Friday, September 04, 2015

Growth in Reading

Picture: members of the St William of York, Reading congregation served by the Priestly Fraternity of St Peter, commemorating their 10th Anniversary

It is worth taking a look at the picture, what is so noticeable is the number of children, and although there are a few grey heads, they are in the minority, there aren't any at all amongst the clergy, which is most probably the most significant of all.

But as I say it is the presence of children that is most noticeable, which indicates that the congregation is either very wealthy and afford children or more likely that they are willing to make sacrifices for them. It is also an indication that the families here are stable, and committed enough to the Gospel to be open to the Church's teaching.

From the little I know, the Reading congregation started with just few families and has grown and grown. Its growth has been by 'supernatural' generation, a few people being received into the Church but more being attracted by what they find there; the Traditional Mass and clear Catholic teaching. However the real growth has been through 'natural' generation; Catholic parents having children.

We Catholics of course believe 'grace works on nature', we seem to have forgotten the importance, and the duty, of begetting children. 'Trad' Mass communities seem always to create an environment that says 'children are welcome', they are open to nature. They also create an environment that is open to what the Church the 'education' of children. By 'education' we understand it to mean more than what is learnt at school, we mean the sacraments and the moral and spiritual education of children, helping them to become spiritual adults. In 'Traditional' communities, though this is obviously the primary work of parents, networks and supports form naturally.

Here in Brighton our own Traditional Mass congregation is growing, at times it seem to have more babies and younger children than all our other Sunday Masses, despite the centre of the city not being the best or easiest place to bring up children.


viterbo said...

I reckon grace works on faith - Catholic. Else why did communism and islam and protestantism flood over Catholicism like convolvulous unchecked? At the banquet table of the wedding Groom...are the fruits of Vatican II really gonna find a seat next to the virgins who didn't have enough oil, and the chap who wasn't dressed appropriately = oil = faith; attire = faith?

Kathryn Hennessy said...

Thank you for this positive write up on the Reading community, Father. As one of the parents there (seven of our children, aged 5 to 18, are dotted around in various parts of the photo), I can assure you that there is not much 'wealth' kicking around! With perhaps one or two exceptions, all the families here struggle, particularly as many of us home-educate and are therefore restricted to one income. That's often the case for 'traditional' families: larger families, smaller income. And this is true across the board, from young couples just starting out and struggling to get foot on the housing ladder, to us older parents who should, after 20+ years with a spouse in the workplace, perhaps be looking at a slightly more comfortable life, but instead find ourselves exactly where we started from, financially speaking. This is not a complaint, it is just a fact, and I must add that we feel blessed beyond measure in our children, struggles and all.

It can be daunting in this culture to be generous in welcoming children from God (how will we cope? what will people say? it just can't be done!). I can only repeat to struggling parents what Padre Pio used to say: "Pray, hope and don't worry!" It CAN be done!

Frank Karwatowicz said...

After WWII our family spent several years in a DP camp in Bavaria until finally being allowed legal entry by the USA, after being denied entry by Belgium, France, Australia, Canada, Venezuela and Brazil. The reason for this story is that my grandmother was illiterate at that time (1949) at age 72 and was not allowed a US entry because of that even though the rest of her family was allowed. We tearfully left her in the care of her Catholic pastor who slowly taught her the rudiments of reading, writing and most important, to sign her name. After two years she accomplished this lifelong wish and we sponsored her arrival to join us in the USA. Words cannot express our gratitude to that priest and the gift which he gave her. I will not forget the eagerness and pleasure on her face as she spent hours slowly reading the daily newspaper in her own language and to be able to read from her daily missal. It shows that it is never too late and we should never give up, never give up, as some famous person once said.

Joshua said...

My own parish is full of grey hair, with very few children; the Latin Mass chaplaincy of the Archdiocese to which I drive has large numbers of children; when once a month we have a Latin Mass in my parish, again, the congregation is far younger than the usual congregation.

El Codo said...

I know one of the families at this church.They are really good catholics in a non nutty showy way,just getting on with being this what the PAPA Emeritus meant by a smaller but more real number of christians?