Over 100 priests from across the Diocese gathered on 6 November at Westminster Cathedral to celebrate the annual Mass for deceased clergy. Bishop John Arnold was the principal celebrant and was joined by Cardinal Cormac and Bishop John Sherrington, along with the priests of the Diocese.
The homily was given by Abbot Aidan Bellenger OSB, who placed this annual memorial in the context of a society that is increasingly more 'inimical to Christian traditions of our country.' He said, 'When we remember those have gone before, we remember their fidelity and we remember in them our communion and our solidarity. Our memories and our prayers build up a community which is a real expression in this city of London and in this country of the presence of the Living Christ.'
He went on to refer to the role of grace in the lives of priests: 'Grace is everywhere and as we pray for the repose of the souls of the deceased clergy, we remember the way in which they bring the presence of the Living Christ to the world. Not though their greatness but through their ordinariness. They are true disciples who bring Christ rather than ourselves.'
The Mass was also an opportunity for the clergy to thank Bishop John Arnold and to pay tribute to his years of dedicated service in the Diocese, as he prepares to take on new responsibilities as Bishop of Salford in a month's time.
Mgr James Curry read a message from Cardinal Vincent who was unable to be present at the Mass. In the message, the Cardinal referred to the Mass as 'a precious moment in which we can express our thanks to Bishop John Arnold.'
In the message, the Cardinal expressed his 'delight' for Bishop John in being called to serve the Lord as 'a first pastor in Salford'. He said, 'You will respond so well and will bring all your great gifts to this new mission. We will always have you in our hearts and in our prayers. We will hold you before the Lord in the moments of difficulty that you will face. We will rejoice with you in all the great moments of celebration which will emerge.'
Bishop John in turn expressed his gratitude to the priests and people of the Diocese. He then processed to the Memorial Book with the names of deceased clergy to bless it.