After 2 years away from Lourdes because of the Coronavirus pandemic, the International Military Pilgrimage resumed this year and those attending soon got back into the swing of the Lourdes routine, marching through the streets to the various events led by Bishop Paul Mason, Bishop of the Forces, and the Band and Bugles of The Rifles under the direction of its Bandmaster WO1 Troy Taylor-Smith. There were around 230 in the UK contingent overall with serving personnel from all 3 Services plus accompanying veterans and civilians. The pilgrimage was enhanced by some good weather with temperatures up to 28 degrees Centigrade.
The photographs below are just a selection taken by the UK official photographer George Winter.
LET Zach Oakes-White from HMS Collingwood was baptised and confirmed by Bishop Paul during a special Mass in the establishment's church, dedicated to St Michael with St Gabriel, during the final week of term on Wednesday 6th April. Fr David Conroy concelebrated.
Zach started his preparation for the Sacraments of initiation last summer attending weekly discussion sessions with another Catechumen who will be baptised at Easter in their local parish, exploring various aspects of the Catholic faith enabling him to properly discern his commitment to the faith. It was with great joy and conviction that Zach's sponsor was able to affirm his readiness to be baptised. Zach also received his First Holy Communion during the Mass.
Please pray for Zach that God will strengthen his faith and lead him to everlasting life.
Bishop Paul Mason, with the Principal Roman Catholic Chaplains from the Royal Navy, the Army and the Royal Air Force, and chaplains from all 3 Services gathered at the military Cathedral in Aldershot at 1200 on Tue 5 April for the Chrism Mass, which is one of the most solemn and important liturgies in the Christian liturgical calendar.
During the Mass the Holy Oils were consecrated for use throughout the coming year.
Also in attendance were members of the Cathedral parish and lay members of the Bishopric. The Mass was live-streamed via Zoom for those who were unable to attend in person.
Mass for the Royal Air Force - 3 April 2022
The annual Mass for the Royal Air Force will take place at 1100 on Sunday 3 April at the military Cathedral of St Michael and St George, Queen's Road, Aldershot. All are welcome to join our RAF Chaplains and Bishop Mason at the Mass. The date of the Mass has been chosen to be close to the formation date of the RAF. We will remember all those who have served, and continue to serve in the RAF especially those who have made the ultimate sacrifice, and those currently serving on ops.
Refreshments will follow Mass. Do try and attend in person and Number 1 uniform (with medals) is encouraged for those serving. If you can't attend the Mass in person it will be live streamed via Zoom at this link.
It would be lovely to see as many of the RAF family at the Mass as possible. For further info, please get in touch with Wg Cdr (Rtd) Jem Wynne at email@example.com.
RAF Pastoral Advisory Group Meet With Bishop Paul
16 Feb 2022
The RAF Pastoral Advisory Group (PAG) met at Douai Abbey in Berkshire on 8 & 9 February to discuss their programme of activities for the year. Deacon Dave Skillen, the RAF Principal RC Chaplain, his fellow chaplains, and the PAG members were delighted that Bishop Paul was able to join them once again for their meeting and the period of reflection which followed.
The PAG celebrated Mass with Bishop Paul and the Abbey community and joined with the monks in their daily office.
The RAF PAG assists Deacon Dave and the other RAF Chaplains to enhance the faith life of Catholics in the RAF.
Three New Catholic Chaplains for the Royal Navy
4 January 2022
Congratulations to Frs Phil Carroll and Jude Okorie for successfully completing their initial training at BRNC and passing out from the college during the last week of the autumn term. The photograph shows the two newest chaplains with the Principal RC Chaplain and Deputy Chaplain of the Fleet, Fr David Conroy, and Fr Charles Miller, dressed in his cassock, who passed out of BRNC in July and has recently returned from sea service in the Gulf with HMS MONTROSE. Fr Jude will start his ministry in Scotland with the Faslane Flotilla and Fr Phil at Commando Training Centre Lympstone. Fr Charles continues his ministry with the Surface Flotilla (West) based in Devonport.
Fr Phil commented "Looking back on my time at BRNC it was certainly a very challenging experience but what a gift. To have the opportunity to do something completely different, to meet new people, learn new skills, and above all to practice my priestly ministry in a totally different environment has been wonderful. In an environment that would predominantly be secular, I have found a great deal of curiosity about the faith but real respect and appreciation for the ministry of the chaplaincy. I feel immensely blessed to have been given this opportunity and pray that the Lord may help me to continue to find Him in the young men and women whom I am called to work with next".
PRCC(N) appointed New Deputy Chaplain of the Fleet
22 October 2021
Many congratulations to Fr David Conroy QHC VE RN, who will assume the role of Deputy Chaplain of the Fleet (DCOTF) from 29th October 2021, taking over from Rev Martin Evans RN.
Fr David's office will be in the Naval Chaplaincy Service (NCS) Headquarters in Tanner Building, HMS Excellent, Whale Island, Portsmouth. He will continue in his role as PRCC(N).
This is the first time that a Catholic Chaplain has been selected for one of the two top posts in the NCS.
Pastoral Assistant awarded Papal Knighthood
10 July 2021
Cdr Ian Crabtree RN has been made a Knight of the Papal Order St Gregory the Great in recognition of his services to the Catholic Church.
Bishop Paul Mason invested Ian with his award on 7th July 2021 in a Mass being celebrated to conclude the Catholic Chaplains' annual conference at Wonersh Seminary.
Further information on Papal awards can be found here.