TWO of the Irish Jesuit missionaries, Fr. Leonard Shiel, the Superior, and Fr. Robert Stevenson, are touring English parishes this month to see how parish confraternities and sodalities are prospering.
Fr. Shiel told THE CATHOLIC IlEantn: "With the parish priests, during our missions in recent years, we have looked upon these parish confraternities as one of the most important means of bringing about the conversion of England".
Mission sermons, he explained, tried to help the parish priests give a new boost to existing confraternities, and in many places confraternities were set up for the first time. "Now", he said, "we're seeing some of the results, and they're very good so far".
The tour has already taken the Jesuits to Coventry, Leamington, Birmingham Cathedral, and Wolverhampton, to London parishes at St. John's Wood, Bayswater, Cricklewood and Paddington, and to Sutton in Surrey.
In all these parishes, the churches have been full to hear the misstoners preach. As to the development of the confraternities, Fr. Shiel gave Birmingham Cathedral as an example. When the confraternity was advocated during a mission there, 1,100 people joined. To-day, he said, there are 8,000 members. Some of these have moved from Birmingham in the meantime, and they have spread the confraternities in new parishes.
"You'll find them now", said Fr. Shiel, "scattered up and down all over England, everywhere you can see their badge, the Cross of St. Chad".
This Sunday, Fr. Shiel will be at Kilburn, to preach at the 8 a.m. Mass and at the evening service, and at Kensal New Town for the !gasses at 9, 10, and 11 a.m. and noon. He will preach again at Kensal New Town on Wednesday evening, and on Thursday he is going to Lincoln. Next Sunday, he will be at Stamford Hill, London. Visits to other parishes will continue until the end of the month.