Lucy writes: It was a marvellous treat for me to attend the most recent meeting of the Northern Chapter, very kindly hosted by the priests at the York Oratory.
What a powerhouse! The meeting was extremely well-attended: the Upper Room, which is the parish hall of the York Oratory, was as full as it could hold. I was impressed by the wide range of projects under repair, from a baptismal gown with a hole (a new panel of needle lace is being made specially to replace the damaged section) to several large and magnificent banners, some owned by the Canons at St Walburge's, nothing is too complex for the highly-skilled needleworkers gathered last Saturday.
One of the special things about the meetings at the York Oratory is that the day begins with Mass, at 9.15am. There is also Adoration of the Blessed Sacrament at lunch time, so that the whole day becomes a spiritual retreat as well as a workshop.
I was very touched by the very warm welcome I was given by the Chapter members, and awe-struck by the sheer quantity of work that they are tackling. They are anxious to be as useful as possible to the traditional communities that they serve, especially to the priests, and are continually seeking them out to offer their services.
The meeting took place on the same day that news broke about the suppression of almost all traditional Masses in Leeds, which is the neighbour to Middlesbrough diocese where we were gathered. It was a great shock to us all, especially as the blow seemed to fall so close to us. The attack on the traditional Mass feels very personal to those attached to it, and we are very hurt by it: but it was notable that there was no bitterness. There is anxiety and distress, but no anger: only a determination to continue to serve the Church as well as possible. Mending vestments is not only a practical answer to the latest onslaught from Rome, but also a great comfort.
The next meeting of the Northern Chapter is at St Augustine's, Manchester: for more details contact the Chapter Co-ordinator, Clare Megarity on firstname.lastname@example.org