Deo Gratias!

The historic events of 16 June 2011

The Feast of St Richard of Chichester dawned dull and wet and yet the excitement of those travelling to Southwark Cathedral for the Episcopal ordinations of Jonathan Baker (to the See of Ebbsfleet) and Norman Banks (to the See of Richborough) could not be dampened. As the congregation began to arrive it was clear that the Cathedral would be packed to the rafters, we would not struggle to fill the Cathedral and with over 200 robed clergy the procession would take some time. The ordination service itself was very moving as the Archbishop of Canterbury asked God to send down the Holy Spirit on the two men kneeling before him for the work of a Bishop in the Church of God. The music for the service included many of our constituency’s favourite hymns and settings. Singing the Lourdes Gloria one could not help but be reminded of the Society of Mary pilgrimage to Lourdes for the 150th Anniversary of the apparitions there. Nor could one fail to be moved as the Cathedral roof was raised with the singing of the hymn ‘Joy to thee queen, within thy ancient dowry’ in celebration of the connection with Walsingham our two new bishops have and also, as Prebendary David Houlding put it, ‘our own movement’s connection with the place so many of us call home.’ The sermon at the ordination was preached by Prebendary Bill Scott who reminded us of the heavy responsibility of the episcopate and of the need for pastoral and caring bishops. Following the ordinations there followed various receptions after which many of us gathered at St Alban’s Holborn (named ‘AngloCatholic Central’ by one blogger) where the Bishop of Richborough gave the devotion before the Blessed Sacrament and the Bishop of Ebbsfleet gave Benediction. For many of us this was the most moving part of the day. The singing of ‘Jerusalem the golden’ was wonderful and gave us all a feeling of belonging and hope. Following Benediction the new bishops were presented with the crosiers of their respective Sees, a gift from Forward in Faith which as Bishop Baker commented ‘will be used for generations to come’. The Provincial Master of the Society of the Holy Cross (SSC), Fr Kit Dunkley, then presented each of the bishops with a SSC pectoral cross as a sign thatthey are episcopal brethren of the society. As Fr Dunkley pointed out it would have been unimaginable when the Society was founded that it would have so many episcopal members. The Master General of the Society of the Holy Cross, Fr Houlding, also spoke to the congregation giving encouragement for the future and for our Catholic life together in the Church of England. He reminded us of the need to remain positive in these difficult times and to celebrate our faith. The events at St Alban’s were a fitting end to a wonderful day, one that will be remembered for years to come. As the Bishops processed out of the church blessing the congregation it would have been impossible not to have confidence in our future under God as we seek to go Forward in Faith. ND

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