Tuesday, 26 June 2012

Bishop Roche moves to the Vatican

Bishop Arthur Roche, Bishop of Leeds since 2004, has been appointed secretary of the Congregation for Divine Worship and Discipline of the Sacraments. This appointment will see him move to Rome and raises him to the office of archbishop.

Bishop Roche said: "I have to confess that I was very surprised and shocked by the news of this appointment. I am sorry to be leaving the Diocese of Leeds with its priests and people whom I have loved very much. I shall miss them enormously."

Archbishop Vincent Nichols, President of the Bishops’ Conference of England and Wales, said: "It is a great honour for England and Wales that one of our bishops has been given this responsibility in service of the Apostolic See. Bishop Arthur has our full support and prayers as he undertakes this role. We will miss him very much."

During his time in Leeds Bishop Roche has encouraged and supported the work of St Pauls, for which we remain very grateful. We wish him every blessing for the future.

Sunday, 24 June 2012

Saint John the Baptist

One of the distinguishing qualities of Tricker as an artist, is his freedom to move between media. Whatever theme engrosses him he will be drawn to depict it in a manner that seems to him most appropriate, in stone or in wood, in oils or in water colour, in prints or drawings, or – his latest development, in stained glass. For the uncompromising and heroic figure of John the Baptist, he turns to the medium of print.

Here is a massive prophet, in all the starkness of black and white, striding through the wilderness. The only colour in the print is the menacing red of the sun. John, as we know, is a figure reminiscent of the heroic Old Testament. He lived alone in the wilderness, unshaven, unkempt, dressed in camel skin, living on the meagre fare of ‘locusts and wild honey’. Tricker etches for us the shaggy coarseness of his garment, while at his feet are the locusts and above them, in flight, the bees eager to make honey. He has almost a fanatic’s gaze, big eyes fixed on eternity. Yet, he is no fanatic, but a working servant of God. He carries the roll of sacred scripture beneath his arm and behind him flows the waters of the Jordan in which he will baptise all those who wish to be ‘converted to the Lord’.

His great cry from the desert was ‘repent, the Kingdom of God is at hand’. Although this is desert land, the very presence of this prophet of God has brought into leaf the tree behind him, sheltering the birds and bringing vitality to what has been barren. At the extreme left, at the very top, we can make out the sketchy figures of the well-clothed visitors whom John will summon to disrobe and be immersed in the healing waters of repentance.

Because John the Baptist was important to Jesus, the man chosen by God to ‘prepare the way’, the Eastern Church has delighted to depict him as winged. Perhaps all prophets are winged, since, like the birds, they live in an atmosphere higher and freer and purer than the rest of us. John bears his wings very lightly. He seems aware of nothing except the overwhelming importance of his mission. If he can convince his fellow countrymen of their need of God, and of their own personal responsibility in turning away from the darkness of self towards the demanding brightness of the Lord, then he will have made them ready to hear the voice of the Word of God, of the Christ.

He is ‘a herald, marking out the way’, and, of course, Jesus will later tell us ‘I am the way’. There is a sense in which this great saint lived in the black and white that preceded the full freedom and colour that Jesus brought into the world. He was executed, for his courage and truthfulness, before he had the full opportunity to understand what Jesus was. In other words, St John the Baptist was not as privileged as are we.

Text © ST PAULS Publishing 2011 The Chirst Journey by Sister Wendy Beckett
Picture John the Baptist by Greg Tricker © Nigel Noyes

Friday, 8 June 2012

Funeral arrangements for Fr Sebastian Karamvelil

The mortal remains of Fr Sebastian are to be sent to his native India for burial. Preparations are in progress for a Mass, to be celebrated in London later this month, for his many friends and colleagues to pray for the repose of his soul. If you wish to be informed of the details please email stephen AT stpauls.org.uk.

Monday, 4 June 2012

Fr Sebastian Karamvelil R.I.P

It is with great sadness that the Society of Paul announces the death, on Sunday 3rd June, of Fr Sebastian Karamvelil.

Born in Kerala, India on 19th March 1939, Sebastian entered the Society of St Paul on 27th June 1957 and took final vows on 8th September 1967. He was ordained a priest on 30th June 1970. After further study at the Pontifical Gregorian University in Rome he engaged upon a life time of commitment and service to the work of the Society of St Paul, inspired to a great degree by his personal encounter with its Founder, Blessed James Alberione.

Working in all aspects of the Apostolate, Sebastian spent time in the Philippines, Bombay, Kochi (where he contributed to the first translation of the Bible into Malayalam), Oman and Milan. In 1987 he was transferred to the community in England, which then resided in Slough, Berkshire, later moving to its present location in Battersea, London.

Over the past 25 years, Sebastian used his incredible wealth of knowledge and experience to build up the work and reputation of the Society throughout England and Ireland. Initially he worked in St Pauls Publications until, in 1992, at the invitation of the late Cardinal Basil Hume, the opportunity arose to open a bookshop next to Westminster Cathedral. The success of this project led to him being invited to establish shops by Leeds Cathedral, Hinsley Hall, Birmingham and York.

A man totally committed to the work of spreading the Gospel by using the various media, Sebastian was a much-respected priest, businessman and friend. At times, his professional approach to business gave the impression of a man more concerned with financial gain than evangelisation. However, for those who had the privilege of working very closely with him, and learning from his wisdom and experience, it was abundantly evident that, for him, the work of the Society could only be successful when approached in this way. The world of Christian publishing and retail will be much the poorer without him.

Although a somewhat reserved and shy man in social gatherings, Sebastian’s incredible sense of humour and enjoyment of life were evident to those to whom he was willing to come close.

May the Lord, who he laboured tirelessly to serve in this life, grant him the joy and peace of the resurrection life available to us all. Please pray for him and for his family, the members of the Pauline family, employees of St Pauls and his many friends as we mourn his passing.