The Summer Gathering this year took place at Ampleforth Abbey in Yorkshire. Here, Robert RIgby, Chairman of the CU and an Old Amplefordian, shares his reflections on the weekend:
This year’s Catholic Union summer gathering took place at Ampleforth from Friday 25 – Sunday 27 July 2014. It was attended by some 25 Catholic Union members with a good mix of members from both the north and south of the country. This was the first time in many years that this hasevent moved beyond the Home Counties and judging by the reaction, it will not be long before it once again is taken into the regions.
Ampleforth provided a perfect backdrop – allowing both the formal side of the occasion to proceed which included discussions on the strategy of the CU and issues of the day, as well as a spiritual element ensuring members could tap into the monastic offices of the day including Matins at 6am….
The main business was carried out on Saturday 26 July with the conference getting off to a spiritual and thought provoking start with Fr Terence Richardson OSB, the Prior, providing a talk , The Prophetic Voice The Prior highlighted the prophet as one who sees the truth and tells the truth and referred to the criticism of the current church as a sign of health. The presence of the prophetic in the secular world is a sign of a healthy society.
Lord Brennan, attending his final conference as President, (he steps down in November after 12 years at the helm) provided his usual enlightening take on the issues of the day, as well as those affecting the CU. These are momentous times he said, life is changing fast and the challenges we face are complicated but not insurmountable. He talked about three key issues – Parliament & Public Life, Society Today and the Future and offered some wise council on how the CU should position itself going forward as well as ideas on increasing our membership base in an ever secular and demanding world.
In the afternoon members engaged in an open discussion on the role of the CU in today’s society. Robert Rigby, Chairman set the scene by providing members with feedback on a meeting he had held with Cardinal Nichols in April. Dr Tony Cole, Chairman of the Parliamentary Affairs Committee, summarised some of the key issues facing Catholics today and issues either currently debated or about to be on the agenda in Parliament. Both these talks set off a chain of lively discussions which also included Faith Schools and the ever increasing attack being waged against them.
The day ended with a jovial dinner attended by Fr Christopher Gorst, Sub Prior.
On Sunday members attended High Mass, before enjoying a final get together over coffee in the main hall with parishioners and members of the wider local community around Ampleforth.
28th July 2014