Sunday, 24 June 2012

Carmelite Bishop leads Portuguese Pilgrimage

Here at Aylesford we were delighted today to welcome the annual Portuguese Pilgrimage.  The piazza of the main shrine swelled with heartfelt singing, prayer and joy with the hundreds of pilgrims who had come on the Solemnity of the Birth of John the Baptist.

Despite the threat of rain, clouds soon dispersed as Mass began at 11.30 am at which Bishop Antonio Vitalino Fernandes Dantas, O.Carm. presided.  Bishop Antonio had come specially from his diocese of Beja in Portugal and recalled with fondness his previous visit to The Friars many years ago for an international meeting of Carmelites.

Professed as a member of the Carmelite Order in 1960, Bishop Antonio was ordained to the episcopacy in 1996 and was Auxiliary Bishop of Lisbon, Portugal, until becoming Bishop of Beja in 1999.

After Mass, the Portuguese pilgrims had BBQs, dancing and even games of football in the grounds of the priory.  One pitch sported Portuguese flags at one end and English flags at the other!  Was this a prophetic gesture about the European championship... or perhaps just wishful thinking?

Although the rosary procession normally concludes the day, socialising and more fun continued into the early evening.

Wednesday, 20 June 2012

100 Days of Prayer for Peace at Aylesford Priory

At the time of the original Olympic Games a hundred days of peace were declared so that the athletes could travel safely to and from the games, which were considered to be not only a sporting event but also a religious event. During these hundred days (8th June - 28th October) we are praying each day for peace in our hearts, our neighbourhoods, our nations and peace in the world. Here at the Friars, we invite you to join us in praying for peace as part of the national prayer for peace.

Click on the link below for the first in a series of prayers for peace in words, music and images prepared by the Pastoral Team at The Friars.

Saturday, 16 June 2012

Summer Fayre

The Summer Fayre

Aylesford always gets busier as we move into the summer. We have had lots of school children and many adult groups that come for retreats or tours of place or to have a conference. Many individuals and families come also perhaps to say a prayer or to walk around the grounds and the chapels and experience the peace. We say that Aylesford is a prayer in stone; many people mention experiencing a profound sense of peace when they come here. We are close to London and many come from the big city just to breathe some different air. Other people visit our great new restaurant in the Pilgrims Hall. It is a beautiful setting to have a relaxing meal. 

This evening we will have a concert by the Salvation Army and we are hoping for a good crowd of people. It looks like there will be no rain so a good evening is in store.

As I write, we are preparing for our annual Summer Fayre on Sunday 17th June. This is our big fund raiser and we are very much hoping for some decent weather so that lots of people come. We want them to enjoy themselves of course but we would like them to spend some money too. Without a really good Fayre our tight belts will have to become tighter still! It will not have escaped your attention that the Olympics will be starting next month in London. Our Summer Fayre has an Olympic theme. It is also Father’s Day so we are putting on an alternative Olympics for dads. So come along and show us what you can do! A lot of fun is on the cards. Aylesford is a place of peace but perhaps not during the Fayre!

Friday, 1 June 2012

Catching Up

It seems like ages since I last posted a blog. Life gets a little bit busier in the summer and some things get forgotten! Sorry.

Anyway we have had lots of school groups visiting. Some groups come for explicitly religious reasons and others for an historical study of an ancient religious house. There was a lovely day for the Good Shepherd Schools Liturgy. About 1200 primary school children came to celebrate their faith in different ways along with Bishop Hendricks. In the afternoon the sun shone on them for their games.

We have had several retreat groups focusing on prayer and Carmelite spirituality.

Pentecost was celebrated along with the parishioners of the Anglican parish in Aylesford. The village is closed to traffic at the moment. No-one really knows why or when it will eventually be open again. So for the moment, if you are coming to Aylesford, please make your way through the village of Eccles.
Members of the community are often asked to go here, there and everywhere to give talks, celebrate Mass, hear confessions and so on. Fr. Desiderio was in Rome on the Preparatory Commission for the Carmelite General Chapter to be held in the month of September next year. Delegates of all the Provinces of the Order will gather together in Rome to decide the direction for the Order for the following six years. Such a meeting has to be worked out meticulously. Fr. Joseph went to Scotland to speak to the summer conference of the religious in Scotland. That was held in Edinburgh this year. He took along with him Fr. Sutiono, an Indonesian Carmelite who lives in our parish in Walworth, London. Fr. Sutiono now has many photographs of Edinburgh and Glasgow.
Magnus MacFarlane Barrow
On the Jubilee weekend we have a pilgrimage on Saturday in honour of Our Lady Queen of Peace.  One of the speakers at this is Magnus Macfarlane-Barrow, the founder of Mary's Meals which feeds over 600,000 children each day. 

About 600-700 people are expected for that the Quuen of Peace Pilgrimage. On Sunday we have the annual Italian pilgrimage. The community always looks forward to that as there is usually a gift of wine left behind and during the pilgrimage there is the opportunity to taste some home made pasta. It’s a hard life being a friar!