November 1 - Monday
SLOGAN FOR A CAR STICKER. 2030 VISION
We sent round an email last week asking for suggestions for a car sticker. This was an idea that came up at the Review Meeting in September. Duncan offered to look after this. These were his proposals:
Make this day count. Visit www.project2030.org.uk
The place where it's happening for young Catholics in their 20s and 30s
It's what friendship's about... www.project2030.org.uk...
for young Catholics in their 20s and 30s
Is it time for a change in your life?
some relevant words from Scripture.
My own slogan was:
‘Young Catholics – where will you be in 2030?’ I
also suggested using the Dehonian Cross, which is a wide, roundish cross with a
heart in the middle (see below).
Below are the ideas that have come in already. The web address is presumed in most of them. No one suggested using a telephone number. Have had two suggestions for a printer, but no one came up with any ideas for funding to do the car stickers as yet.
- why not use the North West’s motto: ‘Bringing people together in friendship and faith.’
- using the Dehonian cross as our logo sounds a great idea. x 2
- ‘young Catholics, let’s celebrate together.’
- ‘young, Catholic and connected’.
- ‘place for young Catholics to socialise.’ or ‘place for young, social Catholics.’
- steer clear of quotes from the Scriptures. It’ll make us look like bible bashers.
- I’m amazed at this notion of a car sticker. What about the poor in spirit, like me, with no car.
- don’t focus solely on Catholics. We don’t want to become an elite Catholic group.
- ‘20/30 foresight is where it is happening for young Catholics.’
This last idea is similar to one that I used in the first year of the group. I used to print at the bottom of pages in the smallest type possible: ‘For those with 2030 vision.’ (even smaller than this). Then I realised that 20/30 vision is not very good eyesight. It’s 20/20 vision that is the best. That’s not meant to be unfair on the 30somethings!
The person who sent in the ideas about socialising or ‘social Catholics’ wrote: ‘I am not trying to detract from the spiritual side. This is v important too. Am merely saying that the attraction of the 2030 group is that this offers more than spiritual events for a specific audience, which a lot of other Church groups do not cater for. For example, when I was new to the group, I expected spiritual events to be organised as a matter of course, but the social events are a great opportunity to meet people who think that going to mass on Sunday is normal too, and were ultimately what made me join.’
November 2 - Tuesday
TABOO SUBJECTS? SEXUALITY?
WHAT DOES THE CHURCH SAY?
November 3 - Wednesday
Spent most of today finalizing a provisional Main Events list for 2005. Although most people will receive/have received it by emails to the groups, posting it here so that those not in the groups can see what we are up to.
MAIN EVENTS 2005
This is a provisional list of main events for 2005 for Project 2030. Some details have still to be finalised. Others are definite. This should be obvious. Book now where necessary. Get in touch with further details of your event, or any other suggestions.
FINANCIAL HELP: For 25s and under it is possible to apply for grants of up to 33% for courses, retreats, pilgrimages. This comes from the Sacred Heart Fathers Youth Clubs Trust to which Dehon House, recently sold, belonged. Indicate you would like to apply when you book or make enquiries about specific events. Over 25s who would be prevented from going on any course, retreats, pilgrimages for financial reasons can enquire for one-off help by contacting the Project 2030 Office, St Joseph’s Centre, Tilston Road, Malpas, Cheshire, SY14 7DD or email email@example.com
Book early to avoid disappointment. If you are definitely going to an event and would like to be your area contact so people can travel together etc contact Hugh ASAP. Knowing that someone is definitely going from your area means that more people go.
4 – 18 JANUARY – INDIA: Staying around Cochin, Kerala. Experience the culture. See the sights, visit Dehonian missions and other communities. Price £890. Places still available. Contact firstname.lastname@example.org
22 – 29 JANUARY – SKI-ING: Chamonix, France.
12 FEBRUARY – LONDON PARTY: Over 100 go to this. Booking details to be sent out later. Meet Friday evening? Group Mass Saturday evening or Sunday? Pub lunch Sunday?
18 – 20 FEBRUARY – GROWING IN COMMUNITY (AT ST JOSEPH'S, MALPAS) : Building on what we have in common. How can Project 2030 help us more in our life and faith? Dehonian spirituality. From 6.00 pm Friday till pub lunch at 1.00 pm Sunday. £64. Send deposit of £15 to Project 2030 Office, St Joseph’s, Tilston Rd, Malpas, Cheshire, SY14 7DD (Cheques made out to ‘Project 2030’). Directions To Malpas - By car take the A41south from Chester. After 10 miles at the second small roundabout turn right for Malpas. At the T junction in the village turn right for Tilston. St Joseph’s is 300 yards, on the left. There is a bus from Chester Railway Station. Taxis can be booked from Whitchurch Railway Station (Acorn Taxis: 01948 665 540).
MARCH – LENTEN RETREATS: In each area. See group newsletter for details. Or contact Project 2030 Office (details at top of page).
4 – 6 MARCH – ADVENTURE WEEKEND: Whitewater rafting etc in North Wales.
– 27 MARCH – EASTER AT MALPAS:
a few days off and celebrate the Holy Week Services together.
In the countryside. Opportunities
for walks, village pubs, space to think and pray, visit to Chester etc.
£82. Deposit of £15 (for
method of payment and directions see 18 February).
– 3 APRIL – LAKE DISTRICT: Staying
at Castlerigg Manor, Keswick. Opportunity
for shorter or longer walks, boat trip, Mass, party etc.
Price £45 for 2 nights B&B.
8 – 11 APRIL – ROME: Centred round the expected beatification of Leo Dehon, founder of the Priests of the Sacred Heart, patron of the group. Price later. You can stay a longer or shorter time.
29 APRIL – 2 MAY – IONA: staying on the Isle of Mull, Scotland. In the footsteps of St Columba. Optional visit to Fingal’s Cave, Staffa. Price for B&B and travel from Glasgow £80 approx. 25 went on this last year. Limited places. We’ll go to the local ceilidh on Saturday evening if it is on. Bank Holidays in Ireland and Britain.
13 – 15 MAY – PARIS TO CHARTRES: 70 mile pilgrimage. Cost £115 plus travel and food. Camping en route, lots of singing and fun. Lifts available if the walking is too much. See: www.nd-chretiente.com
27 – 30 MAY – DUBLIN WEEKEND: 5th birthday party of Project 2030 at 93 St Stephen’s Green. Meet the groups. For advice on where to stay in Dublin contact ? We’ll meet up on Friday night. Sightseeing on Saturday. Party at night. Group Mass 12.00 Sunday at Pro-Cathedral, pub lunch. Bank Holiday in Britain. Area contacts needed.
4 – 5 JUNE – MANCHESTER WEEKEND: Sightseeing in Manchester. Buffet and disco at 7.00 pm at Thirty-Two Club. Sunday morning coffee at Café Uno, followed by Mass at Hidden Gem Church’
20 – 23 JUNE – WHAT NEXT? For university leavers and those in their 20s who can contribute something to the few days’ break. Walks, visit to Chester, time to relax, time for prayer and reflection on the future. How can Project 2030 help? £55 (subsidy included). Deposit of £15 to Project 2030 Office, St Joseph’s, Tilston Rd, Malpas, Cheshire, SY14 7DD. Cheques made out to ‘Project 2030’. (For directions see 18 Feb).
25 – 30 JULY – A HOLIDAY RETREAT: For Thirtysomethings, at St Joseph’s, Malpas, Cheshire. A chance to get together in a relaxing atmosphere. Also time for yourself and time for God. Go at your own pace. Possibility of individual time with a director. Visit Chester Cathedral etc on Wednesday. Begins 6.00 pm on Monday. Finishes with pub lunch on Friday. Deposit of £30 (see 18 Feb for payment details, directions etc).
6 – 13 AUGUST
– WALK THE PEMBROKE WAY:
For Thirtysomethings. Last
year we did the West Highland Way. Bags
are taken on by taxi each day. Price
10 – 22 AUGUST
– WORLD YOUTH DAYS: Germany.
The first part we will be staying with families around Kaisersesch, near
Koblenz, joining in the events organised by the Diocese of Trier.
The second part we will be staying with other Dehonian groups near
Cologne (sleeping bags here) where the WYD finishes with the Night Vigil and
Mass with the Pope. Price £250 for
full board, lodging, insurance, travel in Germany and flights to and from London
Stanstead (late bookers might need to pay extra for their flights).
Last date for booking: 20 February.
Open to members of Project 2030 who were born after 10 August 1974 (WYD
limit). Send deposit £30 to Project 2030 Office, St Joseph’s,
Tilston Rd, Malpas, SY14 7DD.
26 – 29 AUGUST
– EDINBURGH FESTIVAL: Staying in Glasgow and going by train to Edinburgh.
Maybe even a ceilidh. Bank
Holiday in Britain.
9 – 11 SEPTEMBER – LONDON WEEKEND: Meet Friday 8.00 pm at St Athan’s to go round the corner for eats and drinks. Saturday visiting London. Party in evening (130 at this last year. Sunday 12.00 Mass at Westminster Cathedral (or group Mass) followed by pub lunch.
16 – 18 SEPTEMBER – REVIEW MEETING OF REPRESENTATIVES OF ALL THE GROUPS: including some leadership training. At St Joseph’s, Malpas, Cheshire.
22 – 26 OCTOBER – POLAND: Based in Krakow. Visits to Czestochowa, Auschwitz (optional), Salt Mines. Meet up with local Dehonian group.
14 – 17 OCTOBER – BRUGES: Weekend in Belgium.
– 30 OCTOBER – GLASGOW WEEKEND: Ceilidh.
Various visits. Group Mass. Climb
a mountain if you want.
- ADVENT RETREATS: In
each area. See group newsletter for
details. Or contact Project 2030 Office (details at top of page). There will be a
weekend retreat at St Joseph’s, Malpas, Cheshire from 9 – 11 December.
Deposits of £15 (see 18 Feb).
Other events still possible – contact Hugh is you are interested in these:
November 4 - Thursday
This is an email I
sent out to the 30s in London before their Think-Tank meeting.
This Tuesday (9
November) we have our Think-Tank meeting at the Penderel's Oak at 7.00 pm (between
Chancery Lane & High Holborn tube stations). I will be there myself
and I hope as many as possible from the group can make it. The idea
behind these meetings is to keep the group as informal as possible, to give
people the chance to contribute their ideas about how things are going or
to make suggestions for the future.
already sent out a few points for discussion. We are trying to keep the
agenda to a minimum, but you can raise any other points too.
of the group is the programme that we arrange and the things that we do
together, but you could maybe say that the soul of the group comes out when we
get a chance to discuss how we feel about things and where we would like to go
in the future. The important thing for the group is not to be restricted
by the kind of things that we are doing at the moment, but always to be open to
new ideas that will help us to support one another in our life and faith.
Review Meeting of all of the groups in Malpas in September an
important element that was proposed was that The Thirtysomethings' groups should
see themselves as providing a support for the 20s groups. This is already
done in London by the way the 30s are prepared to do most of the organisation of
the big events, but we also need to leave the 20s enough space so that they can
develop their own group and encourage younger ones to come along who might not
be so keen on too many joint events with the 30s because of the
age-difference. In the same way, the 30s need to be careful about not
encouraging members of the 20s to join the 30s, otherwise the 20s can lose some
of their more active members.
just some of my thoughts as we go to the Think-Tank meeting and I would be
grateful for any response on this.
November 5 – Friday
DUBLIN 30S – WOULD THEY QUALIFY AS A PROJECT 2030 GROUP?
In Dublin for a 30s Newcomers meeting.
There was a good turnout of new people.
A few had come along because of a strong boost for the group from the
priest at the Sunday evening Gospel Choir Mass in Gardener St.
This was good to hear. Then
I found out that that church has a group for up to 35s and they could have been
covering their backs by telling disappointed older 30s that there was still a
place for them somewhere. It was
still good to hear. The new
Brighton sub-group which is going to have its first meeting on 4 December were
thinking of doing a 25 – 35 group, but if it is hard enough holding a line at
30 and 40, how much more difficult would it be to tell 38 year olds that they
were beyond the pale, and how many 24 year olds would be put off by the big gap?
When I started my email to the London 30s yesterday I had hoped to write something more on the basic principles behind Project 2030 groups, but the brain cells were resisting. I have been wondering for some time that if I did have some simple principles written down would the Dublin 30s qualify as a Project 2030 group? Sometimes I have my doubts. Not that the group is not going well, and many people are putting a lot of energy into the best social group for Catholics in their 30s in Dublin. But that’s the problem, it is basically a social group and the Catholic dimension is questionable. IT WAS ESTIMATED LAST YEAR THAT MORE THAN HALF OF THE MEMBERSHIP DID NOT GO TO MASS. The Dublin 30s have many God-fearing, practicing Catholics, they used to have regular retreats, even a monthly Mass, but we had a case a while ago that someone who went to a Mass on a weekday was laughed at and another who had gone to something religious asked others not to let anyone in the group know that they had been there.
the group started part of their purpose was to overcome the isolation that
younger practicing Catholics felt in society and in their parish where there
might not be many of their own age.
If people still have to keep their heads down within a group sponsored by
the Church, then there is something a bit off.
In the early days I tried to encourage the groups to develop in their own
way to find a new blue-print.
The Dublin 30s were doing so well that they could be forgiven for
thinking that they could do things better without me, and in many respects this
was true. The
committee took on a life of its own.
I even made the mistake of saying in 2003 that the AGM was the highest
authority in the group.
But a football club still has to follow the rules of the game.
is the hope that other groups in Ireland, like Belfast and Cork, would be good
for Dublin in the ways that the groups in Britain have a more supportive
suggested that people from Dublin could go up to the initial meeting in Belfast
to let them know how they do things, but would that be such a good idea?
Would we end up with another social group?
In Belfast I would get Catholics together (in their 20s first) and say as
usual: “What do you want to do?
How can I help?”
Belfast will have its own unique character.
We might end up with a social group, but I doubt it, given the history of
the faith there.
People can suggest what they want as long as it is not dangerous or
harmful, but we can’t have people discouraging or disparaging Catholic things.
PS: the Dublin 30s are having a retreat the Sunday before Christmas. Watch this space.
November 6 –Saturday
– GOD’S WILL - NUMBER 2030 IN THE CATECHISM
can’t say that I’m a great believer in coincidences.
Some people notice synchronicity all around them.
Others see the design of God clearly in things that
happen to them.
My approach is to see God’s will in everything that has taken place.
It’s not that God wanted me to stub my toe on the uneven pavement.
Stuff happens, but once it has occurred then I need to accept it as
God’s will. This
is the kind of world that God has created and allowed to develop – some people
will stub their toe some of the time.
When it happens to me, if I don’t accept it as God’s will then I’m
just wasting my energy fighting against reality.
When the tree falls on the car, or just misses the car, I can’t imagine
God planning it one way or the other.
In the statistics of the divine planning of the growing and evolving
world, tree and car are going to meet some time.
If we object to God about this then we are really saying we would prefer
a static kind of world where stuff doesn’t happen and there is no room for
growth and decay and new beginnings.
didn’t really mean to write the above, but ideas happen.
I more wanted to say that I do sometimes see coincidences in strange
ways, like a bird coming down the chimney to help ‘rescue’ me from a tricky
situation, or a couple of sparrows appearing unusually at the window just as I
was thinking of people who had died – but I wouldn’t read too much into
week I mentioned a few times the ideas behind the title Project 2030.
Someone wrote to me to ask if I had seen the link up with Number 2030 in
The Catechism of the Catholic Church.
I hadn’t, but it is a serendipitous coincidence.
The Catechism 2030 reads:
“It is in the Church, in communion with all the baptized, that the
Christian fulfils his vocation.
From the Church he receives the Word of God containing the teachings of
‘the law of Christ’.
From the Church he receives the grace of the sacraments that sustains him
on the ‘way’.
From the Church he learns the example of holiness, and recognizes its
model and source in the all-holy Virgin Mary; he discerns it in the authentic
witness of those who live it; he discovers it in the spiritual tradition and
long history of the saints who have gone before him and whom the liturgy
celebrates in the rhythms of the sanctoral
November 7 – Sunday
UTD V MAN CITY – THE RESURRECTION
a season a friend of a friend can get me tickets for a Manchester United game.
This started about 8 years ago when I mentioned that my nephew had become
a fan of theirs (he is still a Greenock Morton fan first and foremost).
Today we have tickets for the derby against Manchester City.
My nephew has just started a Saturday job in his last year at school so
they have to drive up and down from Clydeside in a day.
Sister in law is coming too to help with the driving and get a chance to
shop at the Trafford Centre where I’m meeting them at 1.00pm for the 4.05
go to Mass in one of the local parishes.
Yesterday in the blog I wrote about coincidences.
There are also things which are staring you right in the face but which
you never see.
I couldn’t believe that today’s Gospel (Luke 20:27-30) was speaking
directly to my situation and I had never noticed it before nor heard anyone
highlight it. The
Sadducees are trying to trick Jesus about the resurrection by asking about a
woman who married in succession seven brothers after the previous one had died.
Whose wife would she be in heaven?
The answer Jesus gave was:
“The children of this world take wives and husbands, but those who are
judged worthy of a place in the other world and in the resurrection from the
dead do not marry because they can no longer die, for they are the same as the
angels, and being children of the resurrection they are sons of God”.
checked up two biblical commentaries and they don’t make any comment about
If people didn’t get married then we’d soon die out.
I highlight it because for me personally it is a support to celibacy, but
also because I know that there are some people in the group, more at the top end
age-wise, who are thinking that maybe they are not going to get married.
Some are quite philosophical about it.
Marriage is not for everyone.
Maybe this quotation from the Gospel will help them.
They can let us know.
for the football, it ended 0-0, but it was the best goalless draw we had seen.
It was great to meet up with my brother and his family again.
I enjoyed it so much that after they had gone I felt a bit down.
Was that a tinge of home-sickness after all these years, was it about
celibacy, or was it just that when my nephew goes to University next year they
might not be coming down for matches.
Anybody want tickets?
November 8 – Monday
to work out a job description for an assistant to help me with my work for the
group with an office here in Stockport.
For a while I’ve felt the need to have someone on the spot for day to
day things that arise.
Keeping an assistant busy will also help me to develop some new ideas
which there is never the time to work at on my own.
is just a first draft of the job description.
Someone locally is going to help me with it, but if you have an
experience in this area or any suggestions let me know on email@example.com
The job would ideally suit a parent
who is not looking for full time work.
That’s why I’ll advertise through the school next door, as well as in
the local parishes.
FOR PROJECT 2030 REQUIRED
INITIAL 9 HOURS A WEEK AT £5.75p PER HOUR, PREFERABLY TUESDAY, WEDNESDAY AND
2030 is a group for Catholics in their 20s and 30s.
The main office is at St Joseph’s Church, Tatton St, St Petersgate,
Stockport, SK1 1 EJ, where Fr Hugh Hanley, the Director and Chaplain, lives.
are groups in the North-West, London, Dublin and Glasgow, with plans to expand
to other areas.
2030 organises anything and everything for Catholics in their 20s and 30s from
walks, meals, Masses, to holidays abroad and retreats.
Assistant’s role is to help the Director in his work of supporting the
groups, organizing events and seeking ways to develop the Project.
would be based in a dedicated office at St Joseph’s with the possibility if
they wished of doing some work from home, e.g. telephoning, computing. Applicants
would need to have computing skills, be sympathetic to the aims of the group and
want to support people in their 20s and 30s.
Other aspects which would be an advantage but which are not essential are experience in fund-raising, shorthand, enjoy telephoning and organizing, have their own computer and email address.
November 9 – Tuesday
30S THINK TANK – RELATIONS WITH 20S
London for the Think Tank meeting of the Thirtysomethings.
This was only our second such meeting, but already the idea is proving
attractive to other groups.
It’s not a committee, it’s not a core group, but it’s where the
ongoing decisions are made and anyone can turn up to it.
There were about 12 – 15 there last night.
A good number.
Too many could be problematic, especially when you are meeting in a pub
and there’s a fair bit of noise around.
There was a good representation of those who are more involved in
organizing events etc, but also some new faces and new ideas which gives a freshness
to the proceedings.
my email to the group (see diary last Thursday) before the meeting I wrote:
“The 30s need to be careful about not encouraging members of the 20s to join
the 30s otherwise the 20s can lose some of their more active members”.
There was a strong reaction to this and emails were flying over the
the 30s groups started, the 20s groups have always felt the pressure of being
the poor relation as the older group is usually more together, better organized
The temptation for people in the 20s to join the 30s has been strong, but
this just leads to a further weakening of the 20s.
This has been happening more in London recently.
There will always be a blurring of the edges between the groups.
The 30s can’t be blamed if they are more attractive to some younger
ones, so I thought that the maximum/minimum that could be asked of them was not
to encourage the 20s to join them.
But this was still a step too far for one emailer.
This is his personal view and not the view of the majority…
“We’re supposed to be deciding things ourselves, not letting Fr Hugh
impose his views”. I couldn’t possibly comment.
When I wrote the offending email I was at Manchester Airport on Friday on the way to Dublin. I had quite a bit of time and was trying to write out some basic guidelines for the Project 2030 groups so that they would have more freedom to manoeuvre to develop, yet within a framework that respected their position in the Church, the needs of everyone and the experience that has built up over the years. I was hoping to put these to the Think Tank for their reaction, but I got stuck on writing a guideline about the identity and difference between the 20s and 30s. That’s why when I gave up and wrote a simpler email to the London 30s about their meeting I concentrated more on their role regarding the 20s. This experience shows all the more the need for some simple principle for the groups. When we came to discuss the issue this evening most couldn’t see any problem about people in their 20s coming to 30s events (there were a couple of 20s at the meeting), but there was an appreciation if not a full agreement for my pleas that the 30s need to be aware of the effect that they can have on the 20s group. Even seeing a poster advertising 20s and 30s could put off some in their 20s. The discussion and the meeting were conducted in a very good spirit, which goes to show that there are some aspects of the groups’ ethos that could never be captured in guidelines.
November 10 – Wednesday
MAIN EVENTS – EXPENSE – GRANTS – POPETOWN, ETC
journeys give me a chance to catch up on emails.
These are some of the issues raised.
Another addition to the main
events list for 2005.
Chris is going to organize a weekend in Cambridge in the early summer.
There were almost 30 at his Stratford on Avon event this year.
More details came in for Dublin and Pembroke.
Someone asks if the discount for
under 25s would apply to people wanting to go on the India trip.
I advise them to write a formal letter asking for a grant of £200
towards it and to contact the travel agent to make sure that air tickets have
not gone through the roof.
Someone is complaining about the
expense of the main events.
“In each region you need to organize simple, informal events, too”.
My reply is that I don’t need to organize these, you need to organize
the point is taken and I mentioned it last night at the meeting.
We’ve finalized the Brighton
20s newcomers meeting for 3.00pm on Saturday 4 December.
I could have made it with difficulty if we’d met in the evening, but it
would have been a bit of a rush coming from the retreat for the North-West
at Malpas. Fr
Chris from Malpas is leading the retreat but it’s an opportunity for me to
spend some quality time with the North-West groups.
People in the other groups presume that I see the North-West groups more,
but statistically over the years that has not been the case.
Maybe my living in the area makes a difference, for better or worse, but
I don’t know.
There are a few other responses
to the car sticker idea.
“If it’s a group initiative as such maybe we (i.e. the participants)
should try and fund it in some way.
I’m conscious that your Order is very generous to us as a group.”
Funding from another source would be very welcome if we could get it, but
I’m not making a big issue out of it.
Am I being too hopeful that the gift aid envelopes we’ll be sending out
will produce a rich harvest?
Somebody has good ideas on this last night and on the fact that if we
were a charity we could get VAT back on big events.
The Sacred Heart Fathers are a charity.
Could Project 2030 become a separate charity?
Need to explore this.
The Charity’s name needs to be on the form.
People might give more readily if Project 2030’s name was on the tin.
Someone sends details of CUT
(Catholics Unplug your Televisions).
The skit on the Church ‘Popetown’ is being renamed ‘Holy Smoke’
and being sold to the rest of the world.
Why pay your licence fee?
But unplug first.
Have received details of a
session on bereavement in the North-West on Saturday 20 November.
This email also includes the addresses of 50 plus parishes in the
I use this to publicise events?
Some dioceses have been reluctant to give us their email address list,
I write and ask permission to use.
I’ve mentioned to a few people recently not to put my address openly on
group emails. Others
pick it up and send you even more bumf.
November 11 – Thursday
THE SPIRITUALITY OF LEO DEHON
I was asked to write an article on the spirituality of Leo Dehon for the Sacred Heart Fathers’ “Contact” magazine. Here it is.
In the last edition of Contact I wrote a short history of the life of Leo Dehon. This can be found in www.project2030.fsnet.co.uk/project2030 under April 30 and May 6. Here I want to look more at Dehon’s spirituality and his significance for today. The Church’s decision to beatify our Founder is a recognition of him as an individual, as the father of a worldwide movement, and of the significance of his spirituality. Beatification is a step on the road to sainthood and our hope and prayer is that Leo Dehon will one day soon be numbered among the saints. This is not just so that the Sacred Heart Fathers and all who are associated with us in the Dehonian Family can feel pleased and important, but so that Blessed Leo’s message of love will be spread more widely throughout the world and more people will come to recognize the love of God shown in Christ his Son.
Dehon is not the important person in all this, but God is. His kindness and care for us is shown in the Heart of Jesus. This is what motivated Leo Dehon in his life and gave him the energy to gather around him like-minded people who wanted to bring to others the message of forgiveness and love and support for those who were most needy. He identified very much with the Apostle John, the Beloved Disciple, who stood at the foot of the cross with Mary and watched his friend and master die (John 19:37). Then, at his lowest moment, the soldier came along and pierced Jesus’ side with a spear – not the little designer slit you see on most crucifixes, but a hole so large that Thomas on Easter Sunday refused to believe unless he could put his hand inside it. John believed and labours the point about what happened next so that we might believe – that immediately there came out blood and water from the side of Jesus. For John these were symbols of the new life that would flow from the cross and become witnesses along with the Spirit coming from the last air from Jesus’ pierced lungs (1 John 3). At the moment when John knew that Jesus was definitely dead on the cross he then realized how fully Jesus had loved him. Leo Dehon had the same experience when he looked upon the open heart of Jesus and the love he experienced impelled him to do what he could so that others would come to experience the same, especially if they felt their lives were impossible through the weight of their own sins or the sins of society that kept them in poverty and oppression.
Leo Dehon was not the first person to see things like this. The community that grew up around St John in the early Church developed this perspective. In the Middle Ages St Gertrude, Julian of Norwich and others promoted it and in 17th Century France St Margaret Mary’s revelations reminded people of the love and compassion of Jesus. People had become so absorbed in the image of Jesus as the divine Son of God that they had become almost scared to face up to his humanity as one like in all things except sin. This was the tradition in which our Founder grew up in in France, but no-one had quite the same perspective that he had, nor were they motivated to do the same great things. That is why the Church accepts that he has a special charism, a gift to the world for all time, an invaluable insight which has already produced much good and which we, his followers, want to see spread far and wide.
In some ways the Dehonian movement is just beginning even though the Priest of the Sacred Heart are already in the top twenty of Religious Congregations for men, and fifth of those whose founders died in the 20th Century. We are a small group in Britain and Ireland, though our impact is greater elsewhere. Francis, Ignatius, Benedict and many others have spiritualities called after them. They reflect different aspects of the person of Jesus as a man of poverty, of action or of prayer. God in his goodness will decide if Dehon is to have the same impact on our civilization, but much depends on us to carry out his work today.
In the 1990s there was a great development of groups who wanted to learn more about Dehonian spirituality. In some ways this went too far too fast and suffered a relapse. Maybe we concentrated too much on Dehon and not enough on the lay spirituality which people had already developed for themselves. The Sacred Heart Fathers in Britain and Ireland are now looking at new ways to invite people to become part of the Dehonian Family. Project 2030 will be organizing a weekend 25 – 27 February 2005 at St Joseph’s, Malpas, for people in their 20s and 30s who are looking for something more together. We’ll be explaining whether Leo Dehon has something to say to them and something to add to their lives as individuals and as a group. If you are interested contact St Joseph’s or see www.project2030.org
November 12 – Friday
LONDON THINK TANK – A LAST MINUTE EVENTS EMAIL
are some other topics that came up at the London Think-Tank meeting earlier in
A last minute events email. Many of the events we organize have to be booked up in
advance, or they might be of a minority interest.
Often people aren’t sure until the weekend if they are going to be
free. Michael offered to send round
a last minute email every week. People
have until the Wednesday to contact him with ideas like ‘I’m organizing a
walk, going to the cinema, etc – anybody else want to come?’
We agreed to try this for a few months and see how it works.
Obviously it might affect some of the pre-arranged events, but one of the
principles behind the group is to find out what people want to do and what is
the best way to do it. Some people
prefer to decide on things at the last minute or to wait and see how they feel. The group is big enough to have a few things on every
weekend. The Dublin 30s have always
A main events coordinator; many events are easy to organize, but things
like the parties or open weekends are quite demanding.
People are willing to help if they know they are not going to be left
with all the work, or if they can refer to someone with experience.
Someone is seriously considering taking on this role.
As in any group the secret is not primarily to get volunteers to do
things, but to get someone who can persuade others to do things and make sure it
Speaking at churches, handing out leaflets, meeting up afterwards with
those who are interested in the group. This
idea comes up regularly, but it never goes anywhere.
We need a coordinator.
Talking about the needs of the 20s, some people of that age could be put
off when they see a 30s group advertised on the same poster.
Do separate advertising for each group at different times.
Given the age gap between early and late 20s why not do an event for
The use of emails and the Web. Someone
was not happy with the tone of what they read when they were copied into a
correspondence with someone who wanted us to advertise another group.
We will be more careful with the use of emails.
Someone saw Project 2030 mentioned in a web page in a way that was a bit
ambiguous. If you see us advertised
wrongly or you have any other suggestions of where we could be advertised, let
Advertising talks and events for other Catholic groups?
Depends. Okay if someone
from 2030 is going along to it. The
20s at the beginning lost their identity a bit when we advertised other groups. There was interest in the Glasgow 20s idea of getting people
from the group to talk about their own faith and experience.
One person at the think-tank had joined the Church and another was
preparing to do so. Could we run
something for people in their 30s who are interested in finding out more about
After the meeting a few were talking about the possibility of doing some
kind of voluntary work, like visiting and helping those in need.
Organisations are not so interested in one-off things.
They want continuity, but would maybe be happy if it was different people
going along every week. Someone
volunteered to coordinate this if a project could be found.
November 13 – Saturday
WEEKEND OFF – PENNINE WAY – FA CUP FIRST ROUND
is the first weekend in whenever that I’ve been at base in Stockport and not
have any commitments. The 30s sometimes (is that a good alternative title?) gather
in Manchester on the second Saturday of the month, but I can’t raise anybody
to see what’s happening (I’ve never been at this, shame) so I decide to take
the weekend off, i.e. not do anything in the office. Usually I would at least work the Saturday morning, but the
weather forecast has lots of big yellow suns all over the country and my vitamin
D is calling out for a booster. I
decide to go and walk some of the Pennine Way, which is only half an hour up the
road on the way to Sheffield. The
day after I moved here last year I drove up there in my determination not to
become enclosed in the urban jungle, but turned back after getting snarled up in
traffic and have never been back.
sun is shining as promised, but it’s pretty cold.
There was frost for the first time this year on the windscreen.
The first ice of the year is never like the first snow, but I have fun
breaking the ice in the puddles on the way up the hill and seeing the increased
thickness at the higher altitude.
The path is steep and rocky so I don’t get much chance to “lift up my
eyes to the mountains”, even for a second, as you could lose your footing.
This makes me stop when crossing the streams, and I think of the psalm
which is interpreted as referring in advance to the Messiah: “He shall drink
from the stream by the wayside, therefore shall he lift up his head”.
I don’t take any chances with the water.
I could have walked much longer.
I feel fitter than I’ve been for many a year (famous last words), but
I’ve said I’ll be back for lunch.
With me being away much of the time and the others having their days off
and various responsibilities, it is not that often that the four of us in
community are ‘en famille’.
the afternoon I’m listening to the football on the radio and, surprise,
surprise, Stockport who are bottom of the first division are winning 3-0 at
half-time in the FA Cup against Huddersfield.
I decide to walk up and see if I can get in for the last 20 minutes.
I managed to do this once before but that might have been because I gave
the impression I was a scout: “There’s somebody I would like to have a look
at” (they do have a tricky young winger).
This time I had to peer through a slot in the gate which
gave a view of about a quarter of the pitch.
As it neared the final whistle, and the home fans started to go home
happy, I got in for the extra time and saw the opposition get a consolation
November 14 – Sunday
REMEMBRANCE SUNDAY – ROOM 101 – WAR – RELIGION
being Remembrance Sunday it occurred to me that despite the war going on in Iraq
I have never written about it in the diary.
That’s partly because it’s not the kind of thing that gets mentioned
in the group, though one of the times a few of us were doing our own version of
Room 101 (more about this another day) and someone suggested putting George Bush
down the hatch.
I couldn’t quite vote for this even though I sympathized with the
proposer’s concerns about the war.
I felt I had to say why I didn’t want to do away with George Bush.
It seemed a bit too much and part of me felt sorry for him, but I also
had to explain that although I’m against war in principle (it nearly always
causes more problems that it solves) I had wanted the world to get involved
earlier in the conflicts in the former Yugoslavia.
A lot of lives could have been saved.
the United Nations was able to sort out countries where there is an obviously
harmful dictatorship I feel the global village would be a better place.
There used to be a time when the police in Britain would not get involved
in family disputes even when there was evident abuse going on.
“It’s a domestic issue”, they would say. If the countries of the world agreed that there was a problem
that had to be sorted out, then invading that country would not in my opinion
constitute going to war. The
problem with Iraq is that the UN could not agree on this, though they almost
did. I had hoped that with the fall
of Saddam the situation would quickly have improved in Iraq, but this has not
been the case and things seem to go from bad to worse.
day last week I was having a late cuppa in the afternoon and caught some of
Richard and Judy on Channel 4 at 5.00 pm. They
were talking with Phillip Pullman and Richard said without provocation something
like: “Religion is at the heart of most wars”.
I decided to send in an email comment immediately and see if it got any
response during the programme. It
didn’t. The gist of that I wrote
to Richard and Judy was to encourage them to look from a slightly different
angle at wars where there was a religious dimension.
Wars are usually caused by previous wars or unjust domination.
When a people is conquered the last thing that can be taken away from
them is their religion. Their faith
becomes the focus of resistance, and the source of unity.
It might seem like a religious war, but people are just trying to hold on
to their culture and their independence.
can see how this worked in Ireland and Yugoslavia.
It was the Catholic Poles who were the first to successfully resist the
communist Russians. The people of
East Timor would just have been swallowed up in Indonesia if they had not been
Christians. The Middle East has
been resisting American domination for a long time because they see their whole
culture being destroyed by our western secularism and commercialism.
The suicide bombers might quote the Koran, but what motivates them more
deeply is the defence of their way of life.
I am not saying that faith is always used in the best way in these
situations (I would like to question Moslems about their use of ‘jihad’ and
the militaristic interpretations of the Koran).
But fundamentally religion is a force for the good.
The only people who do not see this are the atheistic secular liberals
who believe that they can win a subtle non-violent war to create the world in
their own image and likeness. That
is why they are so annoyed at the evangelicals in the USA who feel they have to
undertake a military war, not to defend their faith, but to protect their way of
life as they see it.
I’ve done it. They say you should avoid talking about sex, religion and politics. And now I’ve started talking about all three. If you have another perspective let’s hear it. Or there’s always Room 101.
November 15 - Monday
TWENTYSOMETHINGS LONDON GROUP
REPORT – 17TH OCTOBER 2004
This is a description of the comments and suggestions that were discussed at the London 20s recent meeting. Fifteen people (the vast majority of them group regulars) attended, all of whom contributed to the notes that can be seen down here. As the main theme of the meeting was advertising, where group members are concerned, the established motto was:
“Getting them in and keeping them in”
was a recognised need to encourage potential regulars to attend more 20s events.
The group has a well-established core in the centre of London, with the
possibility of running simultaneous north and south of the river events if good
attendances can be maintained. One way of doing this is for the group to
establish its own individual identity, and through a thorough discussion, it was
decided to keep joint events with the London 30s to one a month.
main focal point for the group was to prepare for forthcoming contingencies, and
advertising and marketing is a crucial point in this factor. Promoting the group
regularly through posters and newsletters in churches and parishes was
identified as key in maintaining a presence of Project 2030 (or London 20s)
within the local Catholic diocese. Keeping in contact with parish priests
through both written and verbal communication (i.e. mail shots) alongside the
posters would help with this advertising. The group also proposed to look at
targeting people in their late teens, or who are currently studying (university
chaplaincies would be where the group is advertised. The group feel that the
diocese is where it’s at and this is where Project 2030 should be promoted.
well as producing a simple but effective poster, other suggestions included
pocket-sized business cards that would include contact information on the group,
but in these modern times, one of the best ideas to ensure maximum impact is
through regular maintenance of a website, even if a website is indeed currently
present within Project 2030. The website could contain an article about the
London 20s as well as photographs of some of the regular members, so newcomers
going to an event for the first time would know who to look out for.
was also suggested that once we had maintained regular advertising of the group,
that newcomers meetings could be held 3 or 4 times a year, ideally a quiet drink
or social gathering, so that everyone attending would have a better chance to
know the other people around them. The basis that the group agreed on for this
was: “Let us know if you are coming along for the first time for a drink,
before the meeting gets going.” A South Coast Project 2030 group is also
the first few events here would be included in the London 20s newsletter.
All of the above would not only help to keep the ongoing of Project 2030 and the London 20s, but more importantly it would help to play a vital part for the Catholic diocese in strengthening a young Catholic community.
people in the group had heard about the group via advertising in the church,
whether by a poster or a notice in their church newsletter. A few others had
heard via word of mouth, whilst someone else stated that they come across
the group through searching on the Internet.|
in the group cover a large area of residence, and not just Inner London!
Areas that were mentioned include Acton, Brighton, Crayford, Harpenden, Mill
Hill, Reading, Romford, Stevenage, Tooting and Watford.|
majority of people in the group are in the 25-29-age range. There are some
people aged under 25, with a few over 30s as well.|
seems that many people in the group can only attend London 20s events on the
odd occasion or every few months. There are, no doubt, some regulars or
stalwarts in the group, though a couple of people that returned the
questionnaire stated that they have never or yet attended an event.|
people feel that there is an adequate mix of social and spiritual events
within the group. Some people have asked for more social events, with the
odd one or two requiring more spiritual events.|
were more people saying they would like to organise a London 20s event as
opposed to people saying they wouldn’t, although a few were undecided on
Most people said that other personal commitments prevent them from coming to
events, with the next biggest answer being fearful of travelling alone,
particularly late at night. The main other reason was that people didn’t
find events on the newsletter suitable for themselves.|
people in the group said that Project 2030 (or London 20s) is a great idea,
especially as it fills a niche in the young adult Catholic market. They have met
new people and made friends in the group, particularly that these people are
young Catholics themselves. People have visited some interesting places through
the group and like heading the religious side of the group. Some people have
even bumped into old friends from university.
The main issue that needs to be taken into account,
through the vast majority of responses, is that the group needs to be advertised
more frequently, and expand its market activity. A bit more communication with
the local dioceses was suggested, as some Catholic places within London do not
yet know about Project 2030. Other issues that were raised include that with
major events, individual costs need to be considered so that they are not too
expensive, and that sufficient notice should be given (i.e. at least 3 or 4
months) when such an event is to be organised.
It was suggested that a London 20s meeting should be held at least every 6 months to help maintain the effectiveness of the group.
EXAMINATION OF CONSCIOUSNESS - "OPENNESS BEFORE GOD" - THE PAPERS
Today the others in community are away at a Deanery Meeting with the priests of the area. I was saying the 12.00 Mass and also had to begin the Adoration of the Blessed Sacrament at 11.30 in the church. While I was kneeling there before the monstrance it occurred to me that I had got out of the habit of doing what is known as the Examination of Consciousness in the middle of the day. It used to be called the Examination of Conscience, but that gave the impression that it was just reflecting on what we had done wrong. Even the word 'examination' sounds a bit strong.
The idea behind the Examination of Consciousness is to reflect over the day, or half the day if you also do it at lunch time. Just be aware before God of how the day has gone and turn whatever you are conscious of into a prayer. If something positive comes to mind then thank God for it. If it's something good you have done then ask God to strengthen you to keep doing that kind of thing. If it's something negative you think of, ask God to help you. If it's something you've done wrong, ask forgiveness and the grace of a fresh start.
When doing this 'Openness before God' (a better title) you don't have to wrack your brain and try hard to think of something. If nothing comes then leave it at that. Usually it's the same kind of things that come to mind, the usual difficulties or struggles that we have in certain situations or with certain people. Obviously we don't want to become obsessed about ourselves. If you are someone who spends too much time navel-gazing and looking inward, then it might not be good to do this 'openness before God' for too long, but if you seldom if ever stop and think where you are going or where you've been, then it might be a good way to make you more aware of the issues in your life which are bubbling under the surface but which you might be avoiding facing.
The thought that occurred to me today was the amount of time and energy I spend at breakfast reading the paper. No bad thing in itself, but before the day has really got started I've used up a sizeable amount of my daily quota of mental energy. I enjoy reading papers. That's something to be thankful for, but I might need to ration the brain cells more.
might think that I do not take life seriously enough. The following email
I sent to Robertson's Jam is proof enough, if proof be needed:
To Robertsons, the greatest makers of jam in the world, and possibly the fruitiest.
For many a year I have contemplated contacting you or other jammy dodgers to ask if you could produce a more solid product for the likes of me who is not afraid to put jam on sandwiches - but you should see the mess in the poly bag by lunchtime.
My other great problem in life is this: if you halve a scone and try to put a quarter of an inch of jam on each side you will soon be in a mess. I might lick my fingers if nobody is looking but I could never stoop to licking the plate. I am sure this was never the intention of Mrs Robertson when she first went potty with the preserve.
Recently I was in Portugal and, lo and behold, I saw there a solid kind of jam which comes in a small one kilo plastic container about 8 by 4 inches. You can slice off as much of the 3 centimetre deep jam as you want and it will not run. It was so good that I had to be physically removed from the breakfast table so they could set for lunch. Since then I have found it difficult to sleep, or when I do I dream of being carried along by black currents. I'm sure this must happen often your best customers, so please advise where I can get help. When I tell my doctor he just blows raspberries and says that I am suffering from passive fruitiness.
If you already have this product on the shelves then beg your pudding. If not, can you please oblige and let me know when it is likely to happen so that I can tell my friends in the Jam Appreciation Society (known as JAS but pronounced JAZZ). We will try and compose a jolly song for the occasion at one of our jam sessions.
I hope you will be able to do this early doors so that we can begin maxing out on our credit cards. Offline this at once to some project champion. Become user friendly. Think outside the jar. This could be mega. Whatever. You have a window of two weeks before I go public and let the muggles know. I hope we are singing from the same hymn sheet. This could be the last strawberry.
May God preserve us all,
Yours stickily but luckily lickily,
MASTURBATION: MORE EMAILS ABOUT IT
Earlier this month (2 November ) I replied to someone about masturbation. The same person had some follow-up questions and observations. Here is my answer:
Sorry for the delay in replying to
your email. You've raised a lot of points. The one that made me
think most was why does the Church say masturbation is a 'serious matter', and
you ask me to answer 'with small words so all can understand properly'. I
appreciate that the messages you picked up about masturbation when you were
younger have had a negative impact on your life. I wouldn't want to
exaggerate its importance, and the paragraph I quoted from the Catechism last
time was trying to put it into perspective, but anything to do with sexuality
touches us deeply. It is vitally important not only in people's lives, but
also for passing on life to others. I have met people who have been abused
in a matter of seconds and in ways that could be described as superficial, and
yet it has haunted them for years. Although you see advantages in
masturbation, it it sill a big issue for you. You say that you will no
longer feel guilty about expressing yourself in this way, but you recognise the
danger of over-indulgence. Your mind brings you back into balance
eventually. Maybe not everyone can do that and it could cause other
You say that your biggest fear is that no-one will talk to you or continue to be your friend. There can be the danger for some people that if we indulge in 'self-love' as you call it, then it can make us too obsessed and inward-looking.. Maybe others pick up the signals that we don't need them. I would challenge you for a while to try and not indulge yourself in this way and see if there is a change in the way you relate to others and the way they relate to you. If it doesn't make any difference what have you lost? Don't worry if you find it too much. Even the catechism was appreciative of how hard it is when something becomes a habit. It's when we decide to give something up that we want it even more. There are different levels of masturbation. There might be times when the need is not so strong.
You say that you don't wish to be afraid of what will happen to you, down here or up there, but fear can be the beginning of wisdom. You no longer want to feel guilty about anything, you have your own set of morals, you want the freedom to express what you truly feel without hindrance. You are right to be proud of your 'set of morals that keep me being the wonderful man I am, as I'm always doing the best I can', but if the above principles were followed by everybody it would lead to chaos and anarchy. We need others. There is such a thing as society, despite what Mrs Thatcher said.
You ask: 'Who outlawed masturbation, Church or God? Did the Vatican outlaw it themselves?' This teaching has long been the tradition of the Church and is advocated by other spiritual traditions. You are right to ask God to love you unconditionally, and he does; but Jesus, for all his acceptance of others and his willingness to die that sin might be no more, was tougher on divorce and told us if we look at someone lustfully we have already committed adultery with them in our hearts.
It's only fair that I tell you that when we were studying sexuality at college the lecturer said: 'About masturbation, does anyone have any problems about it? No? Neither do I. Next subject'. But that was very 60s and we're reaping the consequences now.
GLASGOW 20S RETREAT, SMITHSTONE HOUSE
When the 20s groups were just starting I had a concern that there would be 10 at the first meeting, 8 female and 2 male. The second meeting there would be one male, and after that it would be all women. That wasn't how it turned out. In general there are more ladies, but the men have always been strongly in evidence. In fact, when we had the first retreat in the North-West, of the 25 that came there were more guys. I have been to an event where it was all men. This weekend for the first time I was at an event with all lassies. The 20s were having an overnight retreat at the Dehonian community, Smithstone House, Kilwinning. For all the appetite for talks in the group, retreats have never got off the ground regularly like in other places. Sometimes we've had days at the Convent of Mercy in Glasgow. Although Kilwinning is only 30 minutes by train from Glasgow, psychologically going down to darkest Ayrshire was a bridge too far. Until, that is, we had a party at Smithstone in the summer when the Italians were visiting and people said we must come back here for a retreat.
Where were the men? Apologies were received from one who had cracked his ribs. Another felt he was getting too old for the group as he moved further into his 30s. What can we do to attract more fellas, was the question. The Glasgow 20s have never been a big group and there's maybe never been a strong number of men. Someone had been at the go-karting in the North-West last weekend. Would that work? When meals in restaurants were discussed I suggested that maybe a pub lunch would be more attractive, and that spontaneous ladies night a few months ago might have sent out the wrong signals. it was certainly a different experience, all women. I've noticed the same oppositely when it is all boys together.
Arrivals were between 2.00 and 3.00 pm. It was a lovely crisp, frosty day, too good to be staying in. I changed the programme so that we could get the benefit of the last day light, encouraging people to go for a walk on their own around the grounds with their own thoughts and prayers. The introductory short talk came after that, highlighting the benefits of getting away to spend some time with God and face up to the big questions. Jesus invites us, like the disciples, to go with him in the boat to the other side of the lake where we can be alone with him. What would we say to him? What would he say to us? We had Evening Prayer, then a discussion on God's love, forgiveness and the Sacrament of Reconciliation. After our meal there was the opportunity for quiet Adoration before the Blessed Sacrament. During this Fr Stephen and myself were available for Confession or to talk to.
At the Malpas and Wimbledon retreat people usually go out later on the Saturday to one of the local hostelries. Here it was decided to do a 'sweetie run' instead, buying some liquid as well. At their age I didn't think they would be so into the Archers. I left them to have a girls' night in.
THE THREE INSTINCTS - CHRIST IS THE KING
We would seem to have three main instincts: self-preservation, one to one, and group. Each of us have all three of these instincts, but one is usually stronger, one weaker, and the third average or more balanced in us. One way to tell how these instincts affect us is to reflect what kind of situations recharge our batteries or oppositely drain us of energy - when we are on our own, with one other person, or within a group. I asked the retreatants to have this at the back of their minds as they did this morning's exercise. They had to spend half an hour alone getting in touch with their own issues. Then they met in twos and shared how they got on and talked about what they had in common and what was different. The final half an hour was spent sharing as a group what they had got out of the process and the retreat in general and what the group meant to them.
At the end of the morning and before finishing with a pub lunch we celebrated the Mass of Christ the King. The Gospel was about Jesus on the cross. Above the cross were the words: "Jesus of Nazareth, King of the Jews". And the good thief asked Jesus to remember him when he came into his Kingdom. The idea of kings and queens doesn't mean as much to us today. In the Our Father we say: "Thy Kingdom come". Other languages like French, Italian, Spanish say: "May your reign come". One German translation talks about "power". We are praying that God's influence grows in us and spreads in the world.
It is noticeable that God's power is shown most in God's weakness. We see Jesus having most influence when he is at his lowest, by his dying on the Cross. The other powerful image of Jesus that touches people is thinking of him as a defenceless baby at Christmas. Great kings and leaders have made most difference by not having to over-use their authority. At time we might wish that God used his power more obviously and put things to right in the world, but God has set his process in motion and looks on it with love. There might be things that we would like to ask God, like why is there suffering in the world, or why do people seem to get away with evil, but if God had changed the balance of the world in those areas we would have ended up with a world where everything was too perfect and no one could do any wrong. There would be no growth or challenge. We would have no instincts. I for one wouldn't want to live a life that was so boring and automatic, though I readily admit that I look forward to continuing my existence in a perfect heaven. But that's on a different plane, in another dimension. There we will truly understand how God is God, Christ is the King and we are who we are.
PROJECT 2030 - ETHOS AND BASIC PRINCIPLES
People in the groups will have received this by email. This is printed here again for those not on our mailing lists.
To All Groups:
I have a support group of Sacred Heart Fathers who meet occasionally to give me support and advice in the running of Project 2030. I meet with them in a couple of weeks. I want to present them this first draft of ethos and principles. We'll discuss these at review meetings and think-tanks, but meanwhile let's have your responses, especially if you think something is missing or has been over-stated.
Project 2030 was set up in 2000 to explore ways to respond to the needs of Catholics in their 20s and 30s.
The Group is sponsored by the Sacred Heart Fathers (Dehonians) who take ultimate responsibility for it in union with the Church at the local, national and universal level. At present the Director and Chaplain is Fr Hugh Hanley SCJ. It is open to Catholics in their 20s and 30s and to others who accept the Catholic ethos. Other groups can affiliate to Project 2030 if they accept its basic principles. We are always open to new developments and new interest groups, depending on the suggestions that come from the membership grass-roots.
There is no formal membership. Anyone in their 20s and 30s is welcome to get involved in groups, events, activities, etc. All you have to do is to request to be on the mailing list. There is no obligation to attend any specific events, though the more you get involved the more you will feel that the group belongs to you. Everyone is equal. There are no formal committees. Everyone's ideas are important, especially if you can put them into action.
There is no membership fee, but donations are always gratefully received as a way to supplement the funding that at present comes from the Sacred Heart Fathers (Dehonians) . As a way of saying thanks we also fund-raise for their missions in India.
Project 2030 organises holidays and pilgrimages, retreats and city weekends (London, Dublin, Glasgow, Manchester), activity weekends and courses. Some of these are for the 20s, some for the 30s, and some are joint.
In 2000-1 groups for Twentysomethings were set up in Dublin, Glasgow, Liverpool/Manchester and Dublin. Because of the requests from people in their 30s, groups were then set up for Thirtysomethings in the same area. The Glasgow 30s were set up independently at the same time.
Steps are being taken to set up groups in Belfast, Sheffield, Bristol/Bath and Brighton. People from other parts of the country are welcome to attend events in the nearest or any group and to come to the main joint events that are arranged between the various areas.
Each of the 20s and 30s groups has their own separate programme. There are some joint events locally, but care has to be taken to ensure that the Twentysomethings have their own space. When people are into their early 30s they move into the Thirtysomethings. As the years pass the growing number of members in their early 40s will soon call for the creation of a 40+ group. Priority will always be given to younger members whose faith is more vulnerable and who have a greater need to gather with people of their own age.
The 20s and 30s groups work out their own programme according to their interests. This depends on individuals who are prepared to be contacts for meals, walks, retreats, evenings out, cinema, theatre, Masses, talks, etc. Anyone can suggest an idea, especially if they are able to put it into action. You can make the group what you want it to be. We try to suit all tastes with events both of general and minority interest. Everyone contributes to the group by their individual gifts and by their welcome for others and the gift of friendship which is not exclusive. No one should feel pressurised to organise anything, but we depend on those who are able to be diary secretaries, contacts for local events, answer the group mobile phone for new people, edit the webpage or magazine, organise large events, etc. The generosity of people is remarkable, as well as the sense of community and looking out for each other. Things are well organised, yet the atmosphere is informal.
The 20s and 30s groups do not belong to any individuals or committees. That is why it is important to have shared ownership and rotating responsibility with clear boundaries and tasks.
Every year there is a review meeting of each group to look at issues and direction. In between there are Think-Tank meetings which, again, everyone is welcome to attend. These look at issues that have arisen, plan for future programmes, and help maintain the spirit of the group.
At least every two years there is a review meeting with representatives of all the groups to look at common issues, help to move Project 2030 forward and do any necessary training.
We will work to maintain good contacts with similar groups at home and abroad, while keeping and developing our own identity.
Project 2030 will continue to welcome ideas that come from Catholics in their 20s and 30s (we will not be defined by our present situation) and will look for ways to respond to these needs inside and outside the group. We are also available to help others in practical ways: finding Church contacts at home and abroad, Mass times, spiritual direction, counselling and advice.
We believe that people who have grown up into adulthood in the Church or who have joined the Church have a special contribution to make. Living in a culture where faith and religion have been marginalised they have chosen to continue as disciples of Jesus Christ in the Catholic Church. The Church wants to listen to their experience and to learn from them how to move into the future. Where do we want to be in 2030?
Seamus, who has
attended 30s events in Dublin, has just had a book published called 'Cast into
the Deep' which looks at the views and needs of younger Catholics. I was
asked to make a contribution to it. Here is some information he has sent
into the Deep offers a
heartfelt exploration of ways to attract young people into the Catholic Church.
Divided into three parts, the first includes the views of just under 100 people
- including Fr Peter McVerry, Alice Taylor, Eamonn Dunphy, Patsy McGarry, Mary
Kenny, Fr Brian D'Arcy, Bishop Willie Walsh, (Hugh Hanley!) and Cardinal Desmond
Connell - on how the church needs to change if it is to be more attractive to
Part 2 summarises the responses in the form of 95 Theses, or ideas, which were subsequently assessed and graded by almost 500 students. The results of this comprehensive survey and the conclusions drawn are presented in Part 3.
A list of youth groups - including Thirtysomethings is provided in an Appendix.
Overall, Cast Out into the Deep provides a compelling statement about the Church's current position, and where it might need to go to ensure a successful future.
Published to coincide with the 25th anniversary of Pope John Paul's visit to Ireland, Cast Out into the Deep will be of interest to anyone concerned about the future of the Catholic Church.
About the Author: Seamus Lynch is Head of Media Research at TV3. He also serves on the Vocations Ministry Group of the Presentation Brothers, and was an early participant on the Order's pioneering "Give a Year to God" scheme in the 1990s.
16.95, paperback; September 2004; ISBN 1-904148-58-1; 250 pages; published by the Liffey Press and available in most leading bookshops (Easons, Veritas, Hodges and Figgis etc)
from Dublin has done a report on the weekend in Glasgow that was attended by
about 50 from the other groups. Here
is an extract:
3: Saturday Oct 30th
After another mammoth breakfast, the entire group assembled at Queen St rail station where we boarded a train for the historic city of Stirling with its famous old castle, seat of Scottish kings and queens for hundreds of years. If I thought Glasgow had steep streets I had seen nothing yet. I was just glad I didn’t have to live there during the winter.
We visited the castle and it was both extensive and impressive. There were plenty of interesting audio-visual presentations. Many photos were taken. The castle housed a large military museum with artifacts and exhibits detailing the Scottish Highlanders’ proud history. I disagreed however with some references to Ireland during its War of Independence but that’s another story.
We once again returned to Glasgow. A packet of Hobnob’s was purchased in Sainsbury’s of Bothwell St. After freshening up, everyone headed to La Mizzeretta Italian restaurant in Albion St which we promptly took over. The restaurant was ok though a little pricey.
We all headed for the nearby Riverside Club for the Saturday evening Ceili. We entered a large dimly lit room. Three musicians provided the music. There were set dances and waltzes. One dance which was particularly energetic and frenetic resulted in a casualty and several drops of blood. Apparently somebody got hit by a flailing hand. The dance floor was quickly cleared while a man with a mop and bucket rushed on to clean up the evidence. The speed and efficiency of the operation would have made any football team’s physio proud. After the Ceili, many headed to a club for more dancing. The rest were sensible and headed for their hotels. On the way up Clyde St, I spotted four men shackled and wearing orange boiler suits and leaving a taxi. They were in fancy dress. For a split second I thought they were a BT maintenance team working late but that was just the pricey red wine working the controls in my brain.
4: Sunday Oct 31st
Hallowe’en began with another good breakfast.
Everybody made his or her way to the church on the aptly named Hill Street. The room was filled to capacity. David from the Irish group, along with Martin, provided the music. Karen from Hertfordshire read the lessons. Fr Hugh tried to introduce the Our Father with a little anecdote but people kept joining in when he uttered the words “Our Father”. He eventually abandoned his plan to much amusement. After Mass, the customary group photo was taken.
Some of the group went back to Stirling Castle. The Irish were brave and opted for an open-top bus tour of Glasgow. It was cold to say the least. I wish I had packed my mittens and some Bovril. It was difficult to hear the guide’s ironic commentary and corny jokes but at that stage frostbite had set in so nobody cared. We headed for the warmth of indoors and were soon tucking into a very good Sunday roast in The Counting House public establishment on St Vincent Street.
It was decided to meet in an Irish pub that evening. I was met with a cloud of smoke when I entered Fáilte– so much for the expensive aftershave I was wearing. Thank God for the smoking ban back in Ireland. We couldn’t believe our luck when there was a large free table available at the end of the pub. We soon discovered that was where the band was to be camped for the night –doh! I retreated to the other end of the pub as I braced myself for the anticipated din. I started on my first pint of the evening while U2’s With or Without You was being murdered. I do like music but I don’t want to have to pay particular attention to the hearing aid notices in church porches when I’m 64. My palms moved towards my ears with increasing regularity while the enveloping cigarette smoke pervaded my clothes. My tartan scarf was used as a makeshift gasmask and I gasped fresh air when the door opened onto the street.
Some of us got sense and migrated to Waxy Reilly’s. Some didn’t and are now seeing their local GP. Anyway I belonged to the former category and proceeded with pint number two. Waxy’s was well lit with a wooden interior consisting of steps and alcoves. At 11.30pm we were promptly ejected from the premises.
Most of the group went to their beds but a small group headed to some late bar. We negotiated the bouncers with unusual ease and headed for a small table. The movie Halloween was being shown on the large screen and every now and then an eye would be thrown over to it. Pint number three duly arrived for the author – a very unusual event given that he doesn’t normally drink beer – but it was not a typical night. Fun was had by all and there is photographic evidence to verify this. A pair of joke glasses was produced from David’s jacket and these caused much amusement. David and Anthony eventually carefully staggered back to the Holiday Inn while Gemma and Michael headed for Jury’s Inn.
5: Monday Nov 1st
Woke up with no hangover-don’t you just love it. After breakfast the Irish group descended on Buchanan Bus station for a day tour of Edinburgh.
We arrived in Edinburgh about noon having passed Murrayfield stadium on our right. I initially wondered if it was Tynecastle or Fir Park. It was telling that a rugby stadium didn’t come to mind-I’m more of a football man myself.
We walked down Prince’s St and Gemma suggested going for guess what – coffee. After having downed coffee, muffins and hobnobs, we proceeded to St Mary’s Cathedral on Leith St for Mass for All Saints. The Cathedral was majestic with a painting of Our Lady’s Coronation on the ceiling. I liked the fact that the altar railings had been retained.
Gemma took us to the new Scottish Parliament building proving that Ireland does not have a monopoly on capital projects that go way over-budget-but at least this one won’t run you down or make silly bell sounds (Those who have visited Dublin recently will know what I’m talking about). On entering the building we had to get past security. Once the contents of our bags were searched thoroughly and we were strip-searched we were deemed acceptable to proceed. Actually that was a bit of an exaggeration but I counted at least 5 security personnel hovering around the metal detectors. We entered the Debating Chamber and saw for ourselves the hugely complicated design of the roof and interior. Even the chairs had a carefully crafted section removed from them just to squeeze even more cash from the taxpayer.
We left the building and walked the famous Royal Mile – some of us did anyway. Gemma led a breakaway group and headed for yes even more coffee. With increasing EU harmonisation, will the Royal Mile have to be renamed the Royal 1.6 Kilometre? The rest of us walked to Edinburgh Castle but decided against entering preferring rather to pose outside for photos with the city in the background. We all trundled back to the bus station for the return journey to Glasgow. Edinburgh is a very picturesque city with fine architecture and looks even more splendid amidst the autumnal colours – well worth further exploration. We boarded the Glasgow bound bus and returned to our hotels for a well-earned rest.
At 9pm we headed for Wetherspoon’s. A lamb dinner with red Merlot was served to David and myself. It was delicious. The first bottle was promptly dispatched so another was bought. It was turning into a good evening and was about to get better. I began my third glass of red wine - I think, and being the eve of the US Presidential Election it was deemed appropriate to dabble in some friendly politics.
It soon became clear that an anti-Bush axis of evil was emerging in the persons of Declan and Michael with yours truly speaking up for W. Defending US foreign policy in the Middle East can be perilous at the best of times but even more so when the contents of four more years – sorry I mean glasses of red wine are scurrying around in your bloodstream. The outcome of the debate was too close to call so we retreated to the Holiday Inn. Luckily the hotel was in a straight line from the pub. Gemma headed off with Michael. The presidential debate continued in the Holiday Inn TV room. It proved to be neck and neck – Declan’s neck and Kevin’s neck. Somebody gave me sparkling water to drink. The evening was completed watching the quirky cult sci-fi TV series The Lexx. We retired for bed.
6: Tuesday Nov 2nd
Still no hangover (the same will not be said of the Kerry/Edwards camp in 48 hours time). After breakfast we all made our way to Central Station for the train ride to Prestwick Airport. I spent the train journey trying to convert sparkling water into still in order to consume without scrunching up my face. We boarded the 13:10 Ryanair flight to Dublin and arrived 15 minutes ahead of schedule.
My first trip to Scotland proved to be an exciting and worthwhile one and I can see myself returning to Scotland again.
DUBLIN 30S - LOST SHEEP
Someone from another of the groups has written in with a response to what I wrote about the Dublin 30s earlier in the month. From their own experience they accept that we mustn't forget the Catholic ethos but make a case for a more softly, softly approach. When I started the group I hoped we could reach out to those who had lost touch with the Church. That happens to some degree. People join the group and rediscover their faith. Someone emailed today and asked if they could be re-baptised. That isn't something we do. In that case you would advise them to go to the Sacrament of Reconciliation or Confession.
My concern recently has been how to make sure that those who are looking for something a bit more from a Catholic point of view can find what they are looking for within Project 2030. It's trying to get the right balance. A priest I know and respect well said to me recently: "When I was in my 20s I'm not sure how much I would have been interested in the spiritual side of things".
This is what was written.
Interested on your view on the Ireland 30s. I think that sometimes people might draw the wrong conclusions from others' comments or expressions. Someone might laugh if someone says they go to church on a weekday, not because they are scoffing, but because they thought they were the only one who did that, or because they are genuinely elated and uplifted to hear of someone doing it.
I probably joined the group initially for social reasons more than spiritual. I ashamedly admit that I checked the newsletter to ensure it wasn't all religious stuff. But then after coming along I found my views and attitude, and indeed needs, changed.
So I accept that we mustn't forget the Catholic ethos, but I also think a softly, softly approach may be needed sometimes to recover the lost sheep.
Just a thought, that was all.... I don't think anyone I've ever met in the group would be offensive over someone's religious service. Onwards and upwards.
The Dublin 30s have a document which they send out to new members. It is printed below.
What is Dublin Thirtysomethings all about?
It’s simply a way for people in or around their thirties, with some links to the Church, to get together and support one another by various activities. The Dublin Thirtysomethings is one of the Project 2030 groups. Project 2030 was set up at Easter 2000 by Fr Hugh Hanley to provide group support for Catholics and help us make contact with others of similar age and interests, and do things together. The groups are sponsored by the Dehonians - Sacred Heart Community- who run the parish of Artane and maintain a House of Studies in Inchicore. There are two Dublin groups, one for people in their twenties and the other for those of us in or around our thirties. Fr. Hugh continues to support all the groups. The Dehonians also look after Centres and Parishes in or around Glasgow, Liverpool, Manchester and London. Project 2030 groups have been set up in all of these areas.
There are regular programmes of events organised: social gatherings, walks, meals, masses, céilís, retreats, day-trips and many other events. We organise our own events from ideas and initiatives from members and a monthly newsletter of events is posted or e-mailed to all members.
The group meets for a monthly social gathering at the Bankers Club, 93 St. Stephens Green, Dublin 2 on the first Friday of the month from about 8:30pm. This is probably the most well attended event of the month, and we use the time to meet and greet new members, catch up with friends and plan upcoming events.
There is contact between all the Project 2030 groups. At least once a year each group hosts a weekend to which members of the other groups are invited. The Dublin groups host a weekend in May or June. There are also larger events that the members of all groups can participate in. A full list of all these events are sent out at the beginning of each year and notices of upcoming events are posted in our newsletter.
The Dublin groups were set up in the summer of 2000 by Fr Hugh. Fr Hugh, who is based in England, occasionally attends our monthly gathering in the Bankers Club. He organises retreats, masses etc. He helps run the Twentysomethings, while we manage the running of our group ourselves, with support from Fr. Hugh. To do this we have a committee that looks after various things like administration, planning activities, finance, promoting the group etc. The committee is made up of volunteers from the group elected at our AGM in April or May.
As in all things, it costs money to run the group. We therefore have an annual mailing fee, agreed each year at the AGM, which covers the cost of preparing and distributing the monthly newsletter. The fee is payable in May each year, and covers the period from May to April of the following year. (Note: In order to keep administration to a minimum, the annual fee is collected in May of each year, even if you only joined halfway through the previous year.) The fee is now €30 for those receiving the newsletter by post and €20 for those receiving it by e-mail.
If you have enjoyed your visit with us tonight, and would like to be added to our mailing list for a trial period of 3 months, free of charge, please give your name and address details to one of the Committee members here tonight. You will receive the newsletter for the next three months, free of charge, and you can join us for any of our events. At the end of the trial period, you will receive a further invitation to join the group. New members and ideas are always welcome.
LONDON PARTY OR RETREAT?
Was going to go to London for the Christmas meal and party this evening, but have decided to do a few days of retreat myself this weekend, especially as I am giving retreats to the group at this time and it's a while since I have done any quiet time. There is a danger that you just give and don't receive, or worse that you encourage others to do things and don't do them yourself.
If you are looking for retreats at any other time of the year, check www.retreats.org.uk They also list interesting courses. Which makes me think we could be advertising on this web page ourselves.
Having a quiet weekend. Nuff said.
THE NOVEMBER THEME OF DEATH AND DYING
Almost the end of November and I've not said anything yet about it being the month when we traditionally think of the dead. That might be because when you are in your 20s and 30s death is something that you rightly do not do a lot of thinking about. When I was in my mid-30s someone told me a saying which I tried out in a sermon presuming it would get a laugh. "When you are younger than 40 you never think about death. When you are over 40 you never stop thinking about it." It went down like a lead balloon, likely because the younger people didn't get it and the older people did. It's not that bad really.
This morning as I was finishing my quiet weekend I couldn't stop thinking about someone who knew that they were dying from a terminal condition, but continued with their life as normal. This was someone I met last week almost by accident. They had nothing to do with the groups, parish, family or friends. Someone close to them told me about their condition, but they didn't know I knew. I don't know if they were Christians, though there were a few tell-tale signs. In our brief encounter they didn't know I was a priest. I mention them because they had a special quality about them, a quality that I have encountered in a few deeply spiritual people that I've known. Maybe it's because they have already moved through death to another life. I don't know if it was because this person knew they were dying, or because I knew they were dying, or because they didn't know I knew, or maybe the third person had told them they had told me, but there was a serenity about them. St Paul says: "Acceptance brings hope and our hope will not deceive us, because the love of God has been poured into our hearts by the Holy Spirit which has been given to us".
Today I went to Malpas for a meeting of our priests and brothers in the North-West. I arrived to hear that Brother John, who had been ill for some time, was dying. I had known him since going to Junior Seminary as a boy and had lived and worked with him at Dehon House and at Kilwinning in the 80s. His system was packing up. I visited him in a local nursing home after the meeting. I'm not sure if he recognised me. It was a tonic to me his cheerful and philosophical sister who, with the community, has been spending most of her time at his bedside.
While in Malpas I took the chance to visit Una, a lady in her 90s who had long since adopted me as her friend and for whom the words "deeply, madly" would be accepted by most people who know her in my regard. She looks as though she's heading for the century. Before she recently went into the other village nursing home she used to say: "Will I see you again before I die?" Now it's: "Will I see you again before Christmas?" I took her out for a spin, stopping for tea and toast in a cafe. She appreciated above all the detour we made to have a better view of a glorious sunset.
In the evening I went to Newcastle-under-Lyme for the reception of the body of Paddy Richardson, the father of Elizabeth, from the North-West 30s. He had been ill for some time. People spoke about his patience and acceptance. He had asked his wife to call and see, after his death, the old people he had visited for the St Vincent de Paul Society. Our condolences to Elizabeth and her family. If you know her and would like to send a message we will pass it on.
It has been quite a day. I sense the thread that has been running through it, but I cannot quite put it into words.
CHRISTMAS IDEAS - ADVENT TIME
I must be getting into the Advent spirit. A month ago I was more excited about the prospect of Christmas. It must have been when the clocks changed and it suddenly got dark in the evening. You can understand why people need something like Christmas to look forward to as the winter approaches. I was almost breaking ranks and beginning to think, well, why not get into the Christmas spirit early. We need cheering up. I said to someone last week that I was thinking of writing (not a lot) to the Pope and suggesting that we introduce a day of Thanksgiving at the end of November, like the Americans have. It gives them an excuse for a celebration before Advent begins and it means that people don't go so over the top in the lead up to Christmas like we do here. You might think that we have been americanised enough, but the people who started the Thanksgiving celebration in the 17th Century were settlers from here.
Now that Advent has started I've switched off thinking about Christmas in the same way. Advent used to be a time when people would do some kind of penance. The main thing is not to go over the top with festive celebrations before we get to the 25th December. It can be hard. And then, when we've started to celebrate and sing our Christmas carols everyone is taking down their decorations and moving on to other things.
One problem is what to get people for Christmas. I usually get something for the family. In recent years the North-West groups have had an overnight on the Saturday before New Year, so I've not gone up to Scotland on Boxing Day for a break as I used to do. So I've been sending tokens/vouchers to the family. This year the organist in the parish here has produced a Christmas selection of carols and Christmas music on his Technics SX-RP903 digital piano. It's very good. Much better than you could expect with home equipment. So I've bought copies to send to the family. If anyone is looking for something like this you can get copies from him at firstname.lastname@example.org It lasts for an hour. 21 tracks with great quality and variety for £5. Proceeds go to restoring the parish organ.
Another Christmas idea came from Mary D. If there is someone you would like to give something to but they say no, it's a bit of a waste of money, etc, you can buy a gift for the poor in the Third World, practical things like seeds, water, a goat, etc. You can do this on http://worldgifts.cafod.org.uk and you can download a certificate that you can send to your friend or family. Or you could just do it for yourself, cutting down a bit and giving a percentage to help others. Do they know it's Christmas time at all? Do we?
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