There is much about which to rejoice at present. Naturally we continue to sing our Easter praises and remember that we are indeed an Easter people and Alleluia is our song. Indeed, I expect there were one or two shouts of Alleluia on May the Fifth (and perhaps the odd Te Deum as well) as we learnt of the appointment of two new Provincial Episcopal Visitors for the Southern Province. Father Jonathan Baker was appointed to the See of Ebbsfleet and Father Norman Banks to the See of Richborough.
The appointment of these two experienced priests is exceptionally encouraging for our constituency. Both of them will bring new ideas and different experiences to the roles as they seek to serve our constituency in these difficult times. They will have our prayers and our support as they prepare for their consecration on the 16th June in Southwark Cathedral and as they set about the daunting task of managing large Episcopal areas.
They are of course not alone in this. Aided by other Catholic Bishops and supported by their priests and people they will need to think carefully about the path forward for our constituency. Not least about how the Society of St Wilfrid and St Hilda will take shape and how each different Episcopal arrangement will relate to it.
This will be no easy task; however united in our work and together with our Bishops we can ensure that proper provision is provided by the Church of England to allow us to flourish and to teach the Catholic faith to our children and grandchildren.
In a letter to this magazine Father Ivan Clutterbuck suggests that one of the ways the Society of St Wilfrid and St Hilda can flourish is through a focus on mission. He is of course quite correct to suggest this.
Mission however should not simply be something for the clergy to do, indeed it need not even by led by the clergy. Mission should be a work of the whole people of God focussed on spreading the Gospel in our time so that more people might come to know the joy of faith. As a constituency we need to find new ways of encouraging mission in our parishes and in particular encouraging men and women to explore what their vocation might be. Vocation is not simply about priesthood but about the call God makes in the lives of all people.
To this end we need to think seriously about providing training for youth workers, pastoral assistants and parish workers who, with a good grounding in the faith, would be able to work in our parishes. It may be that parishes might group together in a locality to support a youth worker in their area. We cannot afford to ignore this vital area of work. We need to think seriously about how such projects might be funded and where we might access suitable training for our candidates.
If we can do this then we can begin to explore more avenues of mission in our parishes and diocese so that working together as a Society we can see real growth in our numbers; not because we are in some sort of numbers game but because we know the joy and the fullness that the Catholic faith brings to a person’s life.
Perhaps it has never been easy to be a traditionalist in the Church of England. It certainly seems as though we are now entering a very difficult time, a time we may find harder despite what has gone before.
The traditionalist movement of the Church of England has always been a broad church with different people having different opinions on a range of issues, whilst all holding firm to the teaching of the Creeds and to a belief in the traditional understanding of Holy Order. This magazine seeks to reflect all of those views realising that by doing so it cannot please all of the people all of the time.
We need to continue to listen to one another as we seek to find a way forward, and we need to hold each other in prayer. The road ahead is a difficult one and what is right for one group may not be right for others. We need always to remain firm in our faith and in our devotion to serving God as he calls us to do.