I'm off tomorrow to Hereford to attend the annual Hereford Catholic Conference. This is a weekend of talks, worship and sharing, running from Friday evening to Sunday afternoon, and aimed at building up the Catholic community in the county of Herefordshire. It's held at St Mary's, Lugwardine, the Catholic High School for Herefordshire, and is organized by a team from several of the parishes there, especially Ledbury. Take a look at the Conference's website here.
Herefordshire is part of our diocese, although it is, of course, in England. This is a quirk of Catholic history, where Belmont Abbey outside Hereford was originally the cathedral of our diocesein its early days in the second half of the nineteenth century.
I was parish priest of Ledbury from 1981 to 1983, and it was in some ways a different world from what I was used to. I had served in the Sandfields estate in Port Talbot, in Ely and then in Cardiff Docks. Now I found myself in a very English small country town. It couldn't have been more different. The parish was small but very welcoming. In particular it was in many ways very open to moving forward, and I gained experience in some important areas of church life, especially in the ecumenical and liturgical fields. It was also where I had my first experience of broadcasting.
As with all past parishes, I have a soft spot for Herefordshire, and so I was only too glad to accept the invitation to help with this year's weekend.
ps The pic shows charming Church Lane in Ledbury.