Given at St Mary's University, Twickenham on 13 May 2015 on the occasion of the investiture of Mr Andrew Cole into the Pontifical Order of St Gregory the Great
This evening’s celebration of Mass is not only the investiture of Andy Cole as a Knight of St Gregory but also a celebration of the dedication and commitment which led to the founding of St Richard Reynolds Catholic College. We give thanks for all that hard work as the Holy Father, Pope Francis honours Andy.
The history is well-known but we remember the long term desire of the parents of Catholic children in the London Borough of Richmond to have a Catholic secondary school in the borough. Andy’s zeal stirred by the desires of many parents led the Dioceses of Westminster and Southwark and the Richmond Borough Council to found this school. It is good to be working in partnership with the Local Authority particularly in relation to locating part of Strathmore, a community special school, on the St Richard Reynolds site. I would also like to again thank Lord True for his leadership of the Council which made the decision to found the schools. We continue to work with and look forward to a good working relationship with the Local Authority. Today we are delighted that the school has attracted so many applicants for the next entry of pupils in September, a confirmation of the vision of so many of you here tonight.
The investiture is a sign of the sacrifice and the cost of discipleship which Andy and others have lived so that their desire was not thwarted but in time with commitment came to fruition. The Pontifical Order of St Gregory is bestowed by the Pope on those whose deeds are outstanding and renowned, Pro Deo et Principe. As the first reading commences, “It was our God who gave us the courage to proclaim his Good News to you in the face of great opposition.” In the Easter season, the sacrament of confirmation is being celebrated in parishes across the diocese. We are reminded that one of the gifts of the Holy Spirit is the gift of courage and that the traditional slap on the face after the anointing was a sign of the opposition which a Christian could expect to meet. The life of the Christian calls for sacrifice since it is modelled on Christ who gave his life for his friends so that they might have life and have it in its fullness. The martyrdom of St. Richard Reynolds, a Bridgettine monk of Syon Abbey, founded in Twickenham by Henry V, at Tyburn on 4th May 1535 with three Carthusian Priors John Houghton, Robert Lawrence and Augustine Webster (a monk of Sheen Priory in Richmond) for refusing the Oath of Supremacy witnesses to the ultimate sacrifice. We are reminded that Christians will never be totally at home in society and although they work for its good, they remain in the words of St Thomas More, “The King’s Good servant, but God’s first.”
All those who fought for St Richard Reynolds Catholic College did so because they believed in faith education and the role of the Church in providing education for its members and for others when possible. We do this because we believe that this vision of education ensures the full development of the child’s God-given gifts and the development of the whole person who is created to become a ‘friend of God’ and find fulfilment in serving others and the common good. Religious education provides the basis for understanding the human person, his or her place in creation and the nature of society since man and woman are created by God to build communities rooted in the family and serve the common good so that all may flourish. In this vision, the different areas of learning are parts of the whole which has the spiritual dimension of the human person at its heart. It was reassuring that this vision was recognised by Ofsted when they judged both the primary and secondary schools to be outstanding, a great achievement in so short a time. In many school activities, including pilgrimages to Lourdes, young people serve the sick, the weak and the needy and place them first. In these actions they excel and discover new dimensions of the personality through generosity, service and love which might otherwise remain hidden. It is in serving that we become who God wants us to be. St Richard Reynolds Catholic College has commenced very well and we pray and hope for its future glory.
The figure of Saint Richard Reynolds himself provides the inspiration for the school and its members and as we look back we see his hand perhaps guiding its future before we knew it. St Richard Reynolds quoted psalm 27 in his trial, Credo videre bona domini in terra viventium (I believe to see the good things of the Lord). It is from this verse that the College motto is derived; Videte bona Domini (See the good things of the Lord). It is my prayer this evening that you will “see the good things of the Lord” and I pray for the school, its pupils, staff, Governing Body and families. In the Mass we offer all our intentions to the Father and unite them with the offering of Christ once and for all on the Cross. His offering reminds us that our lives are called to be sacrificial for others and the common good.
On behalf of Pope Francis, I am honoured to bestow this Papal Honour upon you and invest you as a Knight of St Gregory.