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The Dean’s Weekly Message – Sunday 30 June 2019 Posted on Sunday 30 June 2019

Saints Peter and Paul
This weekend we celebrate the Feast of the two great Apostles, Peter and Paul. It is one of the most ancient celebratory days in the church calendar. We honour these two great saints who were so different in their background and experience, yet were the two foundation stones on which the church of Christ was built. Peter, the fisherman, who accompanied our Lord in his ministry and who was called to leadership of the church and Paul the former Rabbi who received a vision of Christ and became the great missionary and apostle of the gentiles. Both ended their lives and were martyred in Rome and are honoured jointly – we seek their intercession for the needs of the church in our times.

Most of the clergy moves within the Diocese which are to take effect from September have been announced over the last two weeks and as is the case over recent years most involve priests being asked to take on further responsibility for various combinations of parishes and churches. By my reckoning seven priests are either retiring, moving to positions outside of the diocese or are no longer able to continue in their parish due to ill health this summer. The flip side to this is that we have one young man, Thomas Clarke (a former pupil of St Edwards College), being ordained to the priesthood. The distinctive functions of the priest are those of presiding at the Holy Eucharist, administering the Sacrament of Reconciliation and Anointing the sick but this involves engagement and involvement with families and individuals of all ages. One of the regrettable and negative effects of the declining number of priests and the senior age profile of the clergy is that there is much less opportunity and availability for a priest to have the time and be more involved in building those personal and community relationships and spending time with people.

The amazon regions have been in the news recently as they prepare for a special church Synod regarding the particular challenges they face. Our situation pales into insignificance compared to theirs– there they have an average of 17,000 Catholic parishioners per priest spread over vast areas and often challenging terrain. Please pray for Thomas Clarke and for more vocations to the priesthood and religious life.

We had a very wet four hours last Tuesday standing under a few leaky gazebos on the Cathedral piazza talking to lots of people about the forthcoming Diocesan Synod. Despite the weather all involved felt it was a very worthwhile activity and a great many people participated in writing responses to the Synod questions and talking about the church- both what it means to them, issues that concern them and issues that they thought should be discussed. A smaller number of parishioners met last Wednesday and spent a longer time discussing similar questions and our final parish meeting takes place next Wednesday afternoon at 2pm in the Gibberd Room.

Canon Anthony O’Brien
Cathedral Dean