Sunday, 13 May 2012

Of Bishop Fellay, Confirmations, Coincidences and a Consecration

Come with me back in time to January1990.

We lived in a desert then, a spiritual one, of course.

West Wales, (in fact all of Wales), was without the Latin Mass and any priest who wished to celebrate one was hunted down ruthlessly by Bishops 'Topcliffe' and 'Wade'.

There were, as far as we were aware, no other traditional Catholic families within 150 miles of us and whilst our youngest child had made her First Holy Communion in our own chapel within the house, courtesy of our visiting priest, Fr Lessiter, and our middle daughter was still too young to be confirmed, our two eldest children did urgently require the Sacrament of Confirmation.

Nowhere in the British Isles could one receive the traditional rite of Confirmation other than at one of the SSPX churches, and then only once each year when Bishop Fellay visited.

So, with a high degree of planning we commenced the process of applying to Fr Black who was the coordinator for such visits. We applied with the usual paperwork and were accepted and, duly on the day, we arrived at the church of St Joseph and St Padarn in North London.

 We knew in advance that we had a problem. We did not know anyone who could act as sponsors. All of my surviving siblings were in the modernist camp and Mrs L's relations were all Protestant.

"No matter" wrote Fr B, "we can find sponsors on the morning for you".

But when we arrived on the day and tried to register, the good Fr Black (not especially known for his social skills) told me that he had no record of us and that we could not put our children forward.

It took a lot of talking and, I'm sorry to say, a lot of straight talking from me, to get him to change his mind.
Having made a round trip of some 520 miles, we were not going to return without a positive result.

We were then instructed to find two sponsors from the assembled congregation.

My wife approached a woman who kindly agreed and, upon asking my daughter's chosen Confirmation name exclaimed that it was also her Confirmation name. First coincidence.

I then approached a man who also agreed and, on being told that my son had chosen the name of Francis, he also stated that this was his Confirmation name. Coincidence number two.

Now, I mentioned earlier in this post that we had our own chapel; we were also in possesion of an unconsecrated chalice. This we had not been able to get consecrated due to the fact that no Bishop would have come within a thousand miles of us.

So, before Mass began I approached Bishop Fellay, duly bending my knee and kissing his ring.

He pondered on my request, holding the chalice and examining it as if it was a antique. Why, he asked, was I in possession of such a thing. I explained.
He listened intently and his eyes bore through me as he sized up exactly what sort of a person I was.

Eventually, he said that he would consider it and that I should approach him after Mass.

When I did this, he again subjected me to the third degree treatment but without rancour or unpleasantness.

A scrap of Church history - A chalice consecrated
by Bishop Fellay
 Finally, he agreed but not before he wrote out in freehand a certificate verifying the chalice's sacred provenance, in Latin and without hesitation, as if it was something that he did twenty times a day every day of the year.

He then blessed the chalice and all was well.

This tale may be of little interest to you but to me it illustrates several things.
It shows me the apparent intransigence of the Society, even when all arrangements had been gone into in great detail many months in advance.

It showed also, the great stature of Bishop Fellay (who struck me as the epitome of a walking saint) and who wanted to be certain that I was not some demonic nutjob before he blessed a sacred vessel.

And it punched home to me that what we were doing in bringing our children up in the "traditional Faith was the right course to take.

We had been to modern Confirmations and found them totally lacking in reverence, so much so that it was hard to believe that a Sacrament had been validly bestowed.

That is an issue worth pursuing; Baptism, Holy Communion, Confession, Matrimony and Extreme Unction, along with Confirmation, are all available in the traditional rite and, if you attend the Latin Mass you should be aware that, with a little bit of shove and push, you can arrange to receive them, either on your children's behalf or your own.

Pray for the Holy Father and Bishop Fellay today, we need the SSPX back fully in the fold.


  1. Richard,
    Excellent memoirs-you are one truly blest man and no doubt have a blest family also-God Bless Our Holy Father and Bishop Fellay/SSPX! more prayers needed for them now more than ever.

    God Bless,


  2. Also, Bp. Davies will be conferring confirmation in the traditional form at Ss Peter, Paul & Philomena, New Brighton on 29 June this year.

  3. I think you should write a book!

  4. I like your reminiscence of Fr Black Richard my son used to do a wonderful impression of "and soooooo my dear brethren" You are so correct in your assessment of Bishop Fellay I thank the Almighty that he is the Superior of SSPX and pray constantly that he will lead the Society home.

  5. You have a chapel in your home? Do you live in a castle?

    That's a wonderful story especially about the adult sponsors and their names.

  6. Lena - at the time we lived in an old schoolhouse and we converted one room as a chapel. It gave us a great feeling of peace.

  7. Dear Richard,
    Did you ever consider the possibility of keeping the Holy Eucharist present in your home chapel? I have been researching that subject for our own chapel, but from what I can tell, it requires a papal indult - not likely to happen. Are you aware of any other circumstances which might allow for that?
    Thank you!

  8. Anon....after one year of our chapel being established (Our Lady & St Jude)our priest requested that, if we made the room ultra secure, he would leave the Blessed sacrament in the tabernacle in his absence.
    We were operating against the express wishes of our bishop so a Papal Indult did not come into it.
    Rules had to be broken if we were to keep the faith.