We were delighted to welcome 200 patrons, donors, and guests to this year’s Patrons’ Mass on 10th July in Westminster Cathedral, to honour the sick and retired priests of our diocese. Sixteen of our retired priests joined Cardinal Vincent in celebrating the Solemn Mass.
After Mass, guests gathered in the cathedral hall for a reception. Tables were decked out in green and gold, guests were seated, drinks and canapés were circulating, and the Cardinal was about to give his speech of welcome when the unexpected happened and the fire alarm went off. It turned out this was no routine test, and we needed to evacuate the hall to Ambrosden Avenue outside. Fortunately, it was a warm sunny day, and the catering team brought out platters and drinks with them and continued to serve. Guests were unfazed; an indoor sit-down reception had suddenly turned into a street party, and they were determined to enjoy it!
When the alarm was over and we were back inside the hall, the programme continued with words of welcome from Canon Gerard King, Chairman of the Sick and Retired Priests’ Committee, and Cardinal Vincent. Reflecting on the 450th anniversary of the founding of the English College at Douai, the Cardinal spoke movingly about the way the subsequent history had shaped the experience and character of the priesthood in this country, from the most turbulent and challenging period of martyrdom and exile, up to the present day. Canon Gerard highlighted two important aspects of the work of the Sick and Retired Priests’ Committee: pastoral care, and the provision of essential resources such as housing and finance. Guests joined in warm appreciation of the devoted and tireless work of Sr Clement, and in applauding the retired priests who had been with us on this day.
We are immensely grateful to everybody who helped to make this year’s Patrons’ Mass and reception such an enjoyable and successful event, not least our patrons, donors and supporters who give so generously to the Sick and Retired Priests’ Fund.
For more information on the Patrons’ Programme, email firstname.lastname@example.org or telephone 020 7798 9025.