Wednesday, 3 July 2013

Centenary of the Catholic League - Annual General Meeting

On July 2nd 2013 at four o'clock, around 30 members of the Catholic League gathered at the rectory of the Catholic Church of the Assumption and St Gregory, Golden Square, for the 100th Annual General Meeting since the formal foundation at the Anglican parish Church of St Mark, Bush Hill Park in Enfield the same day in 1913.

The League had been formed to press for the future course of Anglicans towards a wholehearted embrace of the Catholic faith, leading to the recovery of corporate reunion the two provinces of Canterbury and York with the rock whence they were hewn, the Latin Catholic Church of the West in communion with its primate, the Bishop of Rome, and the Universal Catholic Church of Christ of East and West, a no less vital cause close to the heart of the co-founder, Fr Herny Joy Fynes Clinton.

100 years on, the meeting took place in the presence of His Excellency Mgr Keith Newton, Prot Ap, Ordinary of the Personal Ordinariate of Our Lady of Walsingham, established early in 2010 to allow for the corporate reunion of members of the Church of England desiring to be Catholics in full communion and retaining aspects of their historic and providential canonical, liturgical and spiritual patrimony.

Also among those present were Fr Dominic Pyle-Bridges, who had been present at the 50th, 60th and 75th anniversaries; Mr David Chapman, secretary general of the League, who had been crucifer at the the 60th anniversary and present at the 75th too; and the President, Fr Michael Rear.

At the Meeting, the following were elected and confirmed as the officers of the League:
  • Fr Mark Woodruff (Roman Catholic), Priest Director
  • Mr David Chapman, General Secretary
  • Mr Cyril Wood, Treasurer
  • Mrs Mary Bacon
  • Fr Graeme Rowlands (Church of England), Superior and Priest Director of the Sodality of the Precious Blood
  • Fr Chris Stephenson (Anglican), Membership Secretary and Priest Director of the Apostleship of Prayer
The Priest Director's address is given in the subsequent post. After the AGM, a celebration tea with champagne was served, at which the health of the Ordinary, the Holy Father Pope Francis and the Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby was toasted.

Following the tea, the First Centenary Lecture was given, by Fr John Hunwicke, on Dom Gregory Dix and the Necessity of the Papacy. At 7pm a Solemn Mass of Thanksgiving, a votive for the Unity of Christians, was offered by the Mgr Newton, concelebrated by the Priest Director and the President, with the rector of the Church, Fr Mark Eliot-Smith. It was the first occasion in England on which the newly authorised Eucharistic rite for the Ordinariates was celebrated. It was a special honour for the League to take part, as Fr Mark put it, in a new Catholic mass rite where you did not have to learn the new words (being the time honoured texts of the historic Anglican Prayer Book rite), and to hear the glories of the English Choral tradition sung at mass in the Catholic Church in full communion. The preacher was the president, Fr Michael Rear.

After Mass, a reception for 80 people was held in the Church. The following Saturday, an Anglican mass of thanksgiving and prayer for Christian Unity to mark the Centenary of the Inauguration was celebrated at the Parish Church of St Magnus the Martyr, London Bridge, which for decades has been one of the League's spiritual homes.

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