Friday, 12 June 2015

Thoughts from our Chaplain - my role

In a few days time I will have been Chaplain at the Shrine of Saint Jude for 10 months and the Summer Celebration last month will be the second time that I have had the pleasure of meeting all our pilgrims who come to Faversham to ask Saint Jude to intercede on their behalf with God.

The requests for intercessions is an important part of the ministry of the shrine and as Chaplain it is a pleasure when I get to write to people who are going through a difficult patch in their lives or just need someone to write a caring word.  So what is a Chaplain to the Shrine of Saint Jude?   According to the Oxford English Dictionary (OED) a Chaplain is a member of the clergy attached to a private chapel, institution, hospital, prison etc.  Doesn’t say very much does it!  

My main task and also the most enjoyable is my time with pilgrims and visitors offering them a cheerful welcome, a generosity with my time and an open ear; essential elements of a pastoral ministry.   Anyone who has met me will be aware that I am always willing to stand or sit and have a chat with people and when I do this I never feel that my time is wasted.  As part of this pastoral care I also have the opportunity to celebrate the sacrament of reconciliation with those who wish it and to give personal blessings and blessings of religious articles.  Basically I am here to make sure that anyone who comes to the Shrine has an enjoyable and memorable visit.

The Shrine office is where all the letters and requests come to be dealt with by the team. They also respond to the requests and the donations.  Should a letter need an answer from the Chaplain then the letter hits my desk and I write a personal letter concerning their needs and worries.  These letters are always welcomed and I receive very kind replies to a number of them.

The Shrine office is also where the Saint Jude Oil is blessed and bottled before being placed in the Shrine for people to take home with them.  When we have a pilgrimage I always carry a bottle of the oil with me in order to bless those who ask me.

Starting with the New Year we also have a number of Masses being celebrated in the Shrine marking the feasts of Saint Jude, the apostles, local saints and also for the intentions of the Guild of Saint Jude.  These masses are of course public and anyone who would like to join us is more than welcome.
So you can see that my role as Chaplain to the Shrine of Saint Jude is a varied and unpredictable one.  It is also a fulfilling one and gives me a feeling of having done some good at the end of the day as I lock up the shrine and, believe it or not, say goodnight and thank you to Saint Jude before I turn out the lights.

I am looking forward to welcoming you here in Faversham any time. and promising you of my prayers,

I remain your Chaplain,

Fr Michael Manning, O.Carm.

Fr Michael Manning, O.Carm with the Prior General of the Order and Matt Betts, the Development Manager