Parish Magazine

Fr. Ray Whelan’s Pastoral Letter for August

Dear Friends

We were all saddened by the news on Sunday 7th July  when our Archdeacon, the Ven Luke Irvine-Capel, told us the prospective candidate for Incumbent to lead us in the Apostolic Partnership had withdrawn.

Father Luke went on to say Bishop Martin, the partners at St Peter’s, Brighton, and the wider Diocesan family remain absolutely committed to St Wilfrid’s and to all who minister and worship here and will continue to work together with us to identify the priest that God is calling to serve this Parish and community.

My own thoughts are that it was obviously not God’s Will that that good priest should come to us and God had a different plan for him. In these matters we can only test our plans by placing them in God’s hands for His Will to be done. Sometimes, our plans turn out NOT to be God’s plans!

But we shouldn’t be downhearted! The right person will hear God’s calling and come forward. The right Team will be chosen.  Out of disappointment and frustration, God always brings greater strength and understanding of His Will – and the peace and joy which goes with that.

I am reminded of two Scriptures:

Romans 8:28And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose”.

So let’s not be negative about it, but thankful. And let’s pray that wonderful Scripture from Proverbs 3:5 “Trust in the LORD with ALL thine heart; and lean not unto thine own understanding. In all thy ways acknowledge him, and he shall direct thy paths”.

The foregoing was my announcement on Sunday 14th July following the Archdeacon’s visit on the previous Sunday.

It’s hard to believe Fr. Andrew’s last Sunday was 1st April 2018, that’s about 16 months ago and this will be my 16th Pastoral Letter for the Parish Magazine. Normally in the Church of England an interregnum lasts about a year, more or less, but ours will be a bit longer by the very nature of our hopes and plans with the Diocese and St Peter’s Brighton concerning the Apostolic Partnership.

But as I said in that announcement, we must trust in the Lord for His will to be done – in His own good time and in His own good way! All things work together for good to those who love God and we must trust in the Lord with all our hearts, not leaning to our meagre understanding. We need the Grace of patience.

Another Scripture says: “But let patience have her perfect work, that ye may be perfect and entire, wanting nothing. If any of you lack wisdom, let him ask of God, that giveth to all men liberally, and upbraideth not; and it shall be given him. But let him ask in faith, nothing wavering”. (James 1:4-6a).

Patience, perseverance and positive thinking were the hallmarks of a very holy parish priest and there’s no way I can possibly compare myself to him. But we all desperately need his prayers and miraculous intervention. I am talking about the Curè d’Ars, my hero! Now a canonised Saint, his full name is St. Jean-Baptiste-Marie Vianney. His Feast Day is August 4th, so of course this year he is displaced by Sunday, Jesus Day of Resurrection.

He was born at Dardilly, near Lyons, France, on 8 May, 1786 and was a simple priest who struggled with his Latin and only just managed to get ordained. The only reason he got ordained was because it was God’s will despite many difficulties. He became the Parish Priest of a tiny hamlet called Ars, a few miles from Lyon. There are many erudite accounts of his miraculous life, but I often feel the only reason he was sent there was because the authorities thought he couldn’t do much harm in such a small and remote village.

He transformed that place and made it a place of pilgrimage because of his outstanding supernatural gifts. They had to build a railways station to cater for the thousands that came for his spiritual guidance. His only concern was to serve God and the people, not only of his village, but the wider community – which is exactly what we are trying to do.

We are not the Shrine of Ars! I am not the Curè! But we seek God’s will, ask for patience and perseverance. Your Churchwardens, Church Officers and all of you need canonisation. But above all, we need prayer, and the intervention of the holy Curè d’Ars, his Patron Saint St Philomena – and their mother and ours, Our Blessed Lady, who prayed her Son to perfect that Marriage at Cana.

Love and prayers, Fr. Ray Whelan