Bishop Philip Egan of Portsmouth has recently made a Pastoral Visitation to the Catholic community of Guernsey in the Channel Islands. Here is is personal reflection on the visit …
One of the joys of being the Bishop of Portsmouth is having the Channel Islands within the Diocese, and last weekend I undertook the Pastoral Visitation of the lively parish of Our Lady and the Saints of Guernsey, which is under the care of Canon Christopher Rutledge, the Dean of Guernsey, Fr. Inna Gade and Fr. Gaston Afah, together with Deacon Mark Leightley.
Canon Gerard Hetherington (retired) also lives in the parish, as do the Sisters of Mercy, whose convent is opposite the parish church of St. Joseph’s. The parish has three churches: St. Joseph’s in St. Peter Port, Notre Dame du Rosaire, down the road from St. Joseph’s, and Our Lady Star of the Sea in St. Sampson.
I arrived last Friday night to a full schedule the next days. On Saturday morning, we had a Laity gathering to discuss the Diocesan ten-year Strategy, then in the afternoon Confessions and the Vigil Mass in Our Lady, Star of the Sea, which was followed by a reception with the parishioners.
Then on Sunday I offered the 8 o’clock Mass at St. Joseph’s, the 9.15am at Our Lady Star of the Sea and the 10.30am at St. Joseph’s. After meeting with parishioners, I met with the young people of the parish, especially those preparing for the Sacrament of Confirmation.
After lunch, with Canon Chris we discussed the Visitation Forms before Benediction and Sung Vespers at 4pm. This was followed by a meeting with the parish team and then the 6pm Mass at Notre Dame, with a splendid cheese and wine reception afterwards.
On Monday morning, I said Mass in the convent chapel and met individually with the clergy before returning at midday to the airport for the flight back. All in all, it was an uplifting and very encouraging weekend, and good to meet so many parishioners truly committed to the mission of the Church.
Over the weekend, I appeared on BBC Channel Islands television. It gave me an opportunity to explain the purpose of an Episcopal Visitation, and also to talk about the Pastoral Letter on the war in Ukraine.
Bishop Philip Egan