Friday, 17 May 2013

Solemn Dedication by Bishop Christopher Budd at the Church of Our Lady of the Portal & St Piran, Truro. Deurnes Mannenkoor. Christianity in Cornwall. Golden Manor. St Cuthbert Mayne.

Church of Our Lady of the Portal & St Piran

The Catholic Church of Our Lady of the Portal & St Piran in Truro was consecrated by Bishop Hugh Christopher Budd of Plymouth on 15 May,  forty years after the church was built. When the church was opened in May 1973 there was a large debt to be paid off, because of which the church was not consecrated at the time. Until the debt was repaid the bank technically owned the property rather than the church. The debt was cleared long ago, and the consecration was long overdue.

Bishop Christopher celebrated Mass with the priests of the Deanery and consecrated the church and altar in a Solemn Dedication. Priests were Canon Keith Mitchell from Bodmin, Fathers Martin Stone from Saltash, David Annear from Launceston, David Mead from Bugle, Terry Perkins from St Mawes, Brian Stevens from Perranporth and Jon Bielawski from Falmouth. 

Father Gilmour McDermott lighting one of the new candles

Four new Consecration Crosses with slate from Delabole Quarry adorn the walls, inscribed with the dates of the opening and consecration of the church,  the election of Pope Francis and the Year of Faith. The candles on the crosses were lit after the Anointing of the Church Walls and will be lit on the anniversary of the dedication each year.

Timeline recalling events in the parish over the last 40 years
Guests included the mayor of Truro, members of local churches, friends of the parish and some of those who were involved in the building of the church in 1973. Parishioners and guests enjoyed the party in the marquee and church hall afterwards, and looked on the wall inside the church at the Timeline. 
An array of delicious food in the marquee above 
and Church Hall below.

The celebration cake was later cut by Bishop Christopher
Paul Barnes, a pillar of the church.
He has just raised over £6000 for a science block 

at a Mission in Africa, and is going out there to set it in motion.

The church also had a memorable mass sung by the Deurnes Mannenkoor from the Netherlands to a William Byrd setting  the week before the Bishop's visit. The choir was taking part in the Cornwall International Male Voice Choral Festival.

The Right Reverend Hugh Christopher Budd, usually known as Bishop Christopher, is the 8th Catholic Bishop of Plymouth and he is going to be 76 on 27 May. He looks much younger than that. Rumours are that he wishes to retire. He was born in 1937 in Romford, Essex, ordained in 1962 and became Bishop of Plymouth in 1985. The episcopal See is Cathedral Church of St Mary and St Boniface, in Plymouth, Devon. Bishop Christopher’s diocese is Cornwall, Devon and Dorset and he is assisted by a Vicar General. There are chaplaincies at the universities of Bournemouth, Exeter and Plymouth. 

 Cathedral Church of St Mary and St Boniface in Plymouth

Prior to the Consecration ceremony, on Sunday 12 May, parish priest Father Gilmour McDermott gave a most interesting sermon on the history of the arrival of Christianity in Truro, including the background to the Catholic Church in Truro. 

Father Gilmour McDermott's sermon on the arrival of Christianity in Truro, the Cornish diocese and the story of Our Lady of the Portal & St Piran.

“The arrival of Christianity in Truro is, as they say, lost in the midst of times. By the 5th and 6th centuries Celtic missionaries, like St Piran were certainly in the area. Piran’s memory kept in name places such as Perrancoombe, Perranarworthal and Perranwell and in the buried oratory and chapel ruins in the dunes near Perranporth.

Over the years churches and chapels were built in the villages and Faith became firmly established.  After the Synod of Whitby in the 7th century, churches in the British Isles gradually followed the Roman dating of Easter and other liturgical customs. While there were differences between Celtic and Roman customs the Celtic Church did not consider itself separate or not part of the one Christian Church.

A Cornish diocese was set up in the 10th century with the Bishop based at St Germans. Later this was moved to Exeter. Churches and chapels were erected in Truro including the shrine to Our Lady of the Portal, a convent and a Dominican Friary. We kept the 750th anniversary of its consecration a few years ago.

With the Reformation and religious upheavals in the 16th and 17th centuries much was destroyed and the Mass no longer celebrated. . The Prayer Book Uprising of 1549 was crushed with much loss of life. A few, tried to maintain Catholic centres; like Francis Tregian at Golden Manor but when St Cuthbert Mayne was arrested that came to an end.

There is some evidence that during the French Revolution there was an √©migr√© Priest in Truro celebrating Mass in his accommodation, but the real return of the Catholic Church came in the mid-19th century with the arrival of some Redemptorists who had established a Mission in Falmouth.  They however moved to Clapham after a few years and it is recorded Truro was served from Camborne every other Sunday. In 1883 a Fr John Grainger moved into 30 River Street and celebrated 9.00am Mass every Sunday. Fr Grainger was responsible for buying the land and building the chapel on the corner of Chapel Hill and Dereham Terrace. When ill health forced him to retire he left the chapel to the trust of the Canons Regular of the Lateran.

The first CRL priest to be appointed on a more or less permanent basis was a Fr Norbert Jones- ‘an Irish Jones and it woe betide those who took him for a Welsh Jones.’ He always had time to stop for a chat with people and as a result frequently missed his train and earned himself the title of Tramping Truro Jones.

The Bodmin Canons continued to run the parish until 1985 and many of them are still well remembered: Fr Anthony Maggs and Denis 0’Gorman.  When the chapel became too small for the needs of the growing congregation, land was purchased and the present church was built just 40 years ago. In 1985 the diocese took over the responsibility for the parish and so it remains today.

That is just an outline of the parish here. When the church was opened in May 1973 there was a large debt to be paid off. Because of this the church was not consecrated at the time. The reason being that until the debt is repaid the bank technically owns the property rather than the church. That debt has long since been cleared and the 40th anniversary gives us an opportunity to consecrate or Solemnly Dedicate the term used these days, our building. 

So why consecrate our church now? 

If we go back to the scriptures, we find in Old Testament times, the Temple in Jerusalem as a special place that was solemnly consecrated to be the place where God lived among his people; while in New Testament times we see that Jesus will become the Temple of the new covenant and gathered together a people to be his own through his death and resurrection. Destroy this Temple and in three days I will raise it up in three days, He was speaking of the Temple that was his body and when Jesus rose from the dead his disciples remembered what he had said.

God’s people, made one, as Father, Son and Holy Spirit are one, is the Church, the Temple of God built of living stones, where the Father is worshipped in spirit and truth.

This is the first meaning of the word Church, But from early times this word church has been the name given to the buildings in which Christians gathered together to hear the word of God, to pray together and to celebrate the Mass and sacraments. Because churches are visible buildings they stand as special signs of the pilgrim church on earth and reflect the Church dwelling in Heaven. It has become an ancient custom that when a building is put up to be a permanent place of worship it be dedicated to God. This is what we will do on Wednesday when our Bishop comes.  It is not unusual for this celebration to happen long after a church has been opened. It gives us the chance to thank and celebrate for all that has happened. Over on the wall some photos.

Now we are like apostles waiting as we approach Pentecost to ask for the Holy Spirit to come into our lives as individuals and as a parish.  Then we will be empowered to be His witnesses to the ends of the earth.”