" Have you ever seriously reflected what those words mean, a God to be made man, and to die for thee? "
St. Alphonsus Liguori
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Fr Provincial' Letter 27th Nov 2017...


27th November, 2017

Dear Confreres and friends,

As we prepare for the season of Advent, may I once again remind you of the wealth of material available to us in order to celebrate this time well? Besides the richness of the scripture and the liturgies, we have the writings of St. Alphonsus and of course his Novena for Christmas. Might I also add our own Advent Extra which I have been promoting in various areas. It may not have the profundity of the writings of the Fathers, but it can certainly keep us on course and challenge us, and we can also share it with our people. All good wishes also for our patronal feast on 8th December.

I am sure you are all aware that Fr. Gabby remains in hospital but is making good progress and Fr. Terry is waiting to move into a care home in Hampshire. We welcome Bro. Richard Maidwell to Chawton from where he will be visiting his mother until mid January. We also have an RPTC meeting on 15th December.


The confreres in Clapham remain well, although one or two do have health issues. Last month I accompanied Henry Dempsey (who had worked on the renovation of Kinnoull) to Clapham to investigate an internal refurbishment which would include a lift and ensuite bedrooms. He produced some fine drawings which Fr. Richard has discussed with the local community. However at this early stage we have to be aware of the influence of the Conservation Officer for Lambeth, and a timescale, which will not be immediate.

Very unfortunately we received news this week that our appeal against Lambeth's refusal to grant planning permission for the redevelopment of the hall had been dismissed. The plan had been to demolish the hall and replace it with a ground floor facility for the parish and then build some apartments above. However despite the positive views of the QC and the professionals involved, Lambeth again chose the path of rejection. We shall consult with our specialist to see what is now possible.

Brother Marek from Slovakia will remain in Clapham over Christmas, and Fr. William Guri will come to the Province from his studies in US to spend time in the community.

In Birmingham some necessary renovations are taking place to provide better bathroom facilities for the confreres and also to secure the external fabric of the building. Fr. Maurice 0' Mahony is back in Erdington after his spiritual direction course in Canada.

During the month of November the Clapham community went to the cemetery to pray for our beloved dead, and Fr. Andrew Burns and Bro. Michael Duxbury went to Hawkstone and visited the cemetery. In Bishop Eton some of the elderly confreres have been unwell, but they do receive great care and attention from the community and from the staff. Fr. Jimmy Smale continues his preaching for Zimbabwe whilst assisting with Masses in other local institutions when he can.

In Kinnoull, the Seven Week Course is coming to an end and it has been a blessed time for those who have participated. There are still many groups due in December and also in early January before we begin our Province meeting on the evening of the 8th. Many thanks to those who have already indicated that they will be present.

I am reading New Wine in New Wineskins which is a document from the Congregation for Religious on the ongoing challenges of Religious Life since Vatican II. Although it is a challenging little book, for me it is somewhat reactive, acting out of recent difficult situations on the one hand, and being highly idealistic on the other! Read it for yourself and let me know what you think!

Finally a word on Zimbabwe. As you are aware, the dramatic events leading up to the resignation of President Mugabe have had a profound effect on the people there. However the future remains very uncertain and the confreres ask you to continue to remember them and the people of the country. The financial pressure continues, with a maximum amount of $50 a day being the limit for withdrawal from the bank.

I have just heard of the death of George Giarchi. The older confreres will remember him well, and the extraordinary influence his life and ministry had in many parts of our country in the 1960's. I have written to his wife Clare and the family with our condolences. Michael Duxbury who has visited the family regularly will attend the funeral with Gerry Mulligan who will travel from Perth and celebrate the Requiem Mass on 8th December.

Birthdays this month: Br R. Price 5th, Frs C. Randall 7th, T. Moyo 12th, G. Hama 15th, A. Johnson 16th, J. Smale 23rd and C. Mukabva 26th.

I pray that everyone - confreres, families and friends - enjoy a blessed Christmas.

In Christ the Redeemer,

Ronald J. McAinsh, C.Ss.R.

Provincial Superior