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Bishopric News

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Annual Masses for the RAF Roman Catholic Community
 
Join the Bishop of the Forces, the RAF Principal Roman Catholic Chaplain
and the RAF Whole Force RC 
Community to gather together in celebration.
Sunday 21st April 11am
at the Military Cathedral of
St Michael and St George
Queen's Avenue, Aldershot
GU11 2BY 
Thursday 10th October 10am
The Central Church of the RAF,
St Clement Danes,
The Strand, London
WC2R 1DH 
 

There will once again be 2 opportunities for the RAF Roman Catholic Community, and anyone else who would like to take part, to gather to worship, along with Bishop Paul, and the RAF RC Chaplains, at one of our annual Masses.

 

For further information please contact: jeremy.wynne109@mod.gov.uk.

 

Refreshments will be served after both Masses.  All are most welcome.

Bishopric of the Forces - Retreat Series 2024

Once again, the Bishopric of the Forces is happy to offer a retreat opportunity for personnel from across the Whole Force. This year there are 4 separate retreats organised:

 

St Mary's Monastery, Kinnoull, Perthshire - 29 Apr to 2 May

Douai Abbey, near Reading, - 25 to 28 Jun

Worth Abbey, West Sussex - 14 to 17 Oct

Ampleforth Abbey, Nth Yorkshire - 11 to 14 Nov

 

The Defence Instruction and Notices (DIN) 2023DIN01-128 provides more information and an application form.  Please contact the RAF Pastoral administrative Assistant, jeremy.wynne109@mod.gov.uk, for further information.

Exercise St George Cross

Padre Dave Skillen, Principal Roman Catholic Chaplain for the RAF took part in a Force Development activity, Exercise ST GEORGE CROSS in Malta between 23 – 27 February, 2024.  He was with a group of 13 service personnel from RAF Northolt who travelled to Malta to study the significant RAF involvement in the defence of Malta during World War II.  The resilience shown by the people of Malta at this time resulted in the award of the George Cross to the Island.

During the group’s visit to the Fort Rinella site Padre Skillen led a Field Service to commemorate and honour those who fought and died in the conflict.  He said, ‘It is a great privilege to have been able to lead this service to remember those who fought so gallantly, and also to pray for a just peace in all the current conflicts around the world.’

While in Malta, Padre Skillen took the opportunity of running in the Malta Half Marathon which was taking place around the streets of Valetta the capital, recording a personal best time in the process.  Well done Padre Skillen!

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Annual Mass and dinner for the
Royal Air Force Roman Catholic Community

Thursday 12 October saw 2 major occasions in the Royal Air Force Roman Catholic Community calendar take place in London.  The first was the annual Mass for the RAF which took place in the magnificent surroundings of the Central Church of The Royal Air Force, St Clement Danes.  This was the third occasion that this Mass has taken place, the annual Masses being the initiative of Rev (Sqn Ldr) Dave Skillen, the RAF Principal Roman Catholic Chaplain (RAF PRCC).  

The Masses provide an opportunity for Catholics who serve the RAF from across the Whole Force, their loved ones, and, indeed, anyone who would like to join in fellowship, to gather, with the Bishop of the Forces, in prayer, worship and praise of God our Father.  The Mass was concelebrated by a former RAF PRCC, Monsignor John Daly, as well as the PRCC of the Royal Navy and the Army, and other military RC chaplains. RAF Chaplains, Deacons Dave Skillen, and Anthony Curran, assisted Bishop Paul at Mass.

This years' Mass was made more special by the receipt into the Church and the confirmation of AS1 (T) Martin Carre, an aircraft technician based at RAF Odiham.  Once again, the RAF Chaplain-in-Chief, The Venerable Dr (Air Vice-Marshal) Giles Legood, was able to join us in worship.

Following Mass, the RAF PRCC hosted his annual dinner at the RAF Club for invited guests.  The principal guest was Archbishop Miguel Maury Buendia, the Apostolic Nuncio to Great Britain.  During the dinner, guests listened to vignettes which highlighted the work carried out within the RAF to support serving Catholics and their families and to further the Catholic mission.

Dr James Hagerty KSG FRHistS, renowned military historian with a special interest in military chaplaincy, gave an informative and entertaining after-dinner talk on Early Catholic Military Chaplaincy Within The RAF.

The next Mass for the RAF takes place at 1100 on Sunday 21 April 2024 at the military Cathedral of St Michael and St George, Aldershot.  And the next annual Mass for the RAF at St Clement Danes is at 1400 on Thu 10 October 2024.  All are very welcome to attend.
 

Fr Robert Matau RN receives 3*Commendation

Fr Conroy, VAdm Connell, Fr Matau, VAdm Burns (Fleet Commander), Bishop Mason

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Fr Conroy, Fr Matau, Bishop Mason

Fr. Robert Matau, Chaplain Royal Navy has been awarded a Royal Navy Commendation (3*) for consistently delivering levels of devotion to duty and support to frontline people above that expected, across an extraordinary period challenged by high operational outputs and beset with Covid-19 restrictions.

The Presentation Ceremony was held at Admiralty House in HM Naval Base Portsmouth on 5th June 2023 and the Commendation was presented to Fr. Robert Matau by The Second Sea Lord, Vice Admiral Martin Connell CBE.

Process to make famous WW1 chaplain a saint opens in Mullingar

Fr Ian Stevenson CF(RC), Principal Roman Catholic Chaplain (Army), represented Bishop Paul Mason at the opening session of the canonisation cause of World War 1 Jesuit chaplain Fr Willie Doyle, which took place in Mullingar, Ireland, on 20th November 2022.

The canonisation cause was opened by Bishop Tom Deenihan of the Diocese of Meath in the presence of nine other bishops and dozens of priests. A congregation of several hundred people attended the event, including serving and retired members of the defence forces and the head chaplains of both the Irish and British armies. The official ceremony involved a report on the life of Fr Doyle and a formal petition to open the cause, following which Bishop Deenihan read his official edict signifying the opening of the process.

Commenting on the opening of the Cause, the President of the The Father Willie Doyle Association, Patrick Kenny, said: “The opening of Fr Willie’s cause has been greeted by many with great enthusiasm. Since the news of his canonisation process was first announced we have had requests for material about Fr Willie from all around Ireland and indeed from many other countries, including Europe and North and South America. Many people, from all around the world, have written to us to ask for prayers for their healing through Fr Willie’s intercession. It is evident that there is a strong affection for Fr Willie out there, and it is notable that young people are especially impressed with the witness of his life. We look forward to introducing more people to Fr Willie’s powerful story in the months and years ahead, and we encourage people to come forward and help us in whatever way they can in this exciting project”.

Speaking at the opening ceremony, the Diocesan Postulator Fr John Hogan said: “We believe the life and death of Fr Doyle have immense importance for the Church. He is a good and holy model of the priestly life. He is a sign of hope for those suffering with mental health issues due his own experience and recovery from a psychological breakdown in his youth. His desire to offer his life, penances and even his death as a reparation for the sins of priests can resonate with the Church in these times. His love and service of German soldiers offers the Church an example of universal charity. Fr Willie can be seen as a servant of peace and reconciliation and a model of true ecumenism. In many ways his life and witness are more relevant to us now than they were 100 years ago”.

The Father Willie Doyle Association have published a newly approved prayer for Fr Willie’s canonisation.

The homepage of the Association and a full archive of resources and material on Fr Willie Doyle can be found on the official website for the cause: www.williedoyle.org.

Willie Doyle was born in Dalkey, County Dublin in 1873, and entered the Jesuits in Rahan, Tullabeg, Co. Offaly in the Diocese of Meath in 1891. He served as chaplain in the 16th Irish Division of the British Army. He is now formally known as the Servant of God, Fr Willie Doyle SJ.

The Father Willie Doyle Association is a lay initiative working towards the canonisation of Fr Willie Doyle, with the approval of the Irish Jesuit Province and of the Diocese of Meath, where it has the status of a Private Association of the Faithful. The Association is the official Actor for the cause. The Actor for a cause is the one who formally petitions a bishop to open the cause and formally promotes and funds the process. It is the only Irish lay association established to promote a canonisation cause.

The canonisation process can take many years. The first step is a diocesan investigation into the life and virtues of the Servant of God. If the process is approved by the diocesan tribunals, it will proceed to the Roman phase where a panel of expert theologians will examine Fr Willie’s life and virtues. If Fr Willie is found to have lived a life of heroic virtue, he will then be granted the title Venerable, and can proceed to beatification and canonisation if the Vatican approves miracles following prayers through his intercession. The last time a canonisation process was opened in Ireland was for the founder of the Legion of Mary, Frank Duff, in 1996.

'We will Remember them'

There was a good turn out of uniformed personnel from across the Armed Services at this year's Solemn Requiem Mass for the Fallen in Westminster Cathedral on Remembrance Sunday. The Cardinal Archbishop of Westminster was the Principal Celebrant and Fr Phil Carroll, Royal Navy, gave the homily. After the Mass, attendees had an opportunity to meet up over a cup of coffee in the church hall.

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A small group from the Royal Navy spent a cultural weekend in London staying overnight at St Mary's Monastery, Clapham, home of The Redemptorists London Province. The group were treated to wonderful hospitality from their hosts as well as a guided tour of Westminster Abbey, and visits to Westminster Cathedral and Tyburn Convent. 

Picture: The group outside St Mary's Monastery with Fr Richard Reid (CSsR), Provincial, Fr David Conroy KHC RN, PRCC(N), and Fr Phil Carroll RN, in the centre of the photograph

Navy Bish earns Green Beret

Fr Philip Carroll, Royal Navy, has earned his green beret after completing the gruelling Royal Marine Commando course at CTC RM Lympstone. The last time this was achieved by a Royal Navy Catholic Chaplain was 25 years ago! Fr Phil joined the Royal Navy just over a year ago in September 2021 and passed out of BRNC in December. Assigned to CTCRM Lympstone in January he completed the Commando course in mid October. 

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 Fr Phil leaps his way through the course

Fr Phil receives his Green Beret

Fr Philip Carroll Royal Navy

Passing out Parade at Lympstone

Camino 22

Twenty Seven Pilgrims from the Bishopric participated in a walking Pilgrimage from Ourense to Santiago De Compostela (Spain) over the period 15 to 22 Sep 22, along part of the Camino de Santiago, or “The Way”, which takes the form of one of dozens of ancient pilgrimage routes to Santiago De Compostela.  True to its aim, the Pilgrimage helped to develop individual spirituality, faith, Catholic ethos and values, as well as mental and physical resilience, and community cohesion within the Tri-Service RC community. All the participants enjoyed this most memorable experience, which was subsidised by the Service Catholic Trusts.

Fr Bernard Funnell (1933-2022)

Bernard Anscar Funnell was born on 13 July 1933. Following National Service, mainly in Germany, he studied for the priesthood at the English College in Lisbon (founded in 1624 and closed in 1973). During his time there the President of the College was another Leeds priest, Mgr. James Sullivan (1903-1999). Fr Bernard was ordained in Lisbon on 8 June 1963.

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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. 

IMP 2022

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.

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Welcome Zach!

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.

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Mass for the Royal Air Force - 3 April 2022

Chrism Mass - 5 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 rafprccpastoralassistant457@outlook.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
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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
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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
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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.

New Pastoral Administrative Assistant Role for Army

5 April 2021
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Mrs Karen-Marie Horn MBE started as the new role of Pastoral Administrative Assistant to the Principal Roman Catholic Chaplain of the Army. Click on the image above to read more about Karen and the new role.

Deacon Dave Skillen baptises baby Alex at the Station church of Ss Geroge & Michael, RAF Odiham

October 10th 2020
We pray for baby Alex and his family as together they continue to grow together in faith.

We ask the Lord's blessing on all their family and friends. 

New Pastoral Administrative
Assistant Role for RAF

7 September 2020
Wg Cdr (Rtd) Jem Wynne started today in the new role of Pastoral Administrative Assistant to the Principal Roman Catholic Chaplain of the RAF. Click on the image above to read more about Jem and the new role.

New Catholic Chaplain for

the Royal Navy

September 5th 2020
Admiral Tim, speaking after the Passing Out Parade, said “I was delighted to welcome Father Tom into the Royal Navy at his Passing Out. Having known Fr Tom as our assistant parish priest for the last 3 years it is very exciting that he has chosen the RN for the next phase of his vocation.”
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