" A badly written sermon has no more chance of piercing the heart than a rusty and crooked nail has of entering a wall! "
Ven. Fr Passerat C.Ss.R
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Fr Provincial's Final Letter of 2017...


30th December, 2017

Dear Confreres and friends,

I hope that everyone has enjoyed the Christmas season and has been able to have some rest. Usually at this time of year I invite you to celebrate our Te Deum. During my first years on the Congregation, we recited this twice a day as we went in procession from the refectory to the church, although I confess it never meant much to me. In recent years, reading it and praying it in English, I now see it as a wonderful prayer, because it contains what is at the heart of prayer - namely praise and thanksgiving.

So my Te Deum for 2017 first of all to gives praise to God for all the confreres in the Province and in the Region, for our Redemptorist co-workers and those so closely associated with our spirituality, and also our benefactors.

Secondly, I would like to praise those confreres who have so diligently lived our Redemptorist charism during the year, whether it be in active ministry, or by their prayer and suffering.

I also want to give thanks and to express my gratitude for the great spirit of cooperation that is prevalent in the Province and in the Region, and for the efforts people have made to go that extra mile to make our communities places which are our homes, but also places of welcome for a variety of confreres from other parts of the world, for retreatants, friends and relatives. A big thank you to everyone, because I know that many have gone that extra mile in a quiet and unobtrusive way.

The big news in this letter is that today at noon, Rome time, an announcement will be made from the Vatican that our confrere, Fr. Raymond Mupandasekwa, has been nominated by Pope Francis as Bishop of Chinhoyi in Zimbabwe. This is of course a great honour for Fr. Raymond, for our Region and our Province and a blessing for the priests, Religious arid laity in the Diocese of Chinhoyi.

As you can imagine it is also a great loss for us, especially for the Region, and comes at considerable cost to Fr. Raymond himself who has really struggled to accept this request of the Holy Father. His personal wish would have been to remain a member of the Region, preaching missions and retreats. However he has graciously accepted that as a Redemptorist his first duty is to be faithful to the call of the Church and to serve where the Holy Father has asked him to be. I can assure you that there is no sense of triumphalism in him whatsoever. Indeed there is a little sadness that he will no longer be living in a Redemptorist community, balanced of course by the fact that he has been given a challenge to evangelise in a new way the people in Chinhoyi. I know that you will all hold him in your prayers, and I am also aware that this is what is giving him the courage to say 'yes' to this call. Further details about his Episcopal ordination will follow, but it is unlikely that it will be before Easter.

Returning to the Province, as you know we will have our Province meeting from the evening of the 8th January until the morning of the 1i h and Fr. Jack Kingsbury, the Coordinator of the North American Conference, will facilitate it. I am looking forward to seeing those confreres who can attend, and also to the interaction which Jack will facilitate. This will help us to further prepare for the Extraordinary Visitation at the end of April. The OPC invited two confreres from the Region to be present at the meeting using their "dual citizenship" as members of the Province also, and hopefully, Fr. Elias who is working in Erdington will also be with us. Fr. William Guri who is completing his doctorate in Loyola University, has been in Clapham over the Christmas period, but unfortunately has to return to his studies on 5th January and cannot be at the Province gathering. We wish William well in his final year of the doctoral programme.

In the past two months there has been a significant amount of sickness among some of the elderly confreres. As you are aware, Fr. Terry Creech has now moved into a residential care home close to Chawton, and I again thank Fr. Denis McBride and Terry's brother, Fr. Michael, for their care of Terry and for facilitating this move. Chawton has also welcomed Br. Richard Maidwell from South Africa for an extended stay as he visits his mother in a nearby care home.

In Clapham, Bro. Thomas remains with the Little Sisters at the Oval, while Fr. George Webster has had two spells in hospital, but hopefully is on his way to full recovery.

Fr. Gabby in Erdington is recovering, but was in hospital at Christmas and hopes to return to the community soon.

In Liverpool, Fr Tony Hunt who was originally scheduled to have an operation to remove a toe, had a more serious operation in which he had to have a leg amputated. I have written to Tony, and I know that he has the strong support of a very caring community and a very loving family nearby.

On a more positive note, Fr. Jim Casey who at this time last year was quite ill, cooked the Christmas meal in Bishop Eton, and remains a stalwart in cooking when staff are not available - and also works in active in ministry. Fr. Barrie O'Toole, who has also recovered from quite a serious illness, continues to serve in the parishes. And of course in Clapham Fr. Bev, despite his loss of sight, and Fr Jack despite his poor health, serve the community in a variety of ways. So there are also good news stories as well as challenging ones. And to all whom I have not named personally, and who contribute so much to the community and to the Province, I would like to say once again an immense 'thank you'.

The Province meeting will be preceded by an EPC meeting, and the OPC will also look at dates for a possible fraternal visit to communities in January. The Province Vocations' Team held a 'Come and See' in Clapham and three men attended. It is unclear if any will join us, but one man is showing a very serious interest. I thank the team, and above all our students, for their active participation in the vocations’ scene, but also for their participation in the life of the community in Clapham. Bro. Marek, a student from Slovakia who has been with us since the middle of the summer, will leave in January. Both the Rector and the Prefect tell me that it has been a great joy to have Marek in the community.

Clapham continues to host a student from the Josephinum, and this year Christian is keeping up the tradition of being a very positive presence among us, and also in the Ace of Clubs.

The year ahead is full of challenges with the usual daily services we provide in our parishes and retreat house. There are requests for missions, and Frs. Kieran, Tom and Peter are doing many, while several others of us are involved in one or two missions; and of course this applies also to retreats outside the community.

In England and Wales, the bishops have designated this coming year as a time for a special focus. on the Eucharist, and they have initiated a pastoral strategy called Adoremus. Redemptorist Publications is active in producing material for this, and I personally am struggling to produce a new version of St. Alphonsus's Visits to the Blessed Sacrament. This is a huge challenge, given the literary genre in which he wrote.

The Formators (Prefect and Vocations Director) will be attending a special course in Trois Epis in May. There is also a European Youth Gathering in Granada in July. Our Fr.Charles Randall was present at the preparatory meeting. More details to follow.

Fr. Maurice O'Mahony will also be visiting communities in the next few months to discuss the development of the Associates' programme. So as you can see, 2018 promises to be another apostolic year, full of promise.

Birthdays this month: Frs J Doherty 4th, (M. Brehl, Superior General, 7th) J. Casey 17th, J. Musendami 19th, G. Webster 26th.

With every blessing for 2018.

In Christ the Redeemer,
Ronald J. McAinsh, C.Ss.R.
Provincial Superior