A Mass of Thanksgiving will be celebrated in Westminster Cathedral on Sunday 18 September 2011 to mark the first anniversary of the Papal Visit. (Entry by ticket only.)

One year on from the Papal visit to the UK and the word on the lips of many Catholics is ‘confidence’. The Archbishop of Westminster has encouraged Catholics to join him in a weekend of celebrations,  remembering the special events that took place in London and in England and Scotland in 2010 during the Pope’s Visit.  

A Time to Celebrate

In a video message released ahead of the anniversary of the Papal Visit, Archbishop Vincent Nichols said: 'I hope that you will find time as a family or as a group of friends or as a group of youngsters, to get together, to remember the stories of that weekend. Find your photographs, have another look at the DVD... delve into that memory bank and bring out those treasured memories again and enjoy them.”  The whole video can be found by following this link: 

The Mass of Thanksgiving, at Westminster Cathedral, for the anniversary of the State Visit of Pope Benedict XVI to the United Kingdom will be attended by those who made a particular contribution to the organization of the original visit. All of the Bishops of England & Wales, along with all seminarians, will attend remembering the historic meeting of the Holy Father with the Bishops and seminarians at St Mary’s College, Oscott, on 19 September, 2010. The Government will be represented by officials headed by Simon Martin, the Director of Protocol for the Foreign and Commonwealth Office, accompanied by the Ambassador to the Holy See, Nigel Baker.  The Archbishop of Canterbury and the Church of England will be represented by the Bishop of St Albans. 

Other celebrations of the anniversary in Westminster diocese will include a special evening for young adults held at Maria Fidelis School and St Aloysius Church NW1 to reflect on the messages Pope Benedict shared with us. 

In Barnet’s Mary Immaculate and St Gregory Church, the New Translation of the Mass will be used as the focus during a ‘festival Mass’ commemorating the Holy Father’s visit. This will be the only Mass celebrated at Mary Immaculate and St Gregory Church on Sunday 18 September, in an aim to bring the whole parish together. 

Friday Penance

Friday 16 September marked the re-introduction of Friday penance, with the Bishops Conference asking Catholics to abstain from eating meat. Friday is set aside as a special day of penitence, as it is the day of the suffering and death of the Lord.

If people do not usually eat meat, then they are encouraged to abstain from eating something else that forms a regular part of their diet. The hope is that Friday Penance will have a similar effect to the Pope’s visit, in unifying British Catholics.

Home Mission Sunday

This message of having confidence to come together to worship the Lord, to give thanks for the Papal visit and build upon the lessons learned through it, is supported by the fact that Sunday is Home Mission Sunday. Home Mission Sunday focuses on praying for the work of evangelisation and how people share the values of their faith in positive ways.

The theme of Home Mission Sunday this year is ‘Fresh Wind In Our Sails’ which is what the Holy Father is reported to have said his visit to the UK gave him. Home Mission Sunday will be an occasion to draw strength from the Papal visit, and his enjoyment of it, that will help Catholics to feel confident in our ongoing journey of faith.

Bishop Kieran Conry, responsible for Mission in England and Wales, is inviting Catholic’s has said, “What we want to do on Home Mission Sunday this year is to say to people, ‘Fill your sails again with fresh wind. Pick up that enthusiasm and excitement again and let it blow through, blow away some of the dust that has sort of settled and blow away some of the tiredness and indifference that’s crept into our own lives. Fill our sails again with that confidence and joy of being a Catholic.’”

Have Confidence. Have Faith.

Archbishop Nichols echoed the words of Bishop Kieran Conry, saying,'I think this Home Mission Sunday on the anniversary of the Papal Visit is a huge opportunity for us to remember again the graces and the energy that surrounded the visit of Pope Benedict and to take fresh encouragement from that... We need confidence, we need a renewed wind of the Holy Spirit in our backs so that we don't look down, we don't look backwards, we face the future, we face forward confident in the message that the Lord gives us, that the Holy Father affirmed within us”

This weekend, then, is sure to be both a prayerful and joyous one. The anniversary of the Papal visit is an opportunity to reflect on how the events of a year ago influenced you and your faith and to remember the remarkable scenes of the Holy Father and Catholics across Britain, whether you were at any of there or watching at home. Let us join with Archbishop Nichols and Catholics across the United Kingdom in, “...making this Home Mission Sunday, this anniversary of the Holy Father's visit really very special.'