In a homily preached at the thanksgiving Mass for the gift of St John Henry Newman, at the annual Day for Clergy, Cardinal Vincent thanked clergy of the diocese for their 'ministry especially in the difficult and demanding times in which we are living.'
He noted the similarities between the current pandemic and the cholera outbreak during the life of St John Henry Newman, who along with another Oratory priest, 'volunteered to go to the heart of the pandemic and work in Bilston', a market town near Birmingham.
'Saint John Henry Newman,' he said 'is a patron saint for us priests. We look to him in his ministry, in his pattern of prayer, and in his constant reflection and effort to present our precious faith to his contemporaries.'
The Cardinal recognised the tremendous work of priests during the current pandemic as they ministered to the faithful: 'I thank you for your steadfastness, for your creativity, for your desire to keep in touch with your people in new ways and old.'
Looking forward to 19th July, when it is anticipated that most Covid restrictions will be lifted, he acknowledged that this 'will not be an easy moment for us as we try to find a way forward that respects both the energy and enthusiasm of those who want to press ahead and the anxiety and fear of those still deeply troubled.'
He encouraged priests 'to take this period gently. Let us move gradually, especially during the summer months, so as to respect the anxieties of the weakest while taking steps towards a fuller celebration and participation in our shared life of faith.'
Continuing with a reflection the saint, following Mass, Professor Jacob Phillips, Director of the Institute of Theology and Liberal Arts at St Mary's University, Twickenham, gave a talk on St John Henry Newman and the English sensibility.
The Day for Clergy, which took place this year on 7th July, is an opportunity for clergy of the diocese to gather for a day of formation, celebrating priesthood and fellowship. To comply with current restrictions, only a small number of priests attended and all arrangements for the day were made in keeping with Covid guidelines.