The nuns remember Mina Cogan
An Irish way with collections
IT'S just not idle talk when Cliff Richard says he is a Christian. "Since I became a Christian, my attention has been focused Iess on myself and on my career. and more on other people and on Christ."
He's really doing something about it. Church (C. of E.) every Sunday morning, Bible study group in the afternoon, and Public Witness whenever he can. He does his Bible study with the Crusaders' Union
in Finchley, and he's proud of the fact that he has
recently become Assistant Leader of the 80 boys in the group.
His views on morality are conventional. He doesn't like the new B.C.C. report on sex. "I'm quite sure that sex outside of marriage is wrong." But his taste in religious music is more liberal. "Big ballads like Burt Bacharach's would be good." His own choice for religious gatherings includes songs like "Sinner Man" and "Blowing in the Wind".
Cliff Richard counts his fans by the hundred thousand. How does he think the Churches might interest young people? "First try finding out about people and what interests them. Then take a look at Church Services. They're archaic." O.K. for the committed Christian who knows that beneath the dull psalms, the flowing surplices and the strange language there's the real thing, he thinks. "But what sense does it all make to the non-believer?'
All Christians, Cliff says, should be finding out what makes the mini-skirt-Ieather-jacket-brigade tick. "Christians can do no harm in taking a long cool look at themselves. Other religions have only gods in tombs to offer. We have a living Saviour."
Alma Cogan memory
ONE thing all the nuns at St. Joseph's Convent. Reading remember about Alma Cogan who died last week: her prayerfulness. Sister Mary Genevieve, the headmistress when Alma was a pupil there, said to me: "She had a tremendous belief in prayer. After she left us she would always phone and ask for prayers if anything was wrong."
One of her teachers, Sister Mary Bridget, foresaw her future. "We always knew she would be a great singer," she said. "She could always entertain the other children on wet days."
As a famous singer, Alma Cogan was always receiving requests from priests to open fetes. So far as anyone knows, she never refused. "She really was generous," Sister Genevieve said. And one more thing the nuns remembered about Alma: she was always first in the queue for the tuck shop.
'Instant psalms' at the Borough
TIOWN in London's Borough parish this week Archbishop Cowderoy opened its new £90.000 school, a bright and beautiful building amid blocks of crumbling slums. Mgr. Anthony Reynolds, the parish priest, has been trying to improve the lot of his riverside parishioners, but efforts are usually stymied by the Rachman-like tactics of the landlords. "We can never find the owners," be says. One block of flats has just had electricity installed: this is the middle of London.
Mgr. Reynold's arrived at the Borough 11 years ago after a long spell as bishop's secretary. He has spent those year building the people into a closelyknit community, with the parish club as their centre.
Here you can get a good meal at the lunch club or you can buy a book or birthday card at the shop. If you go to the bar you'll find it packed, with the onearm bandit and juke box in constant use. Even bagpipe players are catered for: they can join the famous Borough Pipers.
The parish church, built next to a railway viaduct, resounds each Sunday with Mgr. Reynolds' own hymns and psalms. He writes the words. "1 call them 'instant psalms' ", he says, "because the metre is such that it can be fitted to tunes that are already wellknown. Anyway, the people like them, and that's what matters.
The Borough may be a grey place, but they've got quite a swinging post-Conciliar crowd down there.
Medics day out
VIETNAM. A sad subject as the Medical Aid Committee for Vietnam well knows. No need to explain their aims, their title does that. Suffice to say they are a group of medical, political and religious leaders who have raised £13,000 for their cause this year, and sent an ambulance full of medical supplies to the battle area.
To boost their funds they have planned a big programme for Remembrance Sunday starting with various religious services and an exhibition at St. Martin's-in-the-Fields. In the afternoon onto the Mermaid Theatre at Puddle Dock for a folk song concert with the predictable names for such a gathering: Jimmy McGregor, Ewen McColl, Peggy Seeger. etc., etc.
For the evening an "all-star celebrity show" with Peggy Ashcroft, Michael Craig, Andrew Faulds and dozens of others at the Royal Court. For autograph hunters a bonanza of an evening, especially as the cast of Emergency Ward 10 are the programme sellers. But you need money to get in. Seats are ten, five and one guinea. All in a good cause, though.
In love with a neum?
AF ER being passed off as a bunch of amiable cranks for years, the Society of St. Gregory has at last come in from the cold. The almost prophetical work the Society has done over the years in the liturgical field is receiving recognition in the climate of renewal.
To celebrate their elevation to the "in crowd" the S.S.G. is all set to launch a big membership drive. Their numbers stand now at 800, "But", say Mr. John Snow, the secretary, "we need many more if we are to be 100 per cent effective".
Every year at their liturgical jamboree the Society gets together a body of people who are really representative of an average parish. For a week the assembled faithful peer into the realms of the liturgical hinterland before returning to their parishes to put the new discoveries into effect. "We are a practical group, not just a group of musicians who are trying to show off their virtuosity", Mr. Snow says.
He admits: "Of course, we do have our plainsong experts who go into raptures over a neum" (the technical name for a certain kind of note). Then, as an afterthought, he adds: "Funny thing to fall in love with, isn't it."
Watch it, Father
IF you want to avoid a heart attack, don't join a monastery. And if you must join a monastery, be a monk not a priest, and further, be a Trappist, not a Benedictine, because if you're a Benedictine priest you have a one in ten chance of dying from a heart attack. These are the facts that emerge from a survey carried out in thirty monasteries in the United States.
A study of 2,932 Benedictine and Trappist monks found that those who advanced themselves within their order were much more subject to heart attacks than those who did not.
Dr. Carroll Quinlan of the University of North Carolina and Dr. J. Oordan Barrow of the Department of Public Health broke the figures down to "prevalence rates per thousand monks". For Benedictine brothers the rate was 34. For Benedictine priests living in the monastery it was 85.7, and for those living outside it was 99.5.
But just to prove there's nothing to compare with the quiet life, here are the figures for the Trappists: brothers 8.5 per thousand and priests 29.4. The Trappist brothers must get pretty low premiums biz their insurance policies.
These two orders were chosen for study because Trappists arc vegetarians and Benedictines live on the typical U.S. diet which is high in animal fats.
Anti-Semitism is out
FOLLOWING my recent piece about anti Semitism in the text of the Oberammergau Passion Play I was glad to hear this week that the version of the play which will be presented in England next year has been revised to eliminate any racial overtones.
Mr. Philip Solomons, one of those responsible for bringing the play to Britain in February told me that he had insisted on a clause to that effect in the contract. "After all," he said, "I'nn. a Jew myself." The fifty strong cast will perform in London, Glagow, Manchester and Liverpool. In each of these towns about eighty extras will be needed to play the crowd scenes.
Noting the notes ?
QOMEONE must be pulling my leg. This letter L.7 came from a reader in Northern Ireland this week: "A correspondent (Letters, October 21) objects to the publication of individual amounts donated to Catholic societies. He should visit Northern Ireland where, every time there is a special collection, we are subjected to a far worse indignity.
"The collector who comes round with the plate is accompanied by an assistant with a note book and pencil. It is his job to watch what each person contributes and note it down with the contributor's name. The notebook is then handed in with the collection, for inspection by the parish priest."
Pennies from Heaven
HOW'S the £2,000 Christmas appeal going? This week it reached £450. A little slower this week I have to report, and that target still seems a long way off. But I find it hard to be depressed when I read the letters which come with the donations each morning. What wonderful people our readers are!
"Here is 10/-," one letter said. "I'm sorry it's not more, but I'm out of work at present." Another was from an old-age pensioner. "I have much pleasure in enclosing £1. I only wish I could add a few noughts." The Union of Catholic Mothers at Parsons Green made a collection at their meeting and sent the proceeds.
The Mother Superior of a convent in Somerset sent a cheque. "Please do not bother to acknowledge this cheque. Our dear Lord will send us our reward, and that is sufficient for us."
Could you afford to send something for the children and old people on whose behalf we are appealing. Please try, and send your gifts to me, Kevin Mayhew, Catholic Herald, 67 Fleet Street, London, E.C.4.
ACOLLEAGUE, attending a dinner recently, sat next to an elderly priest. "You know", the priest said to him, "I can't make up my mind about the Pope's suggestion that Bishops and priests should retire at 75. l wasn't ordained until I was 73, and I got my first parish when I was 78."