A visit to Europe
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A Visit to Europe

X Johannes

The Province of Great Britain and Ireland
A busy program awaited the Presiding Bishop and Ria as they flew into England on Friday 12 September. Saturday was a day of Confirmation and some Minor Orders as a prelude to the Sunday service at the Church of St Raphael in Bournemouth, the parish of Bishop Elect Richard Palmer. The Sunday service went off well, followed by a good vegetarian finger lunch. Thereafter, accompanied by B.E. Richard, some clergy and organist with keyboard, they set off for an afternoon service in Titchfield in Fareham, a new parish close to Southampton where B.E. Richard lives. Here the newly formed parish bade them a warm welcome in a local community hall. Complin was celebrated, followed by Holy Communion, sermon and Healing Service for 25 people.

On the following Tuesday the P.B. was back again in Titchfield for a vegetarian barbecue, attended by over 50 people. The P.B. then lectured on Genesis and the Serpent Fire, followed by a lively debate. While staying with Fr Frank Wickham-Smith, until recently Vicar General of the British Province, there was an opportunity to make contact with Rev Graham Wale. He is alive and well and sends his hearty greetings to his friends in South Africa, as well as the many friends he made during GES-11 in Sydney.

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Royal Holloway

On Friday 19 September, the P.B. and Ria descended upon the magnificent Chapel of Royal Holloway in Egham, Surrey, close to London. A large number of clergy and helpers had already arrived at the imposing building of Royal Holloway for extensive preparations for an extremely great event. A load of flowers for the adornment of the church was collected from the airfield, directly flown in from the continent. The ancient candle sticks and other altar appurtenances from yonder years of Bishop Wedgwood were transported to Egham by one of those typically British taxi cabs, owned by a member of the London Parish. The event? The consecration of the Right Reverend Richard Palmer as the new Auxiliary Bishop for Great Britain and Ireland. A memorable event indeed in that a new episcopal presence in the British Isles was to be established, in a church close to London where Bishop Wedgwood laid the foundation for what was to become the world-wide organization known as The Liberal Catholic Church some eighty years ago.

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Bishops Philip Draaisma (Junior Assisting Bishop), Richard Palmer, Johannes van Alphen (Consecrator), Rudolf Hammer (Senior Assisting Bishop) and Ruben Cabigting pose after the Consecration service.

Entering the 19th century chapel with its magnificent wall paintings, one could not but be filled with awe at such splendour. Britain was still smarting under the untimely demise of Princess Diana. It seemed as if Britain wanted to show that with equal solemnity she can crown a new Prince of the Church, for the service was deeply impressive, showing the ceremonial talent of the British at its British best. As the clock in the bell tower of Royal Holloway boomed the hour of eleven over the countryside, the well-known organist, the Marquis Guillaume De Challange, struck the first notes of the processional hymn. Thus entered the procession with Bishops Rudolf Hammer and Philip Draaisma as Assisting Bishops and Bishop Ruben Cabigting in attendance. The crozier bearers were Deaconess Maureen Matthews from the Jersey Island who assisted the P.B., Frida Draaisma, Dianne Cabigting and young Adi Cabigting assisting the other Bishops. The service went off splendidly after a grilling rehearsal during the previous evening under guidance of the Master of Ceremonies from the Province of the Netherlands, offered by his Regionary, Bishop Philip Draaisma.

Six ushers, fashionably dressed, awaited the 200 people who arrived for the service. Amongst the visitors were a number of dignitaries. The mayors from Bournemouth, Runnymede (where Royal Holloway College is situated) and Wandsworth attended the service, as also Roman Catholic and Anglican clergy representation. Also represented were the Constitutional Monarchist Association, the British Board of the Jewish Community, the Professional Association of Teachers (Bishop Palmer is a professional teacher himself), and the "Forward in Faith Movement" in the Church of England. Last but not least, present in the congregation were the Bishops and members of the Liberal Catholic Grail Community. The Liberal Catholic Fellowship in Tekels Park was also represented. All in all, it was a show of solidarity and fellowship in the common cause of the Church.

Bishop Richard Palmer     

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The next day, which was a Sunday, the Bishops spread their wings, Bishop Richard returning to Bournemouth for his first Episcopal celebration in his home Parish, assisted by Bishop Philip and Frida. Bishop Ruben, assisted by Diana and their daughter celebrated at All Saints in Putney, London, while the P.B. took his service in Titchfield, which went off well again. On the following Monday, 22 September, the P.B. and Ria left for the Netherlands, taking leave of the British Province after an extremely busy, but deeply satisfying time.

The Belgian Province
On Thursday 25 September Bishop Maurice Warnon took the P.B. to the beautiful Ardennes in Belgium for another series of church events. Friday was spent on viewing a suitable site for a possible General Episcopal Synod in 1999. On Saturday, the day was spent on a well-attended meeting of the LCIS by members of clergy and congregation. In the late afternoon this was followed by Solemn Benediction, sung in French by the P.B., and on Sunday the Belgium Province came to the same venue for Holy Eucharist, again in French.

It was reported in the previous issue of August 1997, that the Church has found great difficulty to get a foothold in Belgium (see also the Announcement of the GES-12 in Belgium). It was therefore heart-warming to see the number of people who made it to the Ardennes for the Saturday and Sunday services. The P.B. was shown the Roman Crypt built in the eleventh century (see previous issue) which the Church had offered to restore with financial assistance from the government. Due to indecision on the part of the authorities, the crypt has meanwhile been badly vandalised – a sad loss to everybody.

In 1931, a Roman Catholic chaplain became interested in The Liberal Catholic Church. He wrote to the Cardinal Archbishop of Mechelen in Belgium, who in turn wrote to the Roman Congregation of Rites asking whether the Sacraments and Orders of this church were valid. He received an affirmative answer, recommending that "the members of The Liberal Catholic body should be treated according to the special instructions of Pope Leo XIII to Cardinal Lavigerie (Archbishop of Carthage)". The instructions of Pope Leo XIII, which were given in 1882, were truly an expression of brotherly love and respect.

When, however, Bishop Warnon requested access to the Library in Mechelen in order to see the letter which was received by the Cardinal Archbishop of Mechelen in 1931, he was told that the letter was lost in a fire during World War II. This tragic event means the loss of a public statement of love and mutual respect between equals in faith and one must assume that the statement made by the Roman Catholic authority in Mechelen is a true reflection of the facts.

The Province of The Netherlands
The last lap in the Netherlands saw other interesting events. On Sunday, 5 October, the P.B. celebrated in Bloemendaal, during which he was given the opportunity to confirm Kira, one of his granddaughters. The P.B. was given the opportunity to celebrate the weekly Requiem Eucharist on a Tuesday morning at the International Centre of Naarden, a practice estab-lished in 1925 by Bishop Wedgwood and which has been maintained without break ever since. The P.B. was also given the opportunity to celebrate Solemn Benediction at the regular Thursday evening service, where in cyclic rotation some five different tunes of the Litany are sung, some of which are very beautiful indeed.

Contents: Volume LXV, No 1.

 

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