On the 11th October 2018, Bishop Paul Mason celebrated the RAF Centenary Mass in the church if The Immaculate Conception in Farm Street. It was a fitting venue for the Jesuits have a long tradition of supporting RAF Chaplaincy. One of their most notable chaplains was Fr Peter Blake SJ (RAF 1939-1960) who introduced spiritual leadership causes and continued to provide ŵthese at Loyola Hall well into the late 70’s. The date was chosen because it was the 100th anniversary of the appointment of the first Chaplain in Chief, Rev. H. D. L. Viener, M.A., and it was with great pleasure that we were able to welcome the current Chaplain in Chief, Ven (AVM) John Ellis to our celebration.
Also joining us were representatives of the USAF, The RNAF, the Free Polish Airforce Veterans, and Fr Virginijus Veilentas of the Lithuanian Air Force. The Gospel was read by Deacon Peter Swindlehurst. Peter served with the RAF for many years and his wife, Penny, served with the PMRAFNS, and in retirement, Peter became a permanent deacon and served as the first Diaconal OCM (Officiating Chaplain to the Military) within the RAF at RAF High Wycombe.
Fr James Caulfield, the PRCC (RAF) gave the sermon which highlighted that we are one family, with a long and noble tradition, united in a commitment of service to one another. We are strengthened by the Sacraments and at the heart of our community is the Eucharist. The Mass was offered for all the Roman Catholic Community that has served within the RAF and in particular, the chaplains who have gone before us. Another notable former chaplain recalled was Mgr Harry Beauchamp whose Chalice and Ciborium were used during the celebration of the Mass.
The music was provided by the deputy director of music at farm street, Duncan Aspden, and Gp Capt (Rtd) Almond who provided a beautiful rendition of ‘On Eagles Wings’ by Mike Joncas as the Psalm and a haunting communion reflection.
After mass, the congregation mixed and reminisced over tea and coffee and some excellent RAF 100 cakes and biscuits.
Fr James E Caulfield