Retreating with fellow clergy this week is always a joy, if only to catch up and reflect. The numbers are less and the hair is more grey. Yet, their vast years of ministering to their people continues to inspire. The challenge for the younger priests is great but they are a strong unit. Young and old mixed so well. The retreat was ably led by the Jesuits now residing in Newcastle. Their Ignatian spirituality never loses its relevance. We sadly lost Kath Dawson this week. Kath was florist par excellence over the years and ran a regular course in the parish on flower display. Kath has been living in the south of England with her daughter over recent years. May she rest in peace. Thank you to those who have signed up to continue their ministries in the parish
The priests of the diocese are away on their annual retreat next week. This year it is being led by the Jesuits, who have recently arrived and are now residing at St. Dominic’s in Newcastle. Please pray for them and indeed all the clergy of the diocese. We have been blessed by the arrival of a number of religious orders who wish to carry out their unique mission in the North East. We are blessed here, of course, in Durham with the arrival of the Capuchins.
And this week some priests will be unable to attend the retreat because they will be in Rome for the canonisation of Charles de Foucauld, whose life and death in the Sahara has inspired so many, especially priests, by the unique contemplative dimension of his prayer as a hermit and particularly his focussed prayer of Christ in The Blessed Sacrament. Perhaps his importance for us today is his breaking down barriers between the world religions, especially his extraordinary knowledge of Islam and the Taureg people of North Africa.
Our prayers are with two 90 year olds this week – Betty McGurk and Tom Oliver. Betty celebrates her birthday on Friday, but Tom unfortunately had a recent fall and is recuperating in hospital. Two great servants of church and parish. We wish both of them well.
As we slowly grind our way towards relaxing after Covid, you will see in the bulletin the invitation to all Eucharistic ministers to renew their commitment on the feast of Corpus Christi. It’s an opportunity for me to invite more to come forward and be Ministers of the Eucharist. They perform an invaluable role in the parish, especially bringing the sacrament to the sick.