Friday, 13 August 2010

Popes and Poles

I've just been reading this week's "Tablet" and its report on how tickets for the big events during the Pope's visit next month are going. It seems that in the home dioceses of Westminster and Birmingham where they are being held, demand for tickets is high, but elsewhere not so good... Cardiff archdiocese is mentioned, with an uptake of about one third for its allocation of tickets. Talking to priests, demand in our 3 Churches appears higher than in some other places - we have 29 going to Hyde Park and 12 to Birmingham.
So what's going on with the apparently small numbers? Well there's all sorts of speculation, but I think a lot of it is fairly simple, and not to do with shrinking congregation numbers or the relative charisma of Popes Benedict and John Paul. In 1982, with a much longer visit, nobody was too far from an event, including the Mass and Youth Event here in Cardiff. A few hours to get to London or Brum and a few hours back makes quite a difference, I think. There is a kind of invisible threshold beyond which people perceive a trip as "too much", a kind of glass barrier. We always consider this when planning our September Pilgrimages. On the whole, young people have a more distant glass barrier, but the not-so-young...
Closer to home, Fr Dennis has settled in nicely and his quiet manner is endearing him to the folks. James phoned on Wednesday. He arrived back in Kerala, safe and sound, but the docs there are a little concerned about the cough that was plaguing him, particularly in the last days here. No firm news yet about the arrival of Fr Tomy from Kerala.
As for myself, mention of our September Pilgrimages earlier, reminds me that we are off to Krakow in Poland in just a few weeks (main square right). I better get down to some preparation. After all, we're celebrating Mass at the Divine Mercy Shrine on the first full day, and later in a chapel in a salt mine and other varying churches.  We are visiting Pope John Paul's birthplace and Auschwitz among many other places. The Lord may have plenty to say to us...

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