Mass at Buckfast Abbey with Cardinal Pell and Bishop Mark
Cardinal George Pell will celebrate Mass at Buckfast Abbey, Devon, for the official foundation of the School of the Annunciation next week at 12 noon on Monday 8 September, the nativity of the Blessed Virgin Mary.
Cardinal Pell was named by Pope Benedict XVI as one of the Synod Fathers for the Ordinary General Assembly of the Synod of Bishops on the New Evangelisation held in Rome in October 2012. This year the Australian cardinal was appointed by Pope Francis to be the Prefect of the Vatican’s Secretariat for the Economy, meaning he is responsible for controlling the budget of the Holy See and the Vatican. Cardinal Pell also serves as one of eight cardinals appointed to lead internal reforms of the Catholic Church. Monsignor Graham Bell will also fly in from Rome as an official representative of that Pontifical Council for the New Evangelisation in support of this new initiative for evangelisation in the UK.
The visit by Cardinal Pell to the School of the Annunciation, which is situated within the precincts of the Benedictine abbey, coincides with an unexpectedly large number of applications for the two-year, part-time, distance-learning Diploma in New Evangelisation developed by Dr Petroc Willey, a consultor for the Pontifical Council for the New Evangelisation.
Dr Caroline Farey, the Director of Studies, said: “When we set our target of 20 students we knew that it was unrealistic but we also knew the quality and relevance of the course content for evangelisation in today’s world. Now we have over 30 students.”
The formal foundation of the School of the Annunciation also follows the first series of summer schools in New Evangelisation which have been acclaimed as hugely successful – and which have fuelled interest in studies for the Diploma, which will begin this month for the first time. The philosophy courses aimed to help students understand the relationship between philosophy and Christian faith in order to equip them to productively engage with non-believers.
Dr Andrew Beards, Academic Director, said the summer sessions marked “a blessed and incredibly auspicious beginning” to the School of the Annunciation’s academic work.
“A good number of students who came on these short courses were inspired to continue with us,” he said.
Running consecutively from July 31 to August 17, the school offered five four-day summer courses on the themes of Finding Faith through the Liturgy, Finding Faith through Theology, Finding Faith through Sacred Art, Philosophy for Faith: An Introduction and Further Philosophy. The school then found itself on the receiving end of resounding praise from students and faculty alike. Tim Clegg, who studied Philosophy for Faith, said it left him convinced there was a real societal need for both the courses and the school as a whole. “We need guidance from scholars,” said Tim Clegg. “As Christians, we need more than ever to be able to articulate our faith, our beliefs, our Catholicism. We need to be able to defend our position and dispel the myths and propaganda that swirl around the modern day media.”
Further Philosophy student Callum Hall emphasised the far-reaching impact of his time at Buckfast, praising the school’s attention to personal spiritual enrichment by incorporating the Benedictine community, Holy Mass and Liturgy of the Hours into the schedule.
“I would never for one second think that the time given over by students to learn at the School of the Annunciation could be anything but enriching,” said Mr Hall. “This school is a must for anyone, no matter their age or their previous education. I have no degree in either philosophy or theology, but I found that all the lectures were constantly being adapted to the needs of the students.”
The School of the Annunciation aims to support the formation of religious and lay people as they deepen their knowledge and appreciation of the Catholic Faith in the age of the New Evangelisation. Buckfast Abbey has become a new venue for evangelisation since it welcomed the School of the Annunciation into its precincts.
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