SUNDAY lunch was over. The rain poured down. Everything pointed to a Sunday afternoon by the fire. But from the north, east and west of London some 50 men and women, all parents of teen-age boys, set determinedly out to meet at St Aloysius College, Highgate.
Their meeting was unique. a pilot scheme which may be copied in many parts of the country : They were attending a conference organised by the Young Christian Students at the school on "Teenagers Attitudes". It was a genuine attempt to bridge the gap between the outlook of parents and the outlook of students in this new age.
Short talks from a former student explaining an enquiry the students had already carried out; from the headmaster, and from a parent. were followed by group discussions among the parents: discussions which covered " cornmun,ieation " with an adolescent. capability of giving moral guidance, and comment on the authority of the father.
The tone of society today runs against parental a Litho rity-author t y itself is questioned. Parents agreed that although many relinquished their authority to State, School, etc.. it is gin possible to retain authority even against mass media advertvisng which gives young people an. exaggerated idea of their own worth.
Mrs. Molly Walsh, in her talk as a parent, had pinpointed many difficulties which were taken up in the discussions, including the problem of sex education which, she said, shoold, of course, be given as a continual process through life and not presented as a sudden " shock."
The importance of identical views between home and school on fundamental things was stressed by Brother Hilary, the Headmaster.
The home must give a lead in religious practice and observance. in the duties of 1he child's moral instruction ... parents have a duty to punish wrong-doing, to demand respect and obedience; a duty to supervise (reasonably) their son's companionship, goings and comings, activities, homework, be said.
A boy's home life can " tip the scales for or against a boy's success," he added, and continued: The wise parent will encourage, will create conditions more favourable to study, reduce temptations to distraotion, discourage outside paid work, discourage early leaving in the quest for quick money.
By constant watchfulness and by contact with the school and knowledge of what goes out there, the parent can often come to a clearer understanding of the nature of student life and of the strains and difficulties inherent in it.
Fr. Fay, National Chaplain to the Y.C.S., took the question of " understanding" between parent and teenager a step further. Knowing smiles spread as he spoke of a girl just home from school, flinging down her bag and dashing into the kitchen: "Can I go to Paris, Mum ?--all my form are."
"How much ?"
.. Oh about 125."
The well-known remark, " have to speak to your father," follows. But, said Fr. Fay, what next 7-a private conference after the girl has gone to bed, followed by a " yes," or " no." Bet, in either case are the reasons, sacrifices, etc., known to the girl 7-so that she will enderstand.
A further conference organised by the Y.C.S. is being held in Manchester this weekend.
Debt is paid off on Southwark Cathedral A"new and spacious" Lady Chapel is to be added to Southwark Cathedral to replace the present little one ("surely not the hest we can provide"), announced Bishop Cowderoy of Southwark in his Advent pastoral.
This will involve removing the great brick wall behind the triple arches which surround the Petre Chantry. The new chapel will stand on the ground behind this temporary wall. The cost is estimated at £46,000.
The main part of the Cathedral, finished two years ago, is now free of debt, the bishop added. At the time the building was completed £31,500 was still owing, and this has been paid off.
AMONG THE CRACKPOTS
Cont. from page 7 trouble again; this is where he tears me to pieces for daring. But was I wrong?
"Now when I go to church with her, I not:cc that she doesn't go to Communion with the others. Could it be the marriage? It's only just struck me".
1 said, well, like as not. He said: "Oh, I'm sorry about that. I would like the wife to be able to go to Communion. I suppose it's too late now, nothing can be done about it?"
After a few quick questions to determine freedom, I sent him back to his wife, with instructions to go to his nearest priest and get it squared up. I bet his wife was glad. When she receives Corn
murtion, and comes back to kneel by his side, Our Lord is near him too. Things can happen when Out Lord gets as near to people as that.
Got at him
piERHAPS I told the Monsignor about the rabid heckler who gave himself away as a lapsed Catholic because he mentioned Nuptial Mass. There went orders to the Catholics in the crowd for a swift Hail Mary while I got at him. But it was no good or so I rho ught.
He heckled sivorse in the following weeks, disappeared after that, and I thought I'd lost him. But a wavily-written note from a hospital asked me to go to him, and there he was strung up with a broken leg.
He was a heckler, so it was the weather and the ordinary chatter. But suddenly (and I don't know what moved me to do it) I told him to make his confession.
He said: "I don't think I could remember the oonfiteor". (What daft tricks the Devil tries.) So told him to say the bits he could remember, and I would fill in the rest.
He told me to tell the people at the park that he had made his peace with God. The hospital chaplain who took him Communion the next day, wrote a card to tell -me so, and said "We both enjoyed it".
But I still go on thinking of the inscrutable ways of God, who even goes to the trouble of knocking a man down with a London taxi to bring him hack to the Fold.
It's a great job, down among the crackpots. And there's plenty of room for you.