Thursday, 21 May 2015

School of the Annunciation signs partnership agreement with Franciscan University Steubenville, USA.

The School of the Annunciation, Buckfast Abbey, has signed an agreement with Franciscan University Steubenville to form a collaborative partnership.

In the first phase of the partnership Dr Andrew Beards, Academic Director at the School, has joined the online teaching staff of Franciscan University’s popular online, distance-learning MA in Catechesis and Evangelisation (MACE). Dr Beards joins a faculty teaching US students that includes Dr Scott Hahn, Dr Bob Rice, Sr Johanna Paruch and Dr Petroc Willey.

News will follow in the coming weeks and months on further developments arising from this exciting collaboration between the School of the Annunciation and Franciscan University.

Fr Guy de Gaynesford STL, the Rector of the School of the Annunciation, writes:

‘All those associated with the School of the Annunciation will naturally be absolutely delighted to learn of the beginning of this exciting collaborative partnership with a world renowned Catholic university. The remarkable progress both sides have achieved in creating this partnership was made possible by our common fidelity to the Catholic faith, our shared academic expertise and our joint passion to form disciples of the Lord for the work of the New Evangelisation.’


The School of the Annunciation: Centre for the New Evangelisation is the UK’s only Higher Education School dedicated to the New Evangelisation.

The School of the Annunciation was founded by Dr Andrew Beards, Academic Director, Dr Caroline Farey, Director of Studies, Deacon Nick Donnelly, Director of Formation, together with the Abbot of Buckfast. Fr Guy de Gaynesford has recently been appointed the School’s first Rector. The patrons of the School of the Annunciation are His Eminence George Cardinal Pell, Prefect of the Secretariat of the Economy, and the Right Reverend Mark O’Toole, Bishop of Plymouth

Over the past year the School has launched three new courses in evangelisation, catechesis and Latin that combine on-line learning with residentials in the beautiful surroundings of Buckfast Abbey. Together with six Summer Schools and weekend courses, on subjects ranging from sacred Scripture, philosophy and liturgy, the School has enrolled 129 students from the United Kingdom, Ireland, US, Australia, Gibraltar, Malta, and Dubai.

Press officer:
01229 821866/07938 986186

Wednesday, 13 May 2015

Called to be Holy

A Novena of Prayer

Please join the Ordinariate in prayer with their new Novena between Ascension and Pentecost (Fri 15th to Sat 23rd May). Each day there is a reading from English spiritual writers, e.g. The Cloud of Unknowing, Julian of Norwich, Lancelot Andrewes, Newman, Thomas Ken, Evelyn Underhill...etc.

If you do not have a copy of the booklet please ask your group pastor.
I have a dozen or so left, so I could send a copy out by post to anyone without a copy.

It will also be available online here:

The Novena is published in full day by day here.

Our Lady of Walsingham pray for us,
Bl John Henry Newman pray for us.

Fr Ian

Thursday, 30 April 2015

Always have a reason for the hope that is in you

Whatever our age, our faith will not develop unless we spend time, effort and resources in developing it. I believe that Catholic adults need to wake up to the fact that listening to the weekly homily at mass and going to a Lent course is today totally insufficient to equip them for the apostolate of the laity. Perhaps it was sufficient in ages gone by, but it is certainly insufficient today.

We do not live in a Catholic culture; we do not even live in a protestant Christian culture. We live in a largely secular culture. And this means that our Catholic Christian beliefs, values and understanding of right and wrong come into conflict with those of  a secular world-view and mentality. And in the conflict we are called to witness to our faith. Of course we are not all called to be public defenders of the faith, but we are all called to "always be prepared to make a defence to any one who calls you to account for the hope that is in you" (1 Peter 3:15). We should ask ourselves, "Am I ready to make that defence?" We are unlikely to be ready if we are not developing our faith and being formed in the faith. There are many people in our society looking for answers, some of them may be our friends, acquaintances, colleagues and family members. We may only be asked once! Will we be ready?

It is easy to despair. It is easy to think, "that's not my job, it belongs to clergy, nuns and our catechists", but actually it is the task of all of us to be able to give a reason why we are Christian and how it makes a difference.

But let us not despair; let us not pass the buck; let us face the challenge with fortitude and confidence in Christ and the Holy Spirit He sent into His Church!

I want to recommend to you wholeheartedly The School of the Annunciation, based here at Buckfast Abbey in Devon. Here you will find a truly faithful Catholic school of the New Evangelisation. Here are staff who have an ardour for the faith, and who also have years of experience providing courses to form adults in the life-giving and joyful faith of Jesus Christ. I can say with personal experience that you will find nothing else like it anywhere else in the UK.

One of the great aspects of the school's work is that they specialise in distance-learning. With a combination of short residentials and distance-learning, the growing disciple can benefit from the best of both contexts for learning. At residentials one can build friendships with others growing in their discipleship. With the distance-learning techniques, study is integrated with the rest of our lives.

Please look below at the courses on offer. Pray to our Lord asking for guidance. And be bold! Do not hesitate to make a leap of faith.

Remember St Peter's words:
Always be prepared to make a defence to any one who calls you to account for the hope that is in you, yet do it with gentleness and reverence; and keep your conscience clear, so that, when you are abused, those who revile your good behaviour in Christ may be put to shame. For it is better to suffer for doing right, if that should be God's will, than for doing wrong.         1 Peter 3:15b-17
Fr Ian

More details here.

Ascension of the Lord - Solemn Pontifical Mass in Ordinariate Use - Cardinal Nichols to preach

Wednesday, 29 April 2015

Development of the Shrine at Walsingham

The new Rector of the national Shrine to Our Lady at Walsingham, Mgr Armitage, has shared some of the ideas for developing the Catholic Shrine over the next three years. It looks very exciting and very positive. Let us all lend our prayers and other support that we can offer. May Our Lady of Walsingham bless these efforts and by her Holy Intercession may our nation return to England's Nazareth.

Fr Ian

Here are some of the plans with Mgr Armitage's open letter below them:

Dear Friends,
I’m very happy to be able to share with you some of the ideas that are developing for Our Lady’s Shrine at Walsingham. In this moment of great promise, Walsingham looks to see how it can continue this great pilgrim story and serve the Church in this country, in support of the New Evangelisation.
The calling by Pope Francis of a Holy Year of Mercy will be central to the ministry of the Shrine in the coming year. “A Door of Mercy will be opened for the duration of the Holy Year at any Shrine frequented by large groups of pilgrims, since visits to these holy sites are so often grace-filled moments, as people discover a path to conversion and an extraordinary moment of grace and spiritual renewal.” (Misericordiae Vultus - BULL OF INDICTION OF THE EXTRAORDINARY JUBILEE OF MERCY FRANCIS - BISHOP OF ROME)
Please keep us in your prayers and do whatever you can to publicise this new chapter in the story of England’s Ancient Shrine to the Mother of God. In future posts we will be looking at ways you can support the development of the Shrine and celebrate the Holy Year here at Walsingham. May the Mother of God watch over and protect you and your families.
Mgr John Armitage

Friday, 24 April 2015

Social justice - equality and difference

All human beings are created by God in His image, and all are equally endowed with rational souls, have the same nature and the same origin. So from a Christian point of view, every human being, from the moment of conception unto death has equal dignity which is an intrinsic characteristic - nothing can take this dignity away. So it does not matter what moral status they have, it does not matter what sin they have committed, that person still has intrinsic dignity. This is the foundation for the catholic understanding of equality. It is not first about rights (which can be redefined by human courts) but about how we have been made by our creator. Furthermore Christ sacrificed Himself on the cross to redeem all men, so that all are called to participate in the same divine beatitude. Therefore all human beings enjoy equal dignity.

The problem in a secular world, which does not accept a creator God, is that the definition of what it is to be human can be changed. So it has become acceptable in most western nations for pre-born human beings to be terminated, if the mother wishes this to happen. The humanity of the pre-born child is now regarded to be a matter for a mother to decide, rather than it having, as it does for Catholics, an intrinsic dignity and status. What has also happened in western societies is that the definition of what it is to be human has been added to. So, for example, a prevailing desire of same-sex attraction in a person is regarded as an orientation now, which is regarded as intrinsic. This concept of intrinsic orientation opposes the Judeo-Christian understanding of the unity of soul and body; that the nature of our bodies united with our souls defines our sex, and the 'orientation' that God therefore intends. Redefining intrinsic human characteristics is the ultimate statement of arrogance by a state, and a very definite anti-Christian move.

Discrimination: Flowing from the equal dignity of all, are rights possessed by all. Each person has a right not to be discriminated socially or culturally on the grounds of sex, race, colour, social condition, language or religion. All these forms of discrimination are contrary to God’s design.

The Church calls us to celebrate God-given difference. Man has been made so that he is not equipped with everything he needs for his development in body or spirit. He needs others. This is perhaps expressed most clearly between men and women. They are different but called to live in harmony which is possible by charity. The Sacrament of Marriage is a sign that God calls men and women to not look on each other to see how they can use each other, but rather how they can give themselves sacrificially to each other. This pursuit of harmony through self-giving sees the Holy Trinity as the goal and beatitude of human life, for there is, amongst the divine Persons, both profound equality and profound difference.

In human society there are also differences that appear tied to age, physical abilities, intellectual or moral aptitudes, social status, or material wealth. Life in human community is not about competition, but seeing that differences belong to God’s plan. These differences encourage and oblige generosity, kindness and the sharing of goods; ultimately God is inviting us to sacrificial self-giving.

Sinful inequalities: Excessive economic and social disparity between individuals and peoples is a scandal and is sinful. Such disparity militates against social justice, equity, human dignity, as well as social and international peace.


The principle of solidarity, also articulated in terms of “friendship” or “social charity” is a direct demand of human Christian brotherhood. Solidarity is manifested in the first place by the distribution of goods and remuneration for work.

The virtue of solidarity goes beyond material goods. In spreading the spiritual goods of the faith, the Church promotes, and often opens new paths for, the development of temporal goods as well. In other words mission and development happily go hand in hand.

Seek ye first the Kingdom and His righteousness, and all these things shall be yours as well.  Mt 6:33

This is the last of my blogposts on Catholic teaching on human community. I hope you have found it enlightening and helpful, not least in discerning whom to vote for in the forthcoming elections.

Fr Ian