Monday, February 11, 2008

Preparing for the Easter Sacraments

Lent is a time of Baptismal Preparation, and the whole Church unites in praying with and for those who will be welcomed into the Church at Easter - either by Baptism or by Reception into Full Communion with the Catholic Church.

On the First Sunday in Lent all the Catechumens (those preparing for Baptism) and Candidates for Reception gather with the Bishop for the Rite of Election. In this wonderful ceremony the Catholic community prays for them and the Bishop "Elects" them to receive the Sacraments of Initiation in these words:
Then I declare you now to be members of the elect, to be initiated into the sacred mysteries at the next Easter Vigil.
Our 3 catechumens, Claudia, Ben and Eugene, and our candidate, Simon, participated in the Rite of Election at Westminster this past weekend. The Cardinal presided over the Liturgy, and afterwards there was an opportunity to greet the auxiliary bishops.

Please pray for them as we hasten towards Easter and their full inclusion in the Catholic Church.

Saturday, February 09, 2008

Shri Swaminarayan Mandir Temple Visit.

Last week Sister Mary 'marched' a group of 'Newman Housers' and others along to the BAP's temple in London. We left from Newman House and enjoyed an afternoon train ride out of the city centre, busily reading up on the history of Hinduism and the temple we were to visit. Again we 'followed' Sister Mary (who walked faster than any student, even taking into account Sebastian's height advantage over her). We arrived just in time and were welcomed into the temple by a guide. We removed our shoes and began listening to our host. We heard some very interesting stories about the history of the temple and how it was built, down to the marble designs and wood crafting. We were then led into the prayer rooms, which were made to accomodate over a thousand people and designed to let in natural light via large room windows and electric powered blinds to keep the building cool. At one end of the room was a huge platform with a mock temple made from Polystyrene, and behind that a vast screen, designed for projections. Afterwards we were escorted to another room, along the way Sebastian asked a few questions.... We took our seats and watched a video of the temple's history and its importance to the Hindu community. There followed a question and answer session, from which we were treated to a new guide, a kindly gentleman who informed us all of 'the facts of life', he provided a light hearted and somewhat amusing account of his faith.

We were then taken into the worshipping temple and spent some time in there looking at all the different colourful images and statues. It was an insight to see how Hindu's worship and pray inside their temple.

Before we left, there was just time to take a look around the gift shop which a certain member of our group really seemed to appreciate, especially the 'smellys'. If there are any interesting new 'insense' scents drifting from the chapel over the coming weeks look no further than your Sacristan to lodge complaints. I'm sure we all enjoyed an insightful and eye-opening day, our thanks to Sr Mary for organising it all.

Friday, February 08, 2008

An Audience with Baroness Shirley Williams.

Yesterday evening the Liberal Democrat peer Baroness Shirley Williams came and spoke for a CathSoc evening. After a very informative introduction from Marc Remedios, the Baroness took to the lectern. She began by talking about her faith and why she is a Roman Catholic, enlightening us with some of her own family history and background. She then moved onto politics and spoke about issues such as the poor and refugees. Baroness Williams left a long period of time for a question and answer session which she seemed to enjoy immensley. It soon became apparent that we were with a woman of faith and political conviction. The questions from students were very well put and helped bring up some very interesting debate. Clare Groom led the vote of thanks, and presented Baroness Williams with a small gift as a token of our appreciation. It was great to see so many 'non-Newman housers' as well as plenty of residents at the event. After her speech she dashed off to catch her train back home and left students to enjoy drinks and nibbles at the bar. Baroness Williams told students afterwards that she had really enjoyed her eveing with us. Indeed we were honoured to have her!

Thursday, February 07, 2008

Costumes for the Carnival.

Tuesday evening went off with a bang (and party poppers) in Newman House with students turning up in superb outfits for carnival night. Some as witches, others ghosts and erm... another as a belly dancer, who all joined in the fun. There was a great spread that had been prepared and brought along by the guests, the bar was open and the music was on. I hear the party went on into the early hours, as the organisers sat around a saucepan of Sangria with only straws... no doubt hatching a plan for another event. Let's hope so, as it was a night of great fun and a good chance to meet with people from outside the House as well as residents. Our thanks to Dave Jones and Maria-Chiara!

Monday, February 04, 2008

London Met: CathSoc

For the first time in a very long time, London Metropolitan University has the core of a CathSoc. Sr Mary Kenefick is tireless in her quest to encourage Catholic students to make themselves known, and to gather on campus. London Met has a different flavour from many of the colleges, for example, of the University of London and its location and the situation of students can make it difficult for them to encounter each other.

But encounter they do! Here they are - and if you are a London Met student looking for other Catholic students to meet, please get in touch with Sr Mary (