Next Thursday is the twentieth anniversay of the death of Fr Pierre Teilhard de Chardin, Si, whose brilliant synthesis of science and Christianity has greatly influenced the way many people view the world today.
Teilhard was the fourth of II children of a "landed gentry" family from near Auvergne when he was born in May 1881.
From his father he picked up an interest in natural history and biology and an ability to accept easily the discipline of the Jesuit novitiate which he entered at 18 on leaving his patriarchal family with its strict regime and family prayers. His fellow-students recall that he never went for a walk without his geologist's hammer and naturalist's magnifying glass.
He moved to Jersey with the expulsion of religious orders from France in 1902, and later became a corporal stretcherhearer in the First World War, being awarded both the Medallic Militaire and the Legion d'Honneur.
His experiences left a deep impression on him and those who later came to know the rather reserved Fr Teilhard were surprised to learn he once left his task for a few moments and burst into tears.
Claude Cubnot, his biographer, said of Him: "His temper was not violent, with very rare exceptions — when there was some real cause. His infrequent anger was above all cold and aristocratic, and one could perceive that his willpower was restraining his passion.
"Moreover, out of a kindness arising from his humility and love of Christ, he was ready to forgive everything . • . a most important fact has for the most part escaped the writers who have dealt with Teilhard ... it is the fact that he owed the most outstanding of his great qualities — quite apart from his origins and upbringing — to his priesthood."
He left his professorship in geology at the Institut Catholique in Paris to join the French Palaeontological Mission in China, where he helped make one of the greatest scientific discoveries of his career, the existence of palatolithic man, or Sinanthropus.
All the time his vision of the human and physical universe as one developing whole was growing and he began to see salvation not in abandoning the world, but in active participation, building it up.
Teilhard, as well as being a deeply religious man and author of the splendid Le Milieu Divin, one of the easiest of his books to read, was also a scientist and said: "To understand the world. it is not enough to know. One must see and touch."
Later his religious and scientific insight married to produce his most important book, "The Phenomenon of Man," hailed by many as a work of genius. While still in China, he wrote his mystical poem "Mass Upon the Altar of the World."
In it he prayed: "Christ of glory, hidden power stirring in the heart of matter, glowing centre in which the unnumbered strands of the manifold are knit together;
strength inexorable as the world and warm as life ... to You my
being cries out with a longing as vast as the universe: for You indeed are my Lord and my God."
His superiors' orders that he must not publish anything but scientific works would have broken a less gifted and less holy man.
A Jesuit friend writes of him at this period: "But, calling on all the resources of his will, hr abandoned himself to the supremely great, to his Christ, as the only purpose of his being: and so hid his suffering and took up his work again, if not with joy, at least in the hope that his own personal vocation might be fulfilled," Fr Teilhard lived in New York from 1951 until April 10, 1955, when he died of a heart attack after attending Mass on Easter Sunday. He had earlier expressed his wish to die quick ly on the day of the Resurrection and his wish was fulfilled. Teilhardians in many countries have formed societies to make his thought more widely accessible and readily understood.
While the Teilhard group in this country have not yet chosen to do this in terms that would be remotely comprehensible to the man in the street, they organise many events from their headquarters— St Mark's Chambers, Kennington Park Road, London, SE1 1 4PW.
Bishop McGuinness of Nottingham, which includes Boston, Lincolnshire, will visit Boston, Massachusetts, for a week from April 16 to bless a newly-carved statue of St Botolph, patron and name-saint of the city. It will be unveiled and installed in St Joseph's Church, West End, during a noon ceremony on Patriot's Day. The statue is the work of Boston artist Frederick Brunner.
Bishop McGuinness will also bring the official greetings or
the Mayor of Boston, Lincolnshire, to the Mayor and people of Boston, Mass.
Bishop McGuinness's. host will he Fr Gerald Bucke, parish priest of St Joseph's.
Following the rites at St Joseph's, Bishop McGuinness
will attend the evening annual banquet of the Eire Society of Boston, where he will offer the invocation. On Sunday, April
20, he will participate at the Cathedral of the Holy Cross in 3 pm ceremonies marking the 100th anniversary of the Cathedral church and of the elevation of Boston to the status of Archdiocese.
Cardinal Medeiros will lead the Cathedral centennial rites and Cardinal Wright, Prefect of the Vatican's Congregation for the Clergy and a former Boston Auxiliary Bishop, will preach the homily. Also present will be Archbishop Jadot, Apostolic Delegate to the United States, who will represent Pope Paul and the Bishops of New England.
Australian SVP appointment
For the first time in the St Vincent de Paul Society's almost 100 years of existence in Australia, an Australian has been appointed the society's international vice-president for Asia and Oceania.
He is Mr Michael Whiteley, a 35-year-old farmer, of Molong, New South Wales. His appoint ment was announced in Paris by the Society's President General, M. Rouast, Mr Whiteley, who succeeds Mr Benedict Thiva of Thailand, was also appointed recently to the society's national council as president of its Overseas Relief Committee.
Among many tasks Mr Whiteley will now be undertak
ing is the formation of the St Vincent de Paul Society in Papua, New Guinea, and its continued expansion within the Asia-Oceania area.
Mr Whiteley says that increased assistance from the region's developed countries, such as Australia and New Zealand, towards the develop
ing countries will be needed, not only in a Material sense, but in fostering awareness of the problems confronting the peoples of these countries.
On the material side, last year alone the society in Australia contributed $250,000 in cash, clothing and medical supplies.
The Australian National Council President. Mr Edward Bacon, said it was very honoured by Mr Whiteley's ap pointment to the international body and also "at the recognition of Australia's expanding role within the Asia-Oceania region."
Loss to St Joan's Alliance
By the recent death of Isobel Powell-Heath, St Joan's Alliance loses one of its earliest and staunchest supporters. Through six decades she never wavered in her faith that one day all discrimination against women would yield to justice.
But she has not lived to see the inevitable leap over "the last ditch" — the acceptance by hcr Church of women as full and equal members with men.
Dr Heath had too much sense of humour and clarity of insight to let her motives be attributed to conventional piety, but she was never tempted to forsake the way indicated by the great Catholic pioneers of the Alliance — the way of quiet and courteous persistence, irrefutable logic and doctrinal correctness.
Many are now riding on the popular hand-wagon of sexual equality in the Church, but Isobel was one of the few who braved bitter opposition. wilful misrepresentation and even ridicule from those with the power and the knowledge to bring about reform.
She came through with undiminished loyalty to principle, unfailing charity and good humour. Her associates will sadly miss her cheerful and gracious presence, her unstinted generosity and warm friendship.
Professor James D. Halloran, the director of the Centre for Mass Communication Research, is to receive the degree of honorary Doctor of Social Sciences from the University of Tampere, Finland. in recognition of the "great scientific merit" of his work in mass communication research.
The degree will he conferred at the University of Tampere, at a ceremony on May 24, and will be part of the celebration to mark the 50th anniversary of the university.
The president of the Republic of Finland, Urho Kaleva Kekkonen. will receive an Honorary Doctorate at the same ceremony.
Professor Halloran, who has been director of the Centre for Mass Communication Research since its foundation in 1966, was secretary of the Home Office Television Research Committee, and was with the University Department of Adult Education from 1959 to 1966. He has published numerous books and articles on mass communications and sociology.
He is president of the International Association for Mass Communication Research, coordinator of the Unesco Advisory Panel on Communications, a member of the UK National Commission for Unesco, a governor of the British Institute of Human Rights, a founder-member of the Council of the Media Society of the Institute of Journalists, chairman of the Research Group of Prix Jeunesse (Munich), and consultant to the Council of Europe.