Saturday, 8 June 2013

Significant Anniversaries

Not sure where they have gone, but this year Jane and I clock up fifty years of marriage. So today we responded to an invitation from Bishop Philip of Portsmouth, and attended a great celebration in Basingstoke.   There were hundreds of couples there, and it was a great surprise and a real pleasure to find Margaret and John Quarterman among the 50 year brigade. John and I were at school together in Plymouth, now he is battling with Parkinsonism but keeps his familiar cheerfulness. They come from the other end of the diocese, in Wallingford. There was also a server and his wife whom I recognised from Our Lady of Lourdes, New Milton, where I say Mass most Thursdays. Besides these familiar faces, we also managed to meet some new friends during the very lavish bun-fight which they prepared for us at St Bede's.

 Margaret & John waiting to greet the Bishop
In blazing sunshine the Bishop stood for almost two hours, speaking to everyone and taking a personal interest in all of us. The Parish had really gone to town to make us welcome - we even left Church in a shower of confetti.
St Bede's is on a large site which includes a primary school. With ample parking and very pleasant indoor spaces it provides the sort of facilities which it would be hard to match at the Cathedral - beside which it is more accessible than Portsmouth for large parts of the Diocese. You cannot miss the building ; a great Pyramid or Ziggurat. It has in it features you will either love or loathe. There is a (to my mind) fine crucifix - I have seen other work by the same sculptor in Winchester Cathedral, and in the Bishop of Winchester's chapel at Wolvesey. Some of the parishioners told me I should see the Blessed Sacrament Chapel before I left. The Sacrament House is a metal container set  in the middle of an arrangement of metal leaves. They tell me it represents the burning bush.

The blessed Sacrament
 Perhaps it would grow on one; I found it a bit idiosyncratic. There is also a  constantly running font, which is fine in principle, but I'm not sure Bless how practical it might be - at least though it is situated near the entrance, which is far better than having (as in one nameless Catholic church) a blow-up children's paddling pool in front of the sanctuary.  But enough quibbling, today was wonderful, and it was good that there were so many children and grandchildren of the anniversary couples sharing the day with them. We are so fortunate to have our Bournemouth Mission in Bishop Philip's diocese. He goes out of his way to be inclusive towards us Johnny-come-latelies of the Ordinariate. I think one or two in Church today were a bit mystified to see a clerical collar among the worshippers - some, I know, supposed I was a Deacon. Another time I should have a placard with "Reformed Ex-Anglican" on my back. Many though already know something about us (there are five Ordinariate Groups which meet and worship in Portsmouth Diocese) and even when people have only vaguely heard of us they are invariably welcoming.
The Bishop began his homily with a very funny and very un-PC story about a dead mother-in law... (which I will use another time) but went on to give us good advice direct from St Paul (bear with one another - always be thankful - forgive each other as soon as a quarrel begins). He spoke about how currently Parliament is "attempting the impossible; to redefine the natural institution of marriage". He asked where this might lead - Polygamous marriage? Designer babies? Unions with several partners? - "As Catholics we must hold fast to the full truth about being human, revealed in Christ, and we must do our best to communicate that truth with real joy and conviction. For the Church's vision of sexuality, marriage and family life is splendid ... and you are witnesses to that."
Today's celebration will certainly have encouraged many in seeking to live out the fulness of our Christian Marriages.

St Bedes


  1. Hearty congratulations to you and Jane Father, and to all who are celebrating 50 years of marriage as we understood it when we made our vows.

  2. Are you the first Monsignor to have a Golden wedding anniversary?!

  3. Thanks, Ancient Brit; and I guess you are probably right, Bob .. though we are not quite there yet; August 10, Feast of S Laurence (you will see how appropriate this is) is the actual day.

  4. Many congratulations to both you and Jane. Wishing you have every blessing on this very special anniversary.

  5. May God bless you and Jane, and may you both be together for many more years Msg Edwin. I look forward to the future and to you being the first Monsignor to celebrate a Diamond Wedding.
    God bless