Exciting Developments in the Diocese of Brentwood

Our Bishop, the Right Reverend Alan Williams, has been slowly discerning the best way to re-organise and govern certain areas of Diocesan life and administration. 

Some people have expressed concern over the amount of time this has taken, but as the Managing Director of a not inconsiderable organisation myself, it seems very sensible to me that anyone coming into such an important role would need to take a great deal of time to discern the issues facing the Diocese and get to know the people within the organisation.

Inevitably, this process of discernment has resulted in some changes at the Diocesan Offices in Brentwood including a rationalisation of staffing. This caused some disquiet, after many years of stagnation, some of the people there had been around for a long while. Some unscrupulous journalists tried to portray this in Machiavellian tones in the dreadful Tablet. But the reality was nothing more than what one might logically expect for any new pair of hands taking over a key role in a large organisation.

This week, the process has taken a big step forward with the announcement that in addition to the four Episcopal Vicars the Bishop has appointed  to oversee areas of Administration, Pastoral Formation, Education and Evangelisation and, Mgr Kevin Hale's appointment as Vicar General, he has revived the Chapter of Canons.

To assist the Bishop in his role as Shepherd in the Diocese, there exists the Council of Priests and a College of Consultors; this body can be the Chapter of Canons.  Traditionally it was the function of the Canons of a Diocese to  pray the liturgy in the Cathedral and act as the close advisers and collaborators of the Bishop.  For over three decades there have not been any new Canons appointed in Brentwood but this week our Bishop has decided to revive the Chapter of Canons so that their important work can function again.  

There are nine new Chapter Canons: Canons Patrick Sammon, Paul Bruxby, Peter Connor, John McGrath, Anthony McKentey, Martin O’Connor, Brian O’Shea, William Young & Kevin Hale. 

The first meeting of the Chapter will be in the New Year with the ceremony of Installation in the Cathedral at Brentwood. Please pray for these priests and there new responsibilities that, the Canons may assist the Bishop with prayer and loyalty, in his grave task of leading and guiding the People of God.  

This is great news; it is an extra layer of support for the Bishop and presents an excellent cross-section of the priests of the Diocese. Any leader needs good back up. Success in management revolves around the ability to listen to the voices of those who can contribute information you would otherwise not be party to. I am particularly pleased to see my old family friends, Fr. Pat Sammon and Fr. Anthony McKentey named, as well as the excellent Fr. William Young.

Fr. Graham in the Holy Land, 2010.
In another bit of excellent news, a new Vocations Director has been appointed: Fr Graham Smith. Father Graham is a great friend of mine. He is an excellent priest, and very orthodox, with great energy, wit and intelligence and I would ask that you pray for him in his new role, as this area has been rather stagnant in our Diocese over the last few years and desperately needs a shake up.

As the forthcoming Jubilee Year of Mercy which begins in Advent, our Bishop will celebrate a Mass signalling the start of the Jubilee Year in the Cathedral on Tuesday, 8th December at 7.30pm.

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