Yesterday evening I travelled over to Chelmsford - England's newest city - to attend the simple profession as a Norbertine (Premonstratesisan) of Br Pius Collins. I knew him and others of his community, the Canonry of Our Lady of Sorrows and St Philip Benizi, when they were students in Oxford.
This was my first visit to the area, so there was a sense of a journey of discovery. This was ,possibly, enhanced by the difficulties afforded by the London Underground - they had run out of drivers temporarily, so it was with a sense of relief that I boarded the train at Liverpool Street. Already thinking once again that I shall be glad not to be in London during the Olympics, I was carried past the main Olympic Park, complete with what looks like abad bit of meccano as its central ornament...
I met up with friends at Chelmsford station adn we walked round to the church of the parish the Norbertines serve, Our Lady Immaculate, for the Mass and Profession. It was the feast of SS Adrian Jansen and James Lacops, the two Premonstratensians amongst the nineteen Gorkum martyrs, killed by Dutch Calvinists in 1572.
The liturgy was a very dignified novus ordo celebration with Premonstratensian features to it, with an excellent homily by Fr Hugh Allen, the Prior, and the church was packed - this is clearly a thriving parish
Afterwards at the generous reception in the parish hall I was able to congrtaulate Br Pius, meet up with the other friends from the community was well as a Nottingham diocesan seminarian whom I had also known in Oxford. In addition I had the very pleasnt surprise of meeting up again with Dom Aelred Niespolo OSB from the abbey at Valyermo in California. I had also met Dom Aelred when he was studying in Oxford and he is back in England for a sabbatical at the priory in Chelmsford.
After that it was back to the station, back to London and on to Oxford, getting back by 1.15 am - which did not seem bad going.
An enjoyable and heartening occasion, and I was impressed by what I saw at the church. I wish them all well in their future plans, and will keep them in my prayers.