Monday, 18 September at 7.30. pm, Mrs Patty Baxter will talk about ‘hope for people in need’, in the Upper Room of St Thomas’ Church.
Monday, 25 September at 7.30pm, Miss Barbara Markham will talk about the hidden life of Mary, the mother of Jesus, in the Upper Room.
On Monday, 4 December in the Upper Room, at 1pm. Mrs Tina Hamilton will talk about ‘devotion to Mary, the Mother of Jesus.
On Monday 26 March, 2007 in the Upper Room, at 1. pm, a celebration of the feast of the Annunciation will take place. A speaker has been approached, but has not yet responded.
On Monday, 2 July, 2007 at 2. pm, the Rev Mark Griffin will conduct a tour of St Mary the Virgin Church, Wingham. He will trace its story from the timber Anglo-Saxon original church to its Cathedral like structure today.
Each meeting will be followed by tea.
On Saturday the 13th May, Feast of Our Lady of Fatima, the Canterbury members were again invited to St Andrew’s Anglican Church in Deal. Here we met up with other local members including our chairman. Fr Stanley Evans and his charming wife Marie. It was lovely to meet them again, especially the vicar, Fr Christopher Landler and his wife, not to mention the many parishioners who turned up for the celebratory Mass at ll am. The reason for this invitation was the Blessing of the Sea. Fr Chris had introduced this custom only last year but it had already been accepted in Deal as a tradition and like all English traditions, once established it had come to stay. As described in a previous report, St Andrew’s Church is very beautiful and its congregation have a great devotion to Our Lady. I reported that on our last visit in July 2005, several of us witnessed a miraculous image of Our Lady on the wall of the sanctuary, so St Andrew’s is very blessed. Assisting at the Mass was Fr Michael Boag, a priest from the Royal Chapel at Windsor Castle and after we had filed into the hall for lunch, he and the vicar sat at our table and chatted to us. I have no idea of his status at Windsor but he looked very important, dressed in a red cassock which 1 suppose is the standard colour for royal chapels. After a magnificent lunch (I couldn’t possibly go into details:), we filed back into the church where Fr Michael gave us a talk about Windsor and past English kings and then it was time to prepare for the procession through the town at 2pm. People were delegated to carry the banners. incense and the ceremonial model boat bearing a statue of Our Lady and decked with beautiful flowers. To my surprise, two of us from Canterbury were chosen to carry the wreath of flowers which was destined to be cast into the sea at the actual blessing. I found it rather heavy as it had to be carried in a special basket with handles. However, we took our place in the procession and wound our way through the streets of Deal with their charming little old cottages and eventually we emerged onto the promenade and the beach. During the procession we sang hymns to Our Lady and recited the Litany of Our Lady. Arriving at the beach there was a small crowd awaiting us, mostly made up from the local yacht club who held their oars aloft in tribute to Our Lady. Here the model boat was placed on trestles, facing the sea and Fr Chris conducted a short service and blessing. As we approached the sea we shivered with cold as a fresh sea breeze was blowing, but we manfully stuck it out until right in the middle of the service there was a sudden downpour and I am ashamed to say that I dashed for cover, although the braver ones amongst us accepted this shower as a blessing from heaven. And that’s what it really was in fact as suddenly the sky cleared and the sun shone with such intensity that whereas we had been shivering only minutes beforehand, we now began to feel uncomfortably warm. but that’s typical English weather. As it was the Feast of Our Lady of Fatima, I could not help recalling that a similar event had taken place at Fatima back in 1917 when there was another downpour followed by a very hot sun which dried up all the soaking wet pilgrims and, on that occasion. actually danced in the sky. Well, we didn’t witness any dancing but we were grateful for a bit of warmth to dry us out. The time had now arrived to actually bless the sea and drop the wreath of flowers into the waves? Some of us therefore scrambled over the sea wall and crossed the shingled beach. Fr Chris intoned the blessing and a young man threw the wreath as far out as he could. To round off the ceremony we were all startled when two petards were exploded into the sea as a royal salute to Our Lady Queen of Heaven. It was the end of a perfect day at Deal.
VISIT TO THE SHRINE OF ST JUDE, FAVERSHAM
On 26th June 2006, the Canterbury members gathered at the church of Our Lady of Mount Carmel in Faversham to visit the National Shrine of St Jude. We were warmly welcomed by Fr Brendan Grady who gave us a long talk about the history of the shrine. Last year saw the Golden Jubilee of the dedication of the shrine of St Jude, The Carmelite Friars came to the small market town of Faversham in 1926. In 1937 they took over the present building that had originally been built as a school for girls and until 1936 had been the Empire Cinema. The shrine to St Jude was dedicated on 28th October 1955. The church is dedicated to Our Lady of Mount Carmel and contains two murals by Edward Ardizzone. They depict the Presentation of Our Lady in the Temple and The Visitation. There are shrines to the Infant of Prague and St Therese of Jesus. The shrine of St Jude adjoins the church. There are some striking windows by Richard Joseph King. In the gardens there is a Rosary Way by Adam Kossowski. Jude, son of James, is only mentioned in St Luke’s gospel and in the Acts of the Apostles, as being one of the twelve apostles. Though universally honoured as a martyr, the facts are shrouded in mystery. His body was ultimately conveyed to Rome and the major relies are kept in St Peter’s basilica. From this account it will be seen that we possess little information about the apostle himself in his own time. In order to distinguish him from the other apostle who had the name of Judas, he is often called by his nickname, Jude Thaddeus. Nevertheless. the similarity of his name to that of Judas Iscariot led to devotion to the apostle being virtually non-existent until the last two hundred years. Thousands daily invoke his aid and many have seen their prayers answered in a seemingly miraculous way, even when to all human calculation the petition bordered on the hopeless. Be it in sickness. poverty, misery# distress of heart and soul, even in despair. people go to this great saint that he might find the solution to their difficulties. In the 1930s Fr Elias Lynch O. Carm began writing the newsletter that now goes out to all over the world. He received hundreds of requests for holy pictures of St Jude. He eventually printed thousands of them and that began the association of St Jude with Faversham. Today, pilgrims come from far and wide to the Shrine of St Jude in Faversham. Many write of the peace and prayerfulness of the shrine. After Father Brendan’s talk we filed into the Friars’ refectory where we enjoyed a welcome cup of tea with chocolate biscuits. There was much lively discussion around the table and we all agreed that it had been a lovely informative afternoon. Fr. Stanley Evans then thanked Fr. Brendan for his talk.
VISIT TO WHITSTABLE
On Saturday, 15th July, the Canterbury Branch members were invited to the launch of an exhibition of Our Lady of Lourdes at the Horsebridge Arts Centre in Whitstable, presented by Susan Shaw. The Horsebridge is the very heart of Whitstable, close to the sea and the famous oyster Fisheries. As we arrived, we could not help notice that all the big showroom windows of the centre were filled with large pictures and statues of Our Lady so that visitors and holidaymakers to the town could not fail to see her even if they had no intention of visiting the exhibition which, in any case, was quite free. As one of our members commented, Susan has brought Our Lady to more people than all the rest of us put together. Whitstable in July is packed with people especially on such a glorious summer day. The total number of people who therefore saw an image of Our Lady in Whitstable this summer must have numbered thousands. Although the exhibition had already been an show for nearly a week and had another week to go, Susan opted to have the official launch on a Saturday to enable everyone who contributed to it to be able to attend. So while we all stood around with glasses of wine in our hands, she gave us a talk and showed us a DVD about Our Lady. Around the walls there were photographs of individual statues which people had sent in. But I must go back to the beginning:- Six years ago Susan was studying for her Masters degree in Fine Arts and after a short visit to Lourdes that summer she chose to give her thesis a religious slant based on Lourdes as she absolutely fell in love with the place. This was surprising as Susan is not a Catholic. She then obtained a plaster statue from Hayes & Finch and approached a concrete factory on the Isle of Sheppey to make a mould for her so that she could reproduce the statue as a multiple. The result was an exhibition of over 100 concrete statues at the Kent Institute of Art & Design in Canterbury. After the exhibition. Susan advertised the statues to the general public and 100 people snapped them up. Two of them were bought by ESBVM members for their gardens. Susan then had the brilliant idea of asking each purchaser to send in photographs of their particular statue in situ. Not all of them were garden ornaments and some of them have settled down in sitting rooms# orchards, graves and forests. Some of them have left these isles and can be found in France, Germany, Australia and Western Samoa. Those in the UK are located in Essex, Whitstable, Brighton, Canterbury, the New Forest, Rochester and Scunthorpe (Lincolnshire). I end with a comment by one lady from Rochester:- ‘I say the rosary outside with her when the weather is nice. I never forget coming back to collect the statue from Rochester Cathedral. The children from Thomas Aveling School had kindly placed her on the corner of the pavement outside Rochester Cathedral with a cardboard sign balancing on her hands saying LOURDES. It was as though she was waiting for a lift back to Lourdes!’ After visiting the exhibition we had tea at the centre and made our way home to Canterbury.
REPORT ON VISIT TO ROCHESTER
By Barbara Markham – Treasurer. On Friday, 21st July 2006, and as a representative of the ESBVM, I was invited to a Garden Party given by the Bishop of Rochester. the Rt. Rev Michael Nazir-Ali and his wife Valerie. It was a scorching hot day but ideal weather for those arranging the garden party as their particular dread was the threat of rain. Personally, I felt a bit of a fraud as I was not the first choice for this event and was actually the third in line of succession so to speak. However. in my best bib and tucker, I turned up promptly at the appointed time at the gate of Bishopscourt and was greeted by the Bishop himself and also his secretary. As I was quite alone, I gravitated to one of the tables on the lawn where a nice middle-aged couple were sitting. (No fools these as it was one of the few tables in the shade!). We were soon chatting away and I discovered that they came from Tunbridge Wells and Mike was a retired Anglican priest. His wife Christine was a charming lady and a retired primary school teacher. Soon, other ladies joined us from the Tunbridge Wells area and they asked me what I did in the Church (obviously meaning Church of England). I had to explain that I was Catholic and probably my most important job was to visit the sick and housebound and take them Holy Communion each week. They were surprised to find a Catholic in their midst and I got the impression that the gathering was solidly C of E. It was also knee-deep in civil dignitories and I was dazzled by the number of mayoral chains of office. I dared to ask Mike what it was really all about and his opinion was that it was an annual get-together of the great and the good. And even he didn’t expect to be invited next year as most of his friends had already disappeared from the scene! I had to smile at this but by this time we were pressed to partake of an excellent tea and we all did justice to it. During the Proceedings W were treated to live music and one lady played and sang a few solos on the harp. There was more entertainment in the form of a dance group which displayed their skills in three dances. The last dance impressed me very much as it was similar to my own amateurish efforts at our local charismatic days of renewal. (I draw a veil over this!) The afternoon ended soon after 6pm but we had a last-minute visit to the stalls on site selling items to help the foreign missions. I took some snapshots of the Bishop, also Christine and Mike and the ladies from Tunbridge Wells and then, sadly, we had to leave for home. I think everyone enjoyed the garden party. I know I did!