With St Joseph as their patron, it was highly appropriate that the Little Sisters of the Poor should choose the Feast of St Joseph, 19th March, to celebrate the tenth anniversary of the opening of St Anne's Home in Stoke Newington.
As Bishop Nicholas Hudson opened the festive Mass in the chapel of St Anne’s home, he invited all present to recall those who had gathered with them there a decade ago and are now with God, including Cardinal Murphy-O’Connor. Bishop Nicholas recalled the Cardinal placing in the altar relics of the True Cross, St Bernadette, St Maria Goretti, and St Jeanne Jugan, Founder of the Little Sisters of the Poor. Canon Digby Samuels and Mgr Tony Philpot were also fondly remembered.
Bishop Nicholas recalled visiting Mgr Tony in his final weeks. Tony regretted that he could no longer descend to the chapel for Mass. But then he pointed to the TV above his bed and said, ‘Look, I can follow it from here.’ ‘That’s lovely,’ responded the Bishop. To which Tony replied, ‘Lovely? It’s everything! The Eucharist is everything!’
In his homily, Bishop Nicholas suggested St Joseph must have been the most extraordinary of men to have been chosen especially by God to look after the young Jesus and his beloved Mother. He invited the congregation to imagine in their mind’s eye, and with joy, St Joseph keeping watch over Mary and taking in the face of newborn Christ, saying to himself, ‘So this is the face of God!’ To think, said Bishop Nicholas, that, without St Joseph to protect them, the Holy Family might never have survived.
Bishop Nicholas was joined at Mass by the chaplain to St Anne’s, Fr Dan Magnier, and also by Mgr Jim Curry, whose godfather is a resident. Resident priests Canon Philip Cross and Fr Peter Stevens also concelebrated. After Mass, Bishop Nicholas blessed a great festive lunch to launch a long afternoon of well-deserved celebration.