Thursday 30 December 2010

Hernia and Ushaw

Yesterday I entered the Day Surgery Unit of Darlington Memorial Hospital for a hernia operation.  The op. was a success, but the wound is of course still painful.  On the other hand I feel a lot better now (24 hours after the op.) than I did eight years ago when I had a similar operation by the same surgeon.  Maybe in the intervening years the mix of gases in the anaesthesia has improved or the surgeon with 8 years extra practice has become even better or the knives are sharper!

I have been told on good authority that there are some concerned Catholics who do not want to sign the online petition about Ushaw College for fear that if the College continues to stay open it will be on the terms that it has existed for the past twenty/thirty years.  This is certainly not the intention of the petition; indeed the petition, and the proposals which I have heard about. all envisage the present teaching structure of the College being swept away and a new and more traditional regime installed.  I would ask everyone who is concerned about the possible closure of Ushaw College to sign the petition at the address below.

And - Oh! - the closure of the Conference Centre business may be more apparent than real!

Saturday 25 December 2010

Christmas Day

I intended to publish a photo of the sanctuary of my church taken before Midnight Mass (at 8.30 pm!) when I offered my greetings to readers this morning.
However the batteries died, and I took another photo this morning before Mass.  Here it is, with my renewed Best Wishes.

Christmas 2010

Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace to men of good will.

May this Christmas Day bring you and your family every blessing and comfort in the knowledge that our Saviour Jesus Christ has come and that our world has been redeemed.

Happy Christmas!

Tuesday 21 December 2010

Ushaw Petition

I would like to ask all my readers to take the trouble to go to the following link and sign the petition which you will find there requesting the Trustees of Ushaw College to reconsider closure of the College until consultations can take place.

The main thrust of the petition is this:
1.  The absence of any consultation or discussion prior to the decision being made,
2.  The prospect of St Cuthbert’s Chapel no longer being available for Catholic     worship,
3.  The apparent lack of consideration given to ways of securing a future for the college,
4.  The loss of more than 60 jobs in an area where alternative employment is scarce.
  In the light of these considerations, we urge that the trustees of Ushaw College forestall its closure until such time as:-

1.  a proper study has been made of options that would enable it to continue to serve the Catholic population of northern England,
2.  there has been the opportunity for the closure to be debated publicly.

Monday 20 December 2010

Ushaw Crisis

I found it fascinating to read, on Father Brown's blog, Forest Murmurs, that the projected closure of Ushaw College has been brought up in the House of Commons, though realistically I do not suppose that will make a great deal of difference to the trustees of the College.
Like Terry Middleton, who commented on my last post, I too have found from my recent experience of Ushaw that the Conference business-side of Ushaw seemed to be doing well, the Reception and organisation was good, the meals in the Refectory were varied and most enjoyable, the staff were very pleasant - no hint there that  the business was in trouble.  Perhaps it was/is - but then we do not know - it's all speculation.  But it must be true that with the Conference business gone, the chances of keeping the College open with just a handful of students looks very unlikely.
As Leo Darroch says in his comment, an appeal by Trustees for funds for Ushaw, on a par perhaps with the money raised for the new Youth Village, would have been welcomed by lay people and priests alike.  Of course, we already have in each diocese an annual collection for the training of priests, but another collection to stave off an early closure would have done well.
But at the moment all we can do is speculate.  Perhaps WikiLeaks might like to get involved!

Saturday 18 December 2010

Ushaw and its Demise

We now know the latest piece of information about the demise of Ushaw College, which has managed to slip out into the public domain.  The commercial side of the operation at the College, the Conference Centre, is to close at the end of December.  The Conference Centre business was an important money-stream for the upkeep of the College, and I know that this continued money-stream played an important part in the proposed rescue plans which had been drawn up in the hope of keeping Ushaw open.
I am now left wondering and speculating which came first, the chicken or the egg.  Did the decision by the Trustees to close the College at the end of the scholastic year precipitate the Conference business into an early closure, or did the early closure of the Conference business, and the loss of the money-stream, decide the Trustees that there was no hope of keeping the College open if the Conference business closed?
One day, perhaps, we shall learn the whole story. But, as of now, the omens for Ushaw College do not look good!

Tuesday 14 December 2010

Friday 3 December 2010

Barney Life No. 23

A few weeks ago I published a photo of my pond from my living room window.
A few days ago the view looked like this.
Two days later it looked like this.
At least the fish are safe in the pond: Mr Heron surely cannot dig through a thick layer of ice!