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15th Ordinary Sunday Sunday 12th July 2020
Orange Book Page 102
In 1845, “Catholic Emancipation” was causing riots across the U.K, and the potato famine was raging in Ireland. Against that background, the determination of Fr Richard North to construct the Star of the Sea was extraordinary. His wily ability to raise funds and his maverick daring, entrusting those same funds to a 24-year-old self-styled “Architect”, is the stuff of legend. The prologue to that, is the story of how, from childhood, having nearly drowned with their mother in the Thames, he and his brother were pledged to become priests. It is all on the tomb. His “Last Will & Testament” of 1858 remains safely in the house. However, while we know a lot about his life we know nothing about his death. He was ill in the latter part of 1859 and died in Feb 1860 at the age of 58. Something that is very pertinent is that he died in the wake of an epidemic that was far worse than anything we are facing. 1858 was the year of the “Great Stink”. Human excrement had accumulated several feet high on the grassy banks of the Thames. (No stone embankments at that time). Parliament was forced to shut. The long hot summer reduced the flow of the river to an open sewer. Then came the worst ever outbreak of Cholera. Fr North would have been ministering not only to the Catholic Seamen in the Hospital nearby, but he would have been caring for all kinds of industrial workers dwelling along the riverside between Rotherhithe and Woolwich. It is very likely that he contracted the disease himself. Only way to find out would be to open his tomb and run a pathology test. Never mind Wuhan, only God knows what lies beneath our feet!? Following his death, his brother Joseph, was appointed in his place. At the same moment a young assistant arrived aged just 27. His name was Michael O’Halloran. He served as an assistant for 25 years before becoming the “Rector” (an unusual title in an English Catholic Parish). Michael O’Halloran served his entire ministry here for 61 years. He has left his mark all over this building. The “Sacred Heart Chapel”, was erected in the mid 1890’s using an unexecuted plan of 1850 originally intended as a burial chapel for the Knill family*. It serves as O’Halloran’s memorial. He supervised the Golden Jubilee restoration of OLSS in 1901. One of the saddest things is that though photography had become a national obsession, there are no surviving images of the North brothers or even O’Halloran. Or perhaps not! Raking through old papers in the presbytery I have found a very solemn image entitled “Corpus Christi 1920”. It is set within the Ursuline grounds and features a gathering of 82 serious Suffragette Styled Edwardian ladies & gentlemen and just one child. At the centre is an elderly priest. It must surely be O’Halloran (detail above left). After 58 years, at the age of 85, he was finally made “Parish Priest”. (Perhaps that’s how long I will need to wait). He looks like a kindly soul. Next year will mark the 100th anniversary of his death. We ought to commemorate him. If anybody has old wedding pictures relating to parents & grandparents featuring past clergy in Greenwich, I would like to see them. Lying about in the presbytery is this 100-year-old tin box marked with his name. Was it for his packed lunch or to keep his socks?
God Bless Fr Kevin
* (A prestigious family mausoleum at Brockley Cemetery -destroyed in WW2- was constructed instead after Sir Stuart became the 1st RC Lord Mayor of London).
I celebrated a congregational Mass with about 20 people from both churches attending by invitation at St Joseph’s at noon last Thursday. Our purpose was to engage those volunteers who had indicated that they would be willing to act as stewards and cleaners and to establish safe mechanisms for regular public worship. For these reasons, we had not announced this Mass publicly and I was grateful to all those who came. We resolved several things about seating and communion and congregational supervision. I shall be away from Greenwich throughout the coming week to care for my father where I shall continue to offer a daily Mass privately for all your intentions. For these reasons, and now that the scaffolding has been removed from OLSS, we shall begin to resume weekday services in the week beginning Monday 20th with a view to starting Sunday Masses on the weekend 26 & 27th July. In the first instance I shall say a Saturday evening Mass at OLSS at 6.00pm, Sunday 10.00am at St Joseph’s and for the time being NB 12.00noon at OLSS. I shall need FOUR designated Steward/Cleaners at each Mass. We have measured the churches for safe distance seating and anticipate that we can accommodate a maximum of 40 people in either of the churches. If you are willing to act in this capacity please email me at [email protected] so that we can establish a reliable rota. We are required to keep records of all those attending for “track & trace” purposes and you will be required to provide your name address and contact details. Those who have underlying health issues or who may for any reason be subject to infection because of reduced immunity problems should continue to avoid social gatherings in public places. Public toilets are required to remain closed. Sanitisation and cleaning equipment is available including masks for stewards but in general it is better if everybody brings their own mask and a pen! Congregational singing remains prohibited although organ music and ONE Cantor/Singer is permitted. We shall continue to broadcast “Livestreamed” Masses at the weekend.
Many people, especially at OLSS will be sad to hear of the passing of Zofia last Tuesday morning. She has discreetly struggled with Cancer treatment for many years. Ever supported by her devoted husband Joseph she had undertaken all her difficulties with tremendous dignity. Always cheerful and good natured she was very faithful at OLSS for more than 30 years and best known as part of the 9.00am congregation. Her funeral will be in OLSS church on Thursday 23rd at 12.30 followed by Burial at Eltham. Our thoughts remain with Joseph and son John, also daughter Victoria & Grandchildren who remain locked where they live in South Africa at this sad time.
On fields festooned with rippling wheat
Fertilised by the sun’s ardent kiss
On vines engorged in the summer heat
God easily found in this rural bliss
In the pummelling of squelching dough
By a weary, aging hand
In the rhythmic pounding of grapes under toe
We witness a show so grand
That in the midst of our suffering
Through darkness desolation and pain
In our inadequate offerings
God is with us
I am very encouraged by the number of people who value the livestreamed Sunday Masses at 6.00pm on Saturday and 10.00am on Sunday but I always forget to say the prayer to make a “Spiritual Communion” which is as follows;
Oh Jesus, I turn towards the Church where You dwell for love of me hidden and silent in the Tabernacle.
I love you, O my God. I cannot receive you in Holy Communion at this time. Come, nevertheless, and visit me with Your grace. Come spiritually into my heart. Purify it. Sanctify it. Render it like Your own most Sacred Heart. Amen.
While the Church remains closed Saturday & Sunday Masses are livestreamed to Facebook search “ Our Ladye Star of the Sea ” also visible on YouTube later in the week.
15th Ordinary Sunday Mass will be offered Privately Each Day for the following intentions
Saturday 11th OLSS 6.00pm Int: Sr Dolores Caine OSU
Sunday 12th St J’s 10.00am Int: “Mary” (RiP)
(15th Ord Sunday)
Monday 13th OLSS Int: Zopie (RiP)
Tuesday 14th St Js’ Int:
Wed 15th OLSS Int:
Thurs 16th St J’s Int: Margaret L (Rip)
Friday 17th OLSS Int:
Saturday 18th OLSS 6.00pm Int: Peter D (RiP 20th July)
Sunday 19th St J’s 10.00am Int: Well Being of the People
(16th Ord Sunday)
To the Clergy of the Archdiocese of Southwark Friday 10 July 2020
‘Thus says the Lord; the word that goes from my mouth does not return to me empty.’ (Is 55: 11)
Dear brothers in Christ
I hope this week’s lockdown email finds you well. I will hopefully send out an ad clerum next week and conclude these weekly emails to the clergy at the end of July. For a time I was a prison chaplain in Leeds. One of men in the prison gave me poem he’d written himself on a scrap of paper. It read like this:
This is a prayer for the broken; A hymn to the rhythm of seeing;
A cry from a fractured hosanna, To the vastness and mercy of being.
Those words speak to me of a hope rising out of misery, of a desire for God coming from the rock-bottom of pain and regret. When I’m on my own, God is with me. When no one else listens to me, God hears me. When life – past, present, and future – all just seems too much, we cry out in prayer. One particular phrase from that poem fascinates me. It’s the line: ‘A cry from a fractured hosanna.’ The word ‘hosanna’ has a Hebrew root. It means something like, ‘save now, we pray.’ The poem suggests that people’s life experiences – what’s happened to them, what others have done to them, and what they’ve done to others – somehow, these experiences stop people crying out to God with a fully functioning ‘hosanna.’ To put it another way, in the words of Leonard Cohen, some people have a ‘broken hallelujah.’ Words of hope are like seeds scattered by a farmer. Sometimes they fall on the edge of the path. They get eaten by the birds, they are taken away from us. Sometimes seeds of hope fall on rocky ground where there’s no soil. When life gets difficult the words just die away, scorched by the sun. Sometimes thorns grow up and choke the seeds of hope. Our worries and obsessions thwart the words of hope growing within us. When experience steals our hope, when our hosanna is fractured and our hallelujah broken, precisely then we need to open our hearts to the Lord Jesus’ word of life. Into the soil of our heart He wants to plant the seed of His love, the seed of His mercy, and the seed of His hope. He wants His life to grow within us. Fractured or broken, in whatever sense, our hosanna and our hallelujah become prayers. We cry out, ‘hosanna,’ ‘Save now, we pray,’ fill us with you compassionate love. ‘Hallelujah,’ we say, we praise you for your faithfulness and mercy. By faith we proclaim to the world, to ourselves, and to each other, that we have a hope in the Lord Jesus. He is the mender of splintered lives. He is divine mercy in person. He is the human face of God’s compassion. We live by the certitude of hope that flows from the words the Lord Jesus has planted in our hearts:
‘Do not be afraid’ – ‘I am with you always.’
Yours devotedly in Christ
Most Rev John Wilson Abp of Southwark
Post expires at 8:57pm on Saturday August 15th, 2020