Homily for the Funeral of Archbishop Peter Smith

 

St George’s Cathedral, Southwark

30 March 2020

 

I imagine that Archbishop Peter has a wry smile on his face concerning the funeral liturgy we are celebrating for him today. With straightforward faith, and seasoned humanity, he never really enjoyed the pomp and limelight that can accompany ecclesiastical high office. No matter how splendid the occasion, Archbishop Peter maintained a ‘no fuss’ approach which, together with his gentle and good humoured shepherding, endeared him to so many people during his varied ministry as a priest and bishop.

 

Today, we offer to his family and friends – especially to Jim, his brother, and Linda, his sister in law, and his nephews, Richard and Alex - our deepest sympathy and condolences. Peter’s death took us all by surprise, coming just weeks after he first became unwell. Having retired last July, he was so looking forward to spring and to nurturing his new garden. It might seem to us that the Book of Wisdom has been proved true: the virtuous man, though he die before his time, has found rest. It is to another garden that we entrust our beloved brother, the garden of paradise, that ancient Persian word that speaks of a walled garden tendered by a king. Our faith-filled hope is that Christ, the King of Glory, will welcome Peter to His heavenly garden, and, by His resurrection, raise him up to eternal life.

 

So many people, both from within and beyond the Archdiocese of Southwark, desperately wanted to be here today to pray for Archbishop Peter. In normal circumstances, this Cathedral would have been full to overflowing with those who found in him a friend and a guide, a companion and a pastor. In their name we give thanks to Almighty God for the blessings we received though Archbishop Peter’s dedicated service. We few who gather now represent the countless individuals touched by his ministry spanning almost fifty years. With many of them, we will gather again, as soon as possible, for a memorial Mass to honour our much loved Emeritus Archbishop.

 

In recent weeks, there have been many fitting tributes and obituaries sketching Archbishop Peter’s outstanding contribution to the Catholic Church in England and Wales. His impressive media presence and compassionate articulation of the Church’s teaching communicated the inherent dignity of human life and the human person to a broad audience. His legal training, both civil and canonical, brought perceptive insight, with a no nonsense presentation of what was at stake. Without ever being condescending or dismissive, he inspired confidence in the truths of Catholic faith. As a smoker throughout his adult life, the meetings he chaired had a certain pace, always keeping the need for a ‘fresh air’ break firmly in view.

 

Born in Battersea, south west London, in 1943, Archbishop Peter was ordained a priest for the Archdiocese of Southwark on 5 July 1972. After parish ministry and further studies, he became a lecturer and then Rector at St John’s Seminary, Wonersh, where he spent over twenty years of his life. There, in the Seminary chapel where he prayed, high above the tabernacle, is a Latin quotation which translates ‘you have not chosen me, no I have chosen you.’ These words of the Lord Jesus would resonate time and again as he began and continued his episcopal ministry.

 

Archbishop Peter served as the Bishop of East Anglia, then the Archbishop of Cardiff, and, finally, as the Archbishop of Southwark, his home Diocese, which included a brief stint as the Apostolic Administrator of the Diocese of Arundel and Brighton. All these appointments speak, not only of his personal gifts and skills, but of the esteem in which he was held by the Holy See and the Church in England and Wales.

 

Despite having been consistently thwarted in his desire to be a parish priest, Archbishop Peter’s priestly heart shone through his episcopal ministry. Always with Christ as his model, Archbishop Peter was trusted and competent, combining duty with service. Without ever seeking any of the assignments he was given, he sought to do the will of the one who had called him. When, as Bishop of East Anglia, he received a telephone call from the Apostolic Nuncio, the Nuncio asked ‘Where are you?’ ‘In Walsingham, ‘Archbishop Peter replied. ‘Good,’ said the Nuncio, ‘because Our Lady said yes!’ This was the preamble to his appointment as Archbishop of Cardiff.

 

As Archbishop Peter’s successor, two things in particular have struck me very powerfully in these weeks since his death. The first is the genuine simplicity with which he lived his priestly and episcopal ministry. There was nothing lavish about his lifestyle. He liked good, honest food, not too fancy, and a well-made gin and tonic. There was nothing of the ‘prince bishop’ about him, but everything of the servant shepherd.

 

Archbishop Peter recalled all his appointments with immense gratitude and the people he had met and served with great fondness. The ordinary warmth of his faithful discipleship dovetailed with the ability to put people at their ease. While he took his love for Christ and for the Church with the utmost significance, his personal lightness of outlook was joyous and engaging. When I went to see him at home in Whitstable, just before he was transferred to hospital, I asked ‘Is there anything you need.’ ‘Yes,’ he said, with that characteristic twinkle in his eyes, ‘a coffin!’

 

The second thing that has struck me has been the number of people who have been in touch to share with me their memory of Archbishop Peter. Some were impressed by an aspect of his leadership, or by how he dealt with a particular situation, or by his wise counsel. But most moving has been to hear from those for whom he made a crucial difference in ways that perhaps hardly anyone else ever knew. A family to whom he took hampers of food, the counselling for someone which he paid from his own pocket, the supportive ‘phone calls and personal charitable donations. If a person’s life is a mosaic of memories, then Archbishop Peter will be remembered, above all, for his instinctive kindness, flowing, as it did, from his love for Christ.

 

In the last days of his life, Archbishop Peter was looked after wonderfully at the Royal Marsden Hospital in Chelsea. With his appetite waning, his last meal was the unlikely combination of ice cream and Peroni beer. Visited by his family and friends, it is difficult to express adequately the devotion shown to him by his former Private Secretary, Fr Philip Glandfield, and the Director of the Archdiocese of Southwark Youth Service, Mr John Toryusen. Both of them stayed with him during his time in hospital, including through the night, praying, caring and keeping watch.

 

Towards the end of his life, Archbishop Peter drifted in and out of consciousness until he finally came to rest. When I imparted the Apostolic Pardon, and anointed him with the Oil of the Sick, his eyes remained closed with no external response. But taking his hand, he squeezed my fingers with such a firm grip. It told me that even then, towards his final hours, as it had been throughout life, faith in Christ was alive at the very core of his being.

 

‘Whoever comes to me,’ said the Lord Jesus, ‘I shall not turn him away.’ Peter, our brother, uncle, friend, priest, bishop and fellow disciple, believed, taught, and lived this truth to the end of his life. It is with sincere love, and profound thankfulness, that we return him to the Lord in the certain hope that He will raise him up on the last day.

 

Eternal rest grant unto him, O Lord

And let perpetual light shine upon him.

May he rest in peace and rise in glory. Amen

 

 John Wilson

Archbishop of Southwark

Most Rev John Wilson, Archbishop of Southwark

Appointed on Thursday, 10th June 2019

 

 

 

 

Archbishop Elect John Wilson was born on 4 July 1968 in Sheffield. He studied for a Bachelor of Arts degree in theology and religious studies at the University of Leeds and began formation for the priesthood for the Diocese of Leeds at the Venerable English College, Rome in 1989. During his seminary training he completed a Baccalaureate in Sacred Theology at the Pontifical Gregorian University and a Licence in Moral Theology at the Accademia Alfonsiana. He was ordained a deacon on 13 July 1994 by Bishop Cyril Restieaux

He was ordained to the priesthood on 29 July 1995 by Bishop David Konstant. He was appointed Assistant Priest at St Joseph’s, Pontefract in 1995, as well as hospital, hospice and school chaplain. He was appointed Assistant Priest at St Joseph’s, Bradford in 1998, and also served as a school chaplain.

In 1999, he was appointed Lecturer in moral theology at St Cuthbert’s Seminary, Ushaw College, Durham. He also completed a PhD at Durham University and latterly served as Vice Rector. In 2005, he was appointed Episcopal Vicar for Evangelisation in the Diocese of Leeds, a role he held until 2012.  From 2008 to 2014 he was also sessional chaplain at HMP Leeds. In 2011 he was named a Chaplain to His Holiness by Pope Benedict XVI. During the vacancy of the see, he was elected Administrator of the Diocese of Leeds by the College of Consultors from September 2012 to November 2014. From 2015 to 2016 he served as Parish Priest of St Martin de Porres, Wakefield.

On 24 November 2015 he was appointed Auxiliary Bishop of Westminster and Titular Bishop of Lindisfarne by Pope Francis. He was ordained to the episcopate by Cardinal Vincent Nichols on the Feast of the Conversion of St Paul, 25 January 2016. He had pastoral care of the deaneries in the western area of the diocese. He was also Chair of the Education Commission and had oversight of ecumenical work and inter-religious dialogue at diocesan level. He was also responsible for Liturgy, Art and Architecture, as well as the Historic Churches Commission.

On 10 June 2019 he was appointed Archbishop of Southwark by Pope Francis on the retirement of Archbishop Peter Smith. His installation will take place in St George’s Cathedral, Southwark, on 25 July 2019, the Feast of St James the Apostle. 

 

Augustine Pilgrimage Route in Kent

Augustine Camino

The Augustine Camino is a relatively new pilgrimage route within the Diocese of Southwark, running between Rochester Cathedral and The Augustine Shrine in Ramsgate.  Their Founder, Andrew Kelly, will be offering a number of one day guided tours this Summer and a FREE one day pilgrimage is offered on 8th June from 8.30 am - 5.30 pm between Faversham and Canterbury Cathedral, ending with a Pilgrimage Service within the Cathedral.  For further information and a Narthex poster, click here.

Although we all enjoy the idea of going on pilgrimage abroad, for many it is not practical for a variety of reasons, such as finances, family or limited health.  The Augustine Camino is a practical way forward in order enjoy to enjoy the benefits of taking time out to reflect and pray without being too far from home or spending a large amount of money.

The overall Pilgrimage is 70 miles in total and can be reasonably walked in one week (or more, if preferred!).  It aims to take in the beautiful Kent countryside as well as places of history and heritage en route, including relics of St Thomas More, a number of churches, including some stunning stained glass windows, and a chance to explore affiliations to a number of saints, not least of which is St Augustine, who is considered Apostle to England, founder of the English Church and one of our three diocesan patrons. There will also be a chance to stop off for a good pub lunch and spend time talking and praying together. 

For those wishing to embark on more than a one-day pilgrimage, baggage transfer is available, as is a guidebook and Pilgrim Passport which you can get stamped along the route.

To find out more about the Camino visit: http://augustinecamino.co.uk/
To hear a recent interview of Andrew Kelly on Radio 4, on the subject of why people go on pilgrimage' click here: https://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/m00051bf

The Diocesan Catechetical Certificate

This is a course for all those who wish to deepen their understanding of the Catholic Faith. It is particulary suited to parish catechists.

The cost is £345 per year for a two year course.

The Friars at Aylesford

 

 

 

You will find a comprehensive list of pilgrimages and events at Aylesford during the year. Consult the Friars website at http://www.thefriars.org.uk/


 

Directions to the National Shrine at Walsingham

Local Retreat Centre at Blackheath

The Sisters of St Andrew offer a quiet and reflective space for short or long retreats or days of quiet and reflection.

Further details. See website

http://www.sisters-of-st-andrew.com/

 

The Welcome
99 Belmont Hill
Lewisham
London SE13 5DY
Tel.:0208 852 1662
e-mail: welcome@sisters-of-st-andrew.com

 

Events
Meditative evening prayer with the Community
including Taize chants
7.30pm on the last Wednesday of every month (except July and August)
more information
 

 
  Mornings for carers Sr Regula Hug
7th July 2016 10.30am-12.30pm
  
For those who care for a loved one suffering from ill-health. A time to come away, pause, be, reflect, pray, listen, share with others the joys and difficulties on this journey of daily caring BOOK
 
more information
Mondays in 2016 Group supervision for spiritual directors 
more information
11am - 1pm
    19 September
24 October 21 November 19 December

 

 

National Shrine of St Jude, Faversham

Parish of Our Lady of Mount Carmel

 
The Parish of Our Lady of Mount Carmel is in the Roman Catholic archdiocese of Southwark and is served by friars of the Order of Carmelites.







The parish embraces the town of Faversham and the surrounding area, stretching to Teynham to the east, Lenham, Charing, Old Wives Lees to the south and Dunkirk, Dargate and Waterham to the west. 

Our friendly parish church is in Tanners Street where you will also find the intimate Shrine of St. Jude. The church, shrine and gardens provide a space for tranquillity and peace where you will soon feel at home. 

Members of the Roman Catholic church, we are also part of Churches Together in Kent and are fully committed to exploring and working together with other Christian denominations in the area, people of other faiths and all those who seek meaning in their lives.

 

Masses

Masses for Sunday 
Saturday 6pm 
Sunday 8am, 9am (at Teynham), 10.30am and 6pm. 
Tea & Coffee after the 10.30 am Mass in the Carmel Hall. 

Weekday Mass 
9.30am (unless otherwise stated in the Parish Newsletter) 

Holy Days 
9.30am and 8pm. 

Reconciliation (Confession) 
Saturday 10am, 5.30pm to 5.45pm and at call. 

Morning Prayer 
Monday to Saturday at 9.10am. 

Exposition of the Blessed Sacrament 
Tuesday 10.15am to 11.15am and 8pm to 9pm.

St Jude

Beside the parish church is the Shrine of St Jude where pilgrims come from far and wide. 

Entrance to the church and opening times

The church and Shrine of St. Jude are open at the following times:

  • 8am to 6pm (May to October)
  • 8am to 4pm (November to April, except Christmas Day)

Outside of Mass times, when the main doors of the church are open, access to the church is through the sacristy door. From Tanners Street enter through the gate marked Whitefriars. The sacristy door is on the right. See our Location Map in Quick Links above.

Further information

For further information, please contact:
Whitefriars 
35 Tanners Street 
Faversham 
Kent ME13 7JW 
  01795 532449    info@whitefriarsfaversham.org