Archbishop Nichols welcomed around thirty visiting archbishops, bishops and their representatives from across the world at a Mass at and reception in Westminster recently.
The Episcopal representatives were from Europe, Middle East and Africa and included three archbishops and ten bishops from India, Sri Lanka, France, Columbia, Ecuador, Mexico, Peru and the Caribbean. They were visiting London for the week-long Alpha International Conference hosted at Holy Trinity Brompton in Kensington. The conference attracted over 1250 representatives. Bishop Kieran Conry (Arundel and Brighton, Chair of the Department for Evangelisation and Catechesis) joined with Anglican Bishops and leaders of other denominations on one of the days for seminars and prayer.
During the conference a Mass was held at Westminster Cathedral on the night of 8th”
June to welcome the visiting bishops and their representatives. In his homily, Most Rev Vincent Nichols, Archbishop of Westminster, said:
‘The commission given by Christ as he departed from this world is a constant in the life of the Church. We are called to announce the word of God; it is the nature of the Church to do so… What is clear is that those who seek to proclaim the word of God, the good news of Jesus Christ must first receive it. Those who seek to build peace must receive the gift of peace themselves so that it fills their lives and hearts. Those who seek to change lives through the power of the word must constantly have their own lives changed by that word. In other words, we who seek to be evangelists must first be disciples, and we must have in our heart every morning, the other words of Isaiah, “that I awaken every day with a disciples ear”…’
Following the Mass there was a reception for around 120 guests in the Throne Room at Archbishop’s House. Most Rev Nichols added:
‘You are all very welcome indeed and I thank you for gathering here this evening and for sharing so much with me and with other people here in this Diocese of Westminster… I congratulate those who have organised this particular week for Alpha, as well as saluting the work that Alpha does all around the world now in so many different countries. This evening I have heard wonderful testimonies about the work of Alpha in prisons, in poor countries, in many many different circumstances. It is when the testimonies are exchanged that we grow stronger… I pray that God will guide us all in this journey of deeper and deeper understanding and greater visible unity between our churches.’
The Bishops’ Stream at the conference was hosted by the Anglican Bishop of London. A special message of support was broadcast by video from Father Raniero Cantalamessa, Preacher to the Papal Household. Another message was sent by the Archbishop of Canterbury.
The Alpha course, which began in an Anglican church, is now being used in the Catholic Church in over 60 countries around the world. Last October, the first Latin America Alpha Conference took place in Bogotá, co-hosted by ITEPAL (Catholic Theological Institute for the Latin American Episcopal Council). Present at the event were 30 Archbishops and Bishops from Argentina, Colombia, Ecuador, Guatemala, Jamaica, Mexico, Nicaragua, Peru, the Dominican Republic, Uruguay and Venezuela. Alpha is now running in over 600 Catholic parishes in France and training events for Catholic bishops, priests, and lay people have recently taken place in Italy, Malaysia, India, the Philippines, among other countries.
Kitty Kay-Shuttleworth, Director of Alpha in the Catholic Church, said: ‘We are most grateful to Archbishop Vincent for hosting the reception in the Throne Room. It has been a wonderful week as Christians from many different denominations have come together with a shared love of Christ and vision for evangelisation.’
The reception was organised in partnership with the Home Mission Desk of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of England and Wales which serves as a point of contact for parishes and organisations interested in finding out more about Catholic evangelisation.
Photographs are available from http://www.flickr.com/photos/holytrinitybrompton/sets/72157624119831257
Catholic bishops attending EMEA Week
1. Bishop Hector Cubillos, Bishop of Zipquirá, Colombia. President of the Commission for Doctrine and Ecumenism, Colombian Episcopal Conference
2. Bishop José Vicente Huertas, Bishop of Garagoa in Boyacá, Colombia
3. Bishop Victor René Rodriguez, General Secretary for the Mexican Episcopal Conference and also Auxiliary Bishop for the Diocese of Texcoco. Bishop in charge of Armed Forces in Mexico.
4. Bishop Miguel Ángel Aguilar, Military Ordinary for the Armed Forces in Ecuador.
5. Archbishop Pedro Barreto Jimeno, Archbishop of Huancayo, Perú. President of the Commission for Social Action in the Peruvian Episcopal Conference.
6. Archbishop Robert Rivas, Archbishop of Saint Lucia, Barbados and St. Vincent. Served as Chairperson of the Family and Life Commission for the Antilles Episcopal Conference (AEC), a member of the Commission for Social Communications (Decos), member of the Council of Bishops of Latin America (CELAM).
7. Bishop Dominique Rey, Bishop of Fréjus, Toulon, France
8. Bishop Angelo Gracias, Bishop of Mumbai, India
9. Archbishop Vincent Concessao, Archbishop of Delhi, India
10. Bishop Joseph Vianney, Bishop of Kandy, Sri Lanka
11. The Most Revd. Faustino Sainz Muñoz, Nunciature of Great Britain (unable to attend)
12. Archbishop Vincent Nichols, Westminster
13. Bishop Kieran Conry, Bishop of Arundel & Brighton (Chair of the Department for Evangelisation and Catechesis)
Priests representing Latin American and Caribbean bishops
14. Fr. Juan Luis Restrepo, Colombia
Position: General Vicar for Armed Forces in Colombia.
Representing: Bishop of Armed Forces, Mons. Fabio Suescún
15. Fr. Mario Álvarez, Colombia
Position: President of Obras Misionales Pontificias
16. Mons. Kenneth Richards, Jamaica
Position: Vicar General of the Archdiocese of Kingston, Jamaica
Representing: Archbishop of Kingston, Jamaica
17. Fr. Agustin Becerra, Mexico
Position: Parish priest and teacher at Archdiocesan seminary
Representing: Archbishop of Chihuahua
18. Fr. Ignacio Gomez, Peru
Position: General Vicar of Diocese
Representing: Bishop of Huamachuco
19. Fr. Guillermo Inca, Peru
Position: General Vicar for Armed Forces; parish priest and also works at Episcopal Peruvian Conference
20. Fr. Carmelo Santana, Dominican Republic
Position: General Secretary for Episcopal Conference of Dominican Republic
21. Mons. Lorenzo Vargas, Dominican Republic
Position: Episcopal Conference Evangelisation Director
22. Fr Salvador Fuentes, Mexico
Position: Former Director of the Theological and Pastoral Institute for the Latin America Bishops´ Episcopal Conference and current Director of Alpha Mexico
23. Fr Edgar Valtierra, Mexico
Position: Director of Ecumenical Commission
Representing: Cardinal Rivera from Mexico.
24. Fr. Moisés Corcino, Dominican Republic
Representing: Bishop of San Juan de la Managua in the Dominican Republic.
25. Fr. Francisco López, Mexico
Position: Continental Mission Director for the Archdiocese
Representing: Bishop of Tuxtla.
Anglican Bishops invited to Mass and reception:
1. Bishop Paul Williams, Bishop of Kensington, London.
2. Bishop Richard John Carew Chartres, Bishop of London.
3. Bishop Sandy Millar, Bishop in Mission to London.
4. Bishop David Urquhart, Bishop of Birmingham.