in Thanksgiving for the gift of the Sacred Priesthood

Wow! What a Mass!!

Last night I had the extreme pleasure of experiencing a little bit of heaven on earth, when I attended Mass in thanksgiving for my Parish Priest, Father Kevin Hale's 30 year anniversary of priesthood (yes, you're right, he doesn't look old enough!). Here he is with his dear friend, the recently ordained Titular Bishop of Cuncacestre & auxiliary of the Archdiocese of Birmingham, the Rt. Revd. Robert Byrne:

The Mass was truly sublime; Music was astounding, Mass for Four Voices by William Byrd, the offertory motet was Beati Quorum Via by Charles Villiers Stanford. The voices filled the beautiful Church of Our Lady of Lourdes with such beautiful sound, I just had to close my eyes and soak it up...Every moment a prayer, raising our hearts and minds up to heaven, as if we could hear the angels themselves lifting their voices in praise to The Almighty.

We were also joined by a number of Norbertines from the Priory of St. Philip in Chelmsford. The homily was a wonderfully engaging concert of the humorous, the inspiring, and the moving, woven into a discourse on the priesthood by the wonderful Fr. Hugh Allen O.Praem. 

Fr. Hugh told us that the priest is nothing: a sinner, a man like us, who needs to be looked after, who needs his mother, who needs our compassion and support. And yet a priest is everything: he who confects the Real Presence of Our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ in the Blessed Sacrament, he who brings Christ into the world by administering the Sacraments and preaching the saving Gospel. Fr. Hugh emphasised our need for holy men to train for the priesthood and asked us all to pray for our priests and for vocations.

Brother Stephen Morrison of the Norbertines deaconed the Mass, intoning the Gospel beautifully.

And my two oldest, handsome sons served with reverence:

The consecration was beautiful, the propers sung in Latin, and I was especially moved when all the clergy knelt at the Epiclesis. It was noticeable that those not taking part in the distribution of the blessed sacrament, including Bishop Byrne, receiving Communion kneeling, and the Host on the tongue. Inspiring, moving, pedagogical.

After Mass, we all gathered in our new Parish Centre for a celebration and this provided an opportunity for the Parish to formally thank Fr. Kevin for all he continues to do in leading us as a community. There were so many great people there to talk to, I was disappointed I ran out of time very quickly! Great to see the architect of our new parish centre, Mr. Anthony Delarue, several head teachers, and of course, the clergy, including Fr. Gerard Skinner, who I haven't seen since he gave a wonderful talk on the English Martyrs for Lent:

So a big thankyou to Fr. Kevin for allowing us the honour of being involved in your celebration, thanks to all who attended and helped make it so special, and thanks to God for the gift of our faith and of those who make it manifest for us every day: our priests.


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