Tuesday, 16 October 2012

Getting to know you....

Today Bishop Philip Egan began his tour of the Pastoral Areas of Portsmouth diocese. He started in the far west, with Bournemouth and Avon/Stour. Very kindly, he is including priests of the Ordinariate, so today Fr Brian Copus and I were invited because our Group meets in Southbourne.

Bishop Philip with our Host Fr Bruce Barnes

We began with half an hour before the Blessed Sacrament, in the Church of the Sacred Heart, Bournemouth. Then into the palatial Presbytery, where Fr Bruce had laid on tea and coffee and cake.

Fr Brian Copus coffee cup in hand, among the brethren.

Bishop Philip started by removing some of the more extravagant press accounts of what he is like; he is not intent on putting the clock back to 1952. Rather he is intending the be like the householder commended in the Gospel for bringing out of his treasures "things new and old". He went on the say that his first concern was with his clergy, priests and deacons. This is why between now and Christmas he is intent on getting round the whole of the pastoral areas (and they stretch North as far as cis-Isis Oxford and as far South as the Channel Islands). Besides this he is making time for individual meetings with each of the clergy.

And it really was tea or coffee...

Then he gave us a parable, which certainly spoke to me. He had seen salmon leaping to clear great obstacles in a river, making their way up to the place where they originally came from. All of us know where we belong; our home is in heaven, and our life is a matter of making our way there - our hearts are restless until they find their rest in Him. But swimming against the current is not an easy matter, and increasingly the Church finds herself having to be counter-cultural.

Answering a tricky question

That picture I think will inform the prayers and thoughts of many who heard him, during this Year of Faith. After a time for questions and comments we said the Angelus together. On the way home in the car four of us were agreed that he had made a great beginning, and we look forward to being his co-workers in the years to come.

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