The Annual Festival of The Additional Curates Society and Farewell Sermon by Father Anthony Prescott

A wonderful, warm spring day, a beautiful church, a superb Mass setting (Gounod), and a truly catholic congregation. With a mix of ingredients such as this how could such a day be tinged with sadness? By saying farewell to friends.

This was the farewell eucharist celebrated by Canon Anthony Prescott assisted by Father Steven Bond as leaders of the Additional Curates Society. They have now retired to the pleasures of Brittany and to a very well earned “rest and recreation”.

One of the many happy memories of Canon Anthony visiting our parish church has been his ability to entrance a congregation with his preaching. I use the old fashioned word for a sermon for a particular reason. His grasp of presentation, his humour, his whole personality presented theology in an easily understandable form for whatever level of congregation.

Saturday 6th May at St Augustine’s, Kilburn, was no exception. With a packed church of laity and clergy (two bishops) there was something for everyone in his sermon. I believe however that he addressed (quite rightly) the many clergy that were present.

He spoke of the true priesthood, handed down from the Apostles. He recounted the story of how people crowded round St Peter, just so that this shadow could fall upon them. He then proceeded to advise all Christians, but especially priests, to live a life so dedicated to God, through Jesus Christ, that people will strive to be in their shadow.

Particular men are called to represent Christ at the altar and in the church. The priest is the image of Christ and every time he celebrates the eucharist this joining together is repeated. The priest is the image of Christ on earth and must reflect the shadow of Christ. But he cannot do this without God’s grace and love and the love of his people.

Because we cannot have love without sacrifice, being a priest involves many sacrifices, even if, as in many African countries, that means the ultimate sacrifice of martyrdom.

To the laity, he asked that they love and support their priests, for It is not easy living in the shadow of Jesus and acting in the person of Christ here on earth. Encourage vocation among the young. Work steadfastly to strengthen the true catholic church here in England. Lastly, support ACS in all they do, as people have done in the last 150 years.

By Brian Davies