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Year of Mercy – Becoming different people – Loving as God loves


by Fr Duncan McVicar on 29/09/2016

If we look at God’s mercy and properly understand God’s mercy, then it gives us some concrete hints for being merciful towards others. Fathers and mothers in the family, for example, are encouraged to look towards God as a father, so that they can understand the meaning and framework of their own individual parenthood and what it means to be a father or a mother. However, these characteristics are actually applicable to every Christian. We all have to work on ourselves, and educate ourselves so that we can become “transparencies” of God’s mercy and be merciful towards other people. For example, we say that God is omnipresent. So it is the task of parents, for example, to be always “present” for the children. This doesn’t mean that they have to be physically present everywhere where their children are –this is impossible. But they should always be present for their children in the hearts. The children are always present in the hearts of the parents, and the parents are always present in the hearts of the children. Parents understand and know all the interests and needs of their children, and children understand and know the needs and desires of their parents. God the Father is all-wise. If we want to be like God then we also have to strive for a certain wisdom. Wisdom for example means that we know when to demand something from someone else, and when we have to leave things as they are. Wisdom means we get the right balance between saying something that has to be said, or remaining silent and wait for a better opportunity. Wisdom also means that we encourage in ourselves the ability to look for the good in people and to believe in the good in people even when we have been disappointed or hurt over and over again. Can we really believe, for instance, that God has placed something good in every single human being, even if they have done something very wicked or horribly wrong? God is also all-holy. This too is the first vocation of every Christian – to be holy and to try and discover what God’s will is for each one of us every day of our lives. All these different characteristics that describe the image of God are also the tasks and daily mission for each and every Christian. The attributes which we assign to God, are the same attributes which we have to develop and ourselves. When we experience the weaknesses and limitation of others, then we can always ask the question: have I got similar weaknesses? Do I have a similar limitation? This is the process of self-education. There will never be a time, when we are not called to work on ourselves and train ourselves more and more in what it means to follow Jesus Christ and reflect the merciful and endless love of God.  Hopefully, we will all be able to say with time:  “What is the greatest reality in my life? The greatest reality in my life is God the Father and his merciful and boundless love!”

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Love is our Mission: Family Fully Alive


by Fr Duncan McVicar on 11/10/2015

Report on the World Meeting of Families 2015

Report of Fr Duncan McVicar & Fr Andrew Pastore SI

Introduction: “You guys are going to kill this city!”

Representing the Diocese of Salford at the World Meeting of Families 2015 in Philadelphia USA was a honour and unique experience for both of us. We arrived on Sunday morning, unpacked and found our accommodation. As we went for a walk down one of the busiest streets, a young man came in the opposite direction and as he walked past Fr Andrew, he coyly said: “You guys are going to kill this city!” He meant that as Philadelphia was expecting 15000 participants from over 100 countries (eventually that number rose to 20,000) arriving in the city – Christian families, priests and religious from practically every community – for the World Meeting of Families and then an estimated 1 million for the Papal Mass with Pope Francis, the “mood” and atmosphere of Philadelphia would change somewhat: A little more light in the dark, a little more hope in despair, a way forward instead of a dead end, a message of renewal instead of “throwaway culture”. The poor passerby seemed threatened by the thought of too many Christians descending on the city even if only for a week. The effect seemed to almost be “unbearable” for him.

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Schoenstatt Fathers with Pope Francis: Support Families – Be Witnesses of Mercy


by Fr Duncan McVicar on 06/09/2015

This is the complete text of Pope Francis’ Speech to the Schoenstatt Fathers at the Vatican recently: Dear Brother Priests, I am happy to be with you at this meeting, and I thank Juan Pablo for his words, as well as the testimony of affection in the name of the members of the Movement. I also still keep alive last year’s meeting. The 5th General Chapter that you have just held took place on the 50th anniversary of the Institute’s foundation by Father Joseph Kentenich. And over these years you have been concerned to keep alive the foundational charism and the capacity to be able to transmit it to the younger ones. I am also concerned that you maintain the charism and transmit it, so that it will continue to inspire and support your lives and your mission. You know that a charism is not a museum piece, which remains intact in a showcase, to be contemplated and that is all. Fidelity, to keep the charism pure, in no way means to shut it in a sealed bottle, as if it were distilled water, so that it is not contaminated by the outside. No, the charism is not preserved by keeping it put away. It must be opened and allowed to go out, so that it enters into contact with reality, with persons, with their anxieties and problems. And thus, in this fecund encounter with reality, the charism grows, is renewed and the reality is also transformed; it is transfigured by the spiritual force that the charism bears.Father Kentenich expressed it very well when he said that one had to be “with the ear in God’s heart and the hand on the pulse of the time.” Here are the two pillars of an authentic spiritual life. (more…)

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Pope to Schoenstatt Movement: Don’t keep your charism stored. Let it out and live it


by Fr Duncan McVicar on 04/09/2015

The General Chapter of the Schoenstatt Fathers had a special audience with Pope Francis in Rome on Wednesday. The Fathers’s Community gave  the Holy Father a gift of a small replica of the Shrine and also the keys to the door of the Original Shrine in Schoenstatt. The new General Superior of the Schoenstatt Fathers, Father Juan Pablo Catoggio said to the Pope: “It’s a copy of the original shrine that Providence gave us definitively two years ago. Here is a small replica and as a symbol, we will also give you the keys to the Shrine.” While addressing the priests, the Pope reminded them that contemplation, service and fraternity should be the focal points of their priestly lives. He emphasized that their charism is not a museum piece that should be kept in a safe: “A charism is not meant to be stored away. It should be out in the open and free so it can have contact with reality, people, concerns and problems.” Reflecting on the words of the movement’s founder, Father Joseph Kentenich, the Pope reiterated the importance of practicing their charism, out in the real world. “Father Kentenich said it quite well, when he said ‘keep your ear to God’s heart and your hand on the pulse of the time.’ These are the two pillars of an authentic spiritual life.” The movement, which is quite young, now has a presence in over 42 countries. The Pope also called on them to reach out especially to younger generations. 

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Covenant Mass in September 2015


by Fr. Bryan Cunningham on 26/08/2015

After the Summer break we welcome you to our Covenant Mass on Friday 18th September at 7.30pm at the Shrine followed by light refreshments. The Mass is prepared by the St John Fisher’s Ladies group. We look forward to the World Meeting for Families in Philadelphia in the last week in September and we will start our prayer in preparation for the General Synod on the Family in October. Love is our Mission. The Family Fully Alive. Throughout the year we have meditated on  the mystery of Marriage and Family and have developed clearly our image of Catholic Marriage and Family. For this Mass we will look at the vocation of woman and man, called to be mothers and fathers. In particular we will look at the challenge to have authority as parents and to use that authority for the better of the children. We look forward to seeing you.

This will be Gaspar’s farewell since he returns to Chile to continue his studies. We invite you to make a contribution in the collection at Mass toward a farewell gift for him.

Also please bring a contribution for our food basket which will be passed on to the Brothers of Charity for their work with families in need.

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Interview with Sister Francine


by Fr Duncan McVicar on 30/09/2014

From Maria Elena Vilches. The Schoenstatt Family is getting ready to celebrate its Jubilee. Pilgrims from over 50 countries will come to Schoenstatt seeking a personal encounter with the MTA in the Original Shrine and with one another as family. Definitely, one of the highlights of their pilgrimage to Schoenstatt will be the encounter with Schoenstatt’s founder, Fr. Joseph Kentenich. Sr. Francine-Marie Cooper – member of the team responsible for the preparation of the encounter with Father – gives us an idea of what we can expect during the Jubilee Celebrations.

Why should pilgrims come to encounter Fr. Kentenich during the jubilee celebrations? Fr. Kentenich is the Founder of Schoenstatt and I am sure many Schoenstatt members have a personal relationship with him. He is the third point of contact in the Covenant and for that reason I think there will be two poles during these days: one of them will be the Original Shrine – together with the arena in the valley, and the other one will be the Founder Chapel. We want to celebrate the jubilee together with Fr. Kentenich and also experience him and his presence during the jubilee days.

What will the pilgrims find when they come looking for this encounter with Father? We as team have looked at some different “stations” around Mount Schoenstatt and also in the valley, places where Fr. Kentenich lived or spent some time. These “stations” consist of guided visits, testimonies and different kinds of impulses. We want to make it possible for people to have this personal encounter with our father and founder in any way which they are looking for, which they find is good for them. It was our aim to create an atmosphere in which true encounters can take place.

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Wright Opening Prayer


by Fr Duncan McVicar on 29/09/2014

When Minister Joe Wright was asked to open the new session of the Kansas Senate in America, everyone was expecting the usual generalities, but this is what they heard: “Heavenly Father, we come before you today to ask your forgiveness and to seek your direction and guidance. We know Your Word says, ‘Woe to those who call evil good,’ but that is exactly what we have done. We have lost our spiritual equilibrium and reversed our values. We confess that we have ridiculed the absolute truth of Your Word and called it Pluralism. We have exploited the poor and called it the lottery. We have rewarded laziness and called it welfare. We have killed our unborn and called it choice. We have shot abortionists and called it justifiable. We have neglected to discipline our children and called it building self-esteem. We have abused power and called it politics. We have coveted our neighbour’s possessions and called it ambition. We have polluted the air with profanity and pornography and called it freedom of expression. We have ridiculed the time-honoured values of our forefathers and called it enlightenment. Search us, Oh, God, and know our hearts today; cleanse us from every sin and set us free. Guide and bless these men and women who have been sent to direct us to the centre of Your will and to openly ask these things in the name of Your Son, the living Saviour, Jesus Christ. Amen!” The response was immediate. A number of legislators walked out during the prayer in protest. In six short weeks, Rev. Wright’s Church, logged more than 5,000 phone calls with only 47 of those calls respond-ing negatively. The church is now receiving international requests for copies of this prayer from India, Africa, and Korea. “If you don’t  stand for something, you’ll fall for anything.”  


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