I am a catholic priest of the Diocese of Westminster and currently serving as parish priest in Neasden, North West London.
During my diaconate year, 1985, I had the opportunity of going to St Beuno’s, N.Wales on the ‘3M’ course, which included a 30day retreat; this confirmed my Ignatian Spirituality which had been surfacing during my time at Heythrop College.
From this I was invited by the team at St Beuno’s, to direct 8 day and 30 day retreats under supervision from 1986-1993, with my primary ministry as assistant priest in Hackney and parish priest in Clapton Park in the East End of London. (I was blessed with a very understanding parish priest in Hackney and further blessed with a retired priest in Clapton Park!)
During this time I was the RC member of an ecumenical team responsible for establishing and running two year ongoing courses for training spiritual directors at the London Diocesan Centre for Spiritual Direction. (Now subsumed into The London Centre for Spirituality).
For 13years, 1992-2005, with permission from Cardinal Basil Hume, my Bishop, I ministered outside the Diocese; 6 years in Colorado USA, and 7 years at Corrymeela in Co. Antrim, Northern Ireland where I was born.
The time in the States was divided between Retreat work and helping to set up Parishes in the relatively new Diocese of Colorado Springs which had a big shortage of priests. This time taught me much about real collaborative parish work….many flourishing parishes with non-ordained men and woman (did I just say that!) mandated by the Bishop with full responsibility, with I and other priests on the parish teams as Sacramental Ministers.
The Ecumenical Reconciliation Community of Corrymeela, taught me that the Catholic understanding of our Faith journey in Christ cut no more ice than the Presbyterian or Church of Ireland’s or Baptist’s understanding. As Faith and Life Co-ordinator I was responsible for developing and delivering Inter-denominational, Inter-Faith and Spirituality programmes for national and international groups. Groups committed to an explicit religious faith (I still get an inner smile when I think of the many Presbyterians I journeyed with and how much we learned together.) through to groups of university students who wanted to spend a weekend arguing the toss of whether God existed or not!
Now back in the Diocese and Parish more aware of ‘God in all Things’ and with the help of Daniel O’Leary writings and ACTA members, heartened by Papa Francis, enabling each other in the parish to ‘Recover our Sacramental Vision’ that begins with the heart.