The annual visitation from the committee of bishops who look after the Beda took place via Zoom this week. Archbishop Bernard Longley, Archbishop John Wilson and Bishop Mark O'Toole met with staff and students on Monday and Tuesday. They offered great reassurance to us all and they sincerely hope that next year a visit in person will be possible. We thank them for their enouragement and support and look forward to next year's visit.
The annual college retreats begin tomorrow, marking the start of the second semester. After a successful exam week followed by a leisurely week off, the house assembles again today prior to the retreats. 3rd and 4th years have their canonical pre-ordination retreats in Nemi led by Fr John Carlyle; 1st and 2nd years remain in-house and will be led by Fr Peter Verity. Please keep all our students in your prayers.
In sending greetings for the New Year to the Beda family, Canon Gillespie highlights Mary's example from the Gospel of 1st January. To treasure and ponder the Christmas feasts will be a solid 'centre of gravity' for the months that lie ahead. His full message is below. Photos are from the Beda community Mass of St Thomas Becket on 28th December in the Basilica of San Stefano Rotundo.
In his website message for Christmas, Canon Gillespie urges us, in these difficult times, to keep sight of the hope and vision of the Christmas feasts. Sixteen students, four staff and three FMDM Sisters remain in the college over Christmas while others have returned to their homes and families. The whole community wishes all our friends a Christmas rooted in the Good News which, as the Rector says, will bring much needed joy and warmth into our lives.
At a Mass on Wednesday evening, the five students in Third Year were admitted as Candidates for Ordination. They are Philip Bua (Argyle and the Isles), Douglas Green (Glasgow), Michael Harwood (Liverpool), Frank McKendry (Glasgow) and Ignatius Tan (Melbourne).Congratulations to all of them on taking this important step in their vocational journey. Ad Multos Annos.
In a message published today on the college website, the rector Canon Gillespie gives an update on the situation in the college during the pandemic and the plans for over Christmas. The message, printed in full below, also sends good wishes, prayers and heartfelt thanks to our families, friends and benefactors throughout the world during the season of Advent and Christmastide.
Advent began today with the blessing of the Advent wreathe at Morning Prayer and a weekend Recollection led by Fr John Carlyle. In these unusual times the promises and hopes expressed in the Advent prayers and readings take on a new meaning. Our Advent icon in front of the lectern reminds us of Mary's trust and acceptance in God's word. Come, Lord, do not delay.
The annual November Mass for those who have died during the past twelve months is celebrated this evening in the Beda chapel. During Mass the names of the members of the Beda Association , together with the names of close relatives of present Beda staff and students, who have died in the past year will be read out and prayers will be offered for them all. May their souls, and the souls of all the Faithful Departed, through the mercy of God, rest in peace.
The annual Academic Mass which recognises the achievements during the previous academic year took place today. For obvious reasons the Vice-Chancellor of St Mary's Anthony McClaren was not able to be with us in person but we were very grateful that he could join the plenary staff meeting on Zoom later in the morning. Congratulations to the 8 students present this morning and to 3 other students in the UK all of whom did so well this year.
As elsewhere, Remembrance Day 2020 was unusually quiet. Instead of the Mass with English, Scots and Irish Colleges at the church of San Silvestro, we held our own Mass and prayers to remember the war dead. In addition, the Beda Book of Remembrance is on display throughout November in the chapel reminding us of the families and friends of Beda students past and present who have died. Later in November, we will hold the Mass for deceased members of the Beda Association. May they all rest in peace.
Eleven Second Year students received the Ministry of Lector on Wednesday evening. Originally scheduled for 13th May the Ministry had been delayed until all students could be together. Because of the current restrictions, no guests were allowed and masks and social distancing were the order of the day. But a good evening was enjoyed by eveyone. Congratulations and prayers for all the new Lectors. Ad Multos Annos.
Two priestly and two diaconate ordinations took place during the summer of 2020. Adrian Lowe (Brentwood) and Norm Allred (Meath) were ordained priest. Alex Chow (Melbourne) and Matthew Bond (Wrexham) were ordained deacon. All were ordained by their respective bishops in their home cathedrals, with very few people allowed to be present due to the restrictions of the Covid pandemic.
The 10th anniversary of the canonisation of Saint Mary of the Cross MacKillop, Australia's first canonised saint, was remembered at a Mass at Domus Australia here in Rome on Saturday 17 October with Cardinal George Pell presiding. The Beda was well represented with the Rector concelebrating at the Mass and Alex Chow serving as deacon, Ignatius Tan as thurifer and Damien Locke as Master of Ceremonies.
In a sunny garden before Sunday lunch, the Rector launched the 2020 Beda Review and copies were distributed to students and staff. This year's Review coincides with the 60th Anniversary of the present Beda building and many of the articles explore the historical background. The Rector warmly thanked editor Markus Ohlsson for an excellent production.
After the difficulties travelling and the quarantine needed to be safe from COVID, the full House of 38 students, five formation staff and three FMDM Sisters finally came together for a weekend of Recollection led by Fr Peter Verity. Everyone has gathered in good spirits and ready for the year ahead. A relaxing Sunday afternoon after all the preparation is now enjoyed by all. Lectures will start in the morning.
Eleven students are expected for the new intake this year. There are four from England, four from Ireland, two from Scotland and one from Mauritius. In addition, for the first few weeks, as has happened in the past, two Anglican exchange students from England will be joining us. We look forward to welcoming them all to begin their seminary formation.
As the Rector explains in his website message for the beginning of the 2020/2021 year (above), the Beda, along with many other Roman seminaries and colleges, has delayed the arrival of the new students to put in place the safety requirements in the pandemic. All students are due to return on 3/4 October and all will receive a COVID test on 5th. The academic year will begin as planned on 12th October. We look forward to welcoming the eleven new students joining us this year, bringing our total number to well over 30. .
"Rest and be thankful" is the Rectors message at the end of this remarkable year. A good way to re-live the story of the year is through the 1000+ photographs, organised in 35 ablums, on the college Flickr account (click the title or picture here for the link). From the induction, through to the Diaconate ordinations and all the events in between can be seen again through these photos. The College Website and Facebook page will be taking a rest and being thankful until the new academic year. We look forward to resuming in September.
Two new Icons of St Peter and St Paul by Aidan Hart have been installed recently in the college refectory. Specially commisioned by the college they link the two great apostles with St Bede, our patron. St Peter is seen holding the monastery church of St Peter Monkwearmouth where Bede spent his early life, and St Paul is holding the monsastery church of St Paul Jarrow where Bede spent his later monastic life and where he died. A fuller explanation is given by the Rector's article above.
Six Third Year students were today ordained Deacon by Cardinal James Harvey in the college chapel. Two other Third Year students will be ordained Deacon in their respective dioceses during the summer. Cardinal Harvey referred to them as the ‘Covid Deacons’ and because of the pandemic, the ordinations took place without guests and with strict protocols of masking and sanitizing. We offer our prayers for all the new Deacons and wish them well in their pastoral placements during the summer months.