SACRED HEART WIMBLEDON

Sacred Heart Church, Wimbledon  Photo: © Michael Fisher

Sacred Heart Church, Wimbledon Photo: © Michael Fisher

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.

Mgr Nick Hudson is congratulated by parishioners after his first Mass as new PP  Photo: © Michael Fisher

Mgr Nick Hudson is congratulated by parishioners after his first Mass as new PP Photo: © Michael Fisher

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.

Mgr Nick Hudson is congratulated by parishioners after his first Mass as new PP  Photo: © Michael Fisher

Mgr Nick Hudson is congratulated after his first Mass as new PP Photo: © Michael Fisher

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.

Mgr Nick Hudson new PP Sacred Heart Wimbledon  Photo: © Michael Fisher

Mgr Nick Hudson new PP Sacred Heart Wimbledon Photo: © Michael Fisher

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.

Archbishop Peter Smith inducts Mgr Hudson as Parish Priest Photo: Southward Archdiocese website

Archbishop Peter Smith inducts Mgr Hudson as Parish Priest Photo: Southwark Archdiocese website

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.

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ACROSS THE IRISH SEA

Howard Waldron (left) & Dave Ireland at York Racecourse June 2013  Photo: © Michael Fisher

Howard Waldron (left) & Dave Ireland at York Racecourse June 2013 Photo: © Michael Fisher

I am taking a trip back in time across the Irish Sea. My first journey for 2014 involves a flight to Birmingham this afternoon (Thursday). A good friend died after Christmas and his funeral is tomorrow (Friday) at Robin Hood Crematorium. My obituary for Howard Waldron (RIP) will hopefully appear after I have spoken at the service.

With Marie & Howard Waldron & Dave Ireland on the walls at York, where we parted for the last time in June 2013  Photo: © Evelyn Fisher

With Marie & Howard Waldron & Dave Ireland on the walls at York, where we parted for the last time in June 2013 Photo: © Evelyn Fisher

Howard and his (then girlfriend) Marie were among the friends I got to know in Birmingham when I came to work there for BBC Radio Birmingham (now WM) in 1975. Elsewhere on these pages you will find my story about the Boomtown Rats, one of the many Irish groups I got to meet. The Dubliners and Horslips are among the others I interviewed at Pebble Mill, one of the finest broadcasting centres in England, sadly now demolished.

With Howard Waldron at York Racecourse, June 2013

With Howard Waldron at York Racecourse, June 2013

My journey on Friday evening will bring me back to London, where I grew up (1954-67) and where my younger daughter is now based. On Saturday I will get the first chance this season to see my football club AFC Wimbledon in action. They take on Torquay at Kingsmeadow in League 2. At the moment the Dons are in mid-table and hopefully after a good 3-0 win last weekend they can build on that form as the last thing we need is another end-of-season relegation scenario.

Sacred Heart Church, Wimbledon  Photo: © Michael Fisher

Sacred Heart Church, Wimbledon Photo: © Michael Fisher

As it happens, this is also a very important weekend for the Sacred Heart parish in Wimbledon where I used to live and go to school. After running the parish for over 100 years since they founded it in 1887, the Jesuits are handing over the administration to the Archdiocese of Southwark at a special Mass on Friday evening. The new Parish Priest is Monsignor Nick Hudson, a former Rector of the English College in Rome, who was ordained a priest in Wimbledon. There will still be a Jesuit presence in the parish, however, both at the schools (Donhead and Wimbledon College), at Jesuit Missions in Edge Hill and at a nearby Jesuit residence.

One of the reasons the Jesuits are handing over what was regarded as their most prestigious parish in England and Wales is the lack of voacations. They do not have the manpower to continue serving the normal parish needs. It is therefore interesting that my current parish of St Brigid’s in South Belfast will shortly be welcoming a Jesuit who is at his Tertiary stage, a period of reflection and parish experience that comes after ordination and before he makes his final vows.

Fr Nick Austin is a college professor lecturing in moral theology in London. He is a native of Coventry, an area I explored soon after I moved to Birmingham in 1975, visiting the Anglican Cathedral. It was bombed during the second world war but a new structure was designed for the 20thC and was consecrated in 1962. By coincidence I met at a friend’s house in Wimbledon on another occasion a relative of the late Keith New (died February 2012), who designed some of the stained glass windows for St Michael’s Cathedral. Coventry was also a city where Howard Waldron used to work.

In Bath with Dave Allen, Marie & Howard Waldron March 2013  Photo: © Evelyn Fisher

In Bath with Dave Allen, Marie & Howard Waldron March 2013 Photo: © Evelyn Fisher

The wheel will come full circle when I travel to Dublin next week, on my return from England.

WHAT IF?

CAFOD campaign

CAFOD campaign

During a visit to Bristol, I heard about the Enough Food for Everyone IF campaign. I saw a banner on display near Bristol’s Anglican Cathedral, a fine building. CAFOD along with over 100 charities in the UK is part of a coalition pushing for action by the G8 on the issue of global hunger, so that 2013 can be the beginning of the end of global hunger. The G8 leaders are due to meet at the Lough Erne resort, near Enniskillen in County Fermanagh in June.

Deacon David Brinn

Deacon David Brinn

CAFOD is the official overseas aid agency of the Catholic church in England and Wales. The group’s organiser in the Diocese of Clifton is Deacon David Brinn, who is based in the parish of Frome in Somerset. He was invited to speak at a Mass at the university chaplaincy in Bristol, at which he set out the aims of the campaign. He said there are four main “ifs”:-

There is Enough Food for Everyone….

IF  we force governments and investors to be honest and open about the deals they make in the poorest countries that stop people getting enough food.

IF  governments keep their promises on aid, invest to stop children dying from malnutrition and help the poorest people feed themselves through investment in small farmers.

IF  we stop poor farmers being forced off their land, and use the available agricultural land to grow food for people, not biofuels for cars.

IF  governments stop big companies dodging tax in poor countries, so that millions of people can free themselves from hunger.

CAFOD is a sister organisation of Trócaire, set up by the Irish Catholic Bishops forty years ago for overseas aid. This week representatives of Trócaire are at the 57th session of the Commission on the Status of Women at the United Nations. Both groups are affiliates of Caritas International. More details of the CAFOD campaign including details of how to lobby MPs can be found here. One in eight people in the world go hungry.

One final observation about the Catholic community in Bristol. While walking around the city centre I came across the church of St Mary on the Quay, Colston Street. In the pastoral care of the Divine Word Missionaries (SVD), it was a Jesuit parish from 1861 until 1996, when a lack of priests meant that the order had to withdraw their services. Now, for similar reasons, the Jesuits are leaving the Sacred Heart parish in Wimbledon, where I used to live.

St Ignatius of Loyola SJ

St Ignatius of Loyola SJ

Among the statues there which shows the Jesuit influence is one of St Ignatius of Loyola, founder of the Society of Jesus. Perhaps I should have taken the hint and speculated what if the new Pope were to be a Jesuit! Certainly the election of Cardinal Bergoglio from Buenos Aires as Pope Francis I is very welcome. I hope the first Jesuit to become Pontiff will bring a wind of change with him, as we were promised during the Papacy of John XXIII.