Monday 26 December 2011

More Greetings

Christmas Greetings from my other parish: St Osmund's Gainford

Sunday 25 December 2011

Christmas 2011

Happy Christmas from St Mary's Barnard Castle

Wednesday 30 November 2011

Traditional Wedding 2

I presume everyone is familiar with a wedding in the Novus Ordo - bride and groom taking their places at the front of church, a hymn to start the proceedings, the beginning of Mass as usual, if it is to be a Mass, or a Collect, if it is to be a 'simple' wedding, the readings, a sermon, and then the wedding, followed by the signing of the register and photos of same, a hymn and then the rest of the Mass as usual or the exit from church.
In a 'Traditional' Wedding, the bride enters the church in the usual way, the groom joins her and they make their way to the priest who is standing 'at the altar-gates', so says the Ritual.  The Wedding Service takes place immediately, very short and to the point - though in my recent wedding we made sure that the modern vows and civil statements were properly woven into the service.  The Marriage Register was signed as usual - photo on an earlier blog.  But then the newly married couple were taken onto the sanctuary and placed at special priedieux for the Wedding Mass; they were taken up to the top step of the altar on three occasions, after the Pater Noster, for Holy Communion and finally at the Blessing of the Mass, before exiting triumphantly from the church. Our recent wedding Mass was a Solemn High Mass, celebrant, deacon and subdeacon, plenty of servers around the altar, tons of smells and bells, choir singing wonderfully throughout the Mass.  A most wonderful, colourful, spectacle, which impressed even those who had never before seen a Traditional Latin Mass. I love doing weddings, but nothing could beat this for a beautiful statement of the importance of Marriage to the Catholic Church.

Tuesday 29 November 2011

Traditional Wedding 1

 This post is in answer to Ben Trovato, who asked this about 'Traditional Weddings': I would be fascinated to know in a little more detail how the traditional rite of marriage differs from the modern form: could you highlight some key differences or point me in the right direction to find out? I would be most grateful.

When I was ordained in 1959, all weddings were 'traditional', that is, performed according to the rite of the Latin Church which had been in use in England for a very long time.  The promises of bride and groom were allowed to be in English, but the prayers of blessing were in Latin.  Among the promise they each made to the other was the phrase "With my body I thee worship" and "This gold and silver I thee give". (Depending upon the status and wealth of the couple, this could mean a gold sovereign or a silver threepenny bit - I seem to remember that sometimes a priest would hang on to this gold or silver). The ceremony was very short - there was no sermon, no hymns, no organ playing.  And in 1959 there were still some priests who married mixed religion couples in the porch of the church.
After the religious ceremony, the couple, priest and witnesses, went into the sacristy where the Registrar of Marriages was waiting, for the civil ceremony.  I was always allowed to lead the bride and groom through this part of the proceedings.  After this we all signed the Marriage Register, and the couple departed.
The whole ceremony took only a very short length of time.  So short in fact that on one occasion when the parish priest and I were asked to conduct four weddings on the same afternoon, my PP decided to do them at fifteen minute intervals. As a long time parish priest, he should have known better - when the first bride turned up fifteen minutes late, the whole afternoon was thrown into utter confusion!
And, of course, sometimes (as now) the wedding was followed by the Nuptial Mass when both bride and groom were practicing Catholics. But more about that and the differences in my next post.

Wedding Photos

(An almost terminal inertia has caused a delay in publishing photos of the  wedding of the year - literally - of the year!)
Almost a month ago (months ago!), Jane Oliver became Mrs Wilson when she married Michael Wilson with a traditional Solemn High Mass. Here are some of the photos of the event.

(Sorry about the order of the photos - trying to get them in the right order is causing friction of the brain!)

Tuesday 27 September 2011

Traditional Wedding

The Wedding of the Year (almost true - I have had only one convalidation and no other weddings this year!) took place on Saturday, September 24th, at midday.  Miss Jane Marie Oliver was joined in holy wedlock to Michael Wilson with all the pomp and ceremony of the Catholic Church, ceremonies which have been performed only once in this church in the last forty years.
The church was filled with family and friends.  The bride was nervous but was escorted up the aisle by her father, and the wedding took place at the altar rails. The rings were blessed and placed on the fourth finger (the old ceremony envisages only one ring - but we managed).  Bride and groom were led to the registrars (one teaching and one novice) and the occasion was properly registered in the Marriage Register. A soloist sang the Ave Maria during the signing.
When the bride and groom had taken their places on the sanctuary, the procession of servers and clergy went to the altar for the beginning of the Solemn High Mass.  Father Shaun Swales was deacon and Father Michael Brown was subdeacon. The choir was a combined group from St Mary's regulars and St Dominic's (Newcastle); they sang St Cecilia's Mass.  I preached a short sermon on the subject that the couple had been chosen by God from all eternity for this very moment.
The whole ceremony, I understand, entranced the congregation of Catholics and nonCatholics alike; the two registrars, who decided to stay when I told them that this kind of ceremony had not happened for about forty years, were also caught up in the 'magic' of the whole thing.
I hope to be able to publish photos some time soon.

Monday 19 September 2011

Nuptial Preparations

This Monday evening we, in this parish, begin practical preparations for a Solemn High Nuptial Mass in the Extraordinary Form, which takes place on Saturday. The couple to be married, Michael Wilson and Jane Oliver, are both regulars at the Tuesday Latin Masses here in St Mary's.
The Prenuptial Enquiries and and Prenup Talks took place some time ago. Tonight the choir assembles for a practice: members of St Dominic's (Newcastle) Choir and our own choir are joining forces to sing at the Mass.  On Wednesday, the altar team will get together with the bride and groom to run through the ceremony and this will also remind me of what a celebrant at a Solemn High Mass has to do. When I was at Ushaw many moons ago, we celebrated a Solemn High Mass every Sunday, but time, distance and fading memory have blunted my recollections of the correct procedure.
The Mass and Wedding take place on Saturday at midday.  We look forward to a great day for this lovely couple and ask for God's blessing on them now and in the future.

Friday 16 September 2011

Change Keeps Happening!

I have just discovered, thanks to Hermeneutic, that, if you add /view to my blog address, you can see the blog in a new and several interesting ways.  The whole blog roll can be seen in a half a dozen ways, without the need to scroll back through history. You can go right back to the very first post in no time at all.  Fascinating!

It is nice to know that somebody keeps tabs on these changes.

Monday 5 September 2011

Ushaw Newsletter

Many people are concerned about the future of the buildings of Ushaw College, near Durham, which has closed as a seminary for the training of priests.  The Trustees of the College are considering what to do with the College, and we know that they have invited Durham University to make proposals about the future. But the Ushaw College Heritage Group has also put forward a proposal for consideration and they have produced the following Newsletter.

The Ushaw Catholic Heritage Group

August 2011

In December 2010, a petition was launched on the internet calling on Most Rev. Patrick Kelly, Archbishop of Liverpool, and the trustees of Ushaw College to forestall the closure of Ushaw College until such time as:-
            1.         a study had been made of possible future uses for the buildings and
            2.         there had been the opportunity for public debate on the matter.
The petition can be viewed at:     
Nearly 1500 people have signed the petition, mostly Catholics from the north of England, but including many others who have been connected with Ushaw College in one way or another.  From the comments, it is clear that there is a great depth of feeling that every effort should be made to safeguard the future of the college and to find suitable uses for the buildings. 

History of Ushaw College

Since its opening in 1809, Ushaw College has been the principal seminary in the north of England for the training of Catholic priests.  It replaced temporary and inadequate premises at Prudhoe and Crook Hall, which had been hastily pressed into use following the French Revolution and the enforced evacuation of the English College at Douai.

There was a steady programme of expansion at Ushaw during the nineteenth century with new buildings put up to cater for the ever-expanding number of clerical and secular students.   The Junior House, designed by the distinguished architect, Peter Paul Pugin, was added in 1859.  The present St Cuthbert’s Chapel, designed by Dunn and Hansom, was opened in 1884, replacing an earlier one by A W Pugin, which the seminary had outgrown.   The final development came in the early 1960s with the opening of a new East wing, providing additional classrooms and single bedrooms for 75 students.

Since then, the number of young men offering themselves for the priesthood has declined, and some bishops have chosen to use other seminaries for their students.  The Junior House closed in 1970, its younger students being transferred to Upholland in Lancashire.  In October 2010 the trustees announced that Ushaw College would close altogether as a seminary in the summer of 2011, and that the remaining students would be transferred elsewhere.  This has now happened.

For at least a decade, some of the spare capacity at Ushaw has been used to provide conference facilities, and these have been patronised by a range of secular and religious organisations.  In recent years, the hosting of conferences and other related businesses have made a significant contribution to the running costs of the Ushaw estate. Most reports speak very favourably of the conference facilities and of the services provided.  Many people were surprised that the trustees decided to close down the conference activities, and thus extinguish a healthy revenue stream, in December 2010, a full six months before the seminary was due to close.

Our Proposal

The Ushaw Catholic Heritage Group was formed shortly after the announcement of the closure of Ushaw College, with a view to saving the buildings and ensuring that they continued to be used in the service of the Catholic Church.  The members of the group are:-

                Paul Waddington B Sc
                Leo Darroch
                Pat Glass MP
                Michael Hill
                John Bailey
                Professor Paul Younger      DL, C Eng,
                        C Sci, C Geol, FGS, FIChemE,  FICE
                Rev Wilfrid Elkin
                Rev Michael Brown BA, JCL, PhD
                Deirdre Waddington B Arch, RIBA
President, International Federation, Una Voce Member of Parliament for NW Durham
Property Advisor                                                 
Journalist and former editor of the Northern Cross
Director, Newcastle Institute for research  on            Sustainability, Newcastle University
Parish Priest, Church of St Mary, Barnard Castle
Parish Priest, St Mary of the Rosary, Forest Hall Architect

Although the founders of the group have some funds at their disposal, their prime task was to devise a scheme that would generate the income needed to maintain and run a very extensive complex of buildings. 

It was decided that this would best be done by re-establishing and developing the conference and related businesses that had served the college well for many years.  Such an enterprise would occupy much, but probably not all, of the existing range of buildings.  In order to generate sufficient revenue, it would be necessary to double the volume of business that these enterprises achieved in 2009.   The Group believes that with proper marketing, and with some investment in improved facilities, this level of expansion could be achieved within a few years.  The extent of the buildings, their quality, and the attractiveness of the location provide ample scope for this amount of growth.  Inevitably, most of this business would be of a secular nature, although the group would seek to retain as much as possible of the ethos of the college by attracting the conferences of religious organisations.  It would also encourage the holding of retreats.

More specifically Catholic uses for some parts of the complex would be sought, once the revenue from the commercial activities had been built up to an economic level.  It is hoped that eventually there would be sufficient funds to begin the restoration of the Junior House and other derelict parts of the complex.

In February 2011, encouraged by the response to the petition, the Ushaw Catholic Heritage Group submitted a proposal to the trustees of Ushaw College along these lines.  We were advised that it would be considered, along with other proposals, by a Steering Committee under the chairmanship of Bishop Mark Davies of Shrewsbury. 

Subsequent Events

On 11th June 2011, a joint press release was issued by Ushaw College and Durham University.  It stated that the trustees of Ushaw College had decided to commission a detailed feasibility study to identify appropriate future uses for the College and its associated estate. It further stated that, as part of the feasibility study, a proposal for the University of Durham to create a centre for Catholic scholarship at Ushaw College would be explored.  No mention was made of the proposal submitted by this group.

From reports that have appeared in the press and elsewhere, it would seem that the university is primarily interested in the library and the valuable collection of books and manuscripts that it contains.  It is also interested in St Cuthbert’s Chapel, and perhaps the range of adjacent buildings which form the imposing southern frontage of the college.  So far as we can ascertain, the university’s interest, at the moment, is limited to these areas.  If the feasibility study endorses the viability of the university’s proposal, and the trustees adopt its findings, the greater part of the complex would remain available for development by other parties.  Presumably, this would include the proposals of the Ushaw Catholic Heritage Group.  We believe that our proposals could sit comfortably alongside those of Durham University.

The Future

The group has been assured that its proposal will be considered, along with others, as part of the feasibility study.  Apart from the University of Durham, the group is not aware of the identity of any other organisation that has put forward a serious proposal.  No timetable has been announced for the feasibility study, and recent correspondence has indicated that it has not yet begun.  This would suggest that it may be some time before the trustees finally decide on the future of the Ushaw estate.  The Ushaw Catholic Heritage Group, will continue to monitor developments. 

The group would welcome offers of help, comments and suggestions from anyone who supports its objectives, and especially from people who have expertise in finance, property management, tourism, or the running a conference centre.  Paul Waddington can be contacted at:  

Saturday 3 September 2011


I have just had the pleasure of baptizing Isabelle Charlotte Thompson in the Extraordinary Form.  She is just about four weeks old - within the time-frame preferred by the Church.
The old ceremony is a delightful one; it takes no chances with the devil, exorcising Satan and all his evil spawn on several occasions; the baby is addressed and questioned several times - she was not expected to answer for herself, the godparents did that! Most of the prayers are in Latin, but the questions are in English (all those present had little booklets which I had made by copying pages from The Small Ritual). Everyone seemd to enjoy the proceedings, and Baby Isabelle hardly made a sound.
In the above photo (I think the cameraman must have been a bit nervous and did not allow the picture to 'settle'), Amanda, the mother is on the right and the father, Gordon, is next to me.
May her life be a happy and holy one!

Saturday 27 August 2011

The Ushaw Cemetery

I am writing this for the benefit of [Anonymous], who left the following Comment about the Ushaw College cemetery:

Can anybody please enlighten my sister and I as to the fate of the cemetery at Ushaw? Our Brother and Father's ashes are both buried side by side there, our mother is terminally ill and only has a short time left with us. Her greatest wish is to have her ashes laid alongside those of her Husband and Son.We have tried to contact the college on several occasions,to no avail. Can anybody please 
help us?!!!!!!!!

You may have heard that Ushaw College has been closed down by the Trustees of the College.  The question of what is going to be the future of the College is very much an ongoing question, and the answer to your query about the cemetery depends on what happens to the rest of the College. At least two propositions have been put forward for the future of the College, one by Durham University and another by the Ushaw College Heritage Group.  If the Trustees look kindly on the proposal put forward by the UCHG, I feel sure that we would be able to do something about the upkeep and future development of the cemetery.  If you would like to read the recent Newsletter of the UCHG, you will find it Ushaw Catholic Heritage Group Newsletter.  In the meantime, may we all ask your prayers for the future of our great College.

Tuesday 2 August 2011

The Seal of Confession

protect+the+seal.jpg (433×724)

Canon 983: "The sacramental seal (of Confession) is inviolable; wherefore it is forbidden for a confessor by word or in any other way or for whatever reason to betray a penitent.  This also applies to an interpreter, if one is needed, or to someone who overhears what is said in the confessional box"  (my translation).

The Seal of Confession is under attack in Ireland.  Of course, the situation of the Catholic Church in that country is appalling - I understand that a recent report which I haven't read highlights a terrible situation with regard to pedophile priests and bishops who have covered up the situation, and this is a monstrous dereliction of duty on the part of the Church.
But now Enda Kelly, the Taoiseach of Ireland, is seeking to promote legislation which would force priests who hear Confessions to divulge the sins of penitents, especially pedophile priests who come to them.
In the past priests have been executed for not breaking the Seal and many others imprisoned. The Seal of Confession comes from Divine Law, and not Church Law, and may never be tampered with. This would be a slippery slope; what is next - to divulge murders ... wife-beating ... picking your nose in public? All heinous crimes (well, maybe not the last one), but if the Taoiseach gets his way, then other countries will do the same and we will all end up in prison, or worse.
Mulier Fortis suggests that we use the above symbol to show our determination to protect the Seal of Confession and our support for those who may be in the firing-line.  Of course, as reports, in a hacked letter from a Mr L. Satan written to the Toesock of Eyeland, pedophiles will not be going to Confession, which will be good business for him in the end.
Let us pray for our Church.

Tuesday 26 July 2011

Barney Life No. 39

Annual Founders' Day Requiem
Saturday, July 23rd, was the day we celebrated the Founders' Day Requiem, a convenient day to celebrate the transferal of the bodies of John and Josephine Bowes from their temporary resting place at Gibside Hall, Blaydon-on-Tyne, to the church which they had inspired, in July 1928.

Fortunately, the day dawned fine - considering the very wet weather we have been having, this was something of a miracle! The Rudgate Singers arrived early and began practicing at ten o'clock, help arrived to prepare the food-snacks for after Mass, the servers arrived, and Mass began at midday. The Requiem was in the form of a missa cantata, and the choir sang beautifully (more about them later). At the end of Mass we all processed out of church to the tomb of John and Josephine for the Absolutions. Everyone then proceeded to the lawn where a very pleasant hour was spent in the company of all the participants.
Introibo ad altare Dei

The Epistle

Dies Irae

The Gospel

Deus qui humanae substantiae...

Incensum istud, a te benedictum...

Dominus meus...

et Deus meus!

Ecce Agnus Dei...

..qui tollit...

Corpus Domini nostri...

Procession to the Tomb

At the Tomb

Libera me, Domine, de morte aeterna


The choir, The Rudgate Singers, travelled from all parts of north Yorkshire and beyond; they sang Victoria's Four Part Missa Pro Defunctis, as well as parts in Gregorian Chant.  To commemorate the occasion, this is them:

Saturday 9 July 2011

Barney Life No. 38

Much Ado About Nothing
This week the Castle Players have been performing their annual play by a certain William Shakespeare, as they have done for many years past.
But first a word about the location of this years play. Ever since the Players began performing Mr S.'s plays in the grounds of Bowes Museum, they have been staged under The Tree, a great tree to the west side of the Museum - everything was in the open, the grass of the stage area, the seats for the spectators - and no matter what the weather the performance went ahead (two years ago I went to a performance where it rained solidly for the whole play, and quite a large number of the audience disappeared at the half-time interval - the actors just got drenched!).  This year the stage area was moved to a new place, at the back of the great lawn behind the Museum.  As you can see in the first photo, this is the area where picnics take place before the play starts and during the interval. Two very large trailers with built-in, drop-down, seating shelter the audience under a canopy (apart from the front row where I was sitting - I was wet by a light shower).  The whole area was barricaded from passers-by with plastic sheeting, and I had the impression that the inside must be quite small and compact.  In fact, when I went inside to take my seat, the inside seemed to expand, like Doctor Who's Tardis, to an extraordinary degree.  And there at the back of grassed stage area was another great Tree, even, to my mind, better than the Other Tree.  I just loved the new setting and I hope that the Castle Players will keep the new set-up in the future.
The Museum Lawn

The new Grandstands
The play itself, Much Ado About Nothing, is the usual farce of blighted love, misunderstandings, a real black-garbed villain (booed by the audience whenever he appeared), and, of course, everything turns out alright in the end.  The actors were all costumed in Elizabethan costumes (so it said in the programme - how would I know?); the standard of acting was great, the action was continuous, moving to all parts of the arena, so that we all had close up views of the players, and many bits of 'business' were most amusing, especially worth mentioning was the hand-bagging Aunt who thumped with vigour the two errant leading men with her handbag, to the vast amusement of the audience.  I thoroughly enjoyed the whole play. I attended on Wednesday, but there have been performances all week - tonight is the last night.  I am already looking forward to next year.

Tuesday 28 June 2011

Barney Life No. 37

Sunday, June 26th
After the wonderful day we had on the Saturday (see previous post), all the children returned to the church for Sunday Mass and took their places at the front of the congregation, so that the whole parish could see the new Communicants.
In the afternoon, we had our annual Procession of the Blessed Sacrament.  Some of the First Communicants returned to join in the Procession. The Procession began of course with the exposition of the Blessed Sacrament;  with the canopy in place we left the church and processed around the church.  When we reached the tomb of John and Josephine Bowes, behind the apse, the procession paused and an outdoor Benediction took place; we recited the Litany of the Sacred Heart and sang the Benediction hymns, followed by the Blessing with the monstrance.  Then we continued around the house, through the garden and back into church, where again Benediction was celebrated.
Afterwards tea and refreshments were served on the lawn.  All the while the sun shone, until after the whole thing was over, there was a heavy shower.  I have been musing on the following syllogism: The Bible says that the sun shines on the righteous; the sun shone on us; therefore we are righteous! Or is there something wrong with that logic? An undistributed middle, perhaps?  Here are the photos of our Procession.

Exposing the Blessed Sacrament

The Procession begins

Arriving at the Tomb Altar

The Blessed Sacrament arrives

Prayers at the Altar

Preparing to leave

Leading into the garden

Coming through the garden

The First Communicants

Canopy Bearers

Children and Mums

Torch bearers

Returning to the church

Little Angels

Back in church