I broke off my report last night rather suddenly, for the simple reason that the Conference Dinner was about to start. The Conference Dinner is to celebrate the week's training and to have an enjoyable evening. Which we did. The meal was fine as usual, but this time with a bottle of white or red wine on the tables. Afterwards Paul, the organiser of the week, gave a talk in which he thanked various members for their participation; this of course included the two young priests from Sri Lanka and the priest from Cape Town; then there was the organist, the schola, the very talented Master of Ceremonies. This was followed by a very loud hymn, sung with great enthusiasm, "God bless our Pope" - I swear the roof nearly came off! This was followed by a talk by the President of the Latin Mass Society about the Society. And then another rousing Hymn: "Faith of Our Fathers", which didn't do the roof much good either! After this came a surprise to most people - but not to me, for I was the next speaker.
I began: "Reverendissimi Patres et Fratres. After the good stuff, they are now sending in the clown - me!" My theme was to describe the Refectory that we were sitting in as it was sixty years ago, when four hundred boys and young men sat down to eat here four times a day - the Ref was crammed to capacity; now there are only twenty-five to thirty students. I also described how the processions for the Rogation Days before Ascension came from the Chapel and walked around the four main ambulacra (a very long walk) and how sometimes the front of the procession couldn't get back into Chapel because the end of the procession was still coming out. I said that I thought our hopes for the future lay in the past, and I finished with a rallying-cry - "I say, Reverendissimi Patres et Fratres, (and making a clenched fist) BACK TO THE FUTURE!". There was a roar of agreement, and to my surprise I even got a standing ovation.
You can see now why I couldn't finish my post yesterday!
Today, after Mass and breakfast, we got together in the Hall to talk about how the week had gone and what suggestions we might have for the future; we also heard what the Latin Mass Society was already planning. Then we celebrated our final Solemn High Mass in honour of St Cuthbert, patron of the College. The celebrant was Father de Mallerais, the music was part plain chant and music by Palestrina. It was a truly divine occasion, and could hardly be bettered (unless our Bishop had been the celebrant!)
So to lunch and a final farewell. The Training Conference has been a huge success; I have enjoyed it immensely; the work of training has been hard, but gratifying, and to see results in few days and the enthusiasm to do more is a very fine feeling. I look forward to next year's Conference, and I would be delighted to spend time training a Bishop to celebrate the Extraordinary Form of the Mass.
Who knows; it may happen!