In the beginning...Fr Michael Hart reflects on the formation of the SCP
SABBATICALS are wonderful opportunities to reflect and take stock.
In 1990 my sabbatical gave me time to engage in parish missions, encounter Roman Catholic priests and Sisters and to reflect on what was “catholic” and what was truly important. At this time there was a lack of confidence in priesthood and a concern about what would happen to the catholic movement in the Church of England.
As a result of prayer and reflection I felt moved by the Holy Spirit to write a letter on 2nd March 1994 to seven priests who, like myself, were members of the Society of the Holy Cross (SSC). The letter invited them to meet and possibly form a group to support priests in favour of the Ordination of women to the priesthood.
The meeting took place at St Mary, Newington Rectory on 19th April 1994 resulting in three further meetings of theological reflection to discern what to do and what to call ourselves. We valued the influences of Vatican II and priestly organisations like SSC and the Federation of Catholic Priests. Mindful of God’s call to each of us to be priests and to share the riches of the catholic faith by serving people in the context where we minister.
These influences were brought together in a Rule of Life based on traditional catholic disciplines; prayer for each other and confidential pastoral care. Members would be grouped as a Chapter for a bi-monthly meeting. The structure of such meetings would be Concelebrated Eucharist, lunch, followed by input from a speaker or member. It was agreed to go ahead during a meeting at Christ the King, Salford and to have two aims: Priestly formation and catholic evangelism.
On 15th September 1994 at St. Dunstan’s, Bellingham twelve male and two female priests Concelebrated the Eucharist and made promises to God; commitment to one another; so SCP was born!
Within a year, SCP had organised a pilgrimage to Canterbury, where one thousand pilgrims joined us at Our Lady of Canterbury’s shrine. Within three years, a Diocesan group had grown to a national society of one hundred and fifty priests. Annual Conferences, pilgrimages, gatherings great and small. The Society has now grown to be a Province with Provincial SCP groups overseas.
The Original Group of priests who led to the founding of SCP were:
Fr Chuck Blankenship (First Treasurer) R.I.P.
Fr Peter Edwards (wrote SCP Prayer) R.I.P
Fr Geoffrey Owen (designed SCP Badge)
Fr. Christopher Davies
Fr. Nicholas Davis
Fr. Richard Wallace R.I.P.
Fr. Nigel Worn (First Secretary)
Mthr Pat Vowles (First Vice Rector General)
Fr. Michael Hart (First Rector General)
There is much to give thanks for on 12th Sept 2019, our 25th Anniversary.
God grant us the gifts and commitment to serve the Kingdom in the years ahead.