Report on the activities of St. George with St. James, Aguadulce, Spain.
(The Spanish Mission)
By Father David Worsley
Greetings from the Parish of St. George with St. James, Aguadulce, Sevilla, Spain.
Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ, this will be a short(ish) report, but, we hope, encouraging! Joe and I arrived here in Aguadulce on the 23rd. August, 2007, having left England with the assurances that our house in Manchester was sold, but arriving in Spain with the news that it hadn’t been, imparted to us by our solicitor as we were off Ushant on the Pride of Bilbao en route for Spain! However, as I write this report, we are now hopeful that the house will be sold within the next few weeks but at a much reduced price than that in August of last year after which the market began to plummet! However, we have not let that daunt our spirits!
Knowing that we were coming here to do God’s Will, we set about trying to get our new house in order and, more importantly, our garage set up as a chapel, at least for the initial period, as quickly as possible. During our first weeks here, we were advised of an English Market held each Wednesday at the Saydo Hotel in Mollina. Our Spanish Estate Agent and our solicitors are based in Mollina, so it was clear we would go down to the Saydo and see what was going on. Apart from Boundary Park (we don’t attract too many foreign supporters at Oldham Athletic), I have never seen so many English people in one place at one time and especially abroad! This struck us as a base for Evangelism! The following week, I went in my clericals and this brought about many questions and enquiries. Resulting from this, we agreed with the hotel manageress that we would provide a weekly Mass for those interested and did a poster / leaflet drop in all the houses attached to the Saydo Hotel (Saydo Park) and put them on all the cars’ windscreens parked outside the hotel for the market! That has proved to be our most successful source of Evangelism.
Some years ago, I saw on the London Underground graffiti which proclaimed “The trouble with England is apathy”, under which someone had scrawled, “Who cares?”This is nowhere more evident than in relation to the Church. We are exceptionally happy at the response we have had but amazed at the truth of that graffiti! Things improved, however, when the local Royal British Legion invited me to become their Chaplain. The RBL Service of Remembrance last year was memorable and our first real introduction to one another! As things have evolved, we have a faithful nucleus of worshippers at the Saydo, two of whom have been moved to join the HCC-
We have been greatly encouraged by the Receptions of Derek Cantellow and Beryl Lee. However, one person who was fairly regular, has left us and gone to the RC Church in Mollina because we were “too high Roman Catholic”! I take that as a compliment!!! What Church she thinks she’s attending in Mollina is anyone’s guess!
In Aguadulce, things are static, although daily Masses are, and will continue to be, offered here. Despite mail drops and personal invitations, the response has been disappointing. However, in July, there will be a renewed effort both at the Saydo and here in the village to improve numbers. At the Saydo, it will be largely carried out by Beryl, Joe and Derek, whilst I will be able to undertake a more hands-
Our relations with the Roman Catholic Church could not be more helpful, however. Locally here in Aguadulce, we already had a very close relationship with Fr. Gines – even before we arrived, and that continues with his successor, Fr. Juan. However, the Episcopal Vicar (equivalent of an Archdeacon) for this area has proved to be invaluable. Fr. Adolfo Pacheco is a fine priest and a great supporter of us in this area. He is totally sympathetic to our Faith Position which he sees, for his own Church, the best way forward. He finds our liturgy rewarding, meaningful and very up-
One of our highlights in the last 10 months was assisting in the Diocese of Malaga, at the wedding of my Bank Manageress (from Liverpool, but we all have our problems!) to a lawyer from Malaga. Blue was the colour of the day – the Blue of Everton being joined together to the Blue of Malaga FC by the Blue of Oldham Athletic! The wedding took place in one of the oldest and most beautiful churches in Malaga, Sant Iago, just off the Plaz Merced (where Picasso was born). The church is magnificent and Fr. Manuel, the very elderly parish priest, an absolute delight. A family friend of the groom, Fr. Antonio, took the wedding in Spanish and then I repeated each passage (including the vows) in English. It was a great privilege and a wonderful day (and evening!). To hear 68 Blue Scousers (and two Reds) lifting the roof off with “Jerusalem” after the Communion was amazing. Fr. Antonio just looked at me next to him at the altar and said “Wow!” Summed it up totally.
Pictures received from the Spanish Mission
Fr David Worsley with Fr. Adolfo Pacheco, the Episcopal Vicar
Of the Diocese of Seville. Photo taken in Fr. David’s house Chapel
Photos of the Ordination of the Reverend Derek C. The interesting photo in this group is the last. The Archdiocese of Seville was represented by Fr. Adolfo Pacheco and here, he is receiving a Blessing from the new priest.
I thought that another picture of the Ordination Weekend for Fr. Derek would still be of interest and this Mass took place on the Sunday after the Ordination and Confirmation, on the 10th. October (Trinity XIX). Bishop Samuel preached, Fr. Derek concelebrated and I assisted where necessary.
Fr. Derek is now settling down to parish life and will soon be fit enough and up to speed to offer the Mass on a daily basis in the Antequera area where he lives. We will come together in Aguadulce for major festivals and the monthly Requiem and the Sunday Eucharists in Fuente de Piedra will continue with both of us normally in attendance. We will adopt a pattern whereby the one who does not celebrate serves, preaches and assists at Communion.
So November is upon us and with it comes the confusion at the beginning of the month as to what exactly is celebrated on All Saints' Day (01NOV) and All Souls' Day (02NOV), not to mention the “holiday” on the 31st. October, Halloween. Let's dispense with the last first! It is not a holiday. The word HOLIDAY means Holy Day and, apart from the anticipation of All Saints' Day there is nothing “holy” about Halloween in is origins or its practice. The modern celebration of Halloween is described severally as “just a bit of fun”, “for the children” or “harmless”. It has proved to be, on several occasions, none of these things. The “Trick or Treat” syndrome where children dress up in fancy (normally witches') costumes and knock on doors demanding “trick or treat” has degenerated to an act almost of extortion, where the “trick” becomes a threat. Conversely, the danger to children participating in these activities was brought home recently when they were given sweets (candy to our American friends), laced with heroine in an attempt to “hook” new addicts. Of course, we don't want to spoil children's fun, and our own daughters spent many a happy hour or two going around the Coastlands Mall in Naples, Florida, collecting sweets from all the stores who stock up for the occasion. This is innocent fun, but children must be protected against the parasites who prey on them and from believing that Halloween is a HOLIDAY. If you were to ask most of those children in the Mall, what Halloween (the Eve of all Hallows) represents, they would not know anything about All Saints' Day (All Hallows). That is the HOLY DAY. The origins of Halloween go back to the Celtic days, when Samhain was celebrated. This was a mish-mash of celebrations of fertility, harvest and darkness. Such celebrations may, on the surface, seem innocent, but “harvest” was celebrated as a result of the other two subjects and prone to all kinds of excesses. I'm reluctant to have a Harvest Festival here as all we have around us are olives and there are only so many you can stick in a Martini!! That is not to decry Harvest Festivals! When the children of Israel ceased to be nomadic tribesmen wandering through the desert and adopted an arable and pastoral way of life in Canaan, they saw the necessity and requirement to give thanks to God for the firstfruits of the harvest – it goes back that far!
So why the confusion over All Saints' and All Souls' Days? This, in England at least, was due to the protestant influence over the English Church after the Elizabethan Settlement. There was a reluctance to accept the Catholic doctrine of the Church as the Church Militant (us, here and now), the Church Expectant [or Penitent] (those who had gone before us in the Faith but who were not regarded as Saints) and the Church Triumphant (those Saints who are already with Christ and will appear with Him at his second coming). This is all bound up in the words of the Nicene Creed (although this was accepted by the Elizabethan Settlement) “I believe in the Communion of Saints”.Therefore, the Feast of All Saints was totally different from the Feast of All Souls, but the two became confused in the English Church's dithering. With the Catholic Revival (Oxford Movement) in England, the differences were again made clear and culminated in the Alternative Services Book of 1980, where the Feast of All Souls was again restored and the record set straight.
The early Church in its wisdom, set aside the 1st. November to celebrate all the saints. This was to pit the weight of holiness against the former celebrations of evil which had been prevalent. Winter was coming on, the nights were drawing in, you needed an extra vest and the first frosts were appearing. The following day (All Souls') was set apart for prayers and Masses for those who had gone before, part of the Church Expectant, who were not regarded as saints but whose souls could be prayed for by us (the Church Militant) as we are all, living and departed, part of the same Church, the living, sacramental Body of Christ. The Eastern Church have several days throughout the year when they remember the Faithful Departed, mostly on Saturdays (known as Soul Saturdays) as Jesus rested in the tomb on that day. Historically, the western Church began the practice of keeping All Souls' Day on the 2nd. November as far back as 1048 by St. Odilo of Cluny in the abbey there and it spread firstly through Religious houses (the Cluniacs being the largest order in those days) and was subsequently adopted by the whole western Church.
In every other respect, I dislike November. When working on the ramp at Manchester Airport, especially during the night, it was the most bleak and depressing month of the year. It was also the time when the fauna at the airport became more assertive! I would be supervising a freighter operation when a black shadow would appear and come right up behind me. What was it? The Hound of the Baskervilles, a huge dog, or what? Well, neither. We had hares as large as hounds and just as scary, which had grown beyond normal size as there was plentiful food, areas to nest, and, most importantly, no predators. With the wind, rain and sleet whistling around my nether regions, I'd eventually have the opportunity to go back on board and wait with the crew until it was time to depart. Swissair provided the most delicious soups in flasks for the crew and for us and, as we could not leave early because of night bans in Zürich, we had time to relax, chat and enjoy the soup and sandwiches! How civilised!! At least as civilised as it gets at 0300 in the morning! After Swissair left I had the SAS (Scandinavian Airlines) freighter to supervise. The crews were fantastic but the soup not as good! Despite working them for 19 years, I never really got used to night-shifts. However, we had fun! Our handling agent was British Airways and as the Swissair/SAS manager I established a really good relationship with the guys in the BA operational departments, so many of whom I still count among my best friends.
So, ecclesiastically, what can we look forward to in November? We can look forward to Advent which looks, in turn to Christmass and then winter is half over! Spring is just around the corner!! On the 22nd. November we have the Feast Day of St. Cecilia. Now, I have to admit a great liking for St. Cecilia, patroness as she is of musicians. Händl wrote his oratorio “Ode to St. Cecilia” in her honour, but as I am not particularly enamoured by Georg Friedrich, I prefer to concentrate on the “Grande Messe Solonelle pour Saint Cécile” by Charles Gounod. Now, we are talking real composers! Whoops, I've now offended all lovers of Baroque music, but, who cares, Baroque music is purely mathematical anyway and very little came from the heart and a good “time and motion” man would get rid of the repetitions and we'd have a lot less of it!! The 25th. November gives us the opportunity to celebrate St. Catherine. In Europe they celebrate one's Name Day – the day of the saint after whom you were named. My close connections over the years to Europe have meant that we also keep our Name Days. Much of the Czech Republic will keep the Feast of St. Catherine (or Saint Katerina) as its Name Day on that day, and, as I know many of them, all of whom are very interesting people, I send them best wishes! In England, on Nov 5th. we keep Bonfire Night when the “Gunpowder Plot” of 1605 to blow up the Houses of Parliament was discovered and the fall-guy, Guy Fawkes, would have been hanged, drawn and quartered as a result of that discovery, but he leaped to his death from the gallows, breaking his neck before the cruel fate could be carried out. Many in England, probably, would now say, “Come back, Guy Fawkes, all is forgiven!” Then on the 30th. November we have the patron of Scotland, St. Andrew. My most vivid memories of this date come again from Florida. My great friend, Fr. George Fuchs, invited us to go with him and Helene to his then church where they were “blessing the tartans”. Very kindly, I was invited to take part, but inevitably, being St. Andrew's Day, we had to endure a piper and the only hymn seemingly able to be played on bagpipes was “Amazing grace”. I dislike that hymn almost as much as I dislike bagpipes, which bear the resemblance to a cat having its intestines removed without the helpful benefit of anaesthetic. As it was the only hymn he could play we had it twice – once to come in to and then to make a retreat at the end! The retreat was not quite far enough as we could still hear him but the occasion and friendliness were beyond question, quite delightful.
One of the nicest things about going back to the UK for Diocesan Conferences is that I get the opportunity to meet up with my cousin, Vicki and her husband , Frank. They live in West Parley, near Bournemouth Airport, and this year took me to a country pub called “Drucilla's” for dinner – quite delightful. Vicki always lets me know when The Pilgrimage is lacking a degree of humour. So now, just for you, Vicki, here is a “list”. They are actually exchanges between Attorneys and Witnesses in the courts of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts and come from a book entitled ”Disorder in the American Courts”. A = Attorney and W = Witness.
A What is your date of birth? W July 18th. A What year? W Every year.
A What gear were you in at the time of impact? W Gucci sweats and Reeboks.
A This myasthenia gravis; does it affect your memory at all? W Yes, I forget things. A You forget? Can you give us an example of something you forgot?
A How old is your son, the one living with you? W 38 or 35, I can't remember which. A How long has he lived with you? W 45 years.
A What was the first thing your husband said to you that morning? W He said, where am I, Kathy? A And why did that upset you? W My name is Susan.
A Now, Doctor, isn't it true that when a person dies in his sleep, he doesn't know about it until the next morning? W Did you actually pass the bar exam? [I think there's a sermon there somewhere. Ed.]
A The youngest son, the twenty-year-old, how old is he? W Pardon?
A Were you present when your picture was taken? W Would you repeat the question?
A So, the date of conception of the baby was August 8th? W Yes. A And what were you doing at the time? W Have a guess.
A She had three children, right? W Yes. A How many were boys? W None. A Were there any girls?
A How far away from the other car were you at the time of impact? W Pretty close!
A How was your first marriage terminated? W By death. A And by whose death was it terminated?
A And, officer, where was the location of the accident? W At milepost 499. A And where is milepost 499? W Probably between milepost 498 and 500.
A Sir, what is your IQ? W 20/20.
A Trooper, when you stopped the defendant, were you patrol car's red and blue lights flashing? W Yes, sir. A Did the defendant say anything when she got out of the car? W Yes, sir. A What did she say? W What disco am I at?
A Did he kill you?
A You were there until the time you left, is that true?
A You say the stairs went down to the basement? W Yes. A And, these stairs, did they go up as well?
A Mr. Slattery, you went on a rather elaborate honeymoon, didn't you? W I went to Europe, sir.
A And did you take your new wife?
A Can you describe the individual? W About medium height and had a beard. A Was this a male or a female?
A Is your appearance here this morning pursuant to a deposition notice which I sent to your attorney? W No, this is how I always dress when I go to work.
A Doctor, how many of your autopsies have you performed on dead people? W All my autopsies are performed on dead people.
A All your responses must be oral, OK? W (nods) A What school did you go to? W Oral.
A Do you recall the time that you examined the body? W The autopsy started around 8:30pm. A And Mr. Denton was dead at the time? W No, he was sitting on the table wondering why I was extracting his brain.
A Are you qualified to give a urine sample? W Pardon?
And, saving the best until last:
A Doctor, before you performed the autopsy, did you check for a pulse? W No. A Did you check for blood pressure? W No. A Did you check for breathing? W No. A So then, it is possible that the patient was alive when you began the autopsy? W No. A How can you be so sure, Doctor? W Because his brain was sitting in a jar on my desk. A But could the patient still have been alive, nevertheless? W Yes, it is possible that he could have been alive and practising law.
Enjoy what remains of Trinitytide (after all the doctrine of the Trinity is what unites all orthodox Christians), and keep away from courts in Boston!!
Please send any written contributions to Fr. David, (financial ones will help, too!)
Cheques should be made payable to “The Parish of St. George with St. James” and sent to:
Fr. David Worsley, Parish Priest, St. George’s Presbytery, Calle Almeria 13, 41550 Aguadulce. Sevilla. Spain.
Tel: (0034) 954 816 668 [land line] or (0034) 627 168 614 [mobile] Fr. Derek Cantellow, Assistant Priest Tel: (0034) 616 019 747 & nbsp And, of course the dreaded E-mail thingy: email@example.com But which saves us considerable expense!
For further information on the Holy Catholic Church – Western Rite, please contact Fr. David at the above address and contact numbers or consult our Church web-site on http://www.holycatholicanglican.org/
The Diocese's Web-site is http://www.holycatholicchurch-wr.webs.com/ But please note this is not at present
under the control of the Diocese itself.
Christine (Confirmation) and Derek (Ordination to Priesthood) with Bp. Samuel and Fr. David (Celebrant)
Services in the Chapel of St. George with St. James unless otherwise indicated:
Solemn Mass (Meson on the Square) 1045 (Sundays)
Weekday Mass (Mon-Sat) 0900
Evensong with Benediction 1830 (Sundays)
Requiem Mass (Monthly) As announced
Saints’ Days, Holy Days and “Fiestas” As announced
The worshipping Community of this parish meets in the Chapel, St. George’s Presbytery, Calle Almeria 13, Aguadulce, Sevilla, Spain and on Sundays at the Meson on the Square (formerly Oscar's Restaurant), Fuente de Piedra, Malaga.
It's been a very hectic beginning to October, as you can imagine! I apologise for the late distribution of The Pilgrimage but I needed to wait until Derek was completely “done” before writing it. Derek and I set off for the Diocesan Conference in Peasedown St. John on the 4th. October arriving in Bristol on schedule and obtaining our hire-car from Alamo. As I'm still in a flush from being in Prague, I chose a brand new Skoda Fabia Diesel TDI which was absolutely excellent, as has been every Skoda I've driven – all previously in the Czech Republic. They have a saying in the Czech Republic regarding the Volkswagen group. It goes, Volkswagen are cars built by German workers; Audi are Volkswagen cars built by SUPERIOR German workers; Seats are Volkswagen assembled by idiots, but Skoda are Volkswagen built by ENGINEERS! I disassociate myself from the description of Seats, not because I live in Spain, but because they are actually good cars! We spent the afternoon with Bishop Samuel with whom this was Derek's first meeting, and later went to Bournemouth to spend time with our Vicar General, Fr. Osmond Newnham, in Poole. We met on the the following day, Tuesday, but Derek made a quick side-trip to London to visit his elderly mum (98yrs old!!) who had been taken into hospital for assessment. She has lived many years alone and up until then had looked after herself with great independence. At 98, she will still not be exactly a drain on society as she's going into sheltered accommodation when allowed (to a new) home. I picked Derek up the following day at Bath Station and, after a very interesting chat with a British Transport Police Constable, who seemed very interested in this “tanned” priest waiting there, and produced from inside his tunic, a New Testament, saying in the immortal words of the American Express advertisement of some years ago, “I never leave home without it”. He was fascinated by what we are about in Spain and we spent a very happy Christian 20 minutes discussing evangelism. I was actually very buoyed up by this meeting,and although he was probably not a Catholic, found his enthusiasm contagious! What a great guy! I'm not sure that when he 'cuffed someone, reading to them from his New Testament would make too much difference, but if it did, WHAT A GREAT GUY! Leaving him, we did not just shake hands, we embraced! It struck me what a strange sight that would make to onlookers to see a uniformed policeman embracing a uniformed clergyman! More his problem that mine, I thought! During this time, Bishop Samuel, whom I had picked up on the way, had gone off seeking a SIM-card for his Blackberry. This achieved, we all set off back to Peasedown St. John to Pam Wright's excellent Fish Pie and eventually to our Guest House on the outskirts of Bath. It had been a tiring day, but Derek had spent time with his mum; I'd been nobbled by a Transport Policeman; Bp. Samuel had his SIM-card and Pam was her usual excellent hostess self. What more could one ask? The next day was to be the first stage of Derek's journey to Priesthood and we needed our beauty sleep (Derek more than me!). [He was more tired, not less good looking than me, just to clarify!]
After a pretty attractive English breakfast in the Guest House, we set off for Peasedown St. John for the Conference Mass, lunch, and the Conference. Derek was perfect! His brother and sister-in-law were there to support him and it was an impressive occasion, greatly enjoyed by the Attendees who appreciated this truly European event. It brought home to all, the fact that we are the Diocese of Europe and that, whilst the Spanish-speaking sections of it have been hived off to Bishop Victor Manuel Cruz Blanco, for obvious reasons, as the Diocese of Europe, the English – speaking bits still come under Bp. Samuel Banzana as our Bishop Visitor. The Conference was due to start at 1100 with the Mass and of course, Derek's Ordination to the Diaconate. Everything went to plan, with Derek supported by the Attendees of the Conference but also by his brother and sister-in-law as mentioned above. The Ordination itself was impressive, with Fr. Long, a TAC priest who looks after our congregation in Cornwall, making an excellent job of the Litany. As we left for the venue, Bishop Samuel mentioned he had a surprise for me. I was curious! He took me to one side and said, “You're preaching!” The sermon, therefore, was not quite up to Fr. Long's Litany, but we got through it! As his sponsor, it was for me to present Derek to the bishop and the whole service was truly impressive, with Derek “performing” extremely well.
After the service we all decamped to Pam's house for an excellent lunch followed by the Confer- ence proper. The Conference was predominately of Diocesan business, but it was a great pleasure and of practical use to have Bishop Samuel present to give us some perspective of what is happening world-wide and the agenda facing the Conference of Bishops taking place in Poughtkeepsie, New York State, beginning on Friday 15th. October. At their Mass, two new bishops will be consecrated – Canon Edmund Jayaraj, Rector of Poughkeepsie, and Fr. Ian Woodman of St. Hilda's, Titirangi, Auckland, New Zealand. Fr. Jayaraj will assist in the Diocese of the Resurrection, and Fr. Woodman will assume episcopal oversight of both New Zealand and Australia. Please remember them in your prayers. I've known Fr. Ian for some years now and am sure that the Antipodes will be in good hands.
An early start beckoned Bishop Samuel, Derek and myself the following morning and my alarm went off at 0245! The Guest House where Derek and I were billeted provided a packed breakfast but my stomach was still recovering from an excellent Indian Curry Derek and I had consumed the night before in a restaurant nearby so my breakfast became my lunch once home. After picking up Bishop Samuel in Peasedown St. John, we drove to Bristol Airport which, I have to say, compared when I did many flights out of there some years ago, has grown significantly and become one of the most passenger-unfriendly airports I've experienced in some time. Still, after walking 500yds to the gate, we boarded our Easyjet (known in the trade as Sleasyjet) flight to Malaga. You pay for transportation and that's all you get. However, the Check-in agent, a delightful Polish girl, had pity on this bishop and two clergy and knocked a couple of kilos off the excess baggage charge for Catholic Discount. They can get into serious trouble if found out, so this was indeed a concession on the part of the Check-in Agent! I expressed my thanks in my best Polish (I didn't work for LOT Polish Airlines for many years without picking up the basics!). On arrival in Malaga, Derek was waiting behind for a friend to pick him up and Bishop Samuel and I took the courtesy bus to Chips Away, where Saabastian had been housed for the duration of our trip. The weather was beautiful, so we took his hat off and drove, hood down, back up to Aguadulce where Joe was waiting for us with a welcome cup of tea!
Derek's whirlwind week then continued on Saturday with his Ordination to the priesthood. Ordinations are long, but this one was extended further by the necessity to include a Confirmation at the same time. Christine Watson, Royal British Legion Secretary for our branch, was receiving this Sacrament and that took place after the Epistle. After the Gospel, read by our Deacon, came his Ordination to the priesthood. An excellent congregation, boosted by the Saydo Male Voice Choir, supported both Derek and Christine and the choir sang our Communion Music, The Lord's my Shepherd (Crimond) and Guide me O thou great Redeemer (Cwm Ronda), which were truly excellent. Derek tried to do an impression of Elija when he almost set his vestments ablaze when retrieving the thurible, but that was the only mishap and quickly sorted with no damage to our white vestments! After the rather long service (no alternative with a Confirmation and Ordination – and even then we omitted the Nicene Creed and a sermon) excellent refreshments were served by Linn and ManU. ManU is from Barcelona (no, not everyone from Barcelona is like Manuel!!!) and, of course, his full name is Manuel. However, associations with Faulty Towers and the usual Spanish idea that every English person supports ManU has led to his adopting ManU as his name. You can imagine that this goes down very well with everyone who doesn't support Manchester United, including this parish priest who has, on his study wall, a painting (yes, a painting!!) of the one time Oldham Athletic beat Manchester United in the Premier League, showing the goal scored by Neil Adams (who should be canonised); the painting having been commissioned by the Club on the Centenary of their founding and only a limited number of copies produced. The repast over, everyone went home replete and totally enthralled by what they had seen. Thanks to Bishop Samuel, the occasion was superb and is still being talked about all around this area.
Before all this activity took place, as Chaplain to our branch of the British Legion, it was my honour and responsibility to bless and hallow the new Standard. This was done in the church of Our Lady of the Olive in Mollina (we are the Mollina branch), and I was ably assisted by the parish priest, Fr. Fermin. My thanks to him and to Mike-the-Trumpet who did the necessary with the Last Post and Reveille and in “Eternal Father strong to save” which sounded magnificent. It is very pleasant to have a joyful occasion to celebrate as opposed to calling out the names of the Fallen in Afghanistan.
Earlier in September, Joe and I made a visit to what is probably the most beautiful city in Europe – Prague. It is some years since we were last there, and it was just as fascinating as ever. The public transport system is excellent with one ticket covering the Metro, buses and trams and we even managed a trip to the State Opera to see a performance of Verdi's “Otello”. Musically, it was superb although the Russian tenor singing Otello was a little “over enthusiastic”. The State Opera, a most beautiful building, is renowned for its minimalist stage productions and this was no exception. I sometimes wonder what planet some operatic directors are actually on and if they ever tried singing in the ridiculous positions they make opera singers assume. The “set” (for want of a better word), comprised of a raised platform covering at a slight angle, the entire depth of the stage with a back-cloth which occasionally showed stars projected onto it; the “props” consisted of plastic rocks arranged in meaningless patterns in each scene and some heavy golden stones which Iago gave to Otello each time he got one over on him! Poor Desdemona didn't even have a bed to get strangled on and repeated the difficult feat of lying down on the stage whilst singing, which she had already practised in the love duet! Lying flat on the stage is not the best way for a singer to project the voice to the audience as it gets lost in the gantries and scenery (assuming there was some) above the stage. However, expecting this in advance, it did not for me detract from the excellent singing and superb artistry of the orchestra. Our journey entailed leaving home on the Sunday after Mass on the 19th. September and taking the high-speed train up to Madrid. It makes the journey from Malaga to Madrid in a mere 2½ hours. We boarded at the station in Puente Genil and our journey lasted only 2hrs 10 minutes. We stayed overnight in Alcala de Henares with our friend Maria and the following day took CSA Czech Airlines' afternoon flight to Prague. It was wonderful to be back on board a real airline where you don't have to pay for your baggage, refreshments are served without charge and the drinks are still free! It was even nicer to be remembered by the Pursers (in each direction), who apologised for not being able to put us into Business Class as it was full in both directions, but looked after us extremely well, nonetheless. We stayed with Katerina Martin and her partner in the Jinonice area of the city and it was good to catch up with her and meet Andrew who is an Englishman. Katerina was my Deputy when we worked for Czech Airlines at Manchester Airport and now works for the airline in Prague Airport, although our visit coincided with the first day of her Maternity Leave. It was good to catch up with other friends during this time, if only by telephone due to the shortness of our stay. Saabastian had been staying at the home of our friend, Barry Best, a member of our Congregation, who lives very near to the station in Puente Genil, and Barry had dropped us off at the station and was there to pick us up on our return. On the correct assumption that we had not eaten, he had made a meal for us before leaving for Aguadulce and home. Barry makes a superb cheese and onion pie!!
Taken all round, it has been an impressive couple of weeks or even three if you include our short trip to the Czech Republic. I caught up with friends in the Diocese who are based in the UK and Derek, at last, met them for the first time and managed to see his mum as well. Both Ordinations and Christine's Confirmation went to plan and Bishop Samuel made his first ever visit to Spain and to our parish. He also got to see a little of Cordoba and particularly the amazing Cathedral there, also experiencing a typical Spanish lunch as a bonus! He also saw for himself our lovely chapel of St. George with St. James and experienced the heartfelt welcome from our congregation. My thanks to all who made the Confirmation and Ordination a special day for both Christine and Derek and swelled a large congregation. Particular thanks go to the Saydo Male Voice Choir for their contribution and to Fr. Adolfo for making time in his hectic schedule to attend the service. I will advise separately when I have all the photos of the Ordinations and where you can retrieve them.
One final footnote: Today, as I write this, saw the rescue of the last of the Chilean miners who have been trapped underground for what seems, probably even moreso to them, as years. Those who have never been down a mine, and I once went down a coalmine at Agecroft, at the back of my then home, and decided that despite the nasty head of the Mineworkers' Union, they, the miners, deserved every penny of whatever they could extract from the British Coal Board. I hadn't realised until then that I was claustrophobic, and what those Chilean miners have been through would have sent me totally mental! Congratulations to the rescue workers, to the Chilean government and to the fortitude of the relatives waiting on the surface. It is the grace of Our Lord which supported them and belief that they would be rescued through the good offices of the Holy Spirit which kept them uplifted.