Saturday, August 29, 2009
London Colney: Priest Training Conference
I have just come home from the most uplifting experience, of helping out with the Priest Training Conference which took place at the All Saints Pastoral Centre in London Colney (near St Albans). 'Pastor Iuventus' of the Catholic Herald was there, and he has beaten me to an early report on the conference in this weekend's paper, but here are some pictures.
(In the above picture priests have overflowed from the sacristy to vest for their private Masses.)
The conference was the first organised by the Latin Mass Society 'in association with' a diocese, in this case the diocese of Westminster. The Centre is in fact owned by the diocese, although the priests at the conference came from all over England and Wales - with two intrepid priests from Africa.
The purpose of the conference was of course to train priests how to say the Traditional Mass, the usus antiquior of the Roman Rite. London Colney has a stunning chapel designed by Comper for its first owners, an order of Anglican nuns, which includes two nave altars, a Blessed Sacrament Chapel and an altar behind the High Altar, plus a separate 'Oratory', at all of which Low Masses can be said simultaneously. This is very useful for demonstration purposes and even more so for private Masses at any venue where a number of priests are gathered for any length of time. Each morning we had three 'sittings', if that is the right word, starting at 6.15 am, for private Masses before breakfast, and the laymen from the LMS Committee who were present, including me, served one Mass after another, for the expert priest trainers and for the less experienced priests alike. By the end of the week seven priests had said their first EF Mass, with a 'assistant priest' acting as MC in addition to the server.
Getting up at dawn to serve Mass before breakfast is something generations of school boys did; I am too young to have experienced it - until this year, first at Ushaw, and now at London Colney. It was a wonderful experience, especially to do so in the context of this conference, in which the recovery of tradition is so vividly taking place.
I am in the course of uploading photographs onto Flickr, and will be posting more over the next few days.