Tuesday 21 August

On Friday 10 August we celebrated the Feast of St Lawrence on its actual date with the school celebrating Mass at 8.30am. This was also the first Mass of the school year so there were a lot of new students each of whom according to naval tradition rang a bell to announce their arrival. Later at the end of Mass Fr Mike Muhr our Pastor for the last 3 years would ring the bell again signalling his departure. As soon as Mass was over I went home as this would ordinarily have been my day off. I returned later that evening for a surprise party for Fr Mike. I had planned a little prayer time for Fr Mike with the entire staff sitting in a circle. It was a very participative liturgy in which each staff member shared a memory. There was much laughter and not a little emotion. Continuing the surprise we then adjourned next door where outside caterers had prepared a meal after which we sat down for a film screening.

The following weekend we celebrated the transferred feast of St Lawrence and the departure of Fr Mike. The high point was a multi-lingual celebration with both Hispanic and English choirs and many instrumentalists and percussionists.

The music comprised Ven al banquete/Come to the Feast (Hurd), Bilingual Mass of Creation (Haugen/Alonso), my bilingual setting of Psalm 112, Celtic alleluia with bilingual verses, Every single thing we are (Cortez), Eat this bread (Taize), Bilingual I am the bread of life (Toolan), Amen, el cuerpo de Cristo (Schiavone) and Themba Amen (Iona Community). While I continued with the next Mass at 1230 the crowds who arrived for the 11am Mass tucked into a massive indoor barbecue in honour of St Lawrence (that’s how he was martyred!). Fortunately there was still some remaining when I got there!

At other Masses I also sang Paul Field’s ‘Go Peaceful’ which seemed the perfect farewell for Fr Mike. I also played Widor’s Toccata (his favourite piece) after one of the Masses.

We had the Solemnity of the Assumption only 2 days later so I decided to take my day off on Thursday instead. When it came to it however I had to give organ lessons to two new scholarship students at Jesuit. This gave me the opportunity to get to grips with the new Phoenix organ there and I was able to resurrect Vierne’s 2nd Symphonie which I had not looked at for years.

The new pastor arrived on Wednesday but has been deep in settling into the new job so we have not seen much of him.

On Friday I headed for the beach which I had not visited for a while.

Over the weekend there was one thing in the mind of many catholics and it was the report (published that week) of the massive abuse by clergy in the Dioceses of Pennsylvania. Mention of 300 clergy being guilty of destroying the lives of over 1000 people is not something that anyone can bear. Nearly all the homilies that weekend focussed on the shame of the Church. The previous week there had been a report into the abuse at Downside and Ampleforth schools and I’m told another report is expected in January which will deal with similar abuse at Ealing Abbey. So many for whom I have held respect in the past seem to be culpable of neglect at best. Many of the abusers are dead but there is a worrying number of cases which emanate from the last decades. Currently in USA there are states which only accept claims of historic abuse from victims under 50 years of age. I campaigned a decade ago that asylum seekers claims of abuse in their country of origin be taken seriously by immigration in UK who were loathed to listen to claims made by seekers which were not backed up by statements made when they first sought entry into UK. The systems can be so uncompromisingly stupid at times. Getting to the stage of declaring abuse takes so much courage and time.

Less depressing was the music-making at the 7pm Mass. Over the last few weeks the numbers involved have really grown. This weekend we gained an excellent guitarist/vocalist and another woman who is a refugee from New York having spent 4 years in a neighbouring parish. She asked to be a cantor. So whereas all other Masses have one cantor for each the 7pm now has three potentially!

On Monday I got through a mountain of ironing before enjoying time by the pool. The removal of trees has made such a difference.

Today I was back in the routine preparation and circulation of materials for next weekend’s Masses. I completed the day with a meeting to prepare the Bishop’s visit on 15 September to install Fr Dan Kayajan as Pastor.

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