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Interior of St Walburge's Church, PrestonAs the Year of Faith approaches, the Most Reverend Vincent Nichols, Archbishop of Westminster called on the congregation at the Preston Guild Mass on Saturday 1 September “to be more confidently Catholic in all we do”.

Speaking at the Preston Guild which is only celebrated every 20 years, Archbishop Nichols said:“Being confidently Catholic means having confidence in the truth of faith, a truth which is held before us as a great gift from God…” he said. “This truth of faith is truth about ourselves, about our human condition, fallen and redeemed. It means the truth about God who, in infinite love and compassion, comes to us in the Incarnate Word so that we may never again be overwhelmed by the loneliness of thinking that all depends on us and therefore destined for oblivion.”

During his homily at St Walburge’s Church, Preston, Archbishop Nichols dwelt on the 2012 Preston Guild theme of “Looking back to look forward”  saying that it is vital that “we deepen the roots of our faith so that we may be the bearers of its fruit”. In doing so, he reflected on his own personal Lancashire Catholic heritage and how the lessons of the past can provide us with wisdom for the future.

Broadening his reflections to encompass Preston’s historic wool trade which brought Preston its status as a guild market town in 1179, Archbishop Nichols said honesty was an endeavour, and described the example set then of honesty in business : “profit combined with wider purpose for the common good”.

He also spoke of the wool merchants who migrated to Preston from Flanders in the 14th century and who enabled us to “learn together how to fashion a future for the benefit of all. “

Archbishop Nichols pointed out that faith too is for the common good; the benefit of all. “ Referring to Pope’s letter on the Year of Faith, Porta Fidei, he said we may “never think of belief as a private act” for “faith is choosing to stand with the Lord and so as to live with him” and be confidently Catholic in all we do.

To live with the Lord, is to share truth at the heart of faith, in all we do and with all whom we encounter. This means having a strong sense that of the truth of God. This is the joy and freedom which comes in relationship in faith with the Lord.

Archbishop Nichols concelebrated the Mass with the main celebrant, Bishop Campbell, Bishop of Lancaster. The congregation was made up of people for whom Preston is part of their past, present or future – bishops and priests who have or are serving in Preston, school children from local schools, and parishioners representing all of Preston’s 17 parishes.

The guild status was awarded to Preston in 1179, and the festival is celebrated every 20 years, the last one being in 1992. Recent Guilds have taken on an ecumenical dimension with three Anglican Bishops present at Saturday’s Mass together with eight Catholic Bishops.

To read Archbishop Vincent Nichols’ homily, please click on the link in the related files panel.