Southend Catenians Enjoy a Master Class on Faith & the Ordinariate

Last Thursday was the 1189th Circle Meeting of the 19th Circle of Catenians ~ Southend-on-Sea, of which I am proud to be a member.

We had a great night commencing with a fraternal meeting where we joined together in prayer for our brotherhood, community, and friends and family. This was followed by a lovely meal with an opportunity for great chat from gentlemen from all different walks of life, and topped off by the presence of two visiting priests.

Fr. Aloysius Kpiebaya (don't ask me how to pronounce that—Fr. Alo seemed to suffice) is from Ghana. He is covering at Rayleigh Parish at the moment while Fr. Martin is on holiday.

Fr. Aloysius listens to Fr. Jeff's Address, Alongside Brother David Micklewright. (Photo by Brother Paul Abbott, aka El Presidente)

Introduction by Brother David Micklewright to Father Aloysius Kpiebaya

Father Aloysius cares for a group of orphans food, accommodation, and education. In order to carry out this ministry, he has to rely on small amounts of funding received from England, as he has no money of his own.

The parishioners in the area are extremely poor, and are not able to put more than a few pennies into the Sunday collections. The Local Ghanaian priests generally live very much hand to mouth, many, including Fr. Aloysius, even have their own small farms, to grow their own food, peanuts & beans etc.

Fr. Aloysius' Journey of Faith in His Own Words.

My name is Aloysius (Alo for short) KPIEBAYA. I hail from Ghana, the Northern part of Ghana, from a village called NANVILLI in the Kaleo Parish, Nadowli District in the Upper West Region of Ghana.

I was born on December 3, 1967 to Mr. Valentine K. Kpiebaya, a subsistence farmer, and Mrs. Susanna A. Kpiebaya, a house wife. My father passed on May 29, 1989, when I was finishing Sixth Form.

I am the second born of nine children: five boys and four girls. After the demise of my father, my mother had to single-handedly shoulder the task of raising the family. She had to continue with the subsistence farming, together with soliciting help (financial and material) to bring her nine children up as well as to let us go through quality education. Fortunately and by God’s grace, all the nine acquired formal education. Thanks to my mother and all those who help us in one way or the other.

PRIESTLY FORMATION: I entered the seminary in 1992, and completing my seminary formation in July 1999, I was ordained Priest on December 18, 1999 into the Catholic Diocese of Wa, Ghana, and West Africa. I am therefore a Diocesan Priest.

Since ordination, I have worked in three poor, deprived, and village Parishes. I am currently in my third Parish known as Queen of Peace Parish in a town bigger than a village (in the Ghanaian sense) called Nadowli. In my present Parish, I am a Curate and also a full time Chaplain to a Catholic School in the Parish called, Queen of Peace Senior High School, Nadowli.

MY UK AFFILIATION: For some time now a group of people from United Kingdom, Scotland and Wales (called THE LASALLIANS) travel to my home Parish every year to support the area with some educational facilities. It was during one of such visit by a group that I returned from the seminary to my home Parish for summer holidays when I met Veronica and David Micklewright who came with the group that year. We interacted briefly and they had to come back to England. Before they left, I picked their address and we started communicating and eventually a very strong friendship developed between us. I invited them to my Priestly ordination in December, 1999 which they happily honoured. They also invited me here in 2003, which I equally happily honoured. I thank God for this and also thank David and Veronica Micklewright as well as all the friends that I have made here so far, for your love, care and concern for me.

WHAT IS SO DEAR TO MY HEART? (i) I like to always give time to and meditate on the Word of God in order to lead people with meaningful reflections in Church to take home. (ii) My heart is easily touched by the plight of orphans and widows. Therefore I always spend the little resources I have, together with what I get from friends, to help them, especially the brilliant orphans to acquire at least, some quality education. Once again, thanks to all those who have been helping me to take care of these orphans and widows. God bless you abundantly.

HOBBIES: I like reading, writing, making friends, and subsistence farming (both crops and livestock).

Fr. Jeff in full flow (Picture Courtesy of Brother Paul Abbott —viva el Presidente!)
Fr. Jeff's After Dinner Speech.

Our other visiting priest was Fr. Jeff Woolnough of the Ordinariate of Our Lady of Walsingham, who has featured on my blog a number of times before (type Jeff Woolnough into the search bar to read previous entries). He was our guest speaker on this occasion and treated us to a powerful exposition of his own journey of faith, from a boy in the East End of London, through his education at a very catholic Church of England school, to gaining a place at Westminster Abbey Special Choir.

Fr. Jeff eventually ended up pursuing a very successful career in the creative sector working in corporate identity, but, a communicating member of the Church of England, he always felt a strong pull to the altar and to religious life. It took a family tragedy to really jolt him into the realisation that God was calling him to serve. He studied at The College of the Resurrection, Mirfield, renowned for its catholicity, and was ordained as a deacon, and then an Anglican priest.

Fr. Jeff's studies led him, like Blessed John Henry Newman and countless others before him, to the conclusion that "catholic" meant being in communion with the bishop of Rome. He found himself involved in an internal struggle within the Church of England where the theological foundations of Christianity were constantly under attack from Reformationist ideology. As the Church of England increasingly accepted relativist concepts, he found the ecclesial body increasingly altered to conform to the needs and desires of its members, rather than its members becoming conformed by grace to God.

He was part of a group of Anglicans who had been knocking on the door of Rome, and in 2009, when Pope Benedict XVI opened the door to reunification by means of the Apostolic Constitution Anglicanorum Coetibus (Groups of Anglicans), Jeff took a huge leap of faith, gave up his beautiful pre-Reformation church in Hockley, with it's rambling vicarage, and along with his family, and pretty much the whole of his congregation, swam the Tiber.

Like all our Ordinariate brothers and sisters, this has been a source of great joy for Jeff in so many ways. His deep satisfaction and joy at coming home to Rome was evident from his talk, and he feels he has been blessed in so many ways. On Monday he is off for a priest's retreat with some Ordinariate brother's to Rome. He will visit the Venerable English College, where he will gaze on the Martyr's Picture, where students gathered around to sing a Te Deum whenever news reached Rome of a martyrdom of a former student, and will celebrate Holy Mass at St. Peter's Church, burial place of the Prince of Apostles to whom Jesus said "You are Peter (rock) and on this rock I will build my Church"(Mt 16:18).

Fr. Jeff has just begun his third year of ministry at St. Peter's Church, Eastwood, and has built a solid reputation for excellent preaching and orthodoxy. He is a man who has stood up and lived his faith in a way many would find incredibly scary. It has not been easy, the Ordinariate has been poorly explained to Catholics and they remain confused. Fr. Jeff is working hard to explain the wonderful gift of reunification made possible through the Ordinariate and the work of Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI.

More than ever today, after the recent announcement by Forward in Faith, catholic minded Anglican's are in a more difficult position than ever before, as elucidated by another Ordinariate priest, Father Ed Tomlinson, here.

One insight Fr. Jeff shared with us is that freed from the internal division of the Church of England, he sees clearly that the fight is being with the devil, not each other or between denominations. The Catholic Church has been given the tools to win this fight, the Sacraments and the Rosary. In his own inimitable style, he says to his Anglican brothers and sisters:
"Listen up' friends still in the Cof E, who are 'living the Catholic life'. We actually want you to be with us! We Love you have so many gifts and rich talents to bring to the RC Church. WE NEED YOU!"

The picture shows Jeff Woolnough being confirmed as a member of the Roman Catholic Church by Monsignor Keith Newton, sponsored by Father Gerry Drummond on Holy (Maundy) Thursday April 21st 2011 at Rochford.
Photographer: Paul F Abbott BDS: President: Southend on Sea Catenian Circle XIX: Inaugurated in November 1913".                                                        

Fr. Jeff's talk was really well received. Lots of the brothers were deeply impressed with his oratory skills, not to mention his deep display of faith and courage. After his speech, el Presidente (Paul F Abbott BDS: President: Southend on Sea Catenian Circle XIX: Inaugurated in November 1913") presented Fr. Jeff on behalf of the Southend Catenians with the gift of the above framed photograph as a souvenir of his guest visit to Southend on Sea Catenian Circle XIX on Thursday 24th October 2013.

Inscription on back of framed photograph:
"A photographic gift of thanks to Father Jeff Woolnough from Southend on Sea Catenian Circle: In appreciation for his guest appearance at our Circle Meeting, and as after dinner speaker, on “Home Sweet Rome”, on Thursday 24th October 2013. Deo gratias. The picture shows Jeff Woolnough being confirmed as a member of the Roman Catholic Church by Monsignor Keith Newton, sponsored by Father Gerry Drummond on Holy (Maundy) Thursday April 21st 2011 at Rochford."
I personally feel a great sense of joy at the extraordinary witness the Ordinariate members provide. We all should be deeply joyful and grateful that we have been re-united through the Apostolic Constitution. These priests bring amazing faith and skills to the Church and we are deeply fortunate that they have had the courage to join us. Our glorious and noble Catenian President, Brother Paul Abbott (AKA El Presidente (viva el Presidente!)), has organised a number of interesting after dinner talks for our monthly meetings during his tenure as President, of which this was but one.

If you are a Catholic gentleman, solid in faith, who would like to meet and socialise with other Catholic men, why not find out where your local Catenian Circle is and look into joining? Or leave a comment on this blog which can remain unpublished, and I will provide you contact details. If you're really fortunate, you might even find you are eligible to join Southend Circle!

Below: Exclusive footage of Brother Paul Abbott from the latest sub-committee meeting. Viva El Presidente!!


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