From Miss Jocelyn Rowe SIR – I was most interested to read about the centenary celebrations of the Most Holy Redeemer parish in Billericay (Catholic Life, October 1), for in Rye we are also celebrating the 100th anniversary of our parish, St Anthony of Padua. Our parish priest, Fr Paul Clarke, OFM Conv, is the latest in the long line of Franciscan friars who have looked after us all since 1910.
One of the very special events we planned to mark this important year, was a pilgrimage to the two holy places most closely associated with our lovely church: Assisi, the home of St Francis, and Padua, where St Anthony lived and preached.
We were all captivated by the beauty of Assisi and by the stunning cathedral, Il Santo, in Padua and we have brought home many memories of the five glorious days we spent walking in the footsteps of these great saints.
Possibly our most lasting impression will be the experience of seeing the manifest devotion and reverence shown unreservedly by the huge numbers of people we encountered in both places, at the Masses we attended and at other times, in the churches and in all the holy places we visited in Assisi and Padua. Following the Holy Father’s uplifting visit to our shores, Archbishop Vincent Nichols asked us all to show pride in our faith (Report, October 1) and to let people know how important it is to us.
I am quite sure that before the Reformation the people of England practised their precious Catholic faith openly and with confidence in the loving mercy of God our creator, just as the people of Assisi and Padua do to this day.
We would all do well to try and follow their example.
Yours faithfully, JOCELYN ROWE Rye, East Sussex From Mrs Mary Lord SIR – How best to give visible witness to our Catholic faith? Many non-Catholics say “God bless you” and offer to pray for their friends. Their confidence to do this comes from a sure knowledge of what they believe in (including in some cases the “fact” that the Pope is the Antichrist).
Making the Sign of the Cross in public does affirm our identity as Catholics. What though if, instead of provoking mild embarrassment, it draws us into a serious discussion of the Church and the nature of our religion? Will we have the confidence to explain the splendour of the truth contained in the Church’s prohibition of artificial contraception? Will we have the courage to oppose the idea of civil partnerships that undermine the beauty of holiness in human sexuality?
A priestly people must have a firm sure knowledge of their faith and a willingness to be a sign of contradiction in the world. It is these qualities that give our Holy Father his calm radiance and gentle confidence, and we must follow his example by studying and assenting to all aspects of our holy faith.
Only then will our outward signs of piety have any meaning.
Yours faithfully, MARY LORD Abingdon, Oxfordshire From Mr Bernard Keigher SIR – It’s reassuring to know that the Archangel Gabriel, patron saint of communicators, is with us when we speak out for the faith. We Catholics appear to need some support in rais ing our voices in society and especially in the media. The recent visit of the Holy Father has reminded us: we have a duty to express our Christian views in public as well as in private life. Benedict is gone but he has left a new spirit behind. After 500 years Catholics feel much more confident about sharing their faith with their fellow citizens. England may even become Catholic again.
I would like, therefore, to invite your readers to join me in a “campaign” to make our Catholic views heard widely in Britain.
It is a work already begun. Principally through writing regularly and systematically to the British media: newspapers, magazines, television and radio. I would be happy to hear from practising Catholics interested in participating in this project.
The Pope asked us to be more active in the promotion of our Faith. Archbishop Nichols has echoed his request. One way to respond may well be by using the media to make Catholicism more visible in public life.
Please contact me initially by email at [email protected]
Yours faithfully, BERNARD KEIGHER London SW7