A Roving Causerie
By G. E. ANSTRUTHER It is a grand old warrior for the faith whom Liverpool has lost by the death of the Very Rev. John Oldham. Athol Street must seem a pathetically empty thoroughfare without him. Flow many years is it since Fr. Oldham went to St. Alban's? The exact computation may not matter, but he had already put in years of service there when the world perforce shook off that " pre-war " feeling, for it was long before 1914 that his presbytery gave a welcome to this present scribe.
Last week, Ransomers mourned a veteran in Mr. Rock. They had a like cause for sorrow by Fr. Oldham's death. There was a time when the Guild had some of its most enthusiastic workers in harness to activity on Merseyside, and there were grand reunions—the term is Fr. Fletcher's own—on several occasions in St. George's Hall. As director of the Liverpool branch Fr. Oldham is on the roll of honour, successor to two other priests who in turn had laboured for the Ransom cause: Canon Green and Canon Beggan.
Celebrating its centenary this week, the church of St. Lawrence, at Chipping Sodbury, sprinkles a shower of Memories of service for the faith in that part of Gloucestershire. Short of Gtoucester itself, where the mission dates from the eighteenth century, there was but little settled Catholic provision in the county when this small town on the Frome opened a place of worship for a handful of a congregation a hundred years ago. Today, and after ruling out all the Bristol parishes on the Gloucestershire side as belonging to a separate urban county, the itinerant pilgrim can range the shire and find something like thirty other places, parochial or institutional, where Mass is celebrated.
For many years following the opening of its church, Chipping Sodbury was served by the Benedictines, whose principal Gloucestershire centre, St. Gregory's, at Cheltenham, has likewise much good material in its records. There may possibly be those still living, at Sodbury, whose recollections from childhood will bring to mind Fr. Cooper and others of the Black Monks who ministered to them in distant days.
While our thoughts are with this time a hundred years since, they can linger, for its interest, upon another event of the week to he viewed across time's gulf. To Lord Macaulay, November 26, 1838, was memorable: " the day would furnish matter for a volume," he afterwards commented; and this because it brought the historian's first sight of the Vatican's treasures and his first meeting, at the English College, with Dr. Nicholas Wiseman.
Macaulay " did " the Eternal City with all a tourist's ardour, but derived other than the ordinary tourist's impressions. He would think himself repaid for his journey, he wrote, by having seen the headquarters of Catholicism, even " if there were not a single ruin, fine buildings, picture, or statue in Rome." Furthermore: " I was deeply moved by reflecting on the immense antiquity of the Papal dignity, which can certainly boast of a far lunger, clear, known, and uninterrupted succession than any dignity in the world, linking together, as it does, the two great ages of human civilisation."
In the words just quoted we may see the germ of that eloquent imagery—the bounding leopard, the broken arch, and so on— which was to supply England with one of her best known literary clichés by the review of Ranke in the following year.
Half the globe is in future to divide Fr. Joseph Ciantar, S.C., from the friends and co-operators whom he has known during his long stay at Shrigley Park. From the Cheshire house it is a far way to Sunbury, in Australia, where Fr. Ciantar has a new appointment as rector of the Salesian school; but distance cannot annihilate memories, and the recollection will remain, on this side, of work which in its character has not been confined to Shrigley.
For the past nine years Fr. Ciantar has organised from the English missionary college the Salesian Co-operators. These friends of the Institute in Great Britain and Ireland are many and widely scat
tered. Some of them from distant centres the organiser had an opportunity of meeting in person when the fine church
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