There were moving, dramatic and joyful scenes at St Peter’s on Wednesday 13th March when the new Pope was announced. In taking the name Francis he signifies that he will model himself on the humility and simplicity of St Francis of Assisi, and his first action was to ask the people of Rome and the world to pray for him. He said, “Let us begin a journey together, a journey of fraternity, love and trust.” Pope Francis is the first ever Pope from Latin America, highlighting that we are part of a worldwide Church. Let us pray for him.
The Gift of a Shepherd – Prayer on the Election of a Pope
Let us pray for Francis, our Pope.
May the Lord protect him
and grant him length of days. Amen.
May the Lord be his shield
and deliver him from all harm. Amen.
May the Lord give him happiness and peace
all the days of his life. Amen.
Read more about Pope Francis, and read all his homilies and speeches, at vatican.va and zenit.org.
Seminarians and those enquiring about vocation to Priesthood and the Religious Life joined with Priests of the Diocese on the Feast of St Thomas of Canterbury (December 29th) to celebrate a special Mass for Vocations at Most Holy Trinity Church, Basildon, along with around seventy parishioners.
Celebrants (pictured) included Fr Matthew Bemand-Qureshi and Fr Nick de Keyser, the two most recently ordained Priests in the Diocese. Fr Paul Keane preached, taking the life of St Thomas of Canterbury as his central theme, and highlighting faith, prayer and love as the essential qualities of Diocesan Priesthood.
Fr Dominic Howarth, Vocations Director, is Parish Priest in Basildon, and there is a thriving Vocations Discernment group meeting every six to eight weeks in Brentwood. For more details, contact Fr Dominic on 01268 281732. There are currently six seminarians in formation for the Priesthood for Brentwood Diocese, and three applicants for seminary for September 2013.
Fr Dominic recently appeared on Sky News to talk about the recent increase in vocations. Watch what he had to say »
Rev Matthew Bemand and Rev Nick de Keyser were Ordained Deacons by Archbishop Peter Smith, Archbishop of Southwark, at St Johns Seminary, Wonersh, on Saturday 30th June. They are both former Anglican clergy, and are pictured with their wives and families. They will be Ordained Priests on October 6th at Brentwood Cathedral; Nick will then serve in Springfield, Matthew in Wanstead.
Also pictured are David Pearce and Eammon Hyde, Brentwood seminarians at Wonersh, and Fr Dominic Howarth (Vocations Director), Fr Paul Keane, Fr John McGrath and Fr David Prior, who all came to support Matthew and Nick on this wonderful and important day. The other photographs show moments from the Ordination Ceremony; Nick and Matthew were Ordained with three other Deacons, for Southwark and Plymouth Dioceses.
Fr Dominic recently appeared on Sky News to talk about the recent increase in vocations. Watch what he had to say »
- 23rd September 2012: Profession of Vows for the Community of Our Lady of Walsingham, Sr Teresa, 11.30am, Brentwood Cathedral
- 6th October 2012: Priestly Ordination, Brentwood Cathedral - Matthew Bemand and Nick de Keyser
For some time now there has been a discernment group for those considering Priesthood. Fr Dominic is now working together with Sr Anne Spilberg, OSU, an Ursuline Sister with many years’ experience of guiding vocations, and the group is now being further developed. From June the group will be open to men and women aged 17 – 30 who are considering the Priesthood and Religious Life. Whether you are just at the beginnings of discernment or whether you have been discerning for some time, this group should be a wonderful place to help the discernment journey, and everyone is warmly welcome. Being part of the group does not mean any commitment to definitely being a Priest, Religious Sister or Brother: it is for discernment, and people can come and go at any time.
Each time we meet the evening will include a simple meal together, input from someone sharing their vocational journey, a chance for questions, and a time of quiet prayer in front of the Blessed Sacrament. Usually we will gather at about 7.15, eat at about 7.30 and finish at about 9.15. Over the years of the Priesthood discernment group these meetings have been a great opportunity to share thoughts and ideas in a relaxed setting: if you are considering a vocation to Priesthood or Religious Life it can be a great strength to simply be with others who are on the same journey and we look forward to welcoming you.
The evenings will take place in Brentwood, approximately every 4 – 6 weeks, beginning on 8th June 2012.
For catering, it helps to know who is coming (!) – please email firstname.lastname@example.org to let him know you are attending; he will then confirm exact venue details and timings with you, as these may vary from month to month.
"The 17th September 2011 was the greatest day of my life. I said to people on that day, 'I have only ever had one dream in life and today it has come true.' Nearly 500 people came to witness my Ordination to the Priesthood in a church that could only hold 300, therefore we had to use the Baptist church across the road to set up a video link for those who couldn't get into the Catholic church. I am incredibly grateful to those who came and those who worked so hard to make the day such a success.
The last few months have also been wonderful. I haven't stopped smiling since. I have never been so busy or tired in my entire life but I have never been so happy either. I am now Assistant Priest at St Mary, Mother of God, Hornchurch. It is a fantastic parish with the most beautiful people I could possibly ever want to meet. I am thoroughly enjoying priesthood and couldn't recommend it more highly."
—Fr Daniel Kelly
Fr Dominic recently visited Eamonn and Gary in Valladolid as they near the end of their pre-seminary year. Here are some photos of the college...
Left: Daniel with other Brentwood seminarians and Priests at Wonersh after the Ordination.
Below: Other photos from the day.
Gary and Eamonn celebrate Martyrs' Day at the English College, Valladolid.
Pope Benedict XVI
Only Jesus knows what 'definite service' he has in mind for you. Be open to his voice resounding in the depths of your heart: even now his heart is speaking to your heart. Christ has need of families to remind the world of the dignity of human love and the beauty of family life. He needs men and women who devote their lives to the noble task of education, tending the young and forming them in the ways of the Gospel. He needs those who will consecrate their lives to the pursuit of perfect charity, following him in chastity, poverty and obedience, and serving him in the least of our brothers and sisters. He needs the powerful love of contemplative religious, who sustain the Church's witness and activity through their constant prayer. And he needs priests, good and holy priests, men who are willing to lay down their lives for their sheep. Ask our Lord what he has in mind for you! Ask him for the generosity to say "yes!" Do not be afraid to give yourself totally to Jesus. He will give you the grace you need to fulfil your vocation.
Visit to Britain, September 19th, 2010
Bishop Thomas meets with the seven men now in formation for Priesthood in the Brentwood Diocese, September 10th, 2010. Anyone
interested in considering Priesthood with Brentwood Diocese is invited to
contact Fr Dominic at any time.
Those discerning the Priesthood join other clergy for refreshments after the Chrism Mass
After the Chrism Mass, those discerning Priesthood enjoy the
reception for Clergy, together with Bishop Thomas, Mgr John Armitage
(former Vocations Director) and Fr Dominic Howarth (former Vocations Promoter).
Vatican City, Jan 23, 2010 / 10:24 am (CNA).- In his message for the 44th World Day for Social Communications, Pope Benedict calls for priests to "make astute use" of available technology in becoming a presence as community leaders on the web. However, he urges them to remain "less notable for their media savvy than for their priestly heart."
The 2010 World Day for Social Communications will take place on May 16 under the theme "The Priest and Pastoral Ministry in a Digital World: New Media at the Service of the Word." The Holy Father’s message was released today.
The aim of this year's message is to draw attention to the possibilities for priestly ministry offered within the "important and sensitive pastoral area of digital communications."
For every priest, states the Holy Father in the message, fulfilling the fundamental priority of building up God's communion "necessarily involves using new communications technologies."
"Priests stand at the threshold of a new era: as new technologies create deeper forms of relationship across greater distances, they are called to respond pastorally by putting the media ever more effectively at the service of the Word."
Pope Benedict emphasizes that "broad new vistas for dialogue, evangelization and catechesis" can be opened up in cyberspace with the presence of priests, living out their traditional role as community leaders in the world of digital communication.
With proper formation on how to use these technologies appropriately and competently, "shaped by sound theological insights and reflecting a strong priestly spirituality grounded in constant dialogue with the Lord" priests have the opportunity to "introduce people to the life of the Church and help our contemporaries to discover the face of Christ."
"Yet," cautions the Holy Father, "priests present in the world of digital communications should be less notable for their media savvy than for their priestly heart, their closeness to Christ."
With their wisdom and preparation, he continues, priests' presence online "will not only enliven their pastoral outreach, but also will give a 'soul' to the fabric of communications that makes up the 'Web’."
"A pastoral presence in the world of digital communications, precisely because it brings us into contact with the followers of other religions, non-believers and people of every culture, requires sensitivity to those who do not believe, the disheartened and those who have a deep, unarticulated desire for enduring truth and the absolute."
The Pope reiterates the essential quality of the priest's spiritual life and solid grounding in faith to his ministry through new technologies at the end of the message, saying that he "must always bear in mind that the ultimate fruitfulness of their ministry comes from Christ himself, encountered and listened to in prayer; proclaimed in preaching and lived witness; and known, loved and celebrated in the sacraments, especially the Holy Eucharist and Reconciliation."
The message ends with a renewed invitation to the clergy, "to make astute use of the unique possibilities offered by modern communications. May the Lord make all of you enthusiastic heralds of the Gospel in the new "agorà" (gathering place) which the current media are opening up."
Ordination of a new Deacon for Brentwood Diocese
Neil Brett was Ordained Deacon at the Venerable English College, Rome, on Friday 18th December. He has almost completed his seminary formation there, and looks forward to being Ordained a Priest for the Diocese of Brentwood in Summer 2010.
Before training for Priesthood Neil was a teacher, including some years at St Thomas More School, Westcliff. More details of Neil’s Ordination will be posted here shortly.
Priests of Brentwood Diocese with the newly Ordained Deacon Neil Brett:
Fr James Mackay, Fr Andrew Headon (Vice Rector, English College), Deacon Neil, Fr Kevin Hale, Fr Mark Swires, Fr Mark Reilly
Deacon Neil with the Bishop of Leeds, Arthur Roche, who ordained him, and the Rector of the English College, Mgr Nicholas Hudson
Canning Town celebrates ordination of James Mackay
In the 150th anniversary year of the founding of the parish of St Margaret's, Canning
Town, a proud congregation saw Bishop Thomas ordain James Mackay in August 2009.
When James Mackay was ordained by Bishop Thomas on 18 July in St Margaret’s Convent
Chapel in Canning Town, it was the culmination of a journey which began when he
was eight years old. He recalls: “We became Catholics then and when I first went
to the chapel I wanted to become a server. Then I found myself drawn to what the
priest was doing; I decided that I wanted to become a priest.”
Throughout his school life, first at St Helen’s Primary and then at St Bonaventure’s
in Forest Gate, that conviction remained. “When I was 17, I went to parish priest
(and diocesan director of vocations) Fr John Armitage to talk it through.” Five
years later, after he finished at university, James went to the Venerable English
College and Pontifical Gregorian University in Rome to study for the priesthood.
“There hasn’t been a moment when I didn’t sense the call to be ordained,” he says.
His ordination took place in the convent chapel he attended as an altar server,
where he was confirmed, and from which his brother, Billy, who died in 2005, was
buried. The building had fallen out of use and had been closed three years ago.
It had no electricity and no sound system. Thanks to the work of Fr John Armitage,
Anchor House and members of the Canning Town parish, though, it was resurrected
for the ordination. “It was transformed, decked with flowers and was just perfect,”
says Fr James.
Fellow students from the English College attended the ordination Mass. Nine members
of the cantor group - the Schola - led by Michael Patey, sang, while Phillip Pennington-Harris,
a newly ordained deacon, played the keyboard. Friends Aimée Pickering, Emily Rouiz
and Edward Henley (another seminarian) undertook the readings and the psalm, while
the Gospel was proclaimed by Mark Reilly, who is due to be ordained in September.
“The Mass intention was for my brother Billy,” says Fr James. “His birthday was
the 18th July.”
The ordination was an overwhelming experience for him. “The chapel, which seats
about 450, was packed but I knew everyone. It was very emotional – I was moved to
tears as I was being vested. I had been pointing towards this from the age of eight
– it was the culmination and fulfilment of the project God has for me.”
A reception followed the Mass at St Helen’s Primary, courtesy of headteacher Gael
Hicks. St Bonaventure’s was also involved in the day, printing the ordination booklet
and providing ushers.
Fr James now has another year to complete in Rome, where he is studying Canon Law.
After that, he will return to the diocese to take up his priestly duties.
Bishop ordains Fr Mark Reilly
The ordination of Fr Mark Reilly took place in Brentwood Cathedral in October 2009.
The month of September saw the ordination of another diocesan priest. On the Feast
of the Most Holy Name of Mary, Mark Reilly was ordained by Bishop Thomas at the
Cathedral Church of St Mary & St Helen, Brentwood. His fellow seminarian, James
Mackay, was ordained in July in Canning Town.
Mark, who is 39, was born in Hornchurch and grew up in Upminster, attending Campion
School. At the age of 16 he and his family moved to Brentwood where he joined the
Cathedral parish and was confirmed in the same year. After a degree in Classics
at Cambridge, he went on to work in oil and gas insurance in the City for about
seven years. During that time he did volunteer work with charities like HCPT, CAFOD
and ATD Fourth World and latterly travelled to Slovakia to work with a catholic
community called The Institute of Christ the High Priest which looks after the homeless
On being accepted by Bishop Thomas to train for the priesthood, Mark was sent to
the Venerable English College in Rome. During the years of training that followed,
he went on summer placements at various parishes, including Hornchurch, Billericay,
Loughton and Leigh on Sea. He was ordained a deacon in Rome on 13 July last year
with another Brentwood candidate, James Mackay, in the Church of Our Lady of the
Snows, Palazzola by Bishop Michael Campbell, Co-adjutor Bishop of Lancaster.
A year later, after further study, deacon Mark became a priest in a packed Brentwood
Cathedral. Family, friends and many clergy attended the happy occasion. Andrew Wright,
the Master of Music at the Cathedral, Stephen King, the Cathedral Organist, the
Cathedral Choir, and the Campion School Chamber Choir provided the music.
Fr Mark expressed his gratitude to all those who had made his ordination possible.
He added: “It has been a great privilege for me to be ordained at the Cathedral
not only because it is the mother Church of the diocese but also because I was confirmed
here 23 years ago and it was my family’s parish for some 20 years.” He concluded:
“Finally and most importantly I would like to thank God for this wonderful gift
of a vocation to the priesthood and I pray that I may always be a faithful instrument
of His love and mercy.”
Fr Mark preached his first Mass in Leigh-on-Sea on 13 September 2009. Afterwards
many people asked for his blessing. Father Mark feels very fortunate to have been
ordained in this, the Year for Priests, and is awestruck when he considers the gift
that has been bestowed on him. "I know that, with this gift of the Priesthood, there
comes great responsibility, so I ask for the prayers of the good people of Brentwood
Diocese that I may be a faithful minister of God’s love and mercy."
Fr Mark has returned to Rome for further study.