The annual International Mass with members of Ethnic Chaplaincies from the three dioceses in London was celebrated by Cardinal Vincent in Westminster Cathedral on Sunday 29th September 2019. Gathered together were Catholics representing different nationalities in their traditional dress and carrying flags and banners representing their countries of origin, all united in their one Catholic faith and rejoicing in this celebration of unity in diversity.
Just ahead of the start of the Extraordinary Month of Mission in October, the Cardinal pointed to the ‘growing awareness of the life of the Church as being sent on mission’. It is God’s mission that we do and it is the ‘mission of the Church to continue and reflect the work of Jesus’.
Quoting St Paul in the second reading of the Mass who tells us to ‘live lives filled with faith, love, patience, gentleness’, to ‘fight the good fight’, and to ‘speak up for the truth’, the Cardinal said that ‘this is holiness of life, the most attractive witness we can give’.
Looking forward to 13th October, when Pope Francis will canonise five new saints, the Cardinal noted that these are five individuals from different parts of the world who have shown by their example this holiness of life.
To murmurs of joy and waving of flags, the Cardinal looked at the examples of holiness that each of these saints give us.
‘A new saint from India,’ he said, ‘Sister Miriam Thresia Mankidiyan was a woman of vision, who worked for the dignity, education and well-being of women. She was a woman of prayer and a woman of courage in standing up for her faith.’
‘A new saint from Italy,’ he next said, ‘Sister Giuseppina Vannini, who gave witness to the bearing of suffering with patience and in union with Jesus.’
Next followed ‘a new saint from Brazil: Sr Dulce Lopes Pontes, who was known as “Mother of the Poor”. Even as a youngster she reached out to the poor and throughout her life continued to do so. She founded a charitable works foundation and the first Christian workers’ movement in the state of Bahia. She was nominated for a Nobel Peace Prize.’
Then on to ‘a new saint from Switzerland: Marguerite Bays who had a very difficult family on which she never turned her back. She was cured on her death bed of cancer, when she was 38 on 8th Dec 1854, the date of the Proclamation of the Immaculate Conception of Mary. She lived a further 25 years constantly faithful to her family’ through all the trials they presented.
‘Four women,’ said the Cardinal, ‘who witnessed to the love of Christ through working tirelessly for social change, bearing suffering, serving the poor, and upholding family life.
‘And then there is a new saint from England: John Henry Newman, who was constantly seeking after the truth. He was a defender of the Catholic faith, and a loyal and generous priest for over 40 years in Birmingham. A priest of one of our parishes who is now a saint of God.’
Through the example of these saints and in everyone gathered at the International Mass, ‘we see the international outreach of the Holy Spirit, vibrant and fruitful in holiness of life,’ he added. ‘This is indeed a Eucharistic moment of thanksgiving!’
As if to echo the words of the Cardinal, every part of the Mass demonstrated the international nature of our Church, from the readings and prayers of the faithful proclaimed in different languages, the hymns from various traditions sung in diverse languages, to the people from many nations now making their home in London gathered in the cathedral raising their voices together in prayer and thanksgiving.
Additional photos from the International Mass are available here.