Posted by: catholicrelics | October 1, 2009

Reminded of the call to holiness as two saints meet at the Minster

As we were showed round the Minster in preparation for the arrival of the Relics we paused poignantly at the tomb of St William of York for a moment of prayer. The Minster, already home to one Catholic saint, will shortly be welcoming another who lived and died some 600 years later*.

Despite the passage of time between their earthly lives they, in different ways, today serve as role models for all the faithful.

When we left St William’s tomb we came across a group of enclosed Carmelite Sisters. We greeted one another and I was struck by their joy and their fragrance of holiness. They, and the many thousands of religious in England and Wales, today signpost us, as St Therese did and does, to Jesus, to His love and the call to service. 

The Relics will arrive shortly. May we all be renewed and strenghtened in our vocation, in our calling as Christians.

St William of York and St Therese of Lisieux, pray for us.

*St William of York Biography

On the death in 1141 of the Archbishop of York, William was elected by the Chapter as the successor. The supporters of a rival candidate, Henry Murdac, Abbot of the powerful Fountain Abbey appealed unsuccessfully to the Pope to overturn the the election and William was consecrated and enthroned. William, however, failed to collect his pallium from Rome (a small woollen garment, the symbol of authority given to archbishops by the Pope).This was a great mistake as a year later his rivals appealed to the new Pope who deposed William, by then a popular bishop, and replaced him with Henry.

William went into exile quietly and lived the life of a simple benedictine in Winchester until the death of Henry in 1154 when he was restored.

On his return to Yorkshire, so many people turned out to greet him that the bridge over the River Ouse collapsed and thousands fell in the river.

The fact that no-one was hurt was accounted William’s first miracle.

William died later in the same year and many people were cured after praying at his tomb.

Biography from:

By a tour team member

Posted by: catholicrelics | October 1, 2009

St Therese of Lisieux – Feast Day Prayer – Darlington Carmel

St Therese of Lisieux – Feast Day Prayer – Darlington Carmel

Posted by: catholicrelics | October 1, 2009

Celebrating the Sacrament of Reconciliation

One of the important gifts being offered whilst people are venerating the Relics is the Sacrament of Reconciliation.

Forty five year old, Gary Foster from the Tyne Valley explained that was what drew him to St Andrew’s. He said: ‘I’ve come to show respect to St Therese, draw inspiration and receive the Sacrament of Reconciliation. It’s not always so easy to go and I heard that it was being offered until midnight, as well as Sacrament of the Sick.’

‘I believe this experience will be a source of strength. People need pick me ups. Confession is the most under-rated thing on planet earth. It gives such joy, like putting on freshly washed clothes but a lot more so. If people only realised what was available!’

Posted by: catholicrelics | October 1, 2009

Three generations come to give thanks

Not deterred by the seemingly endless queue waiting to enter the church, three generations of one family shared that they’d come to give thanks.

Meet (photo right) eighty two year old grandmother, Joyce Collins; forty five year old mother, Jackie Alder (photo left); ten year old grand daughter, Bridie Alder (photo middle).

Granny said: ‘St Therese is my patron saint and I prayed to her for seven years for a daughter and my prayers were answered. It’s forty five years today that I collected her from the children’s home and I’ve come to say thank you.’

Mum shared: ‘Therese is my confirmation saint and I’ve many other associations with her as well. My birth mother was from St Teresa’s in Dublin, I was christened at St Theresa’s in Newcastle as well. I’ve prayed to her all my life and she’s been a like a guardian angel to me. She’s been a life long friend.’

Grand daughter, Bridie, said: “I know the relics are here and but it’s a long queue! I have a blood clot disorder and want to get well so that’s why I’ve come. It’s really interesting.’

Posted by: catholicrelics | September 30, 2009

Bishop invites faithful to continue journeying with Jesus

Bishop invites faithful to continue journeying with Jesus, originally uploaded by Catholic Church (England and Wales).

Bishop Seamus Cunningham (Hexham and Newcastle) encouraged the five hundred people gathered for Mass at 7.30pm this evening to not let this special experience be a one off.

In his homily he said: ‘Therese had hoped to be a missionary like St Paul but poor health and an early death got in the way. Before she died she said: “I will spend my time in heaven doing good on earth.” Therese may not have been a missionary when she walked this earth but surely she is one today in Newcastle as she draws hundreds of thousands to Christ as her relics move from country to country journeying around the world. All the time she is pointing away from herself and pointing to Christ saying: “Walk in His way and continue to do so. Let this experience have a lasting effect on your lives and as my relics move on may you persevere in drawing closer to Christ and continue to walk in His way. Rest assured that He’ll transform you.’”

Bishop Cunningham also said: ‘St Therese didn’t just know about Christ; she knew Him. She had entered into a deep and personal relationship with Christ; she did this through the “Little Way” doing ordinary things extraordinarily well, doing ordinary things with extraordinary love. She was conscious of His presence and His power at work in her life.’

‘We can learn from Therese how to deal with suffering, she tells us to do much more than to accept it passively – the inevitable pain of the human condition. She invites us to turn it into a way of love. We can transform it… She desires what Jesus desires – the unfolding of God’s own plan of love for His people through His suffering and her place with Him through her suffering in the redemption of the world’

Around 30 priests concelebrated the Mass and a full choir led the singing with hymns from around the world. The response to the psalm, ‘Keep my soul in peace before you O Lord,’ had a particularly deep prayerful effect on those gathered, whilst in the Gospel we heard Jesus inviting His followers to be servant of all and to witness through service.

Such was the size of the crowd gathered outside during Mass – approximately another 500 people – that priests went out to them for the distribution of Holy Communion. As they did so several coaches arrived dropping off more pilgrims. An enduring image from this part of the Mass was a very elderly lady, who was barely able to walk, supported by men at both her elbows, approaching the altar to receive the Body of Christ.

At the end of Mass, Parish Priest, Fr Michael Corbett, thanked all those involved in the organisation of the event and shared that: ‘When the hurst drew up today, all of a sudden tears came to my eyes, so St Therese got me as well!’ Father also shared how he had welcomed a man in the church today who had been distant from his Catholic faith for a long time; this man received the Sacrament of Reconciliation before he left, strengthened by the experience.

Leaving the church people were visibly moved.

Denise, 46, from St Jean Vianney’s Parish in Newcastle, said: ‘I think the main thing is the coming together of different parishes. It’s been an amazing experience.’

Jimmy, 32, from Sunderland, shared: ‘It’s been a great blessing. I think it’s a blessing to the whole of England and what a wonderful experience. I’ll be taking home new blessings.’

Charlotte, 22, from St Aloysius’ Parish in Hebburn said: ‘It’s been absolutely brilliant. It’s inspired me and the whole diocese. I came straight from work and I feel renewed in my faith and it’s good to see that I’m not the only one who has faith going by the numbers here tonight.’

Martin, 66, from St Andrew’s shared: ‘It’s been beautiful. I’ll be taking home peace.’

Posted by: catholicrelics | September 30, 2009

Greeted by a Scottish piper’s fanfare

St. Therese arrives in NEWCASTLE Greeted by a Scottish piper’s fanfare, originally uploaded by Catholic Church (England and Wales).

The Relics of St Therese were greeted by a lone piper as they arrived at St Andrew’s Church in Newcastle earlier this afternoon.

Mr Stephen Martin from Durham played Amazing Grace as thousands lined the streets to welcome the Little Flower. Wearing ‘Scot’ tartan, Mr Martin led the entry procession into the packed church, along with clergy and representatives from the Carmelite spiritual family.

The opening service was led by Parish Priest, Fr Michael Corbett, who movingly read Psalm 27 which he said St Therese lived by. To the gathered crowd of at least 1,000 (inside and outside the church) he said: ‘St Therese reflected the joy and knowledge of God. Take the gifts that you receive here today into the world. Her message is love.’

This was followed by a prayer litany and people coming forward to venerate the Relics one by one. Meanwhile, the significant number of sick who were gathered recieved the Sacrament of the Sick.

As for the piper, Mr Martin later explained that he was wearing ‘Scot tartan’ which had been inherited from the mother’s side of  his family who were from Perthshire. He also shared that his pipes are believed to have belonged to Bob Nichol who is thought to have been a piper to the royal family in Balmoral (George V).

Posted by: catholicrelics | September 30, 2009

TV coverage encourages ‘resting’ Catholic to return

Fr Michael Corbett, St Andrew’s Church, Newcastle in advance of the arrival of the Relics, said:

‘All of a sudden we’ve been inundated with enquiries. The whole thing has come alive and we’ve been hearing some lovely stories. Last night the regional TV station covered the visit and shortly after I had a man on the phone who shared that his mother had been a Catholic, but that he had stopped practising his faith many years ago. The TV report has awakened in him a desire to come back to Church. This story alone, the response of this one man, makes our efforts worthwhile.’

He added:

‘St Andrews is a small church and is the oldest in Newcastle. The street that it’s on is named after the priest who built it – Fr Worswick – who went on to build the Catholic Cathedral in the city. The visit of the Relics is such a great privilege.’

Posted by: catholicrelics | September 30, 2009

Source of hope for non-churchgoers

An encounter with a taxi driver this morning heightened my awareness that the visit of the Relics of St Therese is a source of hope to those outside of the Catholic Community as well as those in it.

The journey to join the Relic’s on-the-road team began early this morning and meant I had to order a taxi to get to the train station. As per norm the driver asked where I was going and I shared information about the tour with him. He explained to me that he wasn’t religious and had no Church background at all, but that his wife was Anglican. During the short journey to the station he explained that his wife was currently battling with cancer of the womb, and although the prognosis was encouraging they were poised to move into a flat because she couldn’t cope moving around their house. He then asked more about St Therese, who she was and why her relics were touring England and Wales.

Having shared more her I offered to pray for his wife in front of casket of St Thérèse, explaining that miracles had and do happen through her intercession. He didn’t protest and spoke of how every person needs to have hope, something or someone to cling on to, faith, otherwise we experience despair. He then repeated that he had no religious background. It was a privilege to have listened, all but briefly to his story, and to take his special intention with me to the Saint as a pilgrim of hope.

This encounter was insignificant on one the level – a short taxi ride to the station – but on another can be described as a powerful evangelistic encounter. It heightened my awareness of how St Thérèse comes to our countries as an evangelist, a messenger of love and hope for every single person baptised or not.  It’s a reminder too that those of us who are able to attend a venue have a duty to invite others to come with us – in person or through carrying people’s prayer intentions in our hearts. In these ‘little ways’, through ‘little’ encounters, hope and love can fill people’s hearts.

Tour Team Member

Posted by: catholicrelics | September 30, 2009

Lancaster evening prayer

Posted by: catholicrelics | September 30, 2009

Summing up in Lancaster

An elderly couple walked along the path to the cathedral door, both of them using two walking sticks. Perhaps they summarised the kernel truth of the north-western segment of the tour of the relics of St Therese. They were elderly, infirm, unaccompanied and struggled to reach the cathedral. Yet they succeeded and were prepared to wait for however long it took for them to reach, touch and pray before the ornate casket at the front of the cathedral. They used walking sticks, but so many came in wheelchairs, some of them outside their home for the first time in years.

Carers accompanied many visitors and pilgrims. There was the woman with her three adult children, one of them blind and all three with an inherited condition that had affected their brains. What have been her joys and sorrows during a life that cannot have been easy, however readily she took all three to receive Communion?

There was the man in acute pain, who had travelled to pray for his friend, a soldier back from Afghanistan, who would be having both legs amputated the following day.

Who else? What about the veritable army of volunteers who took responsibility for countless cups of tea and biscuits, marshalling crowds for hours on end as they filed past the reliquary, pausing to pray and to touch the Perspex cover?

Neither could one forget the stalwart souls who stood in draughty doorways, handing out beautifully-printed leaflets for special liturgies, the result of meetings at perhaps inconvenient moments squeezed into an already busy daily schedule. Not every item in the programmes could be done as a ‘copy, cut and paste’ with a computer: someone spent time behind the scenes, typing, printing and collating, but also ensuring the presence of sufficient paper, printer toner and paper-folding volunteers.

Neither has life been an easy delegating task for the clergy. They might have occasionally been hidden managers, but they have also achieved a monumental work in coordinating parish trips to venues, organising round-the-clock confessions, covering for hospital chaplaincies and catering for numbers that have been way beyond anybody’s expectations. Manchester University Catholic Chaplaincy, for example, does not normally instigate a torchlight procession along the busiest road in Manchester, accommodate 2,000 for a night vigil and see youngsters collect no fewer than 1,000 free copies of booklets on Catholicism. Preston’s Carmel does not usually see 2,000 people walk through its doors in the space of four hours.

Lancaster Cathedral has welcomed 27 coachloads of Scots who have crossed the border in a united desire to join in with all that has taken place in the ‘County of the Martyrs’ to celebrate the presence of St Therese’s relics. Yet there have also been an equal number of coaches from south of the border parked in and around the cathedral.

In Lancaster, the steady stream of people up the steep hill and along narrow roads obscured the fact that many had faced the transport problems of all rural dweller. Buses that are infrequent and irregular often add several hours to a journey, creating logistical problems where there are children, the sick or the elderly to consider. Trains are few and far between. Transport alone transformed the journey of many individuals into a true pilgrimage. Often, pilgrims would have liked to stay longer once they reached the cathedral, which celebrates its 150th anniversary on Sunday, but knowing that their bus might be only hourly or even two-hourly demanded prayer with an eye on the time.

As the relics move from Lancaster towards Newcastle, there is an abiding feeling of warmth, kindness and generous commitment between people of all faiths and none, of all ages, shapes, sizes and nationalities. There have been no ‘big’ people or celebrities. There have only been those who saw themselves as ‘ordinary folk’, the ones who are often unseen or ignored by the rest of the world, but who are the mainstay of any parish. Two night vigils, one for priests and Religious, the other for young people, ensured that, at no time, was the Cathedral without those who reverenced Therese but who gave the greater glory to God.

At the same time, there is a sense that Therese has acted as a catalyst, allowing Catholics the opportunity to congregate, enjoy each other’s company, pray together and to ‘be Church’ in a unique way. There is a feeling of having had the opportunity to reclaim Catholic heritage, regardless of potential misunderstanding and criticism from outsiders … and to everybody’s surprise, the result has been amazingly positive and supportive from even the most unlikely media quarters. Believers and unbelievers will be left with a memory of a very special togetherness, a moment catalysed by the bones of a young Carmelite nun who died a century ago.

Lancaster looks back through two millennia of faith. As the casket draws away from the Cathedral, past Lancaster Gate, which created the six Lancaster Martyrs, heading towards Newcastle, there are only two words to sum up Therese’s visit to the city: ‘Thank God!’

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