Have a Pope party

The head of the Roman Catholic Church in England and Wales has suggested that the faithful celebrate the one year anniversary of Pope Benedict XVI’s visit to Britain by throwing a Pope party.

In a video message released ahead of the anniversary, Archbishop Vincent Nichols is encouraging Catholics to hold a special weekend of celebration.

The weekend will commence on September 16, when the re-establishment of the practice of Friday penance comes into effect.

Families and parishes are being encouraged to get together on September 17 to celebrate the anniversary of the papal visit, before taking part in Home Mission Sunday on September 18.

"I hope that you will find time as a family or as a group of friends or as a group of youngsters, to get together, to remember the stories of that weekend,” said Archbishop Nichols.

“Find your photographs, have another look at the DVD. Maybe you made home recordings of episodes of the papal visit? Maybe some of you went and travelled to these events?

“On this anniversary Saturday could I please ask you to delve into that memory bank and bring out those treasured memories again and enjoy them. Sit down together and have a Pope Benedict party on Saturday 17 September."

The Archbishop said that an anniversary celebration would give Catholics fresh encouragement, confidence and a “renewed wind of the Holy Spirit in our backs so that we don’t look down, we don’t look backwards, we face the future, we face forward confident in the message that the Lord gives us”.

The theme for this year’s Home Mission Sunday is ‘Fresh Wind In Our Sails’. Parishes are being invited to hold a collection to support the work of evangelisation in England and Wales.

The day is being overseen by Bishop Kieran Conry, Chair of the Bishops’ Conference Department for Evangelisation and Catechesis.

He said: “What we want to do on Home Mission Sunday this year is to say to people, ‘Fill your sails again with fresh wind.

“Pick up that enthusiasm and excitement again and let it blow through, blow away some of the dust that has sort of settled into corners and blow away some of the tiredness and indifference and apathy that’s crept into our own lives."