Wednesday, 15 December 2010

Would Cardinal Vaughan have approved of Westminster's shenanigans?

Cardinal Herbert Vaughan

Cardinal Herbert Vaughan was born in 1832 and died, at the age of 71, in 1903. His background is classical English-Welsh Catholic aristocracy, coming, as he did, from an old  recusant family.
His father was Lieutenant Colonel John Francis Vaughan of Courtfield, Herefordshire and his mother, from across the border into Wales, was Eliza Rolls.
Herbert was the eldest of eleven children, five of whom became nuns and six entered the priesthood (with 3 of them becoming Bishops). A remarkable fact, even for those days. Eliza used to pray in front of a crucifix every day that her children would enter the religious life and she was richly rewarded.
He was a product of Stoneyhurst and then Downside before continuing his studies in Brugelette, Belgium and then Rome, being ordained in 1854.
Having a zeal for the Missions he founded the Mill Hill Fathers Society of Missionaries at St Joseph's Mill Hill and established a training base for prospective Mill Hill Fathers and Brothers at the family home, Courtfield, Herefordshire, overlooking the River Wye and a short step from the grave of a great martyr, St John Kemble.

Courtfield, Nr Ross on Wye
Courtfield, as a base for missionaries was an inspiration. Here there were workshops and a chapel so that these fine men could learn how to mend a tractor, dig a well, tend livestock and grow crops. They went to their new homes in Africa, India and other parts, fully equipped for the task, spiritually and technologically.
The chapel, Ty Mair, (Mary's House) still stands today and its name reflects its Welsh antecedents.
When the family returned home from travelling in their carriage they would leave the Goodrich road to enter the Courtfield Estate with still just over a mile to go before they reached the house itself. This last mile became known as the 'Rosary mile' as they all recited their beads in thanksgiving for a safe journey; a good custom to adopt.
It is said of the Cardinal that he showed intellectual prowess coupled with physical vigour. After the American Civil War he led a group of priests to succour the Freedmen of the Southern States and he established a missionary society in Baltimore.
He was instrumental in getting the building of Westminster Cathedral under way and it was complete enough, in 1903, for his Requiem Mass to be celebrated there.

Today, Courtfield remains in the hands of the eldest Vaughan son, Patrick while his brother, Richard, farms locally.
Sadly, it closed some years ago as a missionary base but is still used for retreats and conferences (so I believe).

So, an outstandingly good and able man who was known for his theological purity and devout nature.
Would he have approved of the moves being made by Westminster Diocese to impose their will and mindset on Cardinal Vaughan School?    No.

Ty Mair, the Mill Hill Father's Chapel at Courtfield

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