12th November 2019 – Autumn Reception

Nearly 50 members of the Society and their guests attended the 2019 Autumn Reception in Archbishop’s House on Tuesday 12 November.  The Chairman, Mary Goodwin, was delighted to welcome Mr Phil Brown, National President of The Catenian Association, as our guest speaker, and his wife Linda.  She explained that she had known the work of The Catenians well for many years as a Catenian wife and is grateful to be kept in touch as a widow after her first husband had died.

Speaker, Chairman and Cardinal

Mr Brown explained the Catenians had been established in the early 20th century to enable the catholic laity to tackle the bigotry which existed at the time and support the aspirations and social needs of the catholic community. It is an international organisation with members in Great Britain, Australia, Africa, Ireland, Malta, India and Nazareth in the Holy Land.

As well as support for individuals through the Benevolent Fund, the Catenians provide youth bursaries for individuals to travel abroad for voluntary work and support the work of University Chaplaincies around the country.  Their Flame conference attracted over 10,000 young people to Wembley Arena this year.

Membership was at its height in the late 1960s but has been declining recently, and his goal is to reverse this trend by ensuring that more people understand the good work the Association does.  He wants to eliminate the perception of the Catenians as an elitist, secretive group – like Catholic Freemasons.  The only criteria for membership these days is that someone should be over 18, and a practising catholic, and male – and that may change in the years to come.

The Chairman thanked Mr Brown and he answered questions.  She then asked Cardinal Vincent to speak, in particular about the events in Rome around the canonisation of St John Henry Newman.  He said the four days of celebration had been quite remarkable and full of sheer joy. He highlighted four aspects which had struck him particularly – Newman as theologian and scholar; as poet and hymn writer; as a public figure; and as a humble parish priest.

Chairman and Cardinal

His Eminence thanked members for attending and for the ongoing support of the Society, which had covered some very necessary roof repairs, and decorating work completed by a social enterprise in Wembley, training young people to be craftsmen and entrepreneurs.

11th July 2019 – Visit to The Charterhouse

Mrs Cliona Howell organised a most interesting tour of The Charterhouse for twenty-seven members and guests on 11th July 2019. 

Many of the 14th Century buildings have been reconstructed, as this Carthusian Monastery was suppressed in 1538. Thomas Sutton founded the charity in 1611 to house poor people and form an almshouse together with a school for poor boys. Today the premises house older single people, known as brothers.  The school moved to Godalming in 1872 and is well known. 

We were privileged to have Mass celebrated in the historic Chapel by Canon Richard Hearn, Dean of St Georges Cathedral, Southwark.  He pointed out that the Chapel has been a place of prayer since the 14th Century and spoke of the Carthusians and also St Benedict, whose feast it was that day.

26th March 2019 – Annual General Meeting

Fifty-one members and their guests attended the 95th Annual General Meeting of the Society in the Throne Room of Archbishop’s House on 26 March 2019 preceded by Holy Mass in the Cathedral.  The Chairman thanked Council members for their work during the year. Members were informed about the financial performance of the Society since the previous AGM and that it had been possible to again increase our contribution to Archbishop’s House, this year to £53,000. The Society’s accounts had been independently examined and approved by Council. The Accounts will be submitted to The Charity Commission in England and Wales and copies are available from the Secretary. The Chairman announced that the Society will celebrate its Centenary in 2022 and this occasion will be marked in a special way.

Following the business of the AGM, members enjoyed the reception especially Cardinal Vincent’s words of welcome and news of his latest activities. His Eminence remains hugely appreciative of the contribution the Society makes towards the maintenance of Archbishop’s House. The Chairman presented the Cardinal with the Society’s gifts and thanked members for their support.

The evening was marked by two special features involving the Vice Presidents of the Society. Mr John Barrie KCSG launched his book “A History of the Society: the First 90 Years” which surveys the Society’s progress in the context of the Church in the twentieth century.

John Barrie signing a copy of the Society's history

Cardinal Vincent presented Mr Michael Milbourn, a former chairman of the Society, with the Benemerenti medal in recognition for his work for the church.

Michael Milbourn with his newly awarded Benemerenti Medal

The Cardinal then spoke to members about the joy and inspiration which may be found in the forthcoming canonisation of Blessed John Henry Newman.

6th November 2018 – Autumn Reception

Over 50 members of the Society and their guests attended the 2018 Autumn Reception in Archbishop’s House on Tuesday 6 November.

Mr Kevin Hyland OBE

The Chairman was delighted to welcome Mr Kevin Hyland OBE as our Guest Speaker. Mr Hyland had been invited at Cardinal Vincent’s suggestion, to talk about the mission and work of the Santa Marta Group of which he is a committee member and having recently retired as the first Independent Anti-trafficking Commissioner. Mr Hyland gave a compelling presentation about the scale and horror of worldwide human trafficking and explained how the Catholic Church can play a crucial role in changing the sorry fact that 40 million people are modern day slaves.

Cardinal Vincent then also spoke about human trafficking and modern slavery. His Eminence reported on the recent Synod on Youth in Rome, the Adoremus Eucharistic Congress in Liverpool and the World Meeting of Families held in Dublin.

The Cardinal and Michael Milborun

At the end of his talk, the Cardinal was pleased to acknowledge Michael Milbourn’s significant contribution to the life of the Society by announcing his appointment, by The Duke of Norfolk, President of the Society, as a lifetime Vice President.

This was followed by a generous buffet and socialising among members and their guests which concluded a memorable evening.

24th July 2018 – Visit to Lambeth Palace

A group of members and guests visited Lambeth Palace on 24th July.  This was a great privilege, as very few private tours are allowed.

The afternoon started with Mass in the 14th Century Crypt, the oldest part of the Palace, celebrated by Canon Richard Hearn who is the Dean of St George’s Cathedral in Southwark.

Mass in the Crypt

This was followed by a guided tour of the Palace, including the Chapel, above the Crypt, which is also one of the oldest parts but has been renovated several times over the years.  The Great Chamber, now known as The Guard Room, is a library and houses a great number of ecclesiastical volumes – in fact we were told that only the Vatican Library houses more religious books than those at Lambeth Palace.  It is said that it was in this Hall that St Thomas More refused to swear an Oath of Supremacy declaring Henry VIII head of the Church of England and was taken to the Tower of London and eventually executed.

Lambeth Palace

Our two knowledgeable guides also showed us some interesting paintings and artefacts and lead us through the lovely gardens.  Tea and biscuits were served to end a very pleasant afternoon.

Part of our Group in the Gardens

10th May 2018 – Annual General Meeting

Sixty-three members and their guests attended the 94th Annual General Meeting of the Society in the Throne Room of Archbishop’s House on 10 May preceded by Holy Mass for the Feast of the Ascension in the Cathedral.  Members were informed about the financial performance of the Society since the previous AGM and that it had been possible to again increase our contribution to Archbishop’s House, this year to £50,000.  The Society’s accounts would be submitted to The Charity Commission in England and Wales and copies will be available from the Secretary. The Chairman confirmed that he would be stepping down from the Council at the end of the AGM and he was warmly thanked by members. He thanked Mr Paul Williams for his contribution as Treasurer and welcomed Mr Ben Holden, Mrs Fiona Dick and Mr John Dick to the Council.

Following the business of the AGM, members enjoyed the reception especially Cardinal Vincent’s words of welcome and news of his latest activities. His Eminence remains hugely appreciative of the contribution the Society makes towards the maintenance of Archbishop’s House. The Cardinal spoke to us about some recent important visitors to the House and also about his work in Rome. Recent weeks had seen difficult ethical questions debated in the public square including gender identity and the care of the terminally sick infant Alfie Evans. Both subjects had engaged the nation and he hoped that the Catholic church’s teaching and response to these had brought clarity, sensitivity and truth.

The outgoing Chairman’s final responsibilities were to present the Cardinal with a cheque from the Society and to announce his successor, Mrs Mary Goodwin. Mrs Goodwin thanked Mr Milbourn for his outstanding work for the Society over twenty years.

Cardinal Vincent and Michael Milbourn

18th October 2017 – Autumn Reception

Over 60 members of the Society and their guests attended the 2017 Autumn Reception in Archbishop’s House on Wednesday 18th October.

Dr. Peter HowellAt Cardinal Vincent’s suggestion we had a speaker to talk about the history of the House and we could not have found anyone better than Dr. Peter Howell, a senior member of The Victorian Society and a member of the Westminster Cathedral Art and Architecture Committee.  He provided an informative and amusing account of the history of the residences of the Archbishop of Westminster, culminating in the construction of the current Archbishop’s House.  We also remembered Cardinal Vincent’s predecessor as Archbishop, Cardinal Cormac Murphy-O’Connor, whose funeral the Chairman had attended as representative of the Society.

2017 Autumn Reception

There followed a generous buffet that appeared to be heartily enjoyed by the members present, contributing to an excellent evening that also resulted in a satisfactory addition to the Society’s funds!

 

13th June 2017 – Visit to Stonor Park

On a beautiful Tuesday in June, 30 members and guests made a most enjoyable private visit to Stonor Park where we were greeted by the owner, Lord Camoys, head of the family that has occupied the house and the surrounding rolling Chiltern landscape for more than eight centuries.

Stonor Park Visit

Knowledgeable guides gave us a tour of the house, pointing out the development of the property from the original 12th Century hall.  Thankfully, many original features remained because of the financial and other penalties suffered by the Catholic Stonor family which prohibited refurbishment of the type undertaken in other large houses in the area.

Stonor Park Visitors

Mass was said in the Stonor family chapel by Canon Richard Hearn, Dean of St. George’s Cathedral, Southwark, reprising the role he played in the Society’s visit to Canterbury Cathedral in 2015.  We were particularly grateful to him because he had to miss lunch and the tour of the house to return to London for a meeting occasioned by the terrorist acts of the previous week.  Canon Richard said he welcomed the opportunity of saying mass in the chapel, following in the footsteps of St Edmund Campion and other dedicated priests of the Reformation era.  During mass we remembered our fellow member Claude Kauffmann who had signed up for the visit but sadly died the week before.

Mass said by Canon Richard Hearn in the Chapel

The photos were generously provided by Maggie Burgess.

9th May 2017 – Annual General Meeting

Forty-nine members and guests attended the 93rd Annual General Meeting of the Society in the Throne Room of Archbishop’s House on 9 May, preceded by mass in the Cathedral.  Members were informed about the financial performance of the Society since the previous AGM and that it had been possible to again increase our contribution to Archbishop’s House, this year to £47,000.  The Society’s accounts would be submitted to The Charity Commission in England and Wales and copies will be available from the Secretary.  The Chairman expressed thanks for the contribution of Maggie Hood, who was leaving the Council, her place being taken by Cliona Howell.

Cardinal and Chairman with this year's cheque

Members enjoyed an excellent reception following the AGM, with Cardinal Vincent in great form, as ever warmly welcoming members to Archbishop’s House and hugely appreciative of the contribution the Society makes towards the running expenses of the building.  He gave us details of his recent trip to Rome with four British Moslem leaders, representing different strands of Islam, and their meeting with Pope Francis.  He said that the trip had brought home to him the despair of moderate Moslem men and women in the face of the brutal divisions within their religion, particularly evidenced by the conflicts in the Middle East and Africa.  He also remarked that he could not fail to notice the profound impact that Pope Francis had had on his guests and he was sure that the visit would have a positive impact on relations between Christians and Moslems in Great Britain.

Cardinal speaking to guest

13th October 2016 – Autumn Reception

The Society’s 2016 Autumn Reception was held in Archbishop’s House on 13 October, by kind invitation of the Archbishop. A somewhat smaller than usual group of members and their guests enjoyed an extremely convivial evening and our host provided us with his usual interesting and candid commentary on church and national events.

The guest speaker was Peter Stanford, known for his extensive contribution to Catholic life in the UK – as a contributor to most of the broadsheets and through frequent appearances on radio and TV, as editor of The Catholic Herald and Tablet columnist, as biographer of Cardinal Basil Hume and Lord Longford (among others), and as director of The Longford Trust. He offered a fascinating snapshot of the work of The Longford Trust in relation to the challenges faced by offenders, particular young people whose attempts to obtain further education, that would reduce their chances of recidivism, were hampered by prejudice and lack of funds. He provided stirring examples of young people who, nevertheless, and with the help of scholarships from the Longford Trust, had attained academic success and provided role models for other young offenders.

Peter Stanford and Michael Milbourn with the Cardinal
Peter Stanford and Michael Milbourn with the Cardinal