20th June 2021 – 12th Sunday in Ordinary Time

Dear Brothers & Sisters,

This week is full of celebrations of English martyrs. Today, 20th June is the feast day of St Alban, a Roman soldier and the first to die for the Christian faith in our land. He was beheaded and a shrine was built on the site of his martyrdom. That shrine developed into a cathedral and later a town, bearing the name of the saint.

On Tuesday, 22nd June, we will rejoice in the feast day of St Thomas More and St John Fisher, martyrs of the Reformation. Thomas More was Chancellor of king Henry VIII. A great intellectual, married and with a large family, he opposed Henry’s divorce. Such an opposition, which he did on the grounds of his conscience brought him to death remaining the king’s good servant but God’s first. John Fisher was the bishop of Rochester and the only one who did not sign the Act of Supremacy, which made Henry head of the Church in England. Imprisoned in the Tower, he was beheaded for the faith.

Next weekend, our Diocese celebrates the feast day of St John Southworth, whose shrine is at Westminster Cathedral. He was born in Lancastershire, trained at the English College in Douay (Northern France) and minister in the Westminster area. He was imprisoned a couple of times and upon release he continued ministering to the sick and homeless in our city, during a time of pandemic. After his final apprehension on 19 June 1654, he was tried at the Old Bailey, where he insisted on pleading guilty to being a priest. He was reluctantly condemned to be hung, drawn and quartered. His remains were recovered and sent to Douay where he laid till the French Revolution. Eventually his body came to the Cathedral. He is considered the patron saint of the diocesan priests and so the priestly ordinations in the diocese happen around his feast day, 27th June.

Next Saturday four men will be ordained for our diocese, William, Tim, Jakub and Marco. Pray for them and for an increase of vocations. Why not pray for me too as I begin my ministry forming the next generation of priests for our diocese.

Fr Javier

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