Once I was a clever boy learning the arts of Oxford... is a quotation from the verses written by Bishop Richard Fleming (c.1385-1431) for his tomb in Lincoln Cathedral. Fleming, the founder of Lincoln College in Oxford, is the subject of my research for a D. Phil., and, like me, a son of the West Riding. I have remarked in the past that I have a deeply meaningful on-going relationship with a dead fifteenth century bishop... it was Fleming who, in effect, enabled me to come to Oxford and to learn its arts, and for that I am immensely grateful.

Thursday, 29 August 2013

Solemn Profession in Chelmsford

Yesterday afternoon and evening I went over to Chelmsford for the Solemn Profession of Br Stephen Morrison as a Norbertine. This took place, very suitably, on the Feast of the founder of all Canons Regular, St Augustine of Hippo.

Br Stephen was a student at Oriel which is where I got to know him as well as meeting him at the Oxford Oratory - in those days he was still Alexander Morrison.

The parish church of Our Lady Immaculate was once again packed out with clergy, family, friends and parishioners - there is clearly plenty of support in the parish as well as from those who had travel to support these Norbertines at their profession or ordination. This was my third such viist in about a year and on each occasion the church has been full to the porch doors and beyond.

The well conducted liturgy was celebrated by the Prior of St Philip's Fr Hugh Allan - resplendent in white pom-pomed birtetta and white scull cap (clearly not something exclusive to the Holy Father) -  and he gave an extremely elegant sermon which balanced theology and the importance of the occasion and its solemn promises with a leaven of humour and what might be described as relevant digressions. He quoted what he had said to Br Stephen's parents three years ago at his Simple Profession - that they were not so much losing a son as gaining a monastery - and pointed out the presence last night of many parents of the members of the community.

Afterwards there was a reception in the parish hall - once again a splendid affair in its own right, which suggests the measure of support from the parishioners. It was an opportunity to congratulate Br Stephen and to catch up with many friends and acquaintances who were there. Essentially there were most of the usual suspects, of which I suppose I have now become one, plus others whom I had met over recent years. It was very good to catch up with Fr Andrew Southwell and Fr Bede Rowe - himself an Orielensis, and now chaplain of Br Stephen's old school in France -  as well as Fr Matthew Bemand of the Brentwood diocese, and once a sacristan at Pusey House. There were many former Oxford students there whom I know - Francis Murphy, David Howell, Michael Ryan, Richard Pickett, Patrick Milner, and Serennedd James - and Dr Shaw and his wife from the Latin Mass Society - Mrs Shaw had made the celebratory cake for the occasion

So much time was spent talking that I, with several others, ended up on the last train out of Chelmsford for London and, being late into Liverpool Street, ended up missing the last train from Paddington, so I had to travel by coach and was back even later than I had expected. Nonetheless it was a good occasion, and I was pleased to have been able to attend.

I commend the Norbertines of Chelmsford to the prayers of my readers and look forward to future visits.

There are pictures of the evening from the LMS Chairman's Blog at Solemn Profession in Chelmsford.


Zephyrinus said...

Wonderful recounting of this happy event.

Prayers assured, as requested.

Deo Gratias.

Anonymous said...

Excellent; quite excellent to see a man little older, I suppose, than myself (excluding a late vocation, he cannot be more than, say, twenty-two or three) giving himself to the service of the One True Church. I shall certainly pray for him and for Chelmsford - a great pleasure to see such a beautiful ceremony and house.