Monday, 10 February 2014

Catholic and rural?

Oh what joys Holy Mother Church has squirrelled away for us in the green and pleasant (and flooded) land of Wales and England.

I have just come across an organisation that appears tailor made for me (and a few others who live non-urban lives).
Mr Titlark already knows about pigs
but he would really like to know if
a priest will take his bedridden Mother
the Sacraments
It is called 'Catholic and Rural' and it has its annual conference starting today and completing on Wednesday 12th February. Sadly, the conference is taking place in rural Cambridge and, that is just about as far away from Pembrokeshire as it is possible to get in this country.

This will be the tenth such conference held under the auspices of the Catholic Bishop's Conference of England and Wales and I would be interested to know just how many rural Catholics are aware of this body.

My next question is: "What do they do?"

Here is their conference programme and, I really do not mean to poke fun at them but, surely, rural Catholics want to know about parish federation schemes and episcopal plans to re-vitalise the Faith in areas where it is being overtaken by wiccan groups and the WI (much the same thing in my book). My comments in red....

Monday       4.00  Register and cuppa (a “cuppa” – that proves its rural)
         4.30  View from the Farm Gate    John Latham Snr.
         5.30  Evening Prayer
         6.00  Dinner
         7.30  The Church and the County or local Show   Keith Ineson
                  After-hours at the County Show                   Fr Tim Bywater
         9.00  Night Prayer

Tuesday       7.30  Morning Prayer & Mass 
         8.15  Breakfast
         9.15  The small rural parish and the Live Simply award   Jean Hurley & Lindy Head
        10.00 Coffee
        10.30 Flooding   Phil Rothwell, Head of Strategy and Engagement for the Flood
                  and Coastal Risk Department, Department of the Environment
(now this is one speaker who won’t be short of questions)
        Noon Midday Office
        12.30 Lunch  (The Bishop of East Anglia will be with us for lunch and the visit)
         1.30  Depart for Camgrain
(Camgrain, for a fascinating insight into the storage of grain)
         5.30  Evening Prayer
         6.00  Dinner
         7.30  The Pig Industry Mick Sloyan
(I refuse to comment on this one)
         9.00  Night Prayer

Wednesday 7.30  Morning Prayer & Mass 
         8.15  Breakfast
         9.15  Responding pastorally to flooding  The Revd Canon Peter Mortimer,
                  Ecumenical Adviser to the Bishop of St Edmundsbury and Ipswich
        10.00 Coffee - Please vacate your room
        10.30 The Village Pub is closing    Terry Stork, Advisor - Pub is the Hub.
        11.30 Business Meeting
        12.30 Lunch & Depart

Venue: The Red Lion hotel is adjacent to Whittlesfordbridge Parkway railway station.

Really, this is a very "nice" agenda but, it's just not in the real world, the real rural world, that is.

Here are a few topics I would have thought they might reasonably have discussed:-

1. How to respond to Pope Benedict's call for parishes to be federated.

2. Bringing the Faith to the old and infirm in the countryside (and that doesn't mean an EMHC on a       bicycle)

3. Making provision for the young to be catechised (because one priest told me that he would not go     into the local secondary school "because they're all going to lose the Faith anyway")

4. Estate management, how to cope with the churches that are damp, cold and neglected.

I think, instead of a talk on the village pub closing I might have included a session on 'The Parish church closing'.

So, there you have it. The Church of Nice and its 'nice' remedy to Welsh and English rural matters of Faith.