On June 27th each year Westminster Diocese keeps the feast of St John Southworth, the 17th century martyr originally from Lancashire, who exercised his priesthood in the Westminster area through many years. His service as pastor, missionary and in care for the sick was notable; however, when arrested, although offered the possibility of freedom on account of his great service, he refused to deny his priesthood and was therefore condemned and hung at Tyburn.
His relics are housed at the Cathedral and each year they are moved to the centre of the nave for veneration at the time of his Feast. Thus they are a focal point for the Ordination of Priests, and this year Bill Bowder, David Burke, Cyril Chiaha, Daniel Humphreys and David Lucuy were all ordained as Priests on this day for service in the Diocese.
In his homily Cardinal Vincent spoke of gifts offered and received, the gift of themselves to which the new priests are called, and no less the gifts received from God. He said that St John Southworth provides a firm foundation for the Diocese, on which the first two great Archbishops of Westminster, Cardinals Wiseman and Manning, built during no less than 42 years’ service. The new priests enter into the gift of this history. Priesthood makes great demands and Cardinal Vincent encouraged them to stand fast in faithfulness as priests, bearing the trials of the people and bringing them to the foot of the cross. A crucial test for them will be the judgment of the faithful, that they find in their priests loving hearts committed to service, the heart that was found in St John Southworth.
So we rejoice greatly with our brothers with whom we have shared some of our formation, and pray that God will indeed bless the Diocese and all its people through their priestly ministry.
Ad multos annos – to many years!