, he once said, that

he’d put out “buried in an album”,

because everyone thought it was too sad

to be successful. For various contractual

reasons, he wasn’t able to put out his own

single of it until ten years later. By that

time it had already been recorded by

thirty artists, including Mary Hopkin, Val

Doonican and Roger Whitaker.

At the concert, I enjoyed the way Ralph

filled in some of the background to the

songs, telling about growing up in Croydon,

holidays to visit relatives in Banbury —

and, later, busking around Europe and

living in an isolated area of Cornwall.

Little incidents and experiences gave

ideas that could feed into a song. The

best-known example was the case of Derek

Bentley, the teenager with learning

difficulties who was sentenced to death

after he and a younger lad named Craig

tried to break into a Croydon warehouse.

It was Craig who had the gun and fired

the shot, but they were both convicted of

murder. Craig was too young to be

executed, but Bentley was hanged. Ralph

was aged eight at the time and the sense

of horror and injustice of all this stayed

with him.

Many years later he expressed it in a

song, Bentley and Craig. Sometimes it

takes the perspective of years for an idea

to bear fruit in a song — and there’s a sort

of authenticity about this that I admire.

There’s an attractive combination of

“edginess’ and maturity in Ralph’s songs.

This reminds me of something I once read

about literature. An author can use his (or

her) own experiences, but they have to be

“processed” in some way, transformed

from the specific context so that they can

speak to the human condition more


Even a protest song (and Ralph has

written a number of these) needs to do

more than just express anger — if only

because they also need to challenge the

majority of us, who would not have been

involved in the original situation.

I also find a large degree of compassion

in the songs, a quality of imagination that

can see and feel how things might be for

someone very different to oneself. In

Michael in the Garden, he sings about

someone who may be mentally ill or

handicapped — or who just lives in a

different place to the rest of us. He sees a

beauty and peace in the world, with which

he’s much more in harmony than “we, we

who say that there’s something wrong with

your mind.”

As we approach Christmas, preparing to

enjoy time with our families and friends,

we rejoice in these gifts, at the same time

as we celebrate God’s greatest gift to the

world. And as the bleaker side of

Bethlehem also comes to mind — the

poverty and the persecution — we also try

to be more mindful of those who don’t

share our material blessings.

“So, how can you tell me you’re lonely,

and say for you that the sun don’t shine.

Let me take you by the hand and lead you

through the streets of London. I’ll show

you something that’ll make you change

your mind.”

The Pilgrim December 2017/January 2018

We must open

our hearts

Here is an edited extract of Archbishop

Peter’s Advent pastoral letter.

The prominent theme of Advent is the call to

conversion and renewal, as we prepare to celebrate

the coming of Jesus Christ at Christmas, and look

forward in hope and joyful expectation to his second

coming at the end of time.

It gives us an opportunity to stand back a little

from our busy and often hectic lives, to reflect on

where we stand with God our Saviour.

Wherever we are in our spiritual journey, our

awareness, our belief that God loves us

unconditionally, should fill us with joy, hope and

consolation. That love has been revealed in the

person and ministry of Jesus Christ whose birth we

will celebrate again at Christmas.

The spirit of Advent is the spirit of renewed hope

and expectancy as we long for the coming of the

Saviour into our hearts and minds – not just at

Christmas, but every day.

Each day we are called to become more and more

like the person of Jesus Christ and model our lives

on him. Then we too, in some small way, will be

able to reveal to the world something of the

unconditional love of God, which he offers as pure

gift to everyone without exception.

But we will only be able to hold fast to Christ if

we are fully awake and alert to his voice: in the

scriptures, in our prayer, and when we meet him in

the celebration of the sacraments, especially the

Eucharist and the Sacrament of Reconciliation.

We meet him too especially in the weak, the poor,

the sick and the suffering. These are “God’s little

people” for whom we, like Christ himself, must have

a special care and concern. In the words of our Holy

Father, Pope Francis, we must become “a poor

Church for the poor.”

We need eyes to see the needy and suffering

Christ in those around us, those amongst whom we

live and work. We need hearts open to the Holy

Spirit who, if we ask, will fill them with the fire of

God’s love. And we need the support and

encouragement of each other because we journey

not simply as individuals but as disciples of Christ

who are members of God’s family, the community of


So my prayer this Advent is that we will take the

time to open our hearts to the gift of the Holy

Spirit, asking him to deepen our faith, confirm our

hope in God’s promises, and help us to be more

generous in our love for God and one another,

especially the poor, the sick, the isolated and the

suffering in our midst.

In these we meet the suffering Christ, and it is in

them that we truly serve him who came not to be

served but to serve. “I tell you solemnly, in so far as

you did this to one of the least of these brothers of

mine, you did it to me.”

The Pilgrim is now online, making it possible to read all the editions since it was launched in 2011.

To view it, visit the diocesan website and click on a lick on the left hand side of the page.

The Archdiocese of Southwark

Archbishop Peter Smith

020 7928-2495

Area bishops

Episcopal vicar for Kent

Bishop Paul Mason

01732 845486

South-West London

Bishop Paul Hendricks

020 8643 8007

South-East London

Bishop Patrick Lynch

020 8297 6540

The Pilgrim,

Archbishop’s House

150 St George’s Road

London SE1 6HX

Editor: Greg Watts

0208 776 9250




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Page 2

The Pilgrim December 2017/January 2018


The Centre for Catholic Formation in

Tooting Bec was lit in red on the evening of

November 22nd to show its solidarity with

persecuted Christians around the world.

Cathedral dedication

Mass was celebrated at St George’s Cathedral to

mark its dedication. Although it opened in 1848,

it was not dedicated until 7th November 1894

when all of the building debts had been repaid.

Amongst the priests present were two new

honorary canons, Canon (Leo) Francis Mooney

and Canon William Hebborn.

Streatham gathering

A day of recollection was held at Bishop Thomas

Grant School, Streatham, for extra ordinary

ministers of Holy Communion and readers.

Father Denis McBride led the day. The theme

was “The Gospel of Mark' - believing in and

following Jesus Christ strengthened by the


Bishop Pat Lynch thanked the ministers and

readers, saying “The service you give is a very

important contribution to the life of the parish.”

New room at shrine

Archbishop Peter officially opened a new

meeting room at the Shrine of St Jude in

Faversham. The room is named after Brother

Anthony McGreal, who assisted the founder,

Father Elias Lynch, in establishing the shrine and

the work of the Carmelite Press.



Bishop Howard Tripp returned to the

parish of his childhood, Holy Family,

Sanderstead, to celebrate the 75th

anniversary of its first Mass.

In his homily Bishop Tripp talked

about how people who lived in

Sanderstead used to go to Mass at St

Gertrude’s in South Croydon, most of

them travelling by bus.

During the Second World War, when

buses no longer ran on Sundays, two

ladies, Miss Richardson and Miss Cox,

invited the parish priest of St

Getrude’s to say Mass at a school

they ran in Sanderstead.

Fr Pritchard, the then parish priest

of St Gertrude’s, celebrated the Mass

with Bishop Tripp, who was one of

the altar servers at the first Mass, in


New scripture-based resource

A new scripture-based resource

has been launched by the

Catholic Bishops’ Conference of

England and Wales.

Counting our Blessings has

been produced by the

Department for Christian

Responsibility and Citizenship

and is designed to help families

connect their ordinary,

everyday living, giving and

caring for life with the sense of

being “blessed.”

The idea is to assist families

to talk about their own

experiences and things that

matter to them in their own

language, and then reflect on them through

Pupils from St


Cathedral Catholic

Primary School

took part in a

lantern parade

around the back

streets east of

Blackfriars Road.

A giant


puppet of Old

Father Thames

accompanied the

parade, which

began in

Lancaster Street

and ended in Mint

Street Park.


The booklet consists of an

introduction, and seven standalone

sessions, each beginning

with a question about life

experience: What’s it like to fall

in love? To care for someone

who is suffering? To grieve? To

feel like an outsider? To be

listened to? To feel deeply


It is designed to be used in a

variety of pastoral or

catechetical settings in parishes,

schools and chaplaincies.

• Counting our Blessings costs

£9.00 and is available from

Lewisham students in court

Sixteen students from Christ the King Sixth Form

College in Lewisham have appeared at Maidstone

Crown and County Court.

But the students had not broken the law. They

were competing in the Bar National Mock Trial


They competed in three rounds against other

local schools and colleges, where they

questioned witnesses and answered questions

from the opposing team.

Although they didn’t win, they impressed by

their endeavour and tenacity in the court room.

Want to work in Parliament?

Young Catholics are invited to apply for the 2018

Catholic parliamentary and public affairs

Internships scheme.

Run by the Bishops’ Conference of England and

Wales, the year-long faith in politics scheme

places young Catholics with Christian MPs or

peers in Westminster. Interns also visit various

charities and institutions

They are also given the opportunity to

complete a fully funded, part-time postgraduate

certificate in Catholic social teaching at St

Mary’s University, Twickenham.

As well as this, the group regularly meet with

Christians who work in all walks of public life, as

well as those in the private sector.

The main criteria for entry are an

understanding of the Catholic faith, a strong

vocation to social action, a flair and initiative

for creative work, and a 2:1 degree or higher.

More information and the application form can

be found at

We want your news! Email your stories to

or telephone 0208 776 9250.

The Pilgrim is now online,

making it possible to read all

the editions since it was

launched in 2011.

To view it, visit the diocesan

website and click on a lick on

the left hand side of the page.

Page 3


National award for Canterbury pupil

Anna Chapman of St Anselm’s

Catholic School, Canterbury, has

won the Jimmy Mizen Award

from the national charity Million


Seventeen-year-old Anna is a

member of the St Anselm’s sixth

form chaplaincy team. She is

also a peer mentor for year

seven students with behaviour

issues and secondary school


She supports the younger

students who have anger

problems or just need someone

to listen. She gives them

strategies so when at home, or

out, they can control their


The Celebrating Young People

Listen to young people

Southwark Catholic Youth Service has held its annual

general meeting at Archbishop's House.

It was attended by various clergy from around the

diocese, people working with young people and

representatives from youth groups.

John Toryusen, the director of Southwark Catholic

Youth Service, presented the annual report and

emphasised the areas of development were around the

2018 Synod “Young People, The Faith and Vocational

Discernment”, and CYMFed Faith in Action Awards.

He said, “The key point over the next year is to

encourage parishes to engage with young people and

take the time to listen.”


new sign

awards ceremony was held at

the Prince Charles Cinema in

Leicester Square and was hosted

by Million Minutes in partnership

with St Mary’s University,


Million Minutes supports

projects helping young people to

transform their lives and put

Catholic social teaching into


Anna said she felt privileged

and honoured to receive the


“It is difficult in this

generation to put across values

of peace, hope and forgiveness

when the media portrays so

many shocking stories of

revenge and hatred.

“However, if we seek the good

for one another we see we are

dependent on one another to

gain true peace. This is

something we should continue

to strive for whether through

promoting peace or having a

passion to heal a community by

working together, young and

old, this could be possible.”

Louise Perry who nominated

Anna and is St Anselm’s School

chaplain said, “I am so proud of

Anna, she is an inspiration to

others promoting peace in

school. She is part of the school

chaplaincy team and is very

calm when talking with the

younger students. She was so

amazed she had been nominated

for the award because

promoting calm situations and

peace is part of her normal


Parish with a caring kitchen

Archbishop Peter paid a visit to the “Caring Kitchen” at St Anselm’s in Tooting Bec.

The “Caring Kitchen” is run by parishioners and it operates two weeks in the

lower church hall. It provides sandwiches, soup, and cake for those who are

homeless or feel lonely or isolated.

Archbishop Peter also celebrated Mass at St Anselm’s, after which he

presented parish administrator, Mrs Martine Mercer, with the diocesan medal,

which recognises fidelity and service in the Church.

Over the years, Martine has gone well beyond the call of duty in many things,

but most especially in the assiduousness with which she has cared for the many

sick clergy who have come to live in the parish.

Archbishop Peter also looked in at St Anselm’s parish shop, which sells a

range of religious items. He commented that it was a wonderful vehicle for

evangelisation to the wider world.

Pudsey visits Sheerness school

The Pilgrim December 2017/January 2018

Recycling champions

St John’s Catholic Primary School in Gravesend

has won a £500 prize and been named a county

recycling champion.

The school topped the leaderboard in a home

recycling challenge which involved more than

100 schools across Kent.

The schools project involved one of the UK’s

biggest recycling companies, Viridor, Kent

County Council and Wastebuster, a not-for-profit

social enterprise which aims to “bust” the idea

of “waste.”

Purley grandparents’ tea

Oakwood School in Purley has held a

grandparents’ tea. The event started with

children and their grandparents listening to a

musical performance by the reception year

children. This was followed by a year six

presentation on inspirational people and then

children and their families enjoyed an afternoon

tea together.

We want your news! Email your stories to

or telephone 0208 776 9250.

Sixth formers become

UN delegates

Five sixth formers from St Michael’s College in

Bermondsey became UN delegates at a

conference in Wimbledon.

They were allocated a country in advance

(Australia) and had to research its position on

various issues, such as security, human rights,

and economics.

After giving an opening speech, delegates split

into various committees to debate with

delegates from other UN countries and form


Patrick McNeely, one of the group, said,

“Sitting on a model UN is an unforgettable

experience where you get given the time to

engage in international politics and to view it

from another countries perspective as a


Student awards

The annual awards ceremony for students who

have completed

Catholic Certificate of Religious Studies (CCRS)

was held at the Centre for Catholic Formation in

Tooting Bec.

The event was attended by tutors, friends and

family. Mgr Matthew Dickens, vicar general,

presented the awards to the students who

successfully completed the six core modules plus

two specialist modules.

The CCRS is a nationally recognised

qualification and it is designed to allow for

flexible studying. It is also run at the Angelus

Centre, Erith, and St Margaret Clitherow,


For more information about the course, visit

A pupil at St Simon Stock School

in Maidstone has won a

competition to design a new for

sale billboard for an estate


Chloe Jones received a £1,000

cheque from the managing

director of Bluebell Estates,

John Rafferty, a former St Simon

Stock pupil, for her eyecatching


Pudsey Bear made a surprise

visit to pupils at St Edwards

Catholic Primary School in

Sheerness to thank them for

their fundraising efforts.

The school was one of many in

the country to take part in BBC’s

Children in Need and Lloyd’s

Bank campaign to raise momey

to help disadvantaged children

and young people across the


Headteacher Mrs Wakefield

said: “We’ve really enjoyed

raising money for BBC Children

in Need this year. The children

loved going spotty for The Big


They were very excited to

receive a visit from Pudsey and

the team at Lloyds Bank. The

pupils loved it and it was great

to have a reward for all our


Tooting celebration

Bishop Paul Hendricks celebrated an all nations

thanksgiving Sunday Mass at St Boniface’s in


The 750-strong congregation was made up of

43 nationalities.

Following the Mass, a food festival was held in

the parish hall, featuring 29 stalls from different


Page 4

The Pilgrim December 2017/January 2018


The funny side of being a priest

Fr David Gibbons of St Thomas of Canterbury in Sevenoaks takes a humorous look at the life of a parish priest.

a CD for the entrance of the bride,

only to discover no CD in it. A

bridesmaid attempted to download

the music to her mobile, but even

put next to a microphone it was

completely inaudible.

Once, at a baptism, I was just

about to pour a small dollop of the

holy chrism onto the baby’s head

for the anointing when the baby

moved suddenly and knocked my

hand. The whole contents of the

phial splooshed on to the baby’s


Afterwards I thought I had better

apologise to the parents for the

fact that their precious baby was

covered in chrism and would smell

of it for days. “No, it’s a good

thing” said the father, “he suffers

from cradle cap and the oil will do

him some good!”

I had only just been ordained and

it was the harvest festival Mass.

Seconds before the start time word

came that the organ had broken

down and would we wait for the

organist to get down from the

organ gallery to play the piano.

Inevitably the piano lid was

covered with a huge display of fruit

and vegetables, which had to be

removed for the lid to be raised.

We solemnly processed in to see

half the congregation trying to sing

the entrance hymn whilst clutching

a handful of oranges and


I was so distracted by the sight

that I accidentally brushed against

another magnificent display of

harvest produce and sent it

crashing to the ground.

Back to Christmas, when

children’s dressing up efforts are

legendary. I have conducted crib

Services with fifteen Marys and

hordes of shepherds (the costume is

the easiest) and where no-one has

thought to bring a doll to represent

the infant Jesus.

And of course only two kings,

because the third was stuck in

traffic on the M25. But have you

noticed: no child ever comes

dressed as King Herod?

One year, when I was parish priest

of Sacred Heart, Camberwell, a

few days before Christmas a

parishioner came running into the

Presbytery. “Come quickly” she


Fearing the worst – a break in,

desecration of the church perhaps,

or a burst water pipe – I went

quickly. There in the Christmas

crib, empty of course awaiting the

placing of the bambino on

Christmas Eve, was a mouse, fast


Since St Francis invented the

Christmas crib we are familiar with

sheep and other farm animals in

them, but try as I might I can find

no reference in the Gospels to


Mind you, the most bizarre

experience of my time in

Camberwell was in connection with

a funeral. I had received the body

of the deceased (a Ghanaian

gentleman) into Church the evening

before, and knowing that the

Ghanaians like a long wake keeping

I left them to it.

When one of my assistants went

into church the next morning he

nearly had a heart attack: the body

had gone!

We were about to phone the

police when we discovered that the

family had taken the body home

with them after the wake keeping.

Cue a frantic call to the funeral

directors to go and retrieve the

body in time for the funeral Mass.

Weddings are particularly prone

to odd things happening. The very

first one I conducted in my present

parish got off to a poor start when

the groom, who lived some

distance away from Sevenoaks,

forgot to bring the orders of service

with him, and there wasn’t time

for him to return and get them.

So we had the bright idea of

giving the guests a hymn book, but

unfortunately the first hymn is not

in our hymn books so a new one

had to be chosen. So the bride

arrived, only to find that the hymn

was not the one she had chosen.

One wonders how long that

marriage lasted!

At my second wedding, an usher

duly opened the jewel case to play



48 Dale Road, Purley, CR8 2EF

Tel: (020) 8660 3815

Please help train our future priests by

contributing to the cost of educating

our students at St John’s Seminary

Wonersh. The Diocese have 21

students in training at a cost of

£20,000 per student each year.

The Southwark Seminary Fund

augments the annual Ecclesiastical Education Collection.

Please send your donation/legacy either through your parish

priest or directly to Rev Father Christopher Keen at Purley.

Page 5

A year in pictures

The Pilgrim December 2017/January 2018

April: Priests processing into St George’s

Cathedral for the Chrism Mass.

June: Bexley and Greenwich

deaneries’ annual Corpus

Christi procession to the

ruins of Lesnes Abbey.

July: Bishop Paul Mason,

bishop promoter of

Apostleship of the Sea,

visited the port of

Tilbury in Essex.

March: Nearly 400

catechumens and candidates

attended the Rite of Election

Mass at St George’s Cathedral.

Page 6

The Pilgrim December 2017/January 2018

A year in pictures

June: The new visitors’

centre at St Augustine’s

Church in Ramsgate opened.

June: Archbishop Peter attended a vigil

at Potters Field near Tower Bridge for

the victims of the terrorist attacks at

Borough Market and London Bridge.

July: MP Jane Elison opened the new

rooftop football pitch at St Mary’s

Catholic Primary School in Battersea.

May: The national

pilgrimage statue of Our

Lady of Fatima visiting

St George’s Cathedral.

September: The funeral of Cardinal

Cormac Murphy-O’Connor at

Westminster Cathedral.

Page 7


The Pilgrim December 2017/January 2018

Preparing for

the Eucharistic

Congress in

Liverpool 2018

A National Eucharistic Pilgrimage and Congress

will be held in Liverpool next September.

Father John Mulligan, co-ordinator for

Southwark archdiocese, explains why it’s


Eucharistic congresses are

gatherings of clergy, religious and

laity which promote an awareness of

the central place of the Eucharist in

the life and mission of the Church.

The last international Eucharistic

Congress in England was held in

1908, so the 2018 event is a

significant moment in the life and

history of the Church in this country.

There are 22 dioceses

participating, and each diocese is

invited to send a number of

delegates to the event. Southwark

can send 570 people drawn from

parishes, schools and religious


The excursion to Liverpool,

however, is not just a weekend

away. The delegates are

ambassadors for the project and

have a very important mission to go,

participate, absorb, return and

empower their local communities in


Once the delegates are chosen

there will be some formation

sessions for them so that they are

prepared for the encounter. Each

parish is invited to send two

delegates and each school is invited

to send one delegate.

Schools have an issue with the

Congress coinciding with the first

week of term. However, if head

teachers or RE leaders cannot be

released, a foundation governor

would be an excellent delegate. The

cost of the Congress, travel, food

and accommodation will be borne

by the delegates’ individual parish

or school.

Of course, not everyone can go to

Liverpool, so the home supporters

are vital to the whole Congress

jigsaw that is now taking shape.

The Congress needs to be

surrounded by prayer so Congress

prayer cards will be distributed to

every parish and school so that we

can all be part of the prayer

network. Delegates should also be

invited to participate in meetings

and discussions with parish

leadership groups so that

connections are made, information

is exchanged and the Congress is

given quality time at parish and

school level.

The precise outline of the

Congress is still a work in progress

but there is a general plan

emerging. On Friday 7th September,

the first day of the Congress, there

will be a theological symposium at

the Echo Arena from 10.00am to

6.00pm. There will be workshops for

parish catechists, (especially for

those involved in first Holy

Communion programs), RE teachers,

hospital and prison chaplains,

seminary communities and

extraordinary ministers.

Numbers for the Friday will be

limited so delegates need to book

this event when application forms

are issued from the Bishops’

Conference to the parishes.

On Saturday 8th September at the

Echo Arena there will be a six-hour

stage led programme with two

keynote speakers. There will also be

drama, music, various

presentations, prayer and adoration.

On Sunday 9th September the

focus will be Liverpool Metropolitan

Cathedral for the pilgrimage Masses

followed by a street procession.

The numbers in the cathedral

however, will be limited so those

places also need to be booked once

the booking process opens.

There are seven distinct themes

now emerging for the Congress:

1. Eucharist

2. Adoration

3. Scripture

4. Ecclesiology – the Church

5. Formation

6. Music

7. Mission

These seven themes provide a very

rich reservoir of material for

reflection and discussion. They can

be adapted by parishes so that the

prime focus remains at parish

community level.

While Liverpool plays host to an

important national event, the

impact needs to be absorbed and

consolidated in each of our parishes

and schools because that is where it

matters to every individual person.

As preparation for the Congress

continues to develop, delegates and

their parish supporters should try

and meet up at deanery level. This

will help to eliminate the sense of

isolation that may be perceived or

experienced at individual parish or

school level.

This also helps to connect

personnel in neighbouring parishes

to share best practice and plan for

the future together. Once delegates

return from Liverpool they will have

some very valuable insights to share

and we need to find a way to hear

and record the collective wisdom of

the group.

Such reflections may well become

vital ingredients and pastoral

building blocks towards a future

pastoral plan for the archdiocese of


n Fr John Mulligan is parish priest

of St Teresa’s, Morden, dean of

Merton deanery and diocesan

co-ordinator for the Congress.

He can be contacted at

Was the wolf really bad?

By Lucy Russell

I’m a catechist at St Thomas of

Canterbury parish in Deal, and

recently taught a children’s liturgy

session about practising what we

preach. One of children told me

that it was important people did

what was right, because otherwise

they would end up in hell.

I tried to put over the idea that

we should focus on ourselves and

our own behaviour and try to be a

good role model. One of the boys


“It’s not always just about right

and wrong,” he said. “Like in The

Three Little Pigs. Everyone says

that the wolf is bad, but the wolf is

a wolf, and he needed to eat! He

isn’t a bad wolf, he’s just a wolf.

The pigs were bad; it was cruel to

boil the wolf!”

To be completely fair, the pigs

were scared and acting in selfdefence.

I brought the children

back to the point of the Gospel: we

should practise what we preach. On

that basis, the pigs might in fact

have some explaining to do, but we

can leave these judgements to

Jesus, and focus on our own


As a history teacher I used to

teach a lesson about Interpretation

and bias using The Three Little Pigs

and Jon Scieszka’s The True Story

of the 3 Little Pigs, in which the

wolf gives his side of the story from

his prison cell.

He only popped around to the

homes of the three little pigs to

borrow a cup of sugar for his

Granny’s birthday cake. He

happened to have a cold. He wasn’t

trying to blow their houses down –

he sneezed!

In this story the wolf introduces a

moral dimension when he argues

that it would have been wrong not

to eat the pigs who died when their

houses fell on them, because that

would have been a waste of good


But to be honest, I had never

considered the story from a moral

perspective before that children’s

liturgy session. I had learned

something too. I had never

questioned the narrative of the

“big, bad, wolf” before.

Have you ever thought about the

Christmas story from a different

point of view? You could be reading

this during Advent, or Christmas, or

it might even be the New Year. But

it doesn’t matter whatever point in

the calendar we have got to, there

is a strong sense of renewal that

runs through Advent, Christmas and


St Teresa of Calcutta said that

“Advent is like springtime, when

everything is renewed and so is

fresh and healthy.” In the “bleak

midwinter” Mother Teresa’s words

conjure a wonderful image of

Spring and new hope.

It really is the most wonderful

time of the year! In the cold and

dark, God introduces the Light of

the World and illuminates our

hearts. Every Christmas, God brings

us face to face with his plan for our


The event we are remembering is

so wonderful that it is perhaps no

surprise that our expectations of

the holidays can be unrealistic. I

wonder about that first Christmas:

Joseph and Mary travel to Joseph’s

home town, so why do they end up

in a stable? Where are Joseph’s

friends and family?

It’s a question to reflect upon

when tensions in our own families

become palpable at this time of

year. Family life is not without its

challenges. There may be old hurts

which are remembered, new ones

inflicted. Our Christmas spirit can

be tested.

When I need the encouragement

to dig deep, I just look at one of

the beautiful nativity images on

the Christmas cards. They convey a

romantic idea of the perfect first

Christmas, but what must it really

have been like for Mary and


Advent, Christmas and the New

year: these are times when we

reflect on the past and make new

resolutions for the year ahead.

What will your resolutions be? Mine

is to try and act with renewed

generosity, especially towards


Page 8

The Pilgrim December 2017/January 2018


The case against

nuclear weapons

Fr Ashley Beck

The picture below is of the Holy

Father and participants at an

international symposium in the

Vatican entitled “Prospects for a

World Free of Nuclear Weapons

and for Integral Disarmament.” In

his brief address Pope Francis said


“.... The escalation of the arms

race continues unabated and the

price of modernising and

developing weaponry, not only

nuclear weapons, represents a

considerable expense for nations.

As a result, the real priorities

facing our human family, such as

the fight against poverty, the

promotion of peace, the

undertaking of educational,

ecological and healthcare

projects, and the development of

human rights, are relegated to

second place.

Nor can we fail to be genuinely

concerned by the catastrophic

humanitarian and environmental

effects of any employment of

nuclear devices. If we also take

into account the risk of an

accidental detonation as a result of

error of any kind, the threat of

their use, as well as their very

possession, is to be firmly

condemned. For they exist in the

service of a mentality of fear that

affects not only the parties in

conflict but the entire human race.

International relations cannot

be held captive to military force,

mutual intimidation, and the

parading of stockpiles of arms.

Weapons of mass destruction,

particularly nuclear weapons,

create nothing but a false sense of

security. They cannot constitute

the basis for peaceful coexistence

between members of the human

family, which must rather be

inspired by an ethics of solidarity.

Essential in this regard is the

witness given by the Hibakusha,

the survivors of the bombing of

Hiroshima and Nagasaki, together

with other victims of nuclear arms

testing. May their prophetic voice

serve as a warning, above all for

coming generations!”

We’re now well into the season

of Advent. One of the themes of

Advent, often lost like many other

things amid frantic preparations

for Christmas, is peace.

This is because the vision of the

coming kingdom of God foretold

particularly in the beautiful

poetry of the book of Isaiah,

portrayed as a place where there

will be right relationships

between people, and indeed

between humanity and the whole

created order.

This passage, also said or sung

as a canticle at Morning Prayer, is

particularly strong: “The Lord will

wield authority over the nations

and adjudicate between many

peoples; these will hammer their

swords into ploughshares, their

spears into sickles. Nation will not

lift sword against nation, there

will be no more training for war.”

Pope Francis’ words need to be

seen as part of this Advent

message of peace which is part of

our prayer in these weeks of

December. He is unequivocally

condemning the possession of

nuclear weapons, with the intent

to use them, and thus the theory

of nuclear deterrence which forms

the basis of the defence policies

of this country.

In this he is following not only

what he has said on earlier

occasions, but also the teaching

of Pope Benedict XVI in his first

message for World Peace day back

in 2006 (as I have pointed out in

earlier articles) when he said:

“What can be said, too, about

those governments which count on

nuclear arms as a means of

ensuring the security of their

countries? Along with countless

persons of good will, one can

state that this point of view is not

only baneful but also completely

fallacious. In a nuclear war there

would be no victors, only victims.

The truth of peace requires that

all — whether those governments

which openly or secretly possess

nuclear arms, or those planning to

acquire them — agree to change

their course by clear and firm

decisions, and strive for a

progressive and concerted nuclear

disarmament. The resources

which would be saved could then

be employed in projects of

development capable of

benefiting all their people,

especially the poor.”

In other words, the theory and

practice of the nuclear deterrent

is simply a pack of lies. Pope

Benedict and Pope Francis have

significantly strengthened

Catholic teaching about this and

removed any possible ambiguity.

The reasons are clear enough: it

would never be morally acceptable

to use nuclear weapons because

we condemn unconditionally the

killing of innocent people;

therefore, it is not morally

acceptable either to threaten to

do something which would always

be wrong and wicked.

This is why nuclear weapons are

a “life” issue, like abortion - and

they are utterly wrong for the

same reason, that is the sanctity

of life. It is disturbing that many

Catholics are simply unaware of

what the Church teaches, and

even more disturbing that a lot of

Catholics in political life - in all

parties - choose to ignore it if

they do know what it is.

This Advent we need to take the

Holy Father’s words to heart, and

those of his predecessor, and pray

for a world without these terrible


n Father Ashley Beck is assistant

priest of Beckenham, senior

lecturer in pastoral ministry at

St Mary’s University and dean of

studies of the diocesan

formation programme for the


Animals at the manger

By Sister Janet Fearns

Sadly, I missed the beginning of the

radio programme. As a result, I do

not know the name of the poet who

wrote about the animals who have

and have not been included in

Nativity scenes since St Francis of

Assisi set up the first Crib at Greccio

in Italy. Each had their complaints,

some would say justifiably so.

The cat pointed out that there is

no stable without a feline resident

or, at least, a temporary visitor. It

could well understand the rats and

mice not receiving prominence, but

the cat thought itself friendly,

helpful, non-threatening and a host

of other good things besides.

The cat complained that its

presence at the birth of Jesus has

been completely ignored by history

and by artists. Why can it not take

its place alongside the camel,

sheep, the ox and the ass?

Of course, if it had been truly

honest, the cat could also have

drawn attention to the number of

stable-dwellers which probably slept

through the whole proceedings: the

ladybirds, a dormouse or two and

perhaps a hedgehog?

The sheepdog’s grumble was of a

different calibre. It saw the angel

and was glad to take the

responsibility of watching over the

sheep whilst the shepherds headed

off down the hillside, but it would

rather have liked to go with them.

It was all very well listening to

the shepherds’ stories when they

returned from the stable, but the

sheepdog would have preferred to

leave the sheep to their own devices

for a while so that it could have

seen Jesus for itself. It was not

enough to simply see the manger

through the words of others.

It was the fox which showed a

beautifully unselfish concern for

Mary, Joseph and the Infant Jesus.

Realising that Herod would soon be

hunting for the Baby, wanting to do

away with his rival, the fox said that

it knew only too well what it was like

to be hunted and to run the risk of a

violent, lonely and deserted end.

It had found a safe refuge under a

bridge where hunters did not come.

Cubs could grow up in safety, their

playing undisturbed by danger. If

Jesus could come to the bridge, the

fox would be happy to share its

refuge with him, would be happy to

help protect and defend him.

There is a beautiful parallel, isn’t

there? Sometimes it is the little

people who are prepared to put

their lives on the line for others.

The self-satisfied cat could only

think of its own position and

potential for glory. “I was there. I

deserve to be recognised.”

The real heroes are unassuming

and often embarrassed by the

unexpected limelight. “I did

nothing. Anybody else would have

done the same”. In their heart of

hearts, they know it was unlikely.

What about the fox? In spite of

the potential risk to its own life, it

invited the Holy Family to share its

own refuge. Of course, this could

have drawn attention to the hidingplace

and drawn down the attention

of the hunters with potential

murderous results.

Then there was the sheepdog. Her

complaints were of a different

nature from those of the selfseeking

cat. There was a sort-of

sadness and a wistful “I wish I had

been there.” It reflected that the

Baby Jesus might have enjoyed

seeing a sheepdog and perhaps one

of her puppies.

The faithful dog saw the Nativity

from two sides: her own and that of

a young child. Yes, she was

disappointed because her

responsibility to the sheep

prevented her presence at the

manger, but she did not begrudge

fulfilling her role or express

bitterness towards the shepherds.

She simply complained of a

niggling sense of disappointment...

and perhaps it was the sheepdog

who spoke on our behalf. We would

all like to have been present in the

stable at Bethlehem. It would have

been wonderful not to depend on

our imagination and, instead, to

have been in the company of the

Holy Family at the moment when

heaven and earth truly became one

– but it was not possible.

We are separated by 2000 years

from the event. Inevitably, whilst

fulfilling our daily roles and

responsibilities, there is a part of us

which would like to have enjoyed

the first Christmas, perhaps to have

held the Infant Jesus in our arms for

a few moments.

Yes, we can understand the

sheepdog and can identify with her

sentiments. Just as the sheepdog

reflected that Jesus might have

liked to see one of her puppies, so

also we would have loved to present

our families to the Holy Family and

basked in the joy of seeing their

enjoyment of each other.

Sadly, we were not present in the

stable at Bethlehem in the same

way as Jesus, Mary, Joseph, the

shepherds, but there is a Crib in our

church or chapel. We can still

present ourselves and our loved

ones before the Infant Jesus. Happy


Page 9


The Pilgrim December 2017/January 2018

A journey through the Christmas calendar

By Leigh Hatts

On Advent Sunday we light the first

candle on the Advent wreath. The

custom is not old, but it serves as a

handy reminder that Christmas does

not start on 1st December. The

Sunday by Sunday candles can help

us to keep the steps through Advent.

Father Christmas is always on the

scene early, but that is maybe

appropriate for Wednesday 6th

December is St Nicholas Day. Our

Father Christmas figure is derived

from St Nicholas, who was a thirdcentury

Bishop of Myra in what is

now Turkey.

His goodness is told by the story

of him dropping coins down a

chimney into stockings hanging up

to dry. The money saved the

household’s poor children from a

life of prostitution and slavery.

Hence the stockings children hang

up on Christmas Eve.

Should we believe in Father

Christmas? Why not? Nicholas is a

saint and patron of bankers, single

women, pawnbrokers, children,

sailors and scholars who we can pray

for on his day.

Two days later on Friday 8th

December it is the feast of the

Immaculate Conception when we

recall the conception of the Virgin

Mary by her mother Anne. We shall

keep Our Lady’s Birthday in nine

months’ time on 8th September.

Mary was born sinless to be ready to

carry the Christ Child.

Mary received the news of her

unique role at a house in Nazareth.

That tiny building is now in Loreto in

Italy where over the weekend of the

second Sunday of Advent there is

the annual celebration marking the

remarkable move.

The Translation of The Holy House

of Loreto, usually kept on 10th

December, gives us the opportunity

The celebration of

the Feast of the

Epiphany in Madrid.

to dwell on the Annunciation kept in

March but often forgotten by the

anticipation of Easter.

Wednesday 13th December is the

feast of St Lucy who, like Nicholas,

died for the faith under the Roman

Emperor Diocletian. St Lucy’s Day is

widely observed in Italy. In Sweden

a Lucia figure appears in home and

church wearing a crown of lighted

candles. This is derived from the

claim that she led persecuted

Christians to safety through

catacombs by lighting the way with

candles on her head whilst her

hands held food for the fugitives.

Lucy’s eyes were torn out so she is

often depicted with her eyes on a

plate and she is the patron of blind

and visually impaired people and


On the third Sunday of Advent the

wreath’s new candle represents

John the Baptist who was the

forerunner of Christ. His candle and

the vestments today are often pink

to mark the rough midpoint in

Advent. This 16th/17th December

weekend is also a turning point in

Advent when we now enter real

time. Mary and Joseph are leaving

Nazareth for their 90-mile journey

to Bethlehem.

In this last week the mood in

church changes as the focus turns

towards the celebration of Christ’s

first coming in Bethlehem. Day by

day the gospel at Mass and the

Magnificat at Vespers are

bookmarked by a different O

Antiphon calling Christ by an ancient

title found in the Old Testament.

Old St Thomas’ Day is 21st

December when children went A-

Thomassing, asking for presents to

help in preparing for the Christmas

feast, and singing the rhyme St

Thomas divine, /Brewing, baking

and killing of fat swine.

This was the day for both

preparing for Christmas and giving

to the poor. Thomas is famous as

Doubting Thomas and his encounter

with the risen Christ takes us

beyond Christmas.

This year the fourth Sunday of

Advent is, unusually, Christmas Eve

so it will feel natural for the candle

on the wreath to be representing

Mary. This is the continuation of the

ancient custom of Mary being

remembered on 18th December,

known as The

Expectation of Mary,

early on her ride to


When does Christmas

really start? Maybe in

the gathering darkness

of Christmas Eve as we

hear the carols from

King’s College

Cambridge on the

radio. For others it is at

Midnight Mass. But

Christmas Day is the

first day of Christmas.

For too many, Christmas ends on

Boxing Day morning but it is the

second day of Christmas which is, as

Good King Wenceslaus reminds us,

the feast of Stephen. He was the

first Christian martyr and so today is

an immediate reminder of the

possible cost of following the faith

proclaimed yesterday.

After St John’s Day, comes Holy

Innocents on the fourth day which is

the first hint of Herod’s threat to

kill Baby Jesus.

Meanwhile there is St Thomas

Becket Day on the fifth day, 29th

December. This has much resonance

for the archdiocese which embraces

Canterbury. St George’s Cathedral

possess a relic and has the shrine of

Oscar Romero, who is a 20th century


This Christmas, we shall be

keeping the Epiphany a day late on

Sunday 7th January. This so-called

Twelfth Day/Night (even if it’s really

this time the fourteenth!) has long

been part of the Old

England calendar.

The King would wear

his crown at court today

for it is the day we

celebrate the Three

Kings, by tradition from

different lands, arriving

at the stable to

acknowledge Christ.

But Christmas is still

not really over. On 2nd

February it is Candlemas

when we mark the Holy

Family leaving Bethlehem

to avoid Herod and look ahead to

Jesus’ ministry.

n Leigh Hatts is author of Keeping

Advent & Christmas (DLT £9.99).



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Page 10

The Pilgrim December 2017/January 2018


Pupils at Margaret Roper

Catholic Primary School in

Purley put on a talent

show to fundraise.

Diary - Dec/Jan

If you have an event,

please e-mail

details to us at

14: St George’s Cathedral carol

service, sung by the combined

choirs of St George’s Cathedral

with guest choir the Imperial War

Museum Singers, 7.30pm.

16: Christmas organ concert with

Norman Harper, 11am, St

George’s Cathedral. Admission


24: Vigil Mass of Christmas,

St George’s Cathedral, 6pm.

24: Service of carols and

readings, St George’s Cathedral,


25: Midnight Mass of the Nativity

of Our Lord, St George’s

Cathedral, 12am.


30: A vision of Heaven: the

mystic lamb of Van Eyck, by

Pierpaolo Finaldi, part of the

faith and art series of talks,

7.30pm, Centre for Catholic

Formation, 21 Tooting Bec Road,


Christmas gifts with a conscience

By Jessica Coffin

It is estimated that £2.6 billion is

spent each year on unwanted

Christmas presents - books that

have never leave the bookshelf, toys

that never leave their plastic boxes,

vouchers that are never spent.

For the last 12 years Cafod has

been providing Christmas shoppers

with an alternative, with gifts which

are more in line with a desire to

care for creation and stand in

solidarity with the poor.

World Gifts are responsible

presents with a conscience. From

chirpy chickens, to a vegetable

garden, to a solar lamp, there’s a

huge diversity in the gifts on offer.

What is guaranteed is that each

present will help transform the lives

of poor communities and families in

developing countries. This year two

new gifts have been launched; Help

a refugee child, which will give

much-needed emotional and

educational support to children who

have fled war, and a birth

certificate, which enables families

to acquire this much needed


Once you’ve chosen your gift, the

lucky recipient will receive a card –

via email or the post - which

explains the gift that has been

bought in their name. With World

Gifts the present drawer won’t get

any bigger and there’s no need for

awkward regifting. Instead,

someone in the developing world

will receive the opportunity to live a

happier and healthier life.

As well as gifts for friends and

family, World Gifts also make a

great focal point for parishes and

schools wanting to fundraise.

Margaret Roper Catholic Primary

School in Purley fundraises for World

Gifts by holding a talent show,

“Ropers Got Talent”, for students

from Year 3-6.

From magicians to gymnasts to

stand-up comedians, there is a huge

variety of acts, all of whom are

judged by a panel committee. The

money raised from the show is

combined with that raised for Cafod

from other fundraising activities

across the year and used to buy

World Gifts.

Excitingly for the children, they

are able to build up a ‘virtual

village’ with all the gifts they have

bought, from vegetable gardens to


“We use the money raised for

Cafod to buy World Gifts as it makes

it far more meaningful for the

children,” said headteacher Dermot

Mooney. “They can see that their

funds are sending a child to school

or helping a family to have clean

water and it’s very tangible. They

like the idea of helping someone

going to school because they’re

aware that they’re very privileged.”

Lyn Goddard, from St John

Vianney in Bexleyheath, has also

encouraged her parish to buy World

Gifts. Last year she set up a World

Gifts display in the parish, wrote

something for the newsletter and

made sure there were catalogues

for parishioners to take home.

Of World Gifts, Lyn said, “We’ve

all got so much of everything and

World Gifts is a way of bringing

Cafod back into the parish after

Harvest. The gifts are a way of still

showing someone you’re thinking of

them at Christmas – because that’s

all presents are really – but it’s

much better than buying someone

another pair of socks to go with the

pair you got them last year.

“Last Christmas I sent loads of my

friends the bee gift, which is only

£5, and I sent my mother in law the

gardening gift, as my father in law

was a huge gardener.”

n To find out more visit

Page 11

The Pilgrim December 2017/January 2018

Focus on faith

Those who choose to go to prison

Andy Keen Downs, chief executive of PACT (the Prison Advice and Care Trust),

speaks up for those who have the challenging job of working in prisons.

In the movies, and on TV, people who

work in prisons are generally one of

three types. There’s the Tyrant, the

unfeeling authoritarian. There’s the

Sadist, the corrupt, power-crazy

villain who is worse than any of the


And there’s the dim-witted galore,

not fit for anything else. One way or

another, prison officers are typically

portrayed as the bad guys. Can you

imagine us treating firefighters,

nurses, or the police, in the same


I have to admit, in spite of years of

experience of the tough realities of

prison life, there is ample material

for comedy. Those of you who are old

enough, like me, to have enjoyed the

laugh out loud BBC TV Series

Porridge, or who have caught up with

it on the Dave channel, fondly

remember Ronnie Barker as Fletch,

the canny old con, who knows his

way around.

His arch enemy, Mr McKaye, the

peak-capped humourless

authoritarian. Here’s Fletch getting

one over on McKaye:

FLETCHER: I had a friend once –

haven’t told you this before, have I?

He was a light-heavy. Good strong

boy. Won a few fights. Suddenly

thought he was the bee’s knees. Fast

cars, easy women. Classic story of

too much, too soon. He just blew up.

He got into debt and ended up in one

of those travelling booths. Four

fights a night, seven nights a week.

Well the body can’t take that

punishment. His brain went soft, his

reflexes went. You know – punchy.

Just became like a vegetable – an

incoherent non-thinking zombie.

MACKAY: What became of him?

FLETCHER: He joined the prison

service as a Warder. Doing very well.

Occasionally, one also comes across

The Christian’. The soft-headed

Fletcher and MacKay from the hit TV series, ‘Porridge’.

officer who believes in silly notions

like rehabilitation and reform. The

comedy favourite is of course also

found in Porridge. Mr Henry

Barrowclough, a gentle soul entirely

out of place in a prison.

Henry’s a Christian, of course, and

therefore naive, overly-lenient, and

constantly being tricked by the

clever prisoners. Because that’s what

we’re like. Us Christians, in the


Just for once, may I offer an

alternative view? A view based on

hundreds of officers, governors,

charity workers, chaplains and

others, whose faith has put them in

prison, and kept them there, working

for God’s Kingdom, on the front line.

What I have seen, time and time

again, are people who are smart,

savvy, wise and tough-minded. Whose

skills and expertise are matched with

a resilience to keep pressing on,

which has its foundations in faith.

I meet Christians, of all

denominations, and saintly people of

other great faiths, all working for our

Common Good, believing in the

innate dignity of every person, and in

their potential to change.

I also meet wonderful people of no

faith, working in the prisons, day

after day, for little financial reward

and with little thanks from society,

who are doing God’s work. Porridge

was hilarious, but it wasn’t a


So this Christmas, to all the prison

officers, governors, chaplains and

others, I want to say thank you for

what you do, for prisoners, their

families, and for all of us. We press

on – together, in Hope.

The work of



teams in prisons

is a vital one.

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