I spent the first few days of this week in Dublin. Regular readers of the Log may remember that, after our Novena to Our Lady of Sorrows mid-September, I had postponed a planned trip to Dublin for meetings, on the basis of being a bit bunched, and having to put too much in place to be able to get away – the story of my life. The meetings were rearranged by our Provincial Secretary, and another meeting added, and so, this was the reason for my trip. The meetings were with our accountants, auditors and investment managers, in my capacity as Provincial Bursar for the Passionists in St. Patrick’s Province. Needless to say, in the present financial climate, none of them were coming with any good news. There’s a song called the Rocky Road to Dublin, by the High Kings, and, certainly, not just for the Passionists, but for all of us, there is a rocky road ahead, financially, for the foreseeable future.
There were no big dramas on my travels. I have a reputation for being a harbinger of disaster when I travel; planes break down and have to turn back; luggage goes missing, I forget where I parked my car in the long-term car park on my return; but, apart from one-hour delays on my flights, both going and returning, which just seems to be par for the course at present, everything went reasonably smoothly. It’s always good on these trips to meet up with the brethren, some of whom would be well known here at St. Mungo’s. Father Paul Francis has just returned from Rome where he was facilitating the Passionist General Synod, attended by our Scottish Provincial, Father Jim Sweeney. At that Synod it was formally agreed that the Passionists in England would be formally integrated with Passionists in Scotland and Ireland. Father Jim is proposing to our Superior General that the date of the formal integration of our two Provinces into one Province take place on the Feast of the Presentation of Our Lady, 21st November, which is an important feast for the Passionists. On that day we will have a Zoom Gathering of all the members of the new Province to mark the event in a fraternal way. On that day Father Justinian will no longer be the oldest man in St. Patrick’s Province as there are three members in England who are older, so he will need to develop a new chat-up line as he always begins conversations with people he is only meeting by saying that he is the oldest man in our Province. It’s a bit like Father Gareth beginning conversations by saying that he comes from the same part of Wales as Tom Jones, followed by saying he can’t sing, and then finishing by saying that you can’t be gorgeous and a good singer at the same time. If only I had a pound for every occasion I’ve heard that! I also met Father Augustine who seemed to be in great form and wanted to be remembered to the people of St. Mungo’s, so I am passing that on. Father Dermot was convalescing after knee surgery which seems to have gone well.
I returned in time to celebrate, on Wednesday, the Feast of St. Paul of the Cross, the founder of the Passionists. As some of you may have followed on social media, Father Antony is only
just returning to Minsteracres from a gathering of recently-ordained Passionists in Rome. As part of the gathering they had a tour of a number of places associated with our founder: Ovada where he was born; Castellazo where he made his 40-day Retreat during which he wrote the first Passionist Rule; Monte Argentario where St. Paul of the Cross established the first Passionist monastery; Vetralla which was the founder’s own favourite house, before then returning to Saints John & Paul’s in Rome where our founder ended his days. I remember making those trips 40 years ago and returning with a much deeper sense of what it means to be a Passionist. I’ve no doubt it will do the same thing for Father Antony. Meantime Father Gareth is making great strides with his chaplaincy ministry; Father John is still pursuing his driving test, and Father Justinian, no longer our oldest member, may be one of the healthiest.
As always, protect yourselves, your loved ones and others, and protect Christ in your lives.