Saturday, 30 August 2014

A visit to Papa Stronsay

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A week ago, the new Chairman of the Friends, Charles Kingsley Evans, and the Chairman of the Latin Mass Society, visited Papa Stronsay, both of them for the first time. The following was written by Dr Shaw. The photographs from the trip can be seen here.

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All my life I've had Summer holidays in a remote West Highland community, so the idea of being accessible only by sea, having your own electricity generator, and things like post and food being subject to weather conditions, are not entirely new. For most people, they represent a bit of a shock. You realise, out here, that you are at the furthest reaches, or a little beyond the furthest reaches, of the postal system, the health service, of everything commercial or governmental which we take for granted.


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Such places are a challenge to live in, and even more so to make a living in. Everything which requires the help of an expert, spare parts or materials, or sending your own things out to any kind of market, is made complicated and expensive. The flip side is that once you get up there, you are obliged to adapt yourself to a different pace of life. You can't do things instantly. You can't whiz off to the big city. You can't put your plans into immediate execution. You do have a lot of physical things to do from which there is no escape. But you don't have the ringing telephone and the bleeping twitter account, the commute, the gossip, or the dealing with other people as frantic as you are.


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This has the effect that the stresses and exhaustion of life you have been trying to ignore catch up with you. It also means that the spiritual things you have been trying to ignore can catch up with you. In other words, it puts you into a contemplative frame of mind.

I realised when I was up there that Papa Stronsay, the ancient stronghold of the pre-Viking monks re-colonised by the sons of St Alphonsus, is ideal as the base, and the retreat, of the community. Their vocation and charism is to do serve the Church as missioners, and to make this effective by combining it with the contemplative life. So, and I think this is unique in the Church, they alternate by seasons, between living as contemplatives and going on the mission. Papa Stronsay could not be bettered as the base of the contemplative side of this double vocation.

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The contemplative life has never been about staring at one's navel: the Office, spiritual reading, and private prayers, has since the Desert Fathers been combined with physical work. The Desert Fathers used to weave baskets: Orare et laborare. Not all kinds of work are equally suited to the contemplative life, and the emphasis has always been on physical work where possible. The Sons up on Papa Stronsay have sheep, beef and dairy cows, hens and geese, pigs, a couple of donkeys, and a large greenhouse with a fantastic array of fruit and vegetables, which we sampled while up there.

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Their work as missioners has not yet begun in earnest, since at the moment the number of priests is still low, and they now have to provide priests for their house in Christchurch, New Zealand, as well as for the community on the island and the chapel on Stronsay Island, the tiny island next to their own which nevertheless runs to things like a post office, bank, and a regular ferry service.

They have a steady number of young members at different stages of training, and we will be hearing a lot more about them over the next few years. Readers of this blog know that Fr Michael Mary gave an electrifying concluding talk at the LMS One Day Conference in London in the spring: you can hear it here. They will also be leading the St Catherine's Trust Family Retreat next spring, in the Oratory School: Friday 10th April to Sunday 12th April 2015.

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Friday, 31 January 2014

January 2014 Newsletter

The latest Newsletter of the Friends of Papa Stronsay is available here.

Read about the making of new habits for the Sons, a family visit to Papa Stronsay, and Fr Michael's forthcoming participation in the Latin Mass Society's One Day Conference on 24th May.

To hear Fr Michael speak, book yourself into the conference on the LMS site here

Other speakers include Bishop Athanasius Schneider and the writer Joseph Pearce.

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Fr Michael Mary, h-t the Benedictine Oblate
(click through for more of his photos of Papa Stronsay)

Friday, 2 August 2013

Ordinations: photos and Newsletter

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The ordinands prostrate before the Altar.

'Saturday 22nd June witnessed one of the most momentous events in the history of the Sons of the Most Holy Redeemer: the ordination to the sacred priesthood of two of the brothers, Magdala Maria and Yousef Marie.


'These took place in the church of Sanctissima Trinità dei Pellegrini in the historic centre of Rome.  This is a ‘personal parish’ run by the Fraternity of St Peter so all the Masses said there are in the    Extraordinary Form, ie the old rite.  We arrived to see Archbishop Pozzo, the Papal Almoner, who was to perform the ordinations, just stepping from his car, resplendent in his purple robes.
'There were three ordinands, Brothers Magdala Maria and Yousef Marie of the Sons of the Most Holy Redeemer and Massimo Botta of the Fraternity of St Peter.

'After Mass the new priests gave their first blessings and photos were taken.  Bro Magdala’s family had come all the way from Samoa and Bro Yousef’s from Australia.  Massimo Botta was a local lad so he had a great deal of family support in the church!'

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The two Sons of the Holy Redeemer flanking the newly ordained priest of the Fraternity of St Peter:
left to right, Fr Magdala Maria F.SS.R, Fr Massimo Botta FSSP, and Fr Yousef Marie F.SS.R

Apologies for the photographs and a report taking so long to appear, but here they are at last. 

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Fr Magdala's first Mass, in Sta Trinita

There is a set of photos on Flickr here.

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First blessings.


You can download the latest Newsletter, covering the ordinations, here.

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A celebratory meal.

Monday, 28 January 2013

Ordinations in Rome

From the Chairman of the Friends.

Brothers Magdala Maria and Yousef Marie are to be ordained in Rome on June 22nd this year and the Friends are invited to 
attend.  Clearly it is a great and momentous occasion.
If there is sufficient interest I may try to organise a Friends of Papa Stronsay group to travel to the ordinations.  I would seek to co-ordinate our travel arrangements and arrange accommodation in a convent.  I envisage that we would travel on the Friday, 21st June and return on the following Monday or Tuesday so as to have one or two days for sightseeing etc. after the day of the ordinations.  I must stress that these are initial thoughts only and whether I take them further depends on whether anyone is interested in going!  I am also not able to make a prediction as to cost at this stage, but would try to establish this as soon as possible if there is sufficient interest.
If you would be interested in travelling as part of an organised Friends of Papa Stronsay group please would you let me know in writing, by post or through email by Friday 8th February.  Obviously, if you do want to go, you are free to make your own arrangements if you prefer.

Those interested should email or write to the friends - see contact details on this blog.

Tuesday, 11 December 2012

Friends' Newsletter available for download

Click here to download the latest Newsletter of the Friends of Papa Stronsay. Thanks to the Latin Mass Society for hosting the newsletter on their website; this page has the whole archive since we started two years ago.

The latest newsletter includes a review of this momentous year, which say the canonical erection of the Sons as an Institute of Diocesan Right in the diocese of Aberdeen, three ordinations to the Diaconate, and many other important events.

You can get the Newsletter hard copy by joining our mailing list.

Thursday, 29 November 2012

Monday, 19 November 2012

Two ordinations to the diaconate

...and ordinations to minor orders, at the FSSP Seminary at Denton, Nebraska, by Bishop Bruskewitz.

Br Yousef Marie, F.SS.R. and Br Magdala Maria, F.SS.R., were ordained deacon.
Br Dominic F.SS.R. ordained lector - one of the things he does in the ceremony is ring the church's bell.

In total there were 22 ordinations that day, the rest were for the Fraternity of St Peter.

Lots more photos on the Sons' blog.