Due to the kindness of a benefactor to the Library I was able to visit places of interest in England and Ireland during July. The committee hopes that the links made will continue into the future and has asked me to give members a brief summary of this tour.
In London I met the librarian of the Central Catholic Library, Joan Bond, where I was welcomed very warmly. I spent a full day looking through the collection which is more extensive than ours but organisationally runs along the same lines with volunteer staff under a committee of management. The following day I had lunch with Joan and the president of their committee, Mr. Anthony Tyler. It was interesting to learn how much the two libraries have in common in terms of history, coverage, relations with the hierarchy and the public. It was also stimulating to share ideas on wider issues such as where the Church is going in the two countries. Mr. Tyler runs Fisher Press Publishing which specialises in the publication of new editions of classis works. You can see the library’s work in more detail at: www.catholic-library.org.uk.
I also caught up with Fr. Ian Ker and discussed his hopes for the church via the New Ecclesiastical Movements. More information on this can be found at: www.theotokos.org.uk. He took me to the Catholic Truth Society shop near Westminster Cathedral which stocks a range of publications on current issues, all easily accessible and attractively presented. Its website is: www.cts-online.org.uk.
I visited the Tyburn Convent where the relics of the English Reformation martyrs are held. By a strange coincidence the nun who showed me the relics was a convert from Ballaraat who had been helped in discerning her vocation by a book from our library! The nuns pray before the Blessed Sacrament continually and it is a very moving experience to see them there. They now have our work in their prayers. I warmly recommend their site to you as it is one of the most beautiful I’ve ever seen: www.tyburnconvent.org.uk.
From London I went across to Ireland and visited the Central Catholic Library in Dublin which was the model for this library. Its founder was a colleague and friend of Fr. William Hackett and the libraries were in constant contact on the early days. The librarian, Teresa Wittington is charming and clever and, once again, runs the library along the same lines as ours with volunteers and a committee overseeing things. I met with the committee’s president and discussed various practical issues involved in the work. Their collection is also a lot larger than ours and has some extremely old and valuable holdings. They are not yet on-line.
Both libraries will form a trio with us and we will link sites when the Dublin site is up.
I then returned to England to attend the Linacre Bio-ethics Conference at Cambridge. This was an excellent opportunity to meet a wide range of people involved at different levels in bio-ethics: doctors, lawyers, politicians, philosophers, journalists, psychiatrists, even IVF babies who are now grown up and questioning the means of their conception. The Linacre Centre is to be congratulated on its initiative in bringing together so many people with concerns in this area. More information on their work can be found at: www.linacre.org.
While in Cambridge I visited the Dominicans and had discussions with them about the dissemination of Catholic Culture through journals.
From there I went to Oxford for a very fruitful four days. I met with Stratford Caldecott, Director of the Chesterton Institute for Faith and Culture and editor of the journal ‘Second Spring’, www.secondspring.co.uk. His institute is connected to the G.K.Chesterton Institute in America and their interests are very similar to ours. Professor Caldecott continues to be in contact and is a mine of ideas, particularly in the audio visual area. The Institute is a vibrant studio for exploring questions about religion and culture and one that we could take as a model. It not only disseminates Catholic culture but also what is noble in the secular culture. It attempts to alert people again to the value of the humanities: good art, literature and film. He gave me samples of journals and books which the Committee will look at subscribing to next year. In Oxford I also roamed bookshops and picked up some bargains for the library.
From there I returned to London where I met with John Wilkins editor of the Tablet and discussed Catholic newspapers and journalism. I also visited the Discalced Carmelite Friars in Kensington and asked for their prayers.
All in all it was a very inspiring and helpful trip and has put us in touch with fellow travellers.