Pete Harrington, Province 6 Youth Development Officer, writes:
Going to Wembley is always exciting but being in a coach load of young pilgrims from Dudley and Wolverhampton was exceptional. We gathered at 7.00am at St Peter & Paul Church near the Molineux ground, with Mgr Mark Crisp and BCYS leader Vicki Hamilton. Most of the youngsters and Nick Jarvis from Stourbridge Circle had eaten their lunch before we reached Coventry and then promptly went off to sleep.
Arriving at Wembley Stadium at the same time as the fans arriving for the Tottenham v Arsenal match created an air of expectancy. However, all was well-marshalled for the short walk from the coach park to the arena, which is adjacent to the football stadium. This restricted the use of the open spaces around the ground, so pilgrims were quickly ushered inside where we had to stay until well after the game was finished.
Inside the Arena, there are wide access areas around the hall which featured displays by various Catholic charities and sodalities amongst the bars and facilities, plus a large display by Catenian Brothers. The Cats were well organised, handing out literature and advice about the Bursary Fund, supervised by Bob Hussey from Cirencester. The main-stage presentation by him and his team about the support that the Bursary Fund offers to young Catholics was absolutely brilliant.
The show kicked off about 11.00am with great visual graphics and inspirational modern praise songs lead by Tim Hughes with thoughts from rapper Guvna B. The theme throughout the day was ‘Significance’, designed to encourage young people to ‘stay in their lines’ and be confident in themselves to not be drawn away from the love of God. There were inspiring words from all the presenters, particularly from Archbishop Eamon Martin (Primate of all Ireland) and the American Christian speaker from Texas, Robert Madu, who presented the gospel in a unique and relevant way.
The afternoon programme was rounded off with an introduction to Adoration by the Rise Theatre tableaux and the wonderful sounds of the Youth Gospel Choir. A gentle but encouraging homily from Cardinal Vincent Nichols lead to moments of quiet Adoration of the Blessed Sacrament, when the hall, which was full of prayerful young people, was held in pin-dropping silence. Cardinal Vincent then rose to give a very quiet and moving blessing.
The farewell commissioning and thanks were given by Fr Dermott Donnelly, who is chairman of the CYMFed Organisation of England and Wales. As we returned to the coach park in the now quiet streets of Wembley, we were filled with thoughts of the experience we had shared with so many enthusiastic Catholic youngsters and their mentors.
It was so worthwhile. Thank you to all the Brothers and Circles of Province 6 for your support and contributions, which helped to make a success of this great biannual event.
(photo © Peter Harrington 2019. See more of Pete’s FLAME 19 photos here)
The Provincial Weekend officially ends today, and after Mass at 10:30am and lunch many people head for home. However, quite a number of us opt to stay an extra night; the principal advantage, apart from having more of a good thing, is that we don’t have to rush to vacate our rooms before Mass.
The final lunch was a pleasant one. Provincial President Danny McAree (pictured) presented the hotel manager Andy with a collection for the staff which had raised around £600 and also made a well-deserved presentation to Joan and Mike Sherrard, who had organised the weekend.
It’s a fine day in Bournemouth this morning — a little more like the view in the postcard — and many people are taking the coach to the Royal Signals Museum at Blandford. We, on the other hand, are going to attempt some retail therapy in the centre of town.
The evening meal today is a formal affair, enlivened as always by the fancy dress parade. This year’s theme is the somewhat challenging ‘Underground Stations’! Here is Sheikh Bill Brown, denizen of Bond Street:
The Fancy Dress Competition was won by North Warwickshire Circle’s entry as — very appropriately — the Circle Line.
All this excitement was followed by a five-course banquet (which included the fastest and most efficient tombola in Province 6’s history) and some enthusiastic dancing to a live band.
Mike and Joan Sherrard are to be congratulated for organising such an enjoyable evening.
Friday at the Provincial Weekend began as it obviously means to continue: with heavy rain and strong winds. Most folks seem to have opted to stay in the hotel, abandoning their various plans, which apparently included walking to Sandbanks to visit a former member of Sutton Coldfield Circle. (A well-known prison chaplain in our party recalled a former Sandbanks resident, now doing 22 years at Her Majesty’s pleasure — but we don’t think these two are one and the same.)
(Today’s photo is the view from our room this morning.)
Update (at 6:30pm)
Well, the drama continues: our first-floor room (and several others) has just suffered a power cut. Fortunately, the hotel manager knew where the fuses were located and soon had everything back to normal.
In better news, the weather has calmed down considerably, and a red sky tonight promises a much better day tomorrow — as does my iPhone’s Weather app.
Update 2 (at 11:30pm)
Everyone seems to have arrived now. The hotel did a fine job of serving the evening meal to over 100 Catenians, their wives, and their guests. I’ve been a few times now and the food tonight seemed significantly better than hitherto. After the meal, Charlie Villa and friends led an Irish play and singalong in the bar. This seems to have gone very well; indeed, it is still going on as I write this.
That’s all for now. Goodnight, everybody.
It’s that time of year again, when over 100 Brothers and Ladies of Province 6 descend upon the Marsham Court Hotel in Bournemouth for the annual Provincial Weekend. Some of the keener ones amongst us have arrived a day or two early; not, as some would aver, to secure one of the all-too-scarce parking places, but simply because we so enjoy each others’ company.
I shall be attempting to ‘live blog’ the event this year, so do come back tomorrow evening to discover how the first ‘official’ day of the extended weekend went. I will do my best to encourage some of my fellow weekenders to share their stories and their photographs.
(In the photo above, Past Provincial President Peter Tibke chats with Brother Paul Butler, who is visiting from Peter’s home city of Liverpool in Province 4.)
We were joined at our Christmas Party by a number of students and 4 members of staff from Bishop Walsh Catholic Secondary School, who performed a number of carols as well as giving a presentation about their experiences at this year’s Diocesan Pilgrimage to Lourdes.
3 students spoke eloquently about how it was a positive spiritual experience for them.
Our current Circle President, Brother Ted Riley, has nominated the Lourdes student Appeal again as one of his charities.
On the night we held a raffle for his 2 charities, which raised £125. We were also holders of the Morgan Cup following a recent raid on Shrewsbury Circle, and raised £35 on the night. It was then successfully claimed by Brothers from Malvern Circle.
Brother Martin Jackson – Circle Membership & Publicity Officer