To celebrate the feast fday of St John Fisher, Cardinal Vincent visited 2 parishes and 1 school who claim the Reformation martyr as their patron between 21 and 23 June. The Cardinal himself has a personal devotion to St John Fisher about whom he has written a book which was published in 2011. Much of this book was written when the Cardinal was studying theology as a postgraduate at Manchester University in the early 1970s.
On Sunday 21 June, he visited St John Fisher Church in Perivale where he celebrated Mass with Parish Priest Fr Agustin Conesa. Referring to the day’s Gospel about the calming of the storm, Cardinal Vincent said ‘St John Fisher faced the storm of death in total peace.’ To illustrate this sense of peace, the Cardinal said, ‘when waking to prepare for his execution he asked to be left to sleep another hour! For St John Fisher, his prison in the Tower of London was the place where he was at peace with Jesus.’
On Monday 22 June, the Cardinal visited St John Fisher Primary School in St Albans where he celebrated a Mass to mark the 60th anniversary of the school’s opening in 1965. The Mass was concelebrated by the priests of the Missionaries of the Sacred Heart who have pastoral care of the Sts Alban and Stephen Church in St Albans.
To a packed hall with as many parents and former pupils as current ones, Cardinal Vincent told the congregation to remember three things about St John Fisher. Firstly, that he was a good student, scholar and teacher and so the pupils must also be good students and scholars. Secondly, when Fisher became Bishop of Rochester in 1504, he was always kind to those in need and began the practice of bishops visiting their parishes and the poorest people. ‘Like Fisher’, he told the pupils, ‘you must always put other people first.’ The final point was that while Fisher was imprisoned in the Tower of London after refusing to sign the Oath of Supremacy to recognise Henry VIII as head of the Church of England, he grew closer to the Lord and was peaceful even in the face of certain death because he knew that the Lord was with him. ‘You too must live like St John Fisher lived during in his time in prison and always live close to Jesus’, the Cardinal concluded.
Finally on 23 June, he celebrated Mass at St John Fisher Church in Chorleywood with Parish Priest Fr Shaun Church and Assistant Priest Fr Mark Walker.