It has been a very important weekend for the Sacred Heart parish in Wimbledon, South-West London, founded by the Jesuits over 100 years ago. It was revealed over a year ago that the Society of Jesus was to hand over administration of the parish to the Archdiocese of Southwark. This is largely because of the lack of manpower owing to a shortage of vocations in the Jesuits in Britain. It was then announced that the new Parish Priest would be Monsignor Nick Hudson, a Rector of the English College in Rome. This was an inspired choice.
Fr Nick is from the parish. His family lived just a few streets away from the church where he was baptised and ordained, as he reminded parishioners at his first Mass last night (Saturday). His parents passed away a few years ago but I remember them and his older brothers who were with me at school in Wimbledon College SJ (which he also attended) and in the local cubs and scout group. It is one of the largest Catholic troops in England and has the papal colours of white and gold in its necktie.
Monsignor Hudson also announced that with the assistance of his new curate and with the help of some of the Jesuits who will continue to reside in the parish, the number of Sunday and weekday Masses and confession times will be unchanged.
On Friday night a special Mass was held at which the Archbishop of Southwark Peter Smith inducted Monsignor Hudson as Parish Priest. In his homily he paid tribute to the role played by the Jesuits since 1877 when a member of the Courtauld family Edith Arendrup lived at Cottenham Park and invited the Jesuits to start a Mass centre in her house. She then provided the funds for the magnificent church at Edge Hill.
The Mass was followed by a reception at the parish hall when presentations were made to the Jesuit priests. So far it appears that the transition has worked smoothly. Thanks are due to all the Jesuits who ministered there over the years but it is good to know that they will still be associated with Wimbledon (eg Jesuit Missions) for some time.