The Ordinariates have to remain distinct: yet also they are a part of Catholic life in this country. So today I joined priests from the Bournemouth, Avon and Stour Pastoral District on their Advent Day of Recollection.
It was a very happy experience. There was some input from one of the brethren, Fr Bill Wilson, and everyone seemed ready to contribute to the discussion which his talks provoked. It seemed a very good way to begin Advent, and we look forward to a similar occasion at the start of Lent.
We met in very comfortable surroundings, Wisdom House in Romsey. This occupies part of the site of a one-time French Convent. It was good to be at home so quickly with fellow priests, only a few of whom I'd met before today. One though, my namesake Fr Bruce Barnes, worked in the Anglican Diocese of Portsmouth soon after I served my Title there, and it was very good to catch up with him again.
It is a stone's throw from another former Monastic building, Romsey Abbey. That church, one of the loveliest in Hampshire, is now the Anglican parish church of the town. The famous local family is the Mountbattens, and Lord Louis, cousin of the Royal Family, was laid to rest here.
I can't leave Romsey without showing you its greatest jewel, the Rood, which, though much damaged, is still magnificent. This early representation of the crucifixion pre-dates the distorted suffering figures of the Middle Ages. This Christ is not victim but Victor, his arms spread out to embrace the world, his feet side by side as though he stands erect. It was the inspiration for the silversmith who created the pectoral cross which I wore as Bishop of Richborough. To have an opportunity to continue in Ministry in old age is a great privilege — to Christ be the glory!