It all went very well, despite a few minor hitches. It was unfortunate that a few of the priests who had booked in were unable to attend due to parish commitments or for personal reasons.
We were able to welcome two young priests from Sri Lanka, for whom it must have been an experience of a lifetime. Not only did they benefit from the tuition and the liturgies, but they were able to visit Durham Cathedral on the Wednesday afternoon. Following their time at Ushaw, they travelled to Walsingham and then were due to to take the Eurostar train to Paris before visiting Lourdes. Another overseas visitor was Fr Craig Holmes from South Africa. We also welcomed two priests from Scotland.
An innovation this year was to include tuition for laymen wishing to become proficient at being MC at High Masses. The shortage of well trained MCs has become a problem in many parts of the country. About ten took advantage of this course, so the problem should eased. One consequence of this was that there was no shortage servers throughout the week.
We were lucky to have six choristers in residence all week so we had a competent schola for all the liturgies. On the Thursday, they were supplemented by members of the Rudgate Singers so we were able to have a polyphonic Requiem Mass. On the Friday, the choir Antiphon came to sing a polyphonic setting of the Mass in honour of St Cuthbert.
Ushaw College again proved an excellent venue. The seminary chapel of St Cuthbert has has a large and convenient sanctuary, and there are many side chapels and altars convenient for tuition as well as private Masses. In addition, the food was excellent and the staff were most helpful.
One bonus was the showing, on the Wednesday evening, of an old film of the seminery's Christmas Midnight Mass in 1960. Although the quality of the sound was very poor, there was great interest in the modus celebrandi. It was all done with military precision and obviously very well rehearsed.
There is no doubt that all the priests who attended found the week both instructive and spiritually uplifting. Several have already enquired about coming back next year.
Ember Saturday Mass in Oxford
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