THE Congregation of the Sons of Divine Providence. celebrated the oentenery of the birth of their Italian founder, Don Orione, by laying the foundation stone of a new home-hostel project in Surrey.
The "Molesey Venture" on a ten acre site in East Molesey, will provide ri non-denominti tional home for mentally retarded young people. They will receive skilled help and at tend local training centres during a three year stay. This should enable them to become integrated into society, though
"sheltered" 11C00111modation will be provided for those who still need it.
A photograph of Councillor A. E. Charlton, Chairman of Esher urban council, who laid the foundation stone. was enclosed in a cylinder with a programme of the day's events and jalaced in the wall.
The Apostolic Delegate, Archbishop Dominic° Enrico, visited two of the Congrega tion's four centres in Britain, a home for mentally retarded children in Teddington, Mid dlesex, and a home for the aged in Hampton Wick, Surrey, on Saturday. Cardinal Heenan is to celebrate a special maes to commemorate the Congregation's centenary at Westminster in October.
Hymns with no voices
ASILENT choir "singing" hymns in sign language took part in a special ecumenical service for the golden jubilee of the Council of the Deaf at Westminster Abbey last week.
The service included messages of greeting from Cardinal Heenan, the Archbishop of Canterbury, the Moderator of the Church of Scotland and the President of the Methodist Conference. These were communicated to more than 1,000 deaf people from all over the country by a corps of sign language interpreters throughout the abbey.
Fr. Charles Hollywood, of Manchester, helped to conduct the service with ministers of several denominations. The Very Rev. Eric Abbott, Dean of Westminster, gave the blessing in sign language.
TheLord Mayor of Westminster, Alderman John Guest, and his wife attended the service at the abbey, which was bright with flowers arranged by the National Association of Flower Arrangement Societies.
The congregation later had, tea during which they were entertained by the Mime Group of the Royal National Institute for the Deaf and by Morris dancers. The Church of England Council for the Deaf has 20 priests and Free Chueoh ministers as members.
Humanists' sour grapes?
THE Humanist magazine the Freethinker this month applauds "the crumbling facade of Church privilege" seen in the Church of Scotland's recent vote to end denominational schools.
The General Assembly voted by 109 to 95 against separate schools, mainly Catholic, in Scotland. The Rev. Archibald Minter, Convener of the Kirk's Education Committee, said "the sorrowful and tragic events in Ulster" had influenced the voters.
The editorial writer says that this month's report of the Charity Commissioners for England and Wales "serves as a reminder of yet another legal anomaly that works in favour of Church privilege." The magazine's freedom of thought on this matter may not, perhaps, be uninfluenced by the fact that most Humanist associations fail to qualify for registration as charities.
Church privileges which lead in some institutions to "invasions of 'privacy, such as open services in hospital wards, unwanted visits by chaplains and freelance preachers and virtually obligatory attendance at religious services" were condemned in a motion passed at the annual meeting of the Nat ional Secular Society this month.
Pearce report welcomed
THE breaching of sanctions
on Rhodesia has been the subject of a question from the executive committee of the British Council of Churches to the World Council of Churches. It wished to know "as a matter of urgency, the part which the member Churches of the WC can play in drawing public attention to breaches of the sanctions policy."
The Pearce Commission report was welcomed by the committee as being "an authoritative factual description of the Rhodesian situation" and the statement noted the British Government's assurance that future policy would be with the five principles involved.
So far no statement on Lord Pearce's report has been issued by the Catholic Justice and Peace Commission of England and Wales, which has in the past concerned itself with Rhodesia. The Justice for Rhodesia Campaign one of whose patrons is Bishop Butler, Auxiliary of Westminster-which opposed the settlement, welcomed its rejection.
Mr. Tim Sheehy, one of the organisers of the campaign, expressed fears that the Foreign Secretary's speech announcing the report in the Commons suggested that the acceptability principle might be altered in future negotiations.
The fifth principle guarantees that the British Government must have satisfied itself that any agreement was acceptable to the people as a whole before implementing it.
Suffering the atheists
CHRISTIANS have had to mee suffer atheists since Biblical days, and no doubt Buddhists, Confucians and others have to put up with their own unbelievers.
It would be interesting to know whether those who profess disbelief on other religions ever go so far as such antiCheistiane as the British playwright who portrayed Joseph as a drunkard and lecher, and in the cast list described Jesus as "illegitimate son of Mary."
Even George Bernard Shaw was ashamed of this Passion Play, it seems, which he started in 1878 but never finished or published. A fragment of it has now been published in a limited edition in America, and a few copies made available in this country.
Nun's meetings 'terrific for morale'
THE meeting of 500 nuns from 95 convents in the Arundel and Brighton diocese in April has been followed by a growing number of local meetings of sisters in the last few weeks.
Sister Ethelbert, of the Franciscan Missionaries of the Divine Motherhood, said the diocesan Sisters' Vocations Committee, of which she is secretary, had organised at least one meeting in every deanery since April. "It's terrific for morale." she said.
The April meeting organised by the vocations committee had offered the first opportunity ever for all the nuns of the many congregations and orders in the diocese to get together. "We are getting to know one another, and meeting at a different convent each time helps each sister to realise what the others are doing." said Sister Ethelbert.
Priests are invited to address the local meetings. which have so far confined themselves to religious subjects. Much discussion is about the renewal and adaptation called for by the last Vatican Council. The nuns considered their first meeting so important they sent a telegram to the Pope to inform him of it and in return received his blessing.
The enclosed orders are being kept fully informed of developments, and the nuns arc convinced their prayers are already taking effect.
The April meeting report notes: "The provision of fine weather had been entrusted to all the enclosed nuns of the diocese, so nobody was surprised when the weather shone on the countryside around the meeting centre, despite the fact that many other parts of the country reported heavy rain."
ATALKING discussion group of Pax Christi members from the United Kingdom, the Irish Republic and the Continent will talk their way around Co. Kilkenny this summer, proposing Christian alternative's to violence.
Ireland has been chosen for the first time for Pax Christi's "International Route," and on August 3 several hundred students will set off from 12 different places within a 100 miles of Kilkenny town, eon‘erging there 10 days later.
Staying as the guests of Irish families on the way, they will discuss among themselves and with their hosts, Christian alternatives to violence as a means of redressing wrong, Pax Christi announced last week.
The International Council of the Catholic Peace Movement welcomed the British Government's initiatives in Northern Ireland at its annual meeting in Luxembourg last week. The statement added: "Placed outeide the situation, Pax Christi International is not competent to give definite advice, but remains ready to give all the help it can."
L-R. BARRY WYMES lea
ves his job as secretary to Bishop Bowen of Arundel and Brighton in November to take up the newly-created post of Diocesan Director for Pastoral Renewal.
Fr. Wymes was given the job after the Diocesan Senate of Priests had urged a Diocesan Pastoral Centre to be set up. He plans to move around the diocese and explore the possibility of using existing facilities to help fulfil the needs involved, Fr. Patrick Olivier, assistant priest at St. Mary of the Angels, Worthing, ordained in 1967, will succeed Fr. Wymes as bishop's secretary.
New deal for handicapped
THE ideas of Jean Vanier, a Canadian. who with Mother Teresa of Calcutta, won a Kennedy Foundation award for his work with the mentally handicapped, are to be use in a community to be set up by his sister in Britain this year.
Dr. Therese Vanier, a clinical haematologist. or blood specialist, at St. Thomas's Hospital, is to give up her job to start a home in Barfrestone, Kent, with the help of some friends. "My brother's ideas interested me both intellectually and as a human being," said Dr. Vanier, a handsome distinguished woman who preferred to talk about her brother than herself.
"Medicine has kept people alive but the handicapped have ' not been given the opportunity to fulfil their own destiny, which ultimately lies with God," she said. "Like everyone else they feel the need to do something for others. People always on the receiving end of others' attention. not always gladly given, feel unloved."
Her brother, who took a doctorate in philosophy at the Institut Catholique in Paris. became interested in the problem of the mentally handicapped and set up his first community. L'Arche, near Compiegne. outside Paris, in 1965.
His central belief is the primacy of the individual and each person in the community has great attention paid to what he says, however incomprehensible it may seem, the more introverted being drawn out of themselves and all made as independent as possible.
Jean Vanier, whose approach has already inspired two new homes in India, one in Canada and three in France. where 250 people are given a community for life, rejects the gods of efficiency and success so admired today, said his sister. These values have led to the rejection of the handicapped, whom Mr. Vanier believes have a special aptitude for love and warmth which should make them respected rather than despised by so-called normal people.
One of the reasons Kent was chosen as the first Vanier Community for the handicapped in Britain was its accessibility from Boulogne, from where Mr. Vanier can visit it. He is much in demand as a lecturer and has toured America several times, but also gives retreats, including one at St. Edmund's, Ware, Herts, recently to clergy and laity.
A layman, his sister said he attempts to communicate a greater knowledge of Jesus as portrayed in the gospel, enabling people to see the demands Jesus makes on them and to open themselves to be guided by his spirit.
At L'Arche, though attendance at Mass is voluntary, many of the handicapped go and it is not unusual to see a member of the congregation noisily sucking his thumb, and others joining the priest in his prayers rather than responding to him.
Many of the handicapped can undertake light work and Dr. Vanier told the story of one who carefully cleaned one side of a glass door behind which an important directors' meeting was taking place. Opening the door to clean the other side of the glass, he cordially shook the hand of each businessman before returning to his task, thereby unfreezing the atmosphere not a little.
Jean Vanier's ideas have had a particular appeal to young people and his communities have flourished everywhere with the help of students of all nationalities and beliefs. Dr. Therese is hopeful that when Barfrestone opens later this year, the encouragement she has already received from the health authoritities will be matched by that of young people.