M ORE than 10,000 people saw Cardinal Heenan of Westminster concelebrate Mass *with 12 secular and regular priests on Tuesday at Earls Court, writes Ann Kimmel.
It was London's first public concelebration. The crowd about a quarter of them nuns and half of them schoolchildrengrouped round the altar and filled half the balcony.
The Mass was a highlight of the week-long Vocations Exhibition which opened on Sunday. Coachloads of children have been allowed off school to go to Earls Court all through the week.
Hundreds of priests, nuns, brothers and members of lay societies are running 185 stalls at the exhibition.
During weekdays most of the crowds have been children but the adults have been coming in the evenings, many of them members of the societies that have had special talks before Benediction.
By Tuesday afternoon, 82,011 people had been to the exhibition. The organisers said only 20,000 a day were needed to meet the cost of renting the hall from admissions.
On Monday 31 Sisters modelled their habits before a gathering of 250. Called "the most exclusive fashions in the world," some were centuries-old styles, others recent models in drip-dry fabrics.
There have been band concerts, choir concerts, and organ recitals. On Sunday scores of pipers and drummers paid f245 for barges that took them down the Thames to Chelsea pier, from where they marched to Earls Court, ushering in Cardinal Heenan.
At Tuesday's Mass Cardinal Heenan said Pope Paul had told him to ask the British people "to pray that the Council this year will come to a peaceful and joyful conclusion".
He noted that the day's feast, Ss. Peter and Paul, was set aside to give special honour to the Church in Rome.
"We pray the day will soon come wheg this beloved country of ours will once more owe allegiance to the See of Peter."
The concelebration, he said, marked a return to apostolic times, with Bishop, clergy and people gathered round the altar.
"None of this could take place without vocations. That's why this exhibition was called primarily to help young people see a vision. We hope God will reveal Himself to them so they will give themselves unreservedly to Him.
"Pray that many will hear that voice that says, 'Son or Daughter, give Me your heart'."